Whence the origin of evil? For millennia we have tried to answer this question. Is it the perverse use of human imagination? Is it an external force acting on humankind? Evil’s creative imagination brings sickening suffering, Stalin’s Gulags, Hitler’s death camps, Mao’s arbitrary genocides. Internet horror entertainment reflects and is reflected by actual human conduct. In Nottingham 15 year old Daniel Bartlam was convicted of murdering his mother with a hammer and setting fire to her body. In Overtown four masked intruders slashed the face and broke the skull and arms of an aged woman in a case of mistaken identity. Aaron Campbell, a 16 year old boy, raped and murdered 6 year old Alesha MacPhail on the island of Bute. Nurse Lucy Letby stands accused of murdering many babies who were in her care.
The Old Testament indicates the existence of a fallen heavenly personage given the name Satan who is permitted by God to create havoc on earth among human beings. Judaism laconically suggests that as we receive good from God, shall we not also receive evil? Human conscious existence depends upon choice. Evil is only identified in relation to good, thus love and heroism on one side and violence and bestiality on the other.
Jesus knew the reality of personally targeted evil upon Himself. For Paul there was an actively involved strategic spiritual enemy of the first Christian communities. The Church was not easily or cheaply brought into existence. Today evil is identified in the media with criminality but it is not associated with ordinary human life. Nor is there any narrative of necessary redemption in our popular culture and liberal society.
New Ager David Icke, the former Coventry goalkeeper and TV commentator used to claim to be a son of God while living in what he called ‘a turquoise triangle’ with two women but his prophecy that parts of Perthshire and Arran would disappear in 1997 proved false.
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and that could not be tolerated by his contemporaries. He suffered a cruel and horrific death which bore no relation to His exemplary life and conduct. Calvary was conspiratorial evil in action. Jesus rose from physical death in a transformed body and existence. His personal triumph makes evil a servant and not a master. Christianity has restrained much evil and continues to do so. Christianity is strong stuff. It can save from the worst of human capacities for evil. Jesus has redeemed serial killers on death row in America. Our Church version is so much weaker, politely avoiding the corollaries of our Faith. Keeping quiet about evil. Diminishing returns.