Theological Proposition #1

This post comes out of reflection on the most recent bombings in London. Obviously, it will not end there or I would not have numbered it. I can't say when prop #2 might bubble up from within, but this is an adequate beginning for me. I would appreciate comments and questions because this sort of writing is new to me, and I lay no claim to its universality. Usually, theological treatises do not begin with the problem of evil, they start "in the beginning," then again I don't know many classical theologians that write for blogs...

The problem of evil is that evil is a problem, for everyone. There is no country, no church, and no individual exempt from this problem. It affects what and how we believe. It affects our behavior and our words. It affects our worship and our service. The problem of evil is here to stay regardless of how many people we attempt to eradicate in order to appease our conscience and our sense of justice.

My argument for this is simple, evil is easier. It is easier to be selfish, to be self-serving, to be rude, and to be ignorant, spiteful, hateful, or ill-tempered. What may be the greatest evil of all is the belief that one has a lock on goodness. The second greatest, believing that there is a great gulf, divide, whatever between what is evil and what is good. Within each person lies the capability to do and be both evil and good. Therefore, no one person is one or the other. Instead each person simultaneously functions in both capacities, rendering all decisions thought to be black or white more of a gray muddled mess.

Granted, sometimes the gray is lighter and sometimes it is darker, but it is still gray; that is it still has some opacity to it that can be seen through to the opposite pole. The internal capacity for both evil and good is why I do not believe in a third party devil or tempter. I believe we carry enough evil within ourselves that we do not need to project this on to a super-natural being or specter.

Now, I suppose the argument could be made that if there is no devil, or if the devil is a projection of an internal evil then God could be nothing more than a projection of the good side of us? This is something that philosophers and others have debated furiously. While there is some merit to the argument, I think that the capacity for goodness comes through faith in something greater than the individual. When I think of the good, or lighter gray, activities that we are capable of I am drawn to thinking about an Ultimate Projection who aids our abilities to do good in this world.

It takes work, a hell of a lot of work, to do good things for this world and those around us. That, for me, points to something greater than us, something greater than our comprehension, an Ultimate Projection. The ability to act beyond the normal capacity of a human being is the ability to believe and act out of faith in this Ultimate Projection.

The problem with the idea of an Ultimate Projection is that it can be myopic. One person’s recollection of the good within may not match with someone else’s. Therefore, communities of faith are needed so that the collective projection more accurately reflects the image it is intended to reflect. The caveat is that all projections of the community must be included or the view is incomplete. Moreover, no church that chooses to exclude people based on arbitrary characteristics can lay claim to a more complete projection.



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