Dare We Doubt Evil?
THERE'S been a thought-provoking discussion on a computer bulletin board I've been reading the past few weeks. A number of people interested in Christianity have been struggling with the issue of the place of God in a world where evil is so prevalent.
Three points have been postulated: 1. God is good and all-loving. 2. God is omnipotent. 3. Evil is real. All who have written so far have agreed that these three points are not reconcilable. Several have suggested that points one or two must be wrong. Others have proposed that suffering and injustice are good in ways that we don't understand. But to date no one has challenged the truth of the third point--evil's reality. I find this surprising, because the more I read the Gospels, the clearer it seems that Jesus affirmed the first two points, God's goodness and omnipotence, and challenged and disproved the last. One of the most inspiring points to draw from Jesus' experience is that evil is not a reality, but a deception.
Consider the following. As Jesus approached the city of Nain he met a funeral procession. A widow had lost her only son. Not only was this new grief added to her widowhood, but what hope did she have for the future? Who would provide for her? Who would care for her in old age?
Here, in a way, is the same confluence of issues that are being discussed on the bulletin board. Christ Jesus came to bear witness to the goodness and love of God and to His all-power. The widow was experiencing the injustice, cruelty, and evil that death had brought into her life. What happened to these irreconcilable points? Here is the account from Luke: ``When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother'' (7:13-15).
Who blinked? Death, grief, deprivation, all yielded, all gave ground to the reality of God's, divine Love's, omnipotence. They were not as real or unquestionable as had been thought.
``Weep not.'' Haven't we all heard these words at times? But have you ever heard them from a heart so filled with love that it knew there was literally no cause for grief? Jesus' life brings mankind the message that God's will is eternal life and eternal good. As the spiritual significance of the Scriptures opens to us, we discover, as did the widow, that Christ is ever knocking on the door of our hearts, saying ``Weep not.''
Christ, the manifestation of God's will, is constantly presenting the supremacy of good. It is always revealing the life-giving power of divine Love. As the goodness, love, and power of God are magnified and understood, evil becomes progressively less real to human consciousness--its evidence disappears because we are no longer deceived by it.
If the people of Nain hadn't seen it with their own eyes, they probably wouldn't have been able to believe that the young man was restored to life! The evidence of evil seems so obvious. As mentioned in the opening of this piece, no one in the current discussion group has dared question the obviousness of evil. It's hard for many even to consider the fact that good is supreme-- without equal or competition.
The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, addresses this key issue in her great work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She writes: ``If thought is startled at the strong claim of Science for the supremacy of God, or Truth, and doubts the supremacy of good, ought we not, contrariwise, to be astounded at the vigorous claims of evil and doubt them, and no longer think it natural to love sin and unnatural to forsake it,--no longer imagine evil to be ever-present and good absent? Truth should not seem so surprising and unnatural as error, and error should not seem so real as truth'' (pp. 130-131).
Even today, in proportion to one's responsiveness to Christ, Truth--in proportion to one's acceptance of the supremacy of good-- sin, disease, the mental or physical wounds from evil of any kind, disappear from that one's life, leaving him or her unharmed, healthy, and whole.