Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Powers of Evil: Not God, Not Creatures, Just Absurd

In "Our Good Creation and Evil Break with God" (9/15/12), we talked about our good creation. God created us in his image; that is, as creatures capable of sharing relationships of freedom, truth, love, and vitality with him, one another, and the rest of creation.

We also talked about how, with Adam and Eve, we broke those good relationships. Into this rupture in our relationships rushed powers of evil which God had rejected on our behalf. Sadly, while God was able to consider and then reject them, we weren’t. Instead, they overpowered us and we became their inescapable victims and unavoidable collaborators.

We will speak just a little bit more about these powers. Focusing on Jesus Christ would be preferable. But, to better understand his vital words and works, it is helpful to contrast them with the deadly dull words and works of these powers of evil. So, for now, we’ll talk about their nature: what they aren’t and what they are in their own absurd way.

They’re not divine. We need not confuse the nature of these powers of evil with God’s own unique divine nature. Despite their pretensions, powers of evil are not at all divine. They do not stand in nature and ability equal to but opposite God. There is no cosmic dualism: a good god and a bad god, of equal power, fighting each other over control of the universe. No: God alone remains the source, center, and goal of our lives.

They’re not creaturely. At the same time, we need not confuse the nature of these powers of evil with our own nature as creatures and humans. God created us in his own image. He created the rest of creation as the best possible place for us to live in a relationship of freedom, truth, love, and vitality with him. He called it all very good.

God our creator said yes to us and to the rest of creation. He positively willed us into existence. In stark contrast, God said no to the possibility of powers of evil. Yet being God, even his “No!” meant that these powers of evil gained a phantom existence as a negative possibility. They only became a negative reality when we humans misused our freedom for God. We did so when we ate the fruit forbidden us by God. By doing so, we summoned these powers for consideration despite God’s rejection of them and his warning of us.

These powers of evil are not fallen angels. Like us humans, angels are creatures. Like us, they were positively will by God and, with us and the rest of creation, were called very good. Tradition tells us that Satan was the best angel but challenged God and became the worst. Milton’s Paradise Lost is a powerful poetic version of this tradition. Oddly enough, this tradition is not biblical. In this essay, we're trying to be.

They’re absurd. So these powers of evil are neither divine, like God, nor creaturely, like us or angels. They have their own absurd set of characteristics. They are: (1) Phantom: they exist in their own peculiar immaterial way. They have no created bodies. (2) Spiritual: they claim autonomy from God and want to play god in our lives. (3) Personal: each has a mind and will of its own. (4) Malevolent: they are bent on destroying all that God calls good. (5) Aggressive: they are always on the attack against us. (6) Parasitic: they need energy to live on. They have none of their own, they get none from God, so they suck it from us and from other creatures through us.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.