One of the most challenging areas of life to explore is the reality of evil in our world. Are we responsible? Or is it attributable to causes beyond ourselves?
In this video, Ravi Zacharias and Os Guinness provide two incredible answers to this timeless question:
Question: How do you respond to those who say that evil is outside of us and not from within us?
Answer: First, Ravi clarifies the question with the questioner.
Second, Ravi answers the question.
Illustration: We should not imprison Bernie Madoff for his crimes; we should imprison his neighbors for the social environment they created.
There is a partial truth: we are oftentimes a product of our environment.
Illustration: A father who took his son up on a hill, pointed in the direction of another country, and told him, ‘your purpose in life is to kill as many of those people as you can.’
Your environment and upbringing has a significant impact on who you become.
Illustration: The impact of growing up in a culture awash in pornography.
Application: You start to pursue a feeling instead of a person. A feeling that no person can give you.
Question: But who builds the environment? Does no one ultimately have to take any responsibility?
Illustration: In India, the head of a large IT company - the name of the company means ‘truth’ - but fudging their books and cheating. The executive said, “My problem is this: I was riding a tiger of deceit for so long, I was afraid to get off lest it eat my up.” It was not his environment, it was what he had chosen to do.
Point: If you take away responsibility, you take away the possibility of any court of law dealing with any act in any nature if it is always someone else’s fault. Evil is on the outside because it is on the inside first.
Point: What you are describing are the fruits of the 18th century Enlightenment, which doesn’t believe in evil, doesn’t believe in sin or responsibility. So it looks to things like more psychology, better politics, higher education, and this will solve the problem. And clearly 20th century evil has blown a huge hole in that.
This is the way to approach people who believe in this: they have never met real evil.
Illustration: W.H. Auden. He came to faith through meeting evil. He was a socialist, an atheist, and a left-wing radical. Came to America to escape Nazism. One evening he was watching a documentary in New York saw Hitler’s troops entering Poland, bayoneting women and children. Most of the German audience were on the side of the Nazi stormtroopers and cried out in the darkness, “Kill them! Kill them!” egging them on.
Auden said ‘In two minutes, my whole worldview was turned around. On the one hand, I knew we were evil. I was looking at something that no psychology, no education, no politics could ever change. This is radical evil.’ But then he said: “As a European intellectual, I spent all my life removing the absolutes. Everything is relative. But I wanted to say that Hitler was absolutely evil. So I left the cinema a seeker after an unconditional absolute and I met Christ.’
Summary: Many of these people have a very shallow view of human life and also political policies. It always runs aground on the rock of reality and real evil.