A Biblical Repsonse to Suffering and Evil (Guinness)

One of my favorite Christian books on suffering and evil is Unspeakable by Os Guinness. In this book Guinness talks about the origin of evil, the evil of evil, and the ways humans have responded to evil. A large part of Unspeakable also discusses the Christian response to evil. Below I’ll give a summary of Guinness’ three-fold Christian repsonse to evil. These three points are explained in much more detail in the book. I highly recommend it!

First, there is the acknowledgement that evil resides in each of our hearts. Such an acknowledgement includes both realism and a sense of personal responsibility, which are clear in contrast to the mistaken responses to evil that are widespread today.

The second key feature of a biblical response to evil is a commitment to forgive the evildoer appropriately, though without ever condoning the evil deed. Far from being weak or sentimental, such forgiveness is vital in showing that the past is not irreversible. This is the only hope for breaking the cycle of violence and opening the door to a very practical politics of the second chance.

The third feature is the commitment to take a practical stand against evil and injustice, whatever the cost. There are no recipes or formulas here, only stories, principles, and heroes. Yes, there are pitfalls when it comes to resisting evil – the well-intentioned do-gooder is not always the doer-of-good and may even be a doer-of-evil. But the same two maxims shine through all the stories of human goodness in the face of evil: however large or small our influence, however horrendous or ordinary the evil we face, we can at least all answer for ourselves as individual forces for good ‘always ready to help’ and one-person dissident movements drawing our line in the sand and announcing resolutely, ‘But not through me….”

Os Guinness, Unspeakable, p. 155.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

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