I spent a chunk of the weekend getting back into P. T. Forsyth as I started working on the next post in my Christology series — dealing with the Judge’s cross. I’m desperately trying to resist throwing up a patchwork of quotes from The Justification of God.
But I won’t be able to get to it until after I speak at the La Trobe Uni Christian Union lunchtime ‘open talk’ tomorrow. I’m speaking about evil.
And I’ve found Terry Eagleton’s new book, On Evil, really stimulating as I’ve got stuck into preparation. Take this cracker, for instance (p 123):
Traditionally, evil is seen not as sexy but as mind-numbingly monotonous. Kierkegaard speaks of the demonic in The Concept of Anxiety as “the contentless, the boring”. Like some modernist art, it is all form and no substance. Hannah Arendt, writing of the petit-bourgeois banality of Adolf Eichmann, sees him as having neither nor any demonic dimension. But what if this depthlessness is exactly what the demonic was like? What if it is more like a minor official than a flamboyant tyrant?
When it comes to my talk, this is my rough plan at the moment (I’m launching out of Mark 5):
- Incomprehensible? Evil events (like 9/11) are greeted with cries of ‘incomprehensible’. And we’re right to resist attempts to explain them away with excuses drawn from extenuating circumstances, etc…
- The evil reality of evil. Yet we can drive the incomprehensibility thing so far that we end up with no way to condemn evil. If evil just happens — mysteriously, inexplicably — then its evil reality is undermined.
- God’s response to evil. In Jesus God doesn’t so much resolve the riddle of evil as confront it, plumbing its evil depths and overcoming it, signing its death warrant (for it has no ultimate future in the world Jesus has reclaimed).
What do you reckon?