Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Whirlpool of Evil

I have subscribed to "Catechism in a Year", a daily email from Matthew Warner, and I had been posting some on Facebook that I thought would be of interest to people. Then I thought it would be better to put it on the blog, and then put the link on Facebook. That way it's available to more people.
How does God draw us out of the whirlpool of evil?

God does not just look on as man gradually destroys himself and the world around him through the chain reaction of sin. He sends us Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer, who snatches us from the power of sin.

"No one can help me" - this maxim of human experience - is no longer accurate. Wherever man may have strayed by his sins, God the Father has sent his Son there. The consequence of sin is death (cf. Rom 6:23). Another consequence of sin, however, is the marvelous solidarity of God, who sends us Jesus as our friend and Savior. Therefore original sin is also called felix culpa (= happy fault): "O happy fault ... which gained for us so great a Redeemer!" (Liturgy of the Easter Vigil). (YOUCAT question 70)

The idea of felix culpa is to me an antidote to the idea I used to have that it is not fair that I should have to suffer for what Adam and Eve did. Rather, in response to what Adam and Eve did, God provided a Savior, by whom I am blessed.

Thomas Aquinas said that God only allowed evil because he would bring out of it a greater good. That greater good is the redemption Jesus obtained for us on the cross. As one of my favorite hymns says, "Amazing love, how can it be, that thou my God shouldst die for me."


Greg Stovall said...

Thanks, Greg! This was very interesting! As as child, I never did have the feeling that it was unfair that I should suffer as a result of Adam and Eve’s decisions — it was just a part of “what is” for me that we all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. God knew when he created Adam that, by virtue of the gift of free will, that Adam would choose to exert that will in a manner contrary to God’s desire. And that is what I constantly struggle with in life — to surrender, and keep surrendering my will to be in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s guiding — it is so easy to pick up the reins and try to reign on my own throne, the one that is rightfully reserved for God alone.
I think I comprehend the perspective that Thomas Acquinas was presenting. I don’t quite agree with his perspective — I wouldn’t agree that God allowed evil BECAUSE it would provide the opportunity for greater good. That would align with the idea that we should sin more so that grace can be more in evidence, which is explicitly opposed by Paul. Rather, God, in His infinity knowledge, knew that the natural and fundamental consequence of free will unbridled is opposition to God, and he already had the solution and bridge available so that man, expressing free will, could freely choose an eternal relationship with the eternal Father. I tend to think we Christians are all much like the blind men touching an elephant — each perceives a different part of the elephant, so some of our immediate descriptions are different, but we are all experiencing ultimately the same animal.

Greg Graham said...

I agree with the blind men and elephant analogy, and I think your explanation of solution to free will is another good way to look at it.

Greg Stovall said...

:) On second thought, I think the "blind men" analogy is inappropriate. If we are conformed to the Holy Spirit and are guided by His thoughts, then we're not blind to the spiritual realities anymore, are we? Oops...