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What is evil? August 8, 2005

Posted by roopster in Bible, Christianity, faith, God, Jesus, Religion, spirituality, Theology.

For today’s blogs I’d like to comment on a few comments by Novato.

Why do you ignore the fact that Jesus himself and his message were divisive? You write as though this eternal struggle between good and evil; right and wrong is something new. Come on, get a grip.

I disagree that Jesus was divisive. This is a great inconsistency of the gospels and I choose to put my faith in the belief that he was not. If you read the teachings of Jesus you would get the idea that he came to bring peace not to divide. In fact, if he did come to be divisive, he would be a hypocrite and our beliefs would be a disappointing inconsistency. The question one has to ask themselves is whether this is reality or if the gospel authors bias reporting of the facts? I choose to believe that Jesus was consistent in his teachings vs. putting my faith in the 100% accuracy of the gospels.

Also, the “struggle between good and evil” is at the core of the point I’m trying to make. However, what is evil? I define evil as acts against humanity NOT as the inability to follow religious laws and traditions. Jesus defied religious laws and traditions but he did stand against evil and stood for living a life of compassion and mercy.

Intolerance of evil is a virtue, not a vice.

I 100% agree. We should all be intolerant of evil (and, yes, NAMBLA should be considered an evil act since it’s not about religious traditions or laws but an act against children). This evil is also universally defined by most major religions.

Why are you worried about appearing to be intolerant or divisive? I am glad that Christians preached to me in a clear and direct way that Jesus could set me free from drug / alcohol addiction, fornication, perversion, and a life style that was leading me toward death. I was blind to much of it, but their “intolerance” saved my life. Sure, many Christian make blunders in their presentation of the gospel and may even be intolerant or judgmental. But, I think it would be a greater wrong to keep our mouths shut while we wait until we’re perfect.

The reality is, your encounter with Jesus is no different that an encounter that a hardened criminal in the inner city has with Islam. They both radically change your lives instantaneously. What brings about change is an internal radical decision to leave one way of life and embrace another.

From my perspective, it’s the teachings of Christ that are important. Choosing to live a life defined by his core teachings brings about great internal peace. At the core of his teachings is love, mercy, compassion, peace, kindness, forgiveness, and tolerance. He could have condemned the woman caught in the act of adultery, as the law of Moses defined, but he did not. He was compassionate towards her and I’m sure her life was radically changed. This is the message of grace and peace that we should preach.

So, please don’t misunderstand me, there is evil in this world and we should be very intolerant of that evil. However, let’s get to the point that we truly define what evil is. For example, a relationship between two consenting adults of the same sex is not evil. It is different. Some may see it as ‘gross’ or strange, but evil, it is not.

In response to Are we inherently evil? , Novato said

I see your point but disagree. Man and the world, apart from God’s influence would slip into depravity. Look at our own society. We experience a momentary surge of goodness reflected in spiritual revival, but at the same time our cultural is steadily, and more decisively, being dragged toward a moral sewer. As we give God a lesser place in our lives / culture, the more evil we become. Take God, and his influence on our lives, completely out of the picture and we would slip into complete and total decadence. I would say that the goodness in our lives comes from without; the evil from within. Of course, our ability to respond to and embrace goodness (God) is built into us, and so seems to come from within, but even that is from Him.

I continue to contend that man is basically good. Over the course of the past few years, I’ve met so many non-Christians that are really good people. In fact, in the church ,I had encountered many individuals who were abusive, manipulative, controlling, and downright mean. I began to question my fundamental Christian belief which states that only through a relationship with God through Jesus Christ we can be good. I came to the conclusion that our creator placed that goodness in us. Religion brings the condemnation on us and convinces us that we are evil in order to create demand for what they are supplying. Religion also expands the definition of evil to go beyond acts against humanity to simple things like, in the case of my upbringing, dancing, smoking a cigarette or having a glass of wine. It even gets more ridiculous than that in some circles where a woman cutting their hair or wearing makeup is considered evil.

