Monday, September 20, 2010

Two True Stories of Good and Evil

And a Question to Ponder at the End

In the beginning, God created everything. He created the world and created the first man and woman to rule over it. It was a good and perfect paradise because God is a good and perfect God. He is a holy God. The man and woman lived in this perfect world in perfect harmony with their Creator. There was no death, and no pain. It was beautiful.

But it did not last. One of God’s angels rebelled, and came to the man and woman, asking them also to rebel. The man and woman chose to rebel against God, and corrupted themselves. They became filthy and repulsive in God’s sight, but God still loved them. He promised he would save them – he would send a savior, one of their own descendents, who would defeat this rebel angel, called Satan – the devil. He would deliver those who trusted God from their wretched condition.

As the first man, Adam, had rebelled, so also his sons and daughters rebelled – they were born as rebellious creatures, inheriting their father Adam’s corrupt nature. Some chose to believe God and trust his promise to send a redeemer. Many more chose to continue rebelling instead, and even to make their rebellion greater, twisting the truth and believing lies.

Now, after the passing of many events, the world became full of many peoples and nations who spurned their Creator. Most of the people did not know the truth, and had grown up knowing only the lies their parents believed. Those who knew God were few, and knowledge of the Creator was disappearing everywhere. It seemed Satan was having his way.

But God had not forgotten his promise to send a deliverer. He called a man named Abraham, and sent him to the land of the Canaanites. He promised to give him this land, and make him the father of a new nation, from whom the promised deliverer would come. Now some time after Abraham died, his descendents went down to Egypt to escape a severe famine. They lived there for several generations, and grew into a mighty people. The Egyptians did not like this, and made them slaves. But God delivered the children of Abraham, the Israelites, from Egypt with a mighty display of power, and sent them back to the promised land – the land of Canaan. He revealed to them his most personal name: Yahweh, the One Who Is.

Now, the Canaanites had become a terribly evil people, worshiping idols, murdering and oppressing, believing lies about God, and exporting their lies to the nations around them. They had become so evil, they even burned their children alive, so that their false gods would give them good fortune. They were polluting the land with their evil, so Yahweh ordered the Israelites to wipe them all out – lest their evil remain in the land and turn the Israelites away from Yahweh who loved them.

But they did not completely obey Yahweh, and let evil remain in the land. And this evil influenced them. The Israelites would leave the God who loved them and worship false gods, and behave evilly, doing as the Canaanites did. So Yahweh handed them over to their enemies. The Israelites would repent for a while, and God would deliver them and bless them and give them peace – but then they turned back to their rebellion again. For centuries this went on, until finally the Israelites became so rebellious that God used powerful empires to destroy their land and take them into exile.

Yet even then, Yahweh forgave them, and brought a remnant of them back to the land. Then, the time came, and Yahweh sent his own Son. He revealed then that He is a triune God – although He is one God, and one being, He is three separate and distinct persons, each one of whom is God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Yahweh sent His Son to earth: His Holy Spirit caused a virgin to conceive Him in her womb. She was engaged to a man named Joseph, who became a step father to the Son of Yahweh. Yahweh instructed him to name the child Jesus, which means Salvation.

And so, God stepped down and wrapped himself in the ruined flesh of Adam. He grew into a man, and he went around the nation of Israel, preaching to all that he was the promised one sent by God.

Many did not believe him, especially those who held powerful positions – and they hated him for it. They devised a plan to kill him. Jesus knew their plans, and could have easily escaped. Yet, he chose not to. He delivered himself to them, and they crucified him, torturing him half to death and then nailing him to a wooden cross and leaving him to slowly die, displayed before all Israel. And as he hung on that cross, God the Father poured out His wrath on His only Son, whom He loved dearly, punishing Him as if He had done every evil thing that every descendant of Adam had ever done. As if He were the wicked rebellious creature that every descendant of Adam ever was. Then it was over, and all of the wickedness of man had been punished. Jesus died. But death could not hold the Son of God. Three days later, he rose again. He appeared to his disciples many times over the next forty days, and then ascended into heaven, to sit down at the right hand of the throne of His Father.

God sent the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ disciples, and they preached the good news of the Salvation that Jesus had given them. Many believed, and the followers of Jesus – who became known as Christians – grew to a great number. They were persecuted for their beliefs, fed to lions and burned at the stake, tortured and murdered by the thousands by the brutal Roman Empire. Yet, their number continued to grow. Finally, there were so many Christians that an opportunistic Roman politician general, desiring to become the next emperor, declared himself to be a Christian so as to get the support of the followers of Jesus. He prevailed over his foes, and made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Christians suddenly found themselves with power, and like the Israelites before them, they began to adopt the ways of wickedness around them. Aiding this process, most of the pagans in the Roman Empire pretended to become Christians so that they could attain a better legal standing, yet they clung to their old pagan ways of thinking. Christianity, and the gathering of believers, called the Church, became powerful; they also became like the pagan Romans before them, and began to oppress those who didn’t believe as they did, rather than preaching the gospel. Those who dissented were persecuted, along with heretics who believed outrageous lies and Israelites (now called Jews) who did not believe in Jesus.

In addition to the above chaos, the Roman Empire began to disintegrate; it broke into an Eastern half and a Western half, the latter of which began to be overrun by barbarians.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The above story is true. None of the names have been changed. The following story is a sequel. It is also true, but the names of many people, places, and books have been changed.

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Now, during this difficult and tumultuous time, many people fled to distant lands. One of these lands was called Terren. Terren was full of many towns and communities; most of them were native Terrenians, but many were also settlements of Jewish folk who had fled Israel, as the Romans and even the “Christians” had been brutalizing them. Many confused heretics had also fled to the land of Terren, along with people still faithful to the teaching and good news of Jesus who had dissented from what the Church in the Roman Empire was doing.

