Good and Evil

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Concepts of Good and Evil

Some Christians believe:

  • God is perfect and the source of all goodness
  • Humans created in his likeness and have responsibility to live in a way that is pleasing to him
  • Evil is the result of not following God e.g. the absence of God
  • Augustine taught that evil is the act of turning away from the ultimate goodness of God
  • If there is evil in the world then there must also be a power of evil as well as a power of good, this power often referred to as the Devil
  • No such thing as the Devil and just that people choose to be evil
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The Devil in the Bible

Some Christians believe the Devil is a real being. In the Bible is is stated that the Devil was originally a good angel, but began trying to make himself better than God and so God threw him out of Heaven. 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven' - Luke 10:18

  • Devil has limited power and tries to persuade people to be disobedient to God in the same way he is. - Shown in Genesis 3 when he disguises himself as a serpent and convinces Eve to eat the forbidden fruit.
  • Story of Job - about a man who is obedient to God, Devil suggests to God that he is only obedient as God protects him. God allows the Devil to bring all kinds of suffering on Job to test his Faith. Job remains faithful and God rewards him.
  • Jesus is also tempted to be disobedient just after his Baptism. - Luke 4:8 while Jesus is in the desert satan offers him food, wealth and power. Jesus remains faithful - 40 days and 40 nights

'That ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray' - Revelation 12:9

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The Fall, Original Sin and Redemption

Christians believe that at creation Adam and Eve were in a state of innocences and in a perfect realtionship with God - Genesis 1-3

In the Garden of Eden God forbade Adam and Eve to Eat from the tree which would give them the knowledge of good and evil. Eve was tempted + ate the fruit, so did Adam - disobeyed God

THE FALL - The move of humans from a perfect relationship with God to disobedience and a broken relationship

  • Many Christians believe that The Fall has affected the entire human race.
  • Believe that every person born since The Fall is affected by this original sin e.g. they are born out of a relationship with God and need His salvation. Without redemption a person has no hope of eternal life in Heaven with God.
  • Christians believe redemption is God's plan for restoring humans to a relationship with him + that people who choose to seek God's forgiveness will have their relationship with God restored.

Jesus' death on the cross acts as the substitute for the punishment that original sin deserved. Xians believe humans who choose to live out of a relationship w/ God will be punished + condemned to Hell.

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Problem of Evil

Evil in the world causes problems for Christians

If God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent, how can God allow evil to exist?

Christians say there are two kinds of evil:

Moral Evil - the actions or behaviour of people which are seen to be cruel and uncaring for example: the Holocaust when Hitler tried to wipe out the entire Jewish race.

Natural Evil - sufering created through no direct fault of humans e.g. volcanoes and hurricanes which may kill and harm people but do not appear to be caused by human beings. 

Some may argue that some of the events which are described as natural evil are caused by humans because they could be caused by climate change.

The main question is why God would allow people who have led good lives to suffer in this way.

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Responses to the problem of Evil

Christians believe that God has a plan which allows evil and suffering in the world, but that plan is beyong comprehension of human kind.

Some people question why God would create Adam and Eve if he knew they were going to disobey Him.

- A Xian monk (Iraneus) suggested that man was not created perfect but immature needing to grow and develop into perfection. Evil is part of the process of understanding goodness. Evil is part of the process of becoming more like God.

This does not explain suffering of babies though.

Other Christians believe that suffering is a test of Faith, for ex. Job

Childbirth is painful - The Fall - Eve

Without Evil we wouldn't know good

We make a choice between good and evil

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Coping with Suffering

Christians believe that God is loving and compassionate, that he is aware of suffering and cares about how we feel.

At the time of the New Testament many people believed illness and suffering was punishment for sins that people had committed. They also believe you were being punished for the original sin.

Because of Jesus, Christians believe that God shared human suffering.

When suffering many Christians may pray to God either alone or as a community for strength

Times od suffering have made many Xians feel closer to God as they learn to rely on him

Christians accept God does not always answer prayers but God does choose the best for them

An example of Faith taking away the suffering of sin is found in Matthews gospel when Jesus heals a paralytic - 'Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven' Matthew 9:1-8

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Sources and Reasons for Moral Behaviour

Christians aim to be more like Christ each day. In order to know what to do in any given situation they are likely to rely on:

The Bible, Their Conscience and Faith in Christ

The Bible - contains advice in many forms:

  • 10 Commandments Ex.20, e.g. respect your parents, not to murder, not to worship idols
  • Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus explains the two greatest commandments
    • Love God with 'all your heart, soul and strength - will aim to please him in all you do
    • 'Love your neighbour as yourself - neighbour meaning anyone needing help

Parables help guide Xians on how to behave for ex. Good Samaritan teaches care for everyone

Conscience - God given a sense of right and wrong. Believe people instinctively know whether they are doing something right or wrong. If someone is doing something wrong they may feel guilty - this is God helping them recognise right from wrong. God cannot force notice of a persons conscience. Others may say it is due to how they've been brought up.

What would Jesus do? - Believe all Jesus' decisions on earth were the right ones. Perfect ex.

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