Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

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Dorothy Sayers on the origin of evil

The orthodox Christian position is . . . [that] the light, and the light only is primary; creation and time and darkness are secondary and begin together. When you come to consider the matter, it is strictly meaningless to say that darkness could precede light in a time process. Where there is no light, there is no meaning for the word darkness, for darkness is merely a name for that which is without light. Light, by merely existing, creates darkness, or at any rate the possibility of darkness. In this sense, it is possible to understand that profound saying, “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

But it is at this point that it becomes possible for the evil and the darkness and the chaos to boast: “We are that which was before the light was, and the light is a usurpation upon our rights.” It is an illusion; evil and darkness and chaos are pure negation, and there is no such state as “before the light” because it is the primary light that creates the whole time process. It is an illusion, and that is the primary illusion inside which the devil lives and in which he deceives himself and others.

In the orthodox Christian position, therefore, the light is primary, the darkness secondary and derivative; and this is important for the whole theology of evil. In The Devil to Pay, I tried to make this point, and I remember being soundly rapped over the knuckles by a newspaper critic, who said in effect that after a great deal of unintelligible pother, I had worked up to the statement that God was light, which did not seem to be very novel or profound. Novel, it certainly is not, it is scarcely the business of Christian writers to introduce novelties into the fundamental Christian doctrines. But profundity is a different matter; Christian theology is profound, and since I did not invent it, I may have the right to say so.

The possibility of evil exists from the moment that a creature is made that can love and do good because it chooses and not because it is unable to do anything else. The actuality of evil exists from the moment that that choice is exercised in the wrong direction. Sin (moral evil) is the deliberate choice of the not-God. And pride, as the church has consistently pointed out, is the root of it, i.e., the refusal to accept the creaturely status; the making of the difference between self and God into an antagonism against God.

-Dorthy Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church. [First posted on this blog September 14, 2014]

Is there any hope?

So many people want to save humanity. What do we need to be saved from? Who really knows? Is it the one who talks the loudest? Why does that person tell us it is a crime to allow those who disagrees with him to talk about their ideas? Is there any hope?

The Bible tells us that if we bite and devour each other, we will all be devoured. We cannot save humanity by fighting with each other. That is the devil’s game.

It is the devil who is behind every attempt to make us distrust and hate each other. If we want to make the world a better place, we must start by refusing to listen to the devil.

Jesus offers a better way. He came to help the sick, the suffering, the sorrowing and the brokenhearted and to offer hope to everyone. He says that we should love everyone and count no one as an enemy. Our true enemies are the devil and his dark angels.

Study the teachings of Jesus in the Bible. He wants us to forsake the ways of hatred and of doing things that hurt others. If we ask Him, He will give us a transformed heart and a new way of looking at life and at the people around us.

We can’t change the whole world, even governments have much less power to do that than we think. But we can do little things to help and encourage others. We can pray to God and ask Him to help others in need and to help our governments do what is best for all mankind. Those things will do more good than to defeat a government that isn’t doing what we think it should do.

We are able to do much more good than we think. Instead of saying “somebody really should do something,” why not be that somebody whenever we have the opportunity? If Jesus is directing our lives, He will show us little things to be done that will make a difference to someone. We shouldn’t keep a record of the good things we have done or boast of them to others. By doing these things we are laying up treasures in heaven, not working for an earthly reward.

It’s not hard to see that the world would be a better place if everyone would live the way that Jesus taught. Most people don’t. The only way to change that is to start with you and me. That is the only, and the best, hope for the world.

The Logging Bee

There was a man in our town,
In our town, in our town –
There was a man in our town,
He made a logging-bee;
And he bought lots of whiskey,
To make the loggers frisky –
To make the loggers frisky
At his logging bee.

The Devil sat on a log heap,
A log heap, a log heap –
A red hot burning log heap –
A-grinning at the bee;
And there was lots of swearing,
Of boasting and of daring,
Of fighting and of tearing,
At that logging bee.

J.W.D.M.

Susanna Moodie writes that logging bees during pioneer days in the bush brought out the very worst in men. Barn raising bees were a more sober affair – the men were under the direction of a head carpenter and the work required skills which would disappear under the influence of strong drink. At a logging bee, much work was accomplished before dinner. After dinner, which some washed down with copious amounts of whisky, things degenerated. Not all the men partook of the whisky, but their work efforts were hindered by those who had.

Evidently Susanna Moodie’s husband was of the same opinion as she, as he wrote the above verses. J.W.D.M. stands for John W. Dunbar Moodie.