Yes, there are some who act against their conscience and over time will become truly evil but there are also many who do not.



1. Novato - May 14, 2005


Thanks for considering my comments worthy of….well, comment. I’m reading the other related posts that you refer to before responding in full. But, I did read “Was Jesus a Hypocrite” and I do agree with you that the gospel writers inserted their own spin/prejudices making Jesus appear to be a contradictory hypocrite.

However, you got it backwards. The REAL Jesus is the whip swinging, eye plucking, limb severing, Pharisee eating Jesus we see portrayed, who’s by the way consistent with the God of the Old Testament. You see, the writers were a bunch of limp wristed revisionists that just couldn’t deal with the truth, and so had to water it down to fit their own and twistedness and prejudices.

You may disagree with me, but of course you must admit that my spin is just as legitimate (or illegitimate) as yours, since we are both using the same illogical presumption to arrive at our erroneous conclusions. You must also admit that if I am wrong, then you most certainly are likewise wrong.

I’ll write more later.


2. Roopster - May 14, 2005


I agree. If you read some of the earlier posts, I talked about faith being a choice. The reality is we do see both of these displayed in the N.T.

I almost wrote it all off as too contraditory to even merit scholarly consideration then I decided to place my faith in the direction I’m heading.

Either way, we have no way to prove anything. We simply have to choose what to believe. But isn’t that what faith really is?


3. Novato - May 14, 2005


I think both postulations are wrong; yours and mine. The truth is somewhere else.

It’s like this. If you ask my father who I am, he will describe a son. If you ask my wife who I am, she will describe a very different person she knows as a husband. If you ask my brother…the same, but different. If you ask my children who I am they will describe their father, who’s very different than a son, husband, or brother. (They know my love and my wrath even though I teach them peace.)

So, do I have multiple personalities? Am I or they confused? Am I a hypocrite, like you suggested Jesus might be? Is someone misrepresenting who I really am? Obviously it’s none of the above. However, I think that you are making a similar error by defining who you think Jesus is based on your limited understanding, experience, and knowledge regarding who he is.

I still haven’t read your other blogs yet. I just got in from appliance shopping, and now I’m BBQing chicken. I’ll get to them later.


4. Roopster - May 14, 2005


I’ve made a conscious decision and one I’m well aware of, to embrace a portion of what is attributed to Jesus in the N.T. What I embrace are the ideas that line up with what I see as our purpose here on earth and how we should live. I then read the Bible through these glasses 🙂 It’s a personal thing as I believe faith should be. I can no longer be a part of the hypocrisy and the contradictions of fundamental christianity. It’s just not for me anymore.

However, I do sincerely believe that this is who Jesus really is. Of course I can’t say for sure. There are even those who believe he never even existed (movie coming out on this later this year called ‘The Beast’ on this subject). All we have really is our faith and that imprint placed in us by our creator.


5. Novato - May 15, 2005


Yes, I agree that faith is a choice. I’d rather refer to it as a decision. Your definition of “choice” seems to be that you get to pick and choose what you believe. Granted, faith is a personal thing, but it should be based on objective truth; not arbitrarily based on “how I feel-what I think” about it. If what you or I choose to believe is different than the truth, then our faith is a lie and in vain. Let me give you an example.

In your blog “The Philosophy of Christianity” you begin by alleging glaring contradictions in the Bible. I thought, “Oh good, now he’s going to really shake my faith in the Bible as The Book God’s been watching over to make sure we get HIS message right.” Then you cite three accounts of Jesus’ comments regarding the greatest commandment as an example of this apalling contradiction that has led you to throw out the accounts eyewitnesses.

Roop, there are no contradictions in those three accounts. There are nuances, but certainly no contradiction. The fact that one writer “seems” to paint the Pharisees as combative (your word), and the other writer “seems” to leave that detail out is not a contradiction. It is a nuance and one writer just provides additional information; not contradictory information. But you have subjectively chosen to believe otherwise. I dare say that you have become like the religious fundamentalists (Pharisees) you despise; straining out gnats and swallowing a camel.

