Monday, September 6, 2010
Evil as light, charity and social justice: forgetting the cross
“The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, charity, historical necessity, or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone brought up on our traditional ethical concepts, while for the Christian who bases his life on the Bible it merely confirms the fundamental wickedness of evil.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The list here of evil masquerading as good sounds familiar. It isn’t all the same. It comes from a time and a place when extreme nationalism and anti-semitism were wedded to liberalism. Jesus as human was turned into the noble hero who did not die for sins. Suffering, redemptive love, transforming grace were all political and theological blight.
Abortion for healthy babes in German wombs was a definite no-no. Abortion along with experimentation for Jewish babies was insisted on, as was death for disabled babies and people, German or Jewish. Eugenics, which was big in the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th caught on and with an ugly bloom exploded in Germany masquerading as charity and social justice.
I could go on. Thinking of the news in France, Roma people were not cared for then either. And any ethnic group except those who were Anglo-Germanic who existed in Nazi lands fitted into the category of those unfit to live.
Regarding Christianity, half of God’s word was dismissed as problematic (too Jewish) and the other half carefully used so that only a positive veneer would affect the listener. But it seems to me that the redemptive act of Jesus Christ and the bodily resurrection of our Lord is that part of Christianity severed and replaced by the lie of a fake charity (love) and social justice in our day.
No, I am not writing that feeding the hungry, caring for the oppressed and suffering is evil disguised as light and charity. Remember Paul’s words when writing of the differences in the ministry of Peter and James to the Jews and his and others to the Gentiles? Paul in speaking of that in Galatians writes, “They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I was also eager to do.” (2:10) And remembrance and care for the poor is throughout the Bible.
But encouragement to sin, disregard for fallen brothers and sisters caught in sexual immorality, is hidden under the hue and cry of light, charity and social justice. And that kind of false light and charity possesses some of the same bent toward a positive Christianity that infected the German Christians.
I was struck by the words of one writer on the “That All May Freely Serve” GA blog site. She wrote about the different groups whose representatives spoke to the Young Adult Advisory Delegates during GA. Her conclusion, “Anyway, the point is, we [TAMFS] really engaged the YAADs. Even though some of them might have disagreed with our mission, they couldn't disagree that we were interesting and funny and happy, unlike Mr. Pro-Life and Mr. Traditional (both of whom were sort of sad) or Voices [for Justice](who was kind of angry)…” (Bold author’s)
We can never forget that Jesus is not only King of all kings. He is the suffering servant of the Old Testament. He is the “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3) He was sad; sad enough to die for all of our sins. Sad enough to suffer for our everlasting joy.
The wickedness of evil, as Bonhoeffer put it, seems redundant, yet the descriptive words eliminate the glamour of evil that sometimes occur in an age such as ours. The confused must be fed the life giving illuminating word. The gracious, forgiving love of Jesus Christ shines very bright in such darkness. The redemptive work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit will undergird the Church as we face the future.