10th April

Why Is There Evil?

I have given you the choice between a blessing or a curse. Deuteronomy 30: 1

By granting us the wonderful gift of freedom, God gave us the capacity to do evil as well as do good. Indeed, we would not be free unless God had given us this ability: there is no freedom for the person who does good by instinct and not by choice. Likewise, as the holy Welsh monk Pelagius taught, there is no freedom if it is impossible for us to do good. In this sense the capacity to do evil is itself good; evil actions, although God does not want them, are themselves signs of the goodness of God in allowing them.

Some Christians developed the idea that ‘original sin’, which affects us all, means that people who do not listen to God in nature or in human beings, and who therefore damage them, are not responsible, because only born again Christians can be expected to know God’s ways. Pelagius taught that each person is capable of both good and evil, and is responsible for their choices. He was accused of also teaching that human beings are born without sin, and fatalistic Christians thought that ruled out the need for a Saviour. That certainly would not be a true Christian belief, but the extracts from Pelagius in this book provide sound Christian guidance.

A person might say that the world would be a better place if everyone within it were always good and never evil. But such a world would be flawed because it would lack one essential ingredient of goodness, namely freedom. When God created the world he was acting freely; no other force compelled God to create the world. Thus by creating humans in his image, God had to give them freedom. A person who could only do good and never do evil would be in chains; a person who can choose good or evil shares the freedom of God.
Pelagius To Demetrius.

In the strength of the Warrior of God
I oppose all that pollutes.
In the eye of the Face of God
I expose all that deceives.
In the energy of the Servant of God
I bind up all that is broken.

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