Dorothy Sayers on the origin of evil

The orthodox Christian position is . . . [that] the light, and the light only is primary; creation and time and darkness are secondary and begin together. When you come to consider the matter, it is strictly meaningless to say that darkness could precede light in a time process. Where there is no light, there is no meaning for the word darkness, for darkness is merely a name for that which is without light. Light, by merely existing, creates darkness, or at any rate the possibility of darkness. In this sense, it is possible to understand that profound saying, “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

But it is at this point that it becomes possible for the evil and the darkness and the chaos to boast: “We are that which was before the light was, and the light is a usurpation upon our rights.” It is an illusion; evil and darkness and chaos are pure negation, and there is no such state as “before the light” because it is the primary light that creates the whole time process. It is an illusion, and that is the primary illusion inside which the devil lives and in which he deceives himself and others.

In the orthodox Christian position, therefore, the light is primary, the darkness secondary and derivative; and this is important for the whole theology of evil. In The Devil to Pay, I tried to make this point, and I remember being soundly rapped over the knuckles by a newspaper critic, who said in effect that after a great deal of unintelligible pother, I had worked up to the statement that God was light, which did not seem to be very novel or profound. Novel, it certainly is not, it is scarcely the business of Christian writers to introduce novelties into the fundamental Christian doctrines. But profundity is a different matter; Christian theology is profound, and since I did not invent it, I may have the right to say so.

The possibility of evil exists from the moment that a creature is made that can love and do good because it chooses and not because it is unable to do anything else. The actuality of evil exists from the moment that that choice is exercised in the wrong direction. Sin (moral evil) is the deliberate choice of the not-God. And pride, as the church has consistently pointed out, is the root of it, i.e., the refusal to accept the creaturely status; the making of the difference between self and God into an antagonism against God.

-Dorthy Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church

Ghosts and goblins

Today is Hallowe’en, when little children will be decked out in scary costumes and sent to collect candy from kindly folks in the neighbourhood.  Many people consider this innocent fun and the children truly are innocent of any real understanding of the symbolism.

However, there are elements in our society who revel in celebrating the powers of darkness on this day.  There is a mixture of outright pagan and semi-Christian beliefs in Hallowe’en.  Pagan traditions, especially in Celtic lands, said that the spirits of the dead wandered the earth until November 1.  The night before was the last chance for these spirits to gain vengeance on their enemies.  In some church traditions November 1 became known as All Saints Day or All Hallows, a day to honour saints and martyrs.   Thus, the night before became known as All Hallows’ Eve, or Hallowe’en.

We have a Christian friend who often speaks of her fear of the powers of darkness that she see at work in people around her.  We have no doubt that there is truth in her accounts of the workings of those powers, but we see no need for a Christian to live in fear.  We wish that she could grasp the reality of Isaiah 26:13, ” Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

I’m sure that the devil relishes it when people such as our friend focus their attention on his power and come to doubt if the power of God is great enough to protect them.  Our friend feels that we are too innocent, that it is dangerous to ignore the reality of the occult.  We agree that it is good to be aware that the powers of darkness are at work around us, but we believe that to focus our attention on the dangers from that source would tend to undermine our faith in God.

it really is the plan of our Heavenly Father that our minds should be stayed on Him, not on His greatest enemy.  In Zechariah 2:3-4, the angel told the prophet of a day when Jerusalem would be a city without walls and God would be a wall of fire round about.

Why should we put our effort into building man-made walls that really cannot protect us from the enemy, when God Himself is our protection as a wall of fire round about those who trust in Him?

 

 

Voices of darkness

I had to be at work a little before 11:00 P.M. that Sunday night.  The factory work week began at 11:00 and as Quality Assurance Inspector I had to check the equipment before startup.  Although I interacted with the supervisors and workers on the factory floor, I worked alone, covering all that was happening.  This gave me lots of time to think.

There was a lot to think to think about that night.  During our worship services and fellowship through the day I had picked up hints of things that were not well in our congregation.  As I walked the factory floor that night, I was remembering all the instances I had observed of negligence by our ministers.  The problems were so glaringly evident, yet the ministers were doing nothing to help, rather pretending to be ignorant of the dangers.  The picture became darker and darker as the night wore on.  I became increasingly disheartened.

This was thirty years ago, yet I still remember the time (5:00 A.M.) and where I was standing when a little voice spoke in my mind: “These thoughts are not taking you anywhere you want to go.”  Instantly, I recognized that all the thoughts that had been going through my mind did not originate from within my mind, but from an outside source.  They were the work of the enemy, the accuser of the brethren.

The dark cloud vanished, the evidence that had appeared so solid and unassailable crumbled to dust.  All the grounds for distrusting the working of the ministry disappeared.  The forces of darkness work in darkness.  When a little light comes to expose them, they scuttle away and flee.

They will come back, trying to disguise themselves in a different way each time.  We need not expect that we will ever be free from attack by the principalities and powers, the rulers of darkness, the wiles of the devil.  Thankfully, the Holy Spirit also comes to whisper, “Do you really want to go where those voices are leading you?”

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:11-12).

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