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Resignation to Evil: Not an Option
While few Christians would deny that Satan is in some sense the ruler of this world, since it’s so clearly taught in the New Testament, many nevertheless insist that everything Satan and every other free agent does fits into a divine plan that is governing every detail of world history. In this view, it’s not just the beautiful aspects of creation that glorify God. Everything, including evil events, ultimately contributes to the “glory of God.” God is ultimately behind it all.
Throughout history and yet today, very few Christians have seen themselves as belonging to a subversive revolution – despite the clear teaching of the New Testament regarding the enemy-occupied status of the world. I frankly suspect that this God-is-behind-it-all theology is partly to blame. The belief that “evil” is ultimately controlled by a greater good tends to produce an attitude of resignation toward evil rather than an attitude of revolting against it.
Interestingly enough, there were many pagans in the ancient world before the time of Christ who believed every particular thing came to pass by a sort of cosmic necessity and that it all contributed to a greater good. The most well-known philosophical school espousing this view was known as “Stoicism.” Consistent with their determinism, Stoics advocated a form of piety that stressed peaceful resignation to all that afflicts humans rather than an on-going attempt to revolt against it.
How can you, and why would you, revolt against something you believe can’t be other than it is?
I suggest that Jesus had a very different mindset, as did most of the early Church fathers.
When Jesus encountered people who were physically, socially or spiritually oppressed, he never once encouraged them to resign themselves to their situation as being part of God’s mysterious plan. He rather viewed their various afflictions as the direct or indirect result of Satan’s will – and he revolted against them.
For example, when Jesus confronted a Jewish woman with a deformed back, he asked, “should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free …”(Lk 13:16, emphasis added)? This is what we consistently find throughout the Gospels. Peter summarized Jesus entire ministry by saying he “went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil…” (Ac. 10:38, emphasis added).
Far from supposing that things like diseases and deformities were part of a great divine plan or that they glorified God, Jesus revealed God’s will and glorified God by coming against these things! Jesus ministry was not about helping people accept the world as it is – as though it now reflected God’s will. His ministry was about helping people revolt against the world as it now is – in order to bring about God’s will.
A Non-Violent Creation
A biblical teaching that we often overlook regarding the centrality of non-violence concerns God’s original vision of creation. We have grown so accustomed to the violence we experience as a part of nature that we don’t even question whether it is supposed to be the way it is. However when we see God’s vision for…
The Centrality of the Cross in Church History
Some readers of Crucifixion of the Warrior God may be assuming that the emphasis I’m placing on the cross is unprecedented in church history. While I will not deny that the cross-centered approached to interpreting Scripture’s violent divine portraits is new, the fact that I’m placing the cross at the center of my understanding of…
Prayer and the Open Future
Kurt Willems posted a blog today written by Derek Ouellette regarding why understanding that the future is partially open is the only thing that really makes sense of prayer. Derek addresses his thoughts to your younger self, the self that was more “Open. Teachable. Curious. Adventurous.” Let’s all be willing to respect and freely interact…
A Brief Theology of Salvation
In the NT, one of the most frequent and fundamental images used to depict our salvation is “redemption.” The root of this term lytron means a “ransom” or “price of release,” and the term itself (apolytrosis) was used as a kind of technical term for the purchase of a slave. If we apply this to…
Possibility of Love
In this video, Greg explores the core sin that stands in the way of love. You might be surprised by what it is. Video by The Work of the People
What To Do with the Bible’s Talk of Satan
Recently, Roger Olson raised the question on his blog about why Satan is ignored in modern theology. He observed how Greg’s theology takes an “obvious, ‘up front,’ blatant belief in a very personal, very real, very active Satan who has great power in the world.” Because we often have so little to say about Satan…