Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The question of evil... (1)

I just want to be a good evangelical, do the exegesis and not be immature, unprofound and certainly not glib!!!

On the fly cover of NT Wright's Evil and the Justice of God - there is a statement that has stuck with me...

"The question of evil demands a theological resolution that is mature, profound and never glib..."

- Glib -
1. Performed with a natural, offhand ease
2. Showing little thought, preparation, or concern

So a fire alarm goes off part way through a seminar on spiritual warfare - to me the merest suggestion of 'dark satanic forces' pulling a well put together and thought provoking lecture to bits is .... glib.

Tyranny... racism .... sexism ... exploitation ... trafficking ... poverty ... abuse ... child labour ... terrorism ... intimidation ... world trade ... addiction ... oppression ...

... A fire alarm... allowing 60 people to get to coffee early is hardly up there for me - so no dark sinister forces at work for me - just a fire alarm.

So am I being cynical or am I wanting to get to grips with all that is the antithesis of what God intends for us? Hopefully the latter, I just want to be a good evangelical, do the exegesis and not be immature, unprofound and certainly not glib!!!

Anyway I've added a new label as I mull this one over.


dad2theboyz said...

Thanks for this Gordon. I am reminded of people who sit and watch horror films and then are jumpy and on edge afterwards - afraid to walk home in the dark because they have been spooked. They lose perspective - rationally they know it's silly but there's that lingering feeling...

It's possible to immerse youself in spiritul warfare stuff and to get spooked and when that happens you lose perspective (does the victory of Christ over the principaities and powers extend to fire alarms?).

Whereas I strongly believe in the accuser (rather than some impersonal floating "dark side" of the force) I think we in the west have been too individualistic in terms of our thinking. It has too often been about "me" and the enemy attacking "me". I am not disputing that happens but we can be so "me" focussed that we do not open our eyes and see the outworking of evil in the world (trafficking, poverty) - unless of course it threatens "me" (e.g. terroism).

We need God's perspective on this stuff. Sometimes that means our eyes will be opened to the powers in the world and our own selfish "me" living challenged. Equally, we will be challanged to fight the warfare that rages within and to advance the kingdom rule of God in our own lives as well as joining in with what He is doing around about us.

Primarily I think we need to stay so focussed and centred on Jesus, practising his presence and learning to recognise his voice so that if and when he wants to warn us that one of the devil's cohorts is about to set the fire alarm off we can deal with it! I tend to trust his discernment!!!

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Chris Heward said...

One question I've often pondered is whether the Devil actually has any physical powers or control over us, or is it all just deception? He's known as the deceiver, and I'd argue that most of his most obvious work is down to deception: that we must look after number one; that we can only find true contentment in money/cars/sex/power/shopping,etc. etc.; that if we eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden we won't die. He doesn't make us choose these things, and can't, rather he deceives us.

But then again if we believe in things like demon possession, then doesn't that mean that the Devil does have actual control, or is it still deception, that we think we cannot escape the demon but we can?

Either way, I'm an awful one for thinking about all the little things and wondering whether when something a bit odd happens that means something supernatural has just gone on. What I think though is that, irrelevent of what caused it, the devil will try to use it to hold us back. So all we can do is respond in a positive way. So if the fire alarm goes off, there's no advantage in wondering what caused that (although if there's faulty wiring you might wanna get it sorted) but we can choose to see it as an opportunity to have a coffee, have a chat about spiritual warfare in practice, and maybe even write a blog about it.