Most of the native Terrenians believed in many false gods, and worshiped idols. Yet many were turning and becoming Christians, or at least they believed that Yahweh, the God of Israel, was the true and only God. Yet truth was mixed with lies; some did not believe that Jesus was the one Yahweh had promised to send; others believed, but perverted the good news of His Salvation with lies.

In this land of confusion, where the truth lived in the midst of lies, there was a man named Nedio. Satan appeared to Nedio, disguised as a faithful angel of light named Gabriel. He told Nedio that God had chosen him to be a prophet, to tell the truth to the people. But Satan cleverly mixed lies into the truth, claiming as many of the heretics did that Jesus was merely a man, not the Son of God, and that God was only one person. He also told Nedio that he was going to be THE prophet, the final and greatest prophet of God. He told Nedio to write these things down, and so he did. He wrote them down in a book. Nedio preached this message to the people around him; he preached many years, but was only able to convert a hundred people. Nedio, thinking himself to be greater than he was, was arrogant and conceited. Many people did not like Nedio, and became his enemies. They made life very hard on him. The chieftain of his home town Shelton, whose name was Gilbert, hated Nedio and chased him out of Shelton.

Finally, Nedio had had enough. If people would not follow his teaching and give him a hard time, he would not be gentle and nice anymore. Nedio picked up his sword, and so did his followers; they began to go from village to village, forcing the inhabitants at the point of the sword to become Nedians. If they did not obey him, he slaughtered them. Many chose to be slaughtered rather than to deny what they believed to be true. Nedio, realizing that he might need the food from the crops these people grew, instituted a new law in his religion: You could remain a Jew, or a Christian, or a whatever, and not become a Nedian, and you could still live; however, you would have to pay a hefty tax to Nedio, and be a second-class citizen with no rights. If you decided to convert and be a Nedian, you would be eagerly welcomed; but if you left the Nedian faith and became something else, you would be promptly executed. Nedian became increasingly violent. He moved to attack a city of Jews; the Jews immediately surrendered peacefully, but no matter: Nedio ordered his men to execute all the men of the city, and to take the women as their slaves and their wives. In another situation, Nedio ordered his men to rape the women the captured in a village in front of their husbands.

During this time, Nedio continued to write in his book, the Holy Book of his religion. He wrote many lies about God, and many hateful and violent things about those who did not follow him. He also wrote that anyone who was a slave was that way because God had made him to be inferior. He also claimed that women were inferior to men, and that men should beat their wives if they so much as suspected that their wives had rebellious hearts. Nedio also created a harem for himself. He created a limit on his followers, telling them they could only have four wives; but after that, they could do whatever they wanted with their female slaves. Yet, finding that he himself wanted more than four wives, told his followers that God had given him a revelation, telling him that because he was such a special person he could have as many wives as he wanted. One of the wives he chose for himself was a six year old girl. He also wanted the wife of one of his sons. He had his way, with another convenient revelation.

Now, Nedio had grown so powerful, that Gilbert, his old enemy, decided to make peace with him. He came and asked Nedio for peace between them. Nedio asked, “Do you believe that I’m the Great Prophet?”

Gilbert confessed, “I still am not quite sure about that.”

“You Moron! Confess that I’m the Great Prophet before I cut your head off!”

Gilbert instantly became a Nedian.

By the time of Nedio’s death, his followers had conquered the entire region of Terren. They then turned their lustful appetites to the remant of the Roman empire, and the great Persian Empire. They pillaged and conquered, murdering thousands, if not millions of people. They conquered Africa, much of Asia, and almost conquered Europe as well.

Almost.

God stopped them. For a long time, the Nedians were mostly content with what they had conquered.

Many centuries later, the religion of Nedianism grew restless and once again desired to have its early glory, and conquer the world for its twisted god. For the god that Nedio preached was not the True, Holy, Loving God, but rather a fake god of lies, hate and wickedness.

In a land across the sea that had been settled by Christians, but was now forgetting much of the truth of God, there was a pastor. He was a rather ornery and strange individual. But he knew enough to recognize evil. He looked out at the world and saw people everywhere being murdered by the followers of Nedio. He looked at the book that Nedio had written, and read all the perverse and hateful things that Nedio had written. He read the books compiled by his early followers describing all the evil things Nedio had done. This pastor was revolted by the evil, and wanted the whole world to know just what he thought of Nedio and his evil teachings.

So, the pastor decided to publicly burn copies of Nedio’s book.

Now, this pastor was probably not wise in the actions he took.

But I ask you now this question.

Is he not justified?

2 comments:

Kyleigh said...

I think that while the burning of the books could be justified because it's destroying lies, I think that in the end it hinders the gospel and turns "Nedio's followers" away from it rather than towards it.
I think we are justified in destroying evil, there are ways to do it that will bring people to the gospel rather than hinder them from coming.
Am I making sense?

James Dunn said...

Yes, perfect sense -- and I completely agree. I don't think burning the book is a wise move for that very reason.
The point I made was directed at those who buy into political correctness and think that burning Nedio's Book is a horrible act of violence against a peaceful religion -- these same people are silent and blind to the hypocracy of Nedio's followers, who come out in the streets in violent protests at the burning of their "holy book" and yet care nothing if their children are strapped with explosives to kill a handful of "non-believers."
One observer, unblinded by political correctness, observed that "If the desecration of your holy book bothers you more than the desecration of your children, your religion must be [Nedianism].