Because you don’t understand something or because one account provides additional, or incomplete information doesn’t make it a contradiction or lie. For instance, the Monk followed up your gnat straining by citing supposed contradictions in the genealogies of Jesus. He obviously is unaware that Jesus was indeed related by blood to both Joseph and Mary, apart from the marriage union. There’s no contradiction, but there seems to be a blind straining of gnats and a willful desire to jump on supposed inconsistencies and ignore facts.

Of course it’s your freedom to choose, just like the Pharisees could choose to persecute Jesus over details they didn’t understand about his teaching while missing the “meat” of his message.

Let me add that I’m on board with you 110% regarding the abuse issues, bad theology, control, codependence and other destructive forces at work in the modern church. It’s definitely off in a rut. But you seem to be reactively going off into the rut on the other side of the road.

For example, you claim that the accounts of Jesus’ harsh treatment of the Pharisees are a distortion of the real Jesus (whom you pretend to know better than those who were eyewitnesses) while you preach mercy, kindness, love; i.e. the “real” message of Jesus. However, I find the disdain and ridicule of “fundamentalists” and WOFers expressed on your blog(s) to be equal to or exceeding the harsh treatment attributed to Jesus that you claim is inconsistent with the “true” message that you claim to have. Now, that is a contradiction. You see my friend, if I was to give my perception of your blog, I would characterize you as someone who hates the institutionalized church and wants to bring it down. However, based on all the “amen” comments I’ve read, I’m sure other readers would characterize the blog as a breath of fresh air that’s “speaking the truth in love.” Mmmm…sounds a lot like Jesus to me. You know what? I can agree with and embrace both takes. Like Jesus’ teaching, you’re dealing with complex people and complex multifaceted issues. There’s no contradiction in the two perceptions I suggest of your blog, just like there’s no contradiction in the New Testament’s portrayal of Jesus and his message.


6. Roopster - May 15, 2005


I can go through a theological discourse on Bible contradictions but that’s not the point of this blog. Read my initial “Is the Bible the Word of God?” post to get a feel for where I stand on the Bible. On that post you mentioned, I was really making a point on the way the “teacher of the law” was viewed to expand a previous post.

I view things very simplistically now. I spent my years being a Bible scholar and frankly I don’t have the time or energy for it.

I know where I am do not fit the mold or make sense to many within the church. I used to enjoy debating with people who believe like I do now 🙂

BTW, great point on the pharisees. You are correct.


7. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - May 16, 2005

Roopster and Novato,

What an interesting discourse between the both of you. I feel honored and enriched by being privy to it.

I’ve known Roopster for over 20 years, and although I have almost none of the indoctrination or experience he has at this subject, I must admit I have seen such an evolution in his thought. It’s as if as each plateau he reaches, his realization of truth is purified a bit more. With each step something useful is picked up, and some useless item put down.

We are all on a journey of discovery. No one takes the same route. If you called upon people from all the over globe to rally to one spot there would be many ways to arrive there. Well, that’s just my own opinion.

“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” ~ George Iles

8. Roopster - May 16, 2005


I enjoy discussions. I’m sure it’s a little frustrating to discuss this with me now though. I remember my day of being on the other side of these types of discussions. The reality is, if I do not cling to the Bible as “The Word of God” what basis do I have to place my faith? This is the question that use to frustrate me. Let me quote something you said a while back:

I believe it goes back to the innate reasoning that exists in all of us. Some things just seem to naturally ‘gel’ or feel right in your life, and some things do not. It’s really very simple, ‘God’ puts us in a harmony-track with our environment. Trusting this feels natural. It flows and permeates through our being and everything around us. It is not unique, because it exists everywhere. What is unique is OUR ability to cognitively be part of the process. Using this process puts us in harmony with ‘God’ and our surroundings.

That’s pretty much the way I see things. However, it’s very relative reasoning. How do I know that my “inate reasoning” is right?

