Everything here represents my own opinion and not the opinion of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection or the United Methodist Church.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Understanding of Evil

This is post 2 of 17 in the Probationary Membership and Commissioning series.

Response to ¶324.9 of the 2004 Book of Discipline

What is your understanding of evil as it exists in the world?

I understand evil to exist in the world made manifest in sin and death. Evil is conquered in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul writes about this in his letter to the Corinthians:

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”6

Although evil and the power of sin and death is conquered through Jesus Christ, it still has a foothold in the world today. For individuals, the evil within is often more dangerous than the evil without. I believe that evil is perpetuated by individuals and systems who choose to turn away from a relational existence with God to a selfish existence. This is seen in individuals who cheat others for personal gain, systems that seek to perpetuate their own power, and whenever a relationship with God is denied.

The existence of evil is sometimes linked with the presence of suffering in the world. There is suffering that results from evil, but I do not believe that all suffering is inherently linked with evil. I do believe that God is particularly concerned with those that are suffering. “God’s power has ultimately to articulate itself in divine solidarity with the sufferer, that is, in the ‘weakness’ of suffering love.”7 God uses power to reach out to those suffering and in need. This can be found in Jesus ministry as attested to in the gospels and also in the Psalms:

Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people.”8

This Scripture shows God in power and might reaching down to the earth and entering into solidarity with the suffering. Not only that, but God brings the suffering up to sit with the “princes of his people.”9

6 1 Corinthians 15:54-56 (TNIV).

7 Hall, God & Human Suffering, 156.

8 Psalm 113:5-8 (TNIV).

9 Psalm 113:8 (TNIV).


Hall, Douglas John. God & Human Suffering: An Exercise in the Theology of the Cross. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1986.

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