HOW GOOD AND EVIL WORK

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A minister in Texas has said that he felt God had Hitler persecute the Jews in order to get them to found the state of Israel. The minister is very much for the state of Israel.

This is an illustration I use, not to get into whether the founding of Israel was good or bad, but to point out God cannot be the author of evil. However, some good may be carried on the backs of evil things and horrible actions.

My distinction is that good may use evil, ride on its back just as one might ride another's horse, but God does not directly cause bad things to happen, though He may use bad thongs that happen to create some good.

To create, make or do evil is not the business of God, but to use evil as best God can is perfectly suitable. Mind that logic. For example: do not say God has stricken your husband with cancer. God by His nature cannot be the author of evil. But if your family is drawn together as a family unit because of that cancer, that is perfectly suitable.

God may be glimpsed in many strange places at diverse and surprising times. Grace can be seen shining and shimmering over evil without being the cause of that evil.

God cannot be by His nature the cause of evil. But He can use evil for good, and He can rearrange evil for some good, though the good may not be as severe as the evil done.

So let us make clear God is not the causative factor in evil. He is the saving factor in whatever evil is done us. Sometimes evil needs a twist of grace.

I might use as example, the great emigration of the past
century through Ellis Island. Those people were drawn to America
to work in sweat shops and factories. But by a twist of grace they became the great myth of the Statue Of Liberty. When such twists may be made, whatever the truth of the matter, much good can be done. Yes, the claim of hypocrisy can be made, but to dignify the poor is no small achievement.

As we look around to examine the theological nature of things interacting, we may see how good may be carried on the backs of evils. We also must take notice that no effort is so good that it has no bad in it. Such is the sinful nature of man. What begins as good may turn to evil or have bad ramifications.

LET US NOT FORGET THE SUPREME IRONY OF GOD. What starts as good may tilt towards evil. What begins as evil may carry some good on its back.

Some efforts at good slant us to evil. That is why we cannot
be smug or shallow about doing good. Take prohibition as an example. While prohibition was meant for good by well meaning people, doing much good at times, it also was responsible for the rise of gangs and the bootlegging industry. This is an excellent example of evil riding the back of good intentions.

Enough deep thought and considered judgment was not given Prohibition. Very few considered: Can a law eliminate something deeply desired in a non-law abiding country? We have that problem today worse than ever with dope.

Christians today cannot afford to be as smug and shallow in their thinking as sometimes in the past. We must think, pray, apply, and experiment (knowing that for every righteous action, there may be reactions and taking that into account.)

Today we have a decadent country whose "dope" problem is far greater than alcohol ever was. Simple laws will not be enough. It is going to take Christians involved in communities. We may change the law but we need more to change the attitudes towards the law and the attitudes towards various forms of "dope." A change in law in a non-law abiding atmosphere is not enough. It seems to me that the trouble often starts where the wrong laws are passed into the hands of the wrong judges.

But I do not know the answer to the "dope" problem. I only know it is an enormous threat to the quality of Christian life in the country. We as Christians must now not be clumsy as we were in the 1930's in dealing with problems caused by excessive overuse of alcohol.

Mere ritual laws will not solve the problems of "dope." Remember we live in an age when there are dope. pushers outside nearly every high school in America waiting for the bell to ring. When the bell rings, the dope business then really starts. If the pushers are arrested, as they often are, other pushers are in place by the next day. The original pushers will be out on bond in a few hours anyway.

Please let's not be simplistic and morally unsophisticated about good and evil, how to fight evil, how to implement the good. These take study, prayer and stable deliberation. These take an awareness of relationships, action and reactions. It takes an awareness of what mere law cannot do.

The Christian faith is simple compared to the application of that faith to the individual social good. Yes, issues are not simple, good is carried on the back of evil, and evil sometimes grows from the garden of good intentions.

Things are bad. But when were they not? REMEMBER: "Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." (I John 4:4) and always, The Apostle: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed, we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted but not forsaken, cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest."              (II Corinthians 4: 8-10)

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Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.