Musings on Evil

In our clinical staff meeting we watched NT Wright’s DVD entitled, “Evil”. I commend this as well as his video on the resurrection (very good for those who are seeking God). He explores the biblical images of evil and God’s response to it (and therefore directions for us as well). 

But back to evil. Wright makes mention of the popular usage of the term. It tends to be something we use to talk about really really bad stuff in others: pedophiles, rapists, murderers, terrorists, that sort of thing. We use it in ways to say we’ve encountered something that is definitely, “not us.” I was taken with one clip where an English man spoke of his work with offenders. He did not think they were born that way but developed a “blind spot” that gave them the confidence to keep going despite knowing at some level that what they were doing was wrong.

This process is rather mundane. We find a way to make okay what is not. We “share” instead of gossip. It feels good and we reassure ourselves that we are only seeking counsel. The spot grows bigger. We fantasize saying hateful things and rehearsing what we need to say to a co-worker who hurt our feelings. We do so to “prepare” for our encounter. We feel better because we help clarify that we are righteous and the co-worker is not. The spot grows bigger. Our self-confidence grows.

How ought we to respond to evil? Simple: name it and bear witness to it (and run from it) as it is–in ourselves first and also anywhere else it appears.

Near the end of the video, Desmond Tutu described evil as not something that defines us completely. We are not completely murders or the like. Forgiveness, he said, allows us to allow the sinner the freedom to have a new beginning.


Filed under Doctrine/Theology, sin, suffering

2 responses to “Musings on Evil

  1. I saw this video last week as part of the “Summer of Evil” for the young adult group at our church. I really enjoyed it. I especially enjoyed hearing about the pardons that were given to those who confessed to their crimes after Apartheid in South Africa. Hearing about how reconciliation occurred through confession and the public sharing of atrocities was incredible. I’m surprised this has not been tried more since it was so effective in South Africa.

  2. Good question. Diane Langberg, whose practice I’m a part of, says that Rwanda is trying to do reconciliation without truth and its not working well.

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