Evangelical Friends' understanding of evil

3 views
Skip to first unread message

Johan Maurer

unread,
Feb 17, 2013, 9:04:40 AM2/17/13
to evangelism-...@googlegroups.com
In connecting evangelism with Friends' social testimonies, some Friends link those testimonies with the "Lamb's War," the spiritual struggle against the Principalities and Powers. However conceived, those Principalities and Powers have the effect of putting people in bondage, whether spiritual, social, political, or economic. 

In fact, some would say, all those forms of bondage are linked: where there is social or economnic bondage, there is spiritual bondage as well.

Is there a link between the Principalities and Powers and what the phenomena we label "evil"? In fact, what is evil? To help me explore this question, as evangelical Friends might understand it, I've been distributing this survey, which I want to post here in case any visitors to this forum might want to post or send me responses.

Thanks!

Evangelical Friends’ understanding of evil - survey questions:

1. Would you consider yourself an evangelical Friend? 

2. What scriptures help you understand the nature of evil?

3. Can you think of any specifically Friends (Quaker) teachings or emphases that affect your understanding of the nature of evil?

4. In making moral choices for good or evil, are there influences outside our own souls or minds that would influence us to make an evil choice? (Or would you prefer explanations of moral evil that don't involve external influences, such as our "fallen" or rebellious nature or addictive disorder that might reflect our own imperfection.)

5. If there are external influences, do they take the form of, or are they driven by, any form of intelligent entity that wills evil for us or through us? In other words, do concepts of demons or spirits that are not of Christ, or a concept of Satan, or any combination, play a role in your understanding of evil? Anything you could say that would illuminate your thoughts about this would be much appreciated.

6. Does the concept of external influences of evil as a systemic accumulation of evil choices, perhaps shaping or warping an organization's or institution's or even a nation's culture, play a role in your understanding of evil? (This concept allows for evil to be understood as an external force without requiring it to have an intelligence of its own. However, these ideas and the intelligent-evil ideas are not necessarily mutually exclusive.)

7. Last question!! Are there authors, leaders, teachers, or others who are especially helpful to you in understanding evil? Those whose names come up among evangelical Friends are Walter Wink (especially associated with question 6, above), C. Peter Wagner (question 5), Neil T. Anderson, and among Friends, T. Canby Jones (the Lamb's War), Ben Richmond, and Charles Mylander. Any annotations or additions you could make to this list would be greatly appreciated.

[November 20, 2005]

Licia Kuenning 
(Login LiciaKuenning)
Evil
November 20 2005, 6:16 AM 

Johan Maurer writes,

> In connecting evangelism with Friends' social testimonies,
> some Friends link those testimonies with the "Lamb's War," the
> spiritual struggle against the Principalities and Powers.
> However conceived, those Principalities and Powers have the effect
> of putting people in bondage, whether spiritual, social,
> political, or economic. 
>
> In fact, some would say, all those forms of bondage are linked: where
> there is social or economnic bondage, there is spiritual bondage as well.

Spiritual bondage (I would prefer term "habitual disobedience to Christ") may cause social or economic problems.  Not the other way around.

> 1. Would you consider yourself an evangelical Friend? 

No.  I am a Christian Friend who accepts the inspiration of Scripture--which should be good enough.

> 2. What scriptures help you understand the nature of evil?

I do not ask about "the nature" of things.  Christ gives me guidance on what I should do, not on abstract philosophical questions.

> 3. Can you think of any specifically Friends (Quaker) teachings
> or emphases that affect your understanding of the nature of evil?

The teaching that Christ has come to teach his people himself is helpful in realizing that evil need not have any power over our behavior, for Christ is our guide through all the difficulties in life.

I do not focus on "evil" as such, though of course it does exist.  Christ is in process of doing away with it.

> 4. In making moral choices for good or evil, are there influences
> outside our own souls or minds that would influence us to make an
> evil choice?

Yes, of course.  Bad advice of other people.  Failure to wait on the Lord for guidance (which is often the result of accepting the world's assumptions about how we should order our lives).  Fear of man, etc.

> (Or would you prefer explanations of moral evil that don't involve
> external influences, such as our "fallen" or rebellious nature or
> addictive disorder that might reflect our own imperfection.)

Our fallen nature is rebellious--and that is why other people often give us bad guidance.  They too are fallen.  So there is really no dichotomy.

> 5. If there are external influences, do they take the form of, or
> are they driven by, any form of intelligent entity that wills evil
> for us or through us? In other words, do concepts of demons or
> spirits that are not of Christ, or a concept of Satan, or any combination,
> play a role in your understanding of evil? Anything you could say that
> would illuminate your thoughts about this would be much appreciated.

I addressed this issue on the Friends-Theology list before the owner of that list made it impossible for me to participate on a level with other list members.  Johan can probably find my comments on this subject in the F-T archives--but briefly, no.  I do not believe in devils.

> 6. Does the concept of external influences of evil as a systemic
> accumulation of evil choices, perhaps shaping or warping an
> organization's or institution's or even a nation's culture, play
> a role in your understanding of evil? (This concept allows for
> evil to be understood as an external force without requiring it
> to have an intelligence of its own.

As I said above, other people influence us in bad ways, and when they belong to institutions, such as false churches, they may exercise more influence than they would merely as individuals.

> 7. Last question!! Are there authors, leaders, teachers, or others
> who are especially helpful to you in understanding evil? 

No--the really helpful source is Christ.

Licia Kuenning
Friends of Truth/Quaker Heritage Press/Farmington Friend
Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages