Why God Will Not Rid The World Of The Devil

Stanley Hauerwas ( Source )

Stanley Hauerwas (Source)

As previously stated at the end of the last post, Stanley Hauerwas wrote in his book Matthew, “That is why the devil is at once crafty but self-destructively mad, for the devil cannot help but be angry, recognizing as he must that he does not exist.”

The point being that the devil does not exist apart from other systems, structures and people. The devil does not exist outside of that which it is attached to. Like a parasite, the devil does not have the capacity to live outside of a host body. Thus, Hauerwas makes the case, this is maddening for the devil because the devil knows just how powerless the devil is.

The devil may not exist on its' own, but the presence and influence of the devil is felt. Which is why so many of us desire the end of the devil, but when we begin that work the tragic irony is revealed.

Even God will not rid the world of the devil.

The reason God will not eliminate the devil is because the force we call the devil, that does not exist without the life energy of other beings, is interwoven within humanity. It is like a tumor that has become entangled with vital organs. To remove the tumor the vital organs would be destroyed and the body would die. Given the option of killing the body or allowing the cancer to exist, God chooses not to kill the body but hold that body in God’s hands through the difficult times of life.

Because to destroy the a parasite so interwoven with creation, God would destroy the very creation God loves. The devil is crafty in so much that the devil figured out, even as a being that does not exist, how to survive.

One Emotional Check Away

It was stated in the Prosperity Now report that 40% of Americans are one paycheck away from poverty. This is just one more reminder that so many of us are living week to week and it is vitally important that there is a net floor that provided by society that no one can fall below. I am not an expert on how good America is at providing that floor, but 40% seems rather high for such a wealthy country.

While it may be that 40% of us are one paycheck away from financial poverty, I would add that it is at least that many who are one “emotional check” away from devastation.

Photo by  Sydney Sims  on  Unsplash

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Most of us receive love and support from family, friends and community. It is something that I see each week when I attend worship. People coming together to remind one another they are loved, that God is with us, that we are bound together and that when life crashes down there is a foundation that you will not fall below..

These "emotional checks” are regular in most of our lives. However, in tragedy, loss or just circumstances, there can be a lapse in those “emotional checks” and many of us are not able to sustain that loss.

While the government opens back up and we still make our way to try to build up the social floor of support, let us not overlook the sources of our “emotional checks” in our world. Break bread with friends, call a loved one, connect with strangers, practice mercy, share in love, participate in a worshiping community - these actions are among those that help each of us through those times when our lives shut down but we still need our emotional checks.

“What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies.”

Clearly Cranmer was among the happiest of the reformers...

Clearly Cranmer was among the happiest of the reformers...

Thomas Cranmer was the Archbishop of Canterbury during Henry the VIII's reign. He saw a lot of craziness from the king of his time but he also saw a lot of craziness from the schism in the Church that has come to be called the "Reformation." 

Ever a student of his surroundings, Cranmer noted much about the human condition that recent Psychology and Behavioral Economics has come to ratify. Cranmer's anthropology is perhaps best summed up by the Cranmer specialist, Ashley Null, who stated it this way: “What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies.”

As products of the "enlightenment" we like to think that we make rational decisions and that our decisions are guided by reason and understanding the facts of the matter. We hang our hat on the idea that if we could just get the other side to see the facts and use their reason, they too would see as we see. If only liberals could see the silliness of their desire for a greater national government! If only conservatives could see the irrationality of their position!

Cranmer understood that our mind is not doing the choosing. It is our heart and our gut. We use our mind to only justify our already desired choice. Much of our desire to "learn the issues" is the work to discover the "flaw" in the others position and to reinforce our previously held position. Open your heart and you will see where your decisions will take you. Perhaps more importantly, look at the heart of another and see that they too are just like you, just trying to choose and justify the longing of their heart.

Go easy on one another. 


Can we stop fighting terrorism?

My friend Rev. Lance Marshal  is a much better preacher than I am (as well a better academic,  much more creative, thought provoking and all around a better person). A few weeks ago in a sermon after the Paris attacks he spoke about terrorism. Specifically he drew the parallel to terrorism as cancer. 

In his sermon Season Of Saints: The Way of Healing on November 14, at minute mark 25 Lance fleshes out this metaphor. 

If you don't listen to it, you are missing out on some of the best 5 minutes of preaching. Take time to listen to it. 

Seriously, the last 90 seconds is a prayer so if you only have 3:30 minutes take it to listen to Lance. 

When you do you will hear Lance, a cancer survivor himself, talks about cancer as something that is to be cured despite it is something we talk about "fighting". If it is true that if all of humanity being one body of Christ, then when we "fight" terrorism with more pain, terror and bombs, we are only fighting ourselves. Like cancer, terrorism is not anything you can "fight" or "beat" it is something that can only be cured.