It’s just so much simpler to believe in a book and use it as the guide. However, I didn’t leave the book. The book left me 🙂 (To paraphrase what Ronald Reagan said about the Democratic Party). When I began to truly take the blinders off in my approach to the Bible, the contradictions in philosophy and beliefs were too glaring for me to embrace. The whole thing became so schizophrenic to me and I could no longer live with the excuses and cliches that are used to cover things up.

As Natalie Merchant says:

Have I been blind
Have I been lost
Inside myself and my own mind
By what my eyes have seen?


9. Roopster - May 16, 2005

P.S. Of course, the only reason really I opened my eyes to question the Bible was due to the fact that the abusive, manipulative, and controlling leadership that I encountered in the church, all used the Bible to back up their actions. I then used the Bible to show them they were spiritually abusing people and we were at a stand still. The Bible strongly supporting both sides (from our individual perspectives).

BTW, Let’s all encourage Novato to start a blog!


10. Novato - May 16, 2005


Yea, I need to start a blog, like I need to attend church membership classes.

I did check out “Is The Bible the Word of God” and really enjoyed / agreed with much of it. You are so right about the idolatrous “Book Worship”. That’s as bad as the “Worship our Worship” cult I used to belong to. (We worshipped the Book too.) “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

However, I still believe that God has overseen / intervened in the preservation of the message of His Book. The OVERWHELMING weight of historical, archealogical, and common sense evidence (theological evidence too, but I know that won’t impress you) support the accuracy and veracity of the Bible. The supposed contradictions you choke on deal with superfluous information, incomplete information, or things you merely don’t understand; things perhaps no one understands. But those are not contradictions, and no reason to abandon logic or reason, and ignore the evidence.

Here’s my concluding thoughts in this discussion. I’ve had a very similar experience to yours. I’ve been rejected, burned out, myself a religious fundamentalist, WOFer, codependent, victim of abuse during a 30+ yr. experience with the church almost identical to yours. There is a major difference though.

My background was non religious. I was a hippy with no fundamentalist indoctrination or conditioning when some Jesus Freaks witnessed to me at a shopping center and prayed with me on a little grassy knoll (not the same herb I had in my pocket at the time). I needed/wanted help, but at the time I didn’t believe that the Bible was the Word of God, Adam & Eve ever existed, or that Jesus was God. I don’t think I believed anything in the Bible as a matter of fact; in my mind it was merely a collection of stories with moral messages. I wasn’t anti anything; I just didn’t believe.

But I did need help with my drug addiction problem and some other issues, and I’d called out to God a few days earlier. I didn’t know who He was for sure or if He was even there, and I prayed that way. Two weeks earlier I’d been witnessed to for the first time in my life by some Campus Crusade for Christ people in Ann Arbor, Mi, but I thought they were idiots.

However, when my hippie friend led me in a simple prayer asking Jesus for help, instantaneously God flooded my life with Himself. I can’t explain it, but I was dramatically and spontaneously changed. The addictions instantly disappeared. I was transformed in that moment. There was no process, no deliverance, no counseling, and no waiting. It was instant and it was a MIRACLE. He even removed my desire for cigarettes, which I’d been struggling to quit for months. No cold turkey; no temptation, no gritting my teeth. He took away the desire. It was as though I’d never used them. It never occurred to me whether my lifestyle was pleasing to God or not. I didn’t care. But I did know that it was taking me somewhere I didn’t want to go.

This was not the result of conditioning. It wasn’t the result of anything I believed or had been indoctrinated in since, as I said, I didn’t believe in the Bible, church, any particular religion, and I wasn’t even sure if God was there. But I was desperate and He (whoever he was) looked like my only hope. Those people told me he was Jesus, so I asked him for help.

Earlier you said that the same thing happens to converts to Islam and other religions. But, I wasn’t converting to a religion, belief system, or discipline. Listen, I’ve heard countless testimonies of Muslims, Budhists, Scientologists, Mormons, etc. What they talk about is not what happened to me. I met the one true living God. Like CS Lewis said, either Jesus is who the Bible (the eyewitnesses)says he is or else he is a lunatic or worse yet a liar. He can not be just a nice guy or great moral teacher and be a liar/deceiver too. He said, “before Moses was, I AM.” He called himself “I AM”, in other words God.

