Thursday, August 28, 2014

Facing the Dilemma of Evil

This Sunday I am offering something of a follow up to the series on God I just concluded.  I found that after my sermon on the idea of God being love and that our example as Christians should be that of loving people, I was asked by no fewer than three different people on three different occasions to respond to the horrific actions of ISIS.  The questions usually revolved around the idea of how do we love them or should we even love them?

The answer I offered was yes, we should love them.  However, we also have to move to protect the people that they are threatening because we are to love our neighbors.  ISIS is a neighbor we are to love, but we also have to recognize that there comes a point when there is no conversation, no compromise, no reasoning with them.  At that point, it becomes our duty to our neighbors to protect them from the advancement of such brutality.

This is not to be entered into lightly.  There are always consequences for actions, and actions that necessitate violence are most especially not to be taken quickly or without consideration for their ramifications.  So how does that stack up against the teachings of Jesus?  It doesn't.  Jesus did not teach, use, or advocate violence.  What we have to wrestle with is the ambiguity of life in that there are those times in which we have to take up arms - contrary to the teachings of Christ.

So this week, I will focus on the dilemma of combating evil.  It is a daunting subject, and one that I find is constrained by time.  It merits further discussion, and I hope to provide only a catalyst for thought.

I would encourage you to take time in your private reflections to read some of the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor who was arrested by the Nazis for attempting to assassinate Hitler.  Bonhoeffer was ultimately killed by the Nazis, but not before writing some extraordinary observations for Christians to ponder.  In particular I would draw your attention to his works "The Cost of Discipleship" and "Letters and Papers from Prison."

ISIS is an example of a group that seemingly will not be stopped by anything other than violence.  How do we approach that in terms of our Christian witness?  Carefully, to say the least.

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