Our Attitude Toward Evil

No problem presented to human thought is so inclusive, so inclusive, and so ubiquitous as that of evil. The misery, injustice, and pain which attend its sway are matters of universal protest. Even those who are consciously identified with it and who get their gain thereby, recognize the curse it brings and often seek to mitigate it because of a genuine if not consistent sympathy, while the struggle against its debasing dominion in public and private life begets most of the heroisms of history. Nevertheless, how tremendously it figures as a seemingly forever fact, and how apparently little seems to have been accomplished in all the Christian centuries toward its banishment or overcoming!

It is this everlastingness of the thing in human experience which becomes the great proponent and advocate of its necessity. Men say, "How can anything which is so universal and so inescapable be otherwise than essential to that inscrutable order which expresses the will of the infinite?" This is the sly, energy-sapping suggestion of material sense which Christian Science instantly rebukes. It persistently preys upon the thought that has become wearied and discouraged as the result of labored, unintelligent resistance, and which is thus led ofttimes to become hospitable to the conclusion that in some way evil must contribute to the fulfilment of the will of God.

All sane people recognize the inherent distinction between good and evil, their eternal separation as opposites; but the thought that evil is antecedent to good, that it supplies the occasion and opportunity for that choice of and adherence to good which begets strength and nobility of character,—this seems so reasonable that in the absence of any better explanation of unquestioned facts it has come to be very generally entertained. With a large school of thinkers today, including not a few professed Christians, the proposition that evil is "good in the making" has found a tolerance which amounts to practical approval and acceptance. There is no one of us perhaps who has not been tempted to wonder whether, since evil is a fact that nobody is able to bow out of the universe, it may not be best to take things as they are, and account the world as it is the best that could be under the circumstances.

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Among the Churches
August 7, 1915

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