After that encounter in the shopping center I started going to church and got entangled in the matrix of spiritual Nintendo games, codependence, and the abuse that gets so much play on this blog. After investing almost 25 yrs of my life in that hell, my world came crashing down. You know the story since it’s like yours. It shook me to the very foundation of my faith and life, and this is where the difference is between my journey and yours I think (tell me if I’m wrong).

When I was stripped of everything I knew Christianity, God, and Jesus to be, even my own identity that was completely reliant on that system, I was brought to the point of even questioning God’s existence. Eventually all I had left was that day in 1971 when Jesus changed me forever. So I went back there and started over again. But, you didn’t have a “System Restore Point”, (to use XP terminology) like that to go back to.

Roop, the context of your life was such that you never got to make that kind of choice; have that kind of confrontation like I had in that shopping center. And to make matters worse the same people who were telling you that Jesus is God, and you can trust the Bible, were also the ones doing the abuse, manipulation, religion, and other bullshit we talk about on this blog. (Look, I’m saying “we” like I’m part of this or something.)

Morpheus explains “The Matrix” to Neo. From the movie, “The Matrix.”

“The Matrix is a system Neo. That system is our enemy, but when you’re inside you look around. What do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand. Most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inhered, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.”

You were like one of those people in the matrix Paul. You took the Red Pill and now you’re dealing with the consequences. I was born outside the Matrix, and that’s my salvation. Interestingly, your present state of mind is not that different from mine when I met Jesus. The good news is you are perfectly positioned for God to burst upon the scene and do some incontrovertible miracle in your life that’s totally unrelated to your “faith”, religous belief, etc. just like happened to me. Keep seeking my dear friend and you will find. I’m confident everything’s going to be alright.

Hasta Pronto,


11. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - May 16, 2005


You really are an interesting dude. I can appreciate a person who can explain themselves and their thoughts in print so well.

I realize that this current blog ‘appears’ to be for you and Roopster, but I would like to express (without so many words) my take on this.

I was a miserable Christian. Didn’t enjoy a bit of it. Yes, some of it was the fake people, the many auditorium-like religious centers, and the liturgical crap. The biggest part was that as much as I surrendered, and cried out to God to break me down and build me up. Nothing ever happened. NOTHING!!! Yep, I know, I probably didn’t do it right. I should have stuck it out. Prayed. Opened my heart more. Prayed. Read the Bible more. Prayed. Blah, blah, blah. I have very little faith (currently) to invest in any god.

Having stated that I am still very interested, though, interacting about it. To hear a NEW message, the olds didn’t do much.

12. Novato - May 17, 2005


I’m glad you chimed in. I intended to acknowledge your previous contribution in my last post, but it got long and time got short.

I was a miserable Christian also for more years than I like to think about. You know, during the first days and weeks following that encounter with Jesus everything in my life was overshadowed by two things. One, I knew that this was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me, and secondly, I knew that I had nothing to do with it. It was sweet. Since I had nothing to do with it, other than saying “yes” to Him, I couldn’t take credit or responsibility for it. It was all about Jesus, His love for me, His forgiveness, His goodness.

Church was the place I learned how to “work” God. 3 step, 7 step, 9 step seminars on how to get God to give up the goods and clinch the deal. Soon, it became all about me and my performance to prove how much I loved Him. It became about my faith rather than His faithfulness. I found out, as you no doubt did also, that basing my walk on the intensity of my love for God accomplishes very little, changes little, and only leads to frustration. However, when we know and experience His perfect love for us, that changes everything. Unfortunately most preaching puts the emphasis on our DUTY to love Him, which kills the whole deal.

For me, returning to that first love meant getting back to that place where it is all about Him. I’m still carrying some baggage and scars, but I’m enjoying life and Jesus again.

