Saturday, February 12, 2011

The First and Final Response (as explained by an orthodox rebel)

"Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person." Matt. 15:17-18

One of the greatest and most consistent misconceptions about evil is that it is primarily an outer affliction. Remnants of Freudian psychology remain with the lot of us, and we consequently see a human being as the product of their environment, with all inner realities resulting from outer causes. Thus the source of blame is always deferred to environmental and circumstantial factors. This absurd practice continues to this day. Whenever there is a public display of heinous evil, every "expert" and media pundit is quick to blame everything except the actual perpetrators. So Jared Loughner was merely a emblem of harsh political rhetoric. So the Columbine killers were the victims of video games and bullies. In every case, tastes in books, movies, music, and hobbies are rigorously analyzed, as are the immediate circle of friends and peers. Meanwhile, the individual who actually committed the act is ignored, as though they are merely a mystical vessel or medium for a legion of outer stimuli. In the end, our understanding of evil never increases, and our responses to it grow more ridiculous.

Jesus (per His usual tactics) reveals our foolishness and turns our categories on their heads by pointing out that the origins of individual evil come from within, not from without. Outer elements perhaps play a small role, but they are not the primary cause. The primary cause is that men and women are sinners, i.e., born into sin and prone to sin (John 8:34 & Rom. 3:9-20). Jesus said that "out of the heart" comes all of our evils (vs. 19). Our problem, then, is not an environmental problem; it is a heart problem, and that problem can never be solved by media analysis, government legislation, or psychotherapy. The best that those things can do is act as a tourniquet. They can never close the wound or cure the disease. The only true solution is the gospel, i.e., the atoning work of Christ on the cross. It is the only thing that can touch the very foundation of our being and alter it (John 3:3-17; Rom. 3:21-25a, 5:6-11). Unless the gospel is our first and final response to the ills of culture and humanity, the world will whirl on in its absurdities as it stumbles further and further from the real problem and the real answer: we are great sinners, but Christ is a great savior.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2011


  1. Alexander Solzhenitsyn said that the dividing line of good and evil is not between us and them, but it runs right down the heart of every man and woman.

  2. I remember that speech. Good stuff.

    Further good stuff: I've been listening to John Hodges' lectures from 1996 on "Beauty in Music". Nice.