Good vs. Evil
Mr. Settles sent me a copy of a letter he wrote to Bill O’Reilly concerning his October 12, 2003 discussion of evil. I reproduce it here with Mr. Settles’ permission.
Interesting discussion about evil last night. I would like to make a few comments; even if none of them are pithy enough to be read on the air, I would be glad just knowing you read them.
1. It was disappointing that the theological dimension of evil was not discussed. God is the source of all good, and evil basically is a theological term for that which is displeasing to God. Our only infallible and inerrant source of knowledge about good and evil is Scripture.
2. We learn that all men are sinners, and even the man whom God has regenerated (given a new nature—caused to be born-again—has united to Christ) still has indwelling sin this side of heaven; he can and does sin most grievously.
3. All men are created in the image of God, and even though that image was marred by the entrance of sin into the world, it still remains. Even the most evil men still bear that image, and no unregenerate person this side of hell is utterly evil (Hitler refrained from killing his mother).
4. Sinful man has a propensity to see evil in others more readily than in himself. The definition of evil is frequently gerrymandered in such a way that only one’s enemy is evil.
5. This propensity to see the speck in your brother’s eye while ignoring the log in your own is especially noticeable on a national level. For example,
Just look at the reaction two years ago when anyone even hinted that perhaps God used the rod of terrorism to strike America for her sins. Billy Graham at the National Cathedral said that God understands if we are angry at Him. The question few want to consider is “Does God have a right to be angry at us?” After all, to take one example of national sin, what the hijackers did on September 11 was indeed evil, but they are choirboys compared to America’s abortion culture.
Here’s a test: think of two numbers, 3000 dead from September 11, 40 million dead from abortion. Which do you see as the greater evil? Our country harbors the abortionists, it protects them. If 3000 dead justify a regime change in Afghanistan, do not 40 million dead cry out for God to make a regime change in America? Evildoers reside in every country, because evil resides in every heart.
6. The church needs to repent for her wickedness. The nation needs to repent for its wickedness. However, we have defined “good vs. evil” in such a way that the lines are drawn along national borders or political parties. Ultimately, though—and this point will be very offensive—the lines are truly drawn between the Seed of the woman (Christ and those united to Him) and the seed of the serpent (those outside of Christ). And therefore, for example, Osama bin Laden, Paul Wolfowitz, Yasser Arafat, Ariel Sharon, William Kristol, Saddam Hussein, Richard Perle, Charles Krauthammer are on the same side in the struggle between good and evil: even though they manifest their rebellion in vastly different ways in vastly different degrees, all still refuse to bend the knee before the Lordship of Christ, and are therefore enemies of God (though God in His grace may in the future regenerate any or all of the above). Those whom God has drawn into the kingdom of His Son by His sheer mercy and undeserved favor—whether they be American Christians, Iraqi Christians, Palestinian Christians, Israeli Christians, French Christians, or whoever—are on the side of the good.
Thank you for reading this letter.
October 24, 2003
Greg Settles lives in Nolensville, Tennessee, on the outskirts of Nashville. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has worked as a computer programmer. He is currently trying to return to his first love of mathematics. He has been married for 21 years to his wife Helen and attends Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church, a PCA church in the Nashville presbytery. He may be reached for comment here.