I used to ask charismatics, “How many of you need to pray more?” Nearly everybody would raise their hand. Then I’d ask, “How many of you need to read the Word more?” Oh, they’d raise two hands. Then I would ask, “When is it going to be enough?” A dead silence would fall over them. It would never be enough. Talk about rats running in a squirrel cage. I never went anywhere but all the activity made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile.

Baron, I wish I knew what to say about your own frustrating experience. I know that Jesus wasn’t the source, and I wish I could give you some of the good stuff I’ve found.

24 comes on in a few minutes. I’ll check back when it’s over.


13. HarryTick™ - May 17, 2005

Novato, do we know each other?

BD, no sweat. Gods that require forcing belief in aren’t much for being gods.


“What is evil?” indeed! It seems that, contrary to what you suggest, no matter how many people I ask, I can never get a very solid, definitive demarcation between good and evil. And it is constantly sold to me as rock solid and constant. Yet, I’m left to interpolate some imagined boundary between all the different perceptions, no matter how closely they might agree at the extremes of the spectrum.

14. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - May 17, 2005

Like I’ve posted earlier, “Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” I think (at least for me) it all starts there. From my Christian following to now, there’s has been much tearing away, striping, and casting off. I’m back to bare walls. Without getting into any of the spiritual/faith based cliches (which I despise), I do not wish to hold out my hand (in faith) into the dark. I cannot, and will not have faith in an unseen, personified deity. (I could rant on the whole ‘personification’ thing, but I’m really not interested in that scholarly defense.)

IF there is a ‘person’ of God, I’m definitely not real pleased with Him/Her/It. And I’m completely disgusted and revolted by the church leadership, and the pathetic, sheepish followership. It is time for a renewal of truth and purity of thought and action. This old ‘white-wash’ of a belief system is fading.

15. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - May 17, 2005


By the way, I appreciate your post. I know (and remember) what you’re writing about. Sort of a been-there-done-that thing. I can’t come full circle with a Christian walk. I can’t go back. I must “try” to move forward. If God ‘is’ then God ‘will’ for me. But He’ll have to change the approach with me. He can’t send his Earthly minions, I’m not receptive to their pleas. He can’t do the whole Job-ish, “break me down” scheme, as it will only make me hate Him. He’ll have to appeal to my heart, on a deep, personal, one-on-one level. He’ll have to break through the ice and stone and steel. But then again, I don’t believe there is a ‘Him.’

16. Novato - May 17, 2005


I don’t know. Ask The Roopster.


Thanks for chiming in. I had intended to acknowledge your previous contribution in my last post but it got long and time short. Earlier today I typed a nice long message to you, but when I hit Publish I got an error message from a server somewhere. When I click “Back” the message was gone and so was my time. I don’t have time to redo what was undone. But here’s the best part.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Jesus, Matthew 11:28-30, The Message Bible

I’m learning those unforced rhythms of grace and I love it.


17. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - May 18, 2005


“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Jesus, Matthew 11:28-30, The Message Bible

I wish it was that easy for me. I see things differently, and IT IS ill fitting of me.

All I ask, all I plead, is for tbe Divine One (God) to be revealed to me. Revealed, personally, to me. Not through some Earthly, human charlatan. I expect a personal audience with Creator, if He exists.

18. Novato - May 18, 2005


I wish I could say something that would just fix it for you. But I don’t have it.

I feel like the answer is inside you though. I doubt that you don’t need an audience with God. There’s something else that you need to get in touch with or deal with. Something inside you. I’m not pretending to have some kind of supernatural revelation. I just know how I’m wired and I know we’re all not so different. I’m not talking about some kind of sin either. Sin’s never been an obstacle for God. For us, yes, but not for him. But there’s something on your side of the equation that’s holding you back. It could be sin, a wound, a fear. I say that because if there’s a problem connecting with God, it’s never because of unwillingness or inability on God’s part. We like to blame Him because it exonerates us.

I’m praying for something good to happen to you.


19. Novato - May 18, 2005


I meant to say, “I doubt that you need an audience with God.” Plenty of people have had those and it still didn’t help.


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