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Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Battle Between Good and Evil

In times past, the battle between good and evil was usually framed in spiritual or philosophical terms. In the Judeo-Christian world, the battle was often characterized as a contest between God and Satan or as something that was manifested in individual moral behavior (sinful or righteous). Sure, kings and queens, emperors and tyrants, presidents and dictators, have always cloaked their wars and programs in the garb of holiness and/or righteousness; but most of them and their subjects understood that these claims were very often self-serving and had little or nothing to do with Jesus Christ or the religion he founded. In fact, this open marriage between the political and religious realms came to be fairly universally regarded in a negative light - especially after the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment. Indeed, the recognition that the blending of the two realms had had a deleterious impact on both was the primary motivation for enshrining a separation between church and state in the Constitution of the United States.

Unfortunately, over the last fifty years, the political realm in the United States has been characterized by both Republicans and Democrats as a battle between good and evil. Although both parties have always claimed to be motivated by their Judeo-Christian values, we now have the spectacle of both sides claiming that anyone who does not accept their political perspective is EVIL! Republicans cite their positions against abortion, immigration, homosexual and transgender rights, socialism, and critical race theory as evidence of their righteousness and condemn Democrats as evil for opposing them on those issues. Likewise, Democrats cite their support for the poor and oppressed, immigrants, political refugees, gun control, and racial tolerance as evidence of their righteousness and condemn Republicans for opposing them on those issues. Think that I'm making too much of this? Consider some of the language which both sides have employed in their battles over policy!

In his article Democrats Truly Are Evil, Derek Hunter wrote: "I really despise these people. That Democrats are desperate for anything to distract from their failures that they’re willing to lie, cheat and steal is nothing new, but the extent to which they’re taking it is simply vile. They are now blaming anyone who isn’t them for the murder of 10 people in Buffalo, essentially declaring half the country to be violent criminals. That’s evil, but still easier than defending Joe Biden’s record as President." He went on to observe that "There is nothing about the current Democrat Party that isn’t predicated on lies, jealousy and hatred – all stirred up by them." As he began to conclude his hate-filled article, Derek stated that "These people were all going to hell already for a lot of reasons, now it’s like they’re trying to upgrade their tickets on the express train there to first class."

Think that the other side isn't doing the exact same thing? Please consider the language which L. Michael Hager employed in his The Politics of Good Vs. Evil. He wrote: "Unlike former years, the election of 2020 is not just about Republican versus Democrat, the economy versus public health or fiscal conservative versus liberal and progressive. It’s not about policy differences where reasonable minds may differ.  Rather, this year’s election is a contest of values.  It pits American citizens against an administration that daily practices human disregard and cruelty." Speaking of the Trump presidency, he went on to observe that "For the past three and a half years, we the people have stood face-to-face with unmitigated evil." Hager concluded: "What have the Trump years taught us?  That the President serves only himself and that he lacks basic integrity. We’ve seen Trump’s cruel policies and corrupt political associations as manifestations of evil."

Of course, if these folks were confronted about their statements, they would simply assert that they hadn't said anything that wasn't true! In other words, both of these men really believe that they are God's soldiers in a righteous Holy War against Satan and his minions! The policies and politicians of the other side aren't simply wrong or misguided - they are evil and Satanic!

To be clear, the Judeo-Christian Scriptures teach us that humankind rejected God's definition of good and evil and decided to instead formulate their own definition of morality (Genesis 2 and 3). The Judeo-Christian Scriptures also reveal that one of God's angels rebelled against God, became Satan the Devil, and introduced sin and evil into the world. Those same writings portray this individual as an "adversary" and "accuser" of humankind. To be sure, there are many places in Scripture where battles are referenced between the angels who remained loyal to God and those who followed Satan in his rebellion. However, as far as any contest is concerned, Satan is portrayed in the writings which we refer to as the New Testament as someone who has already been defeated and is awaiting an inevitable punishment. Thus, as far as Christians operating under the terms of the New Covenant, the battle between good and evil is pictured as an individual and internal one. As Paul framed it: "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do." (Romans 7:19) Even so, Paul also made clear to the saints of Corinth that God's saints already have won the victory in that battle through Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 15:57)

To be sure, the battle within the political realm can be passionate and interesting (and it can even touch on issues of right and wrong), but it is a DISTRACTION from the real battle between good and evil on which all REAL Christians must be focused! If we truly believe that God's will should prevail on this earth, then we should be praying "Thy Kingdom Come" - just as Christ instructed us to do (Matthew 6:10) - AND we should be preaching THAT message to the unconverted world around us! (Matthew 28:18-20)


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