Commentary on social and moral issues of the day

Is It Christian? Part 3 -- What is the Church's Stand on War?

Peter and Helen Evans

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We were asked why we are doing this series of articles. First of all we're not writing to convert you. It may happen, but we're not giving you enough information for conversion. You'll have to investigate further. If you are one of the many in our country who want to be a good person but who doesn't necessarily have a firm grasp of Christian teachings, or if you believe you are spiritual but not necessarily religious, these articles will help clear the air. You won't find yourself being torn between supporting the war and being a good Christian; you won't find yourself feeling torn because you have a homosexual friend and have heard that the Church 'hates' them. We are bringing you the truth about Christianity so that you can make informed decisions. This is only part three of a long series of articles on this subject, we hope you enjoy them. -- Peter and Helen Evans

Interview with Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

"The great discomfort among many secular Americans is that the religion that they have dismissed for the last half a century needs to be revisited because we are now being visited by religious fanatics. The fanatics sense that our secularism is a great weakness of character that makes us vulnerable to defeat -- and they are correct." -- Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse

Peter: Father Hans, The Orthodox Church accepts war as self-defense. Is there anything in Christian teaching that would totally condemn a war in self defense?

Fr. Hans: I don't see it. When you look at the Orthodox tradition and see how the terminology of warfare is used, it seems to me that conflict is central to the Christian understanding about how human affairs really work. We talk about the Christian life as spiritual warfare for example. We say that the Word of God is a sword or that God himself is a shield, and so forth.

What happens to Christians is that we get caught up in the current culture that labels warfare as the greatest of all evils and so we reflexively renounce it. There certainly are times when war should be renounced, but a more sober understanding sees warfare as a part of life that you just can't wish away.

Helen: The current culture doesn't have a firm foundation in Christianity, hasn't studied it to really know what it's all about. They assume the Christmas card ideal of Christianity promoted by the media such as Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men is all a Christian can say about war.

Fr. Hans: That's right. Then the proclamation is interpreted through the dominant cultural paradigm, which means that pacifism becomes its fulfillment.

Helen: Isn't pacifism the highest good a person could attain when faced with evil?

Fr. Hans: No, I don't think so. Let's turn away from war and just look at crime for example. The man who confronts the evildoer with a threat of greater violence and causes that evildoer to submit to that threat has ended the cycle of violence. Here a greater force confronts a lesser force to stop the misuse of force.

Helen: Yes, that's right. So if someone breaks into a home and threatens your loved ones, should a Christian just sit back and think, "Christ said don't use violence"? By doing so, this Christian might let their family be killed. Then the evil would continue.

Fr. Hans: Yes. Someone who holds to the pacifist ideal in those circumstances leaves the innocent defenseless. Pacifism is a solitary and individual principle and not something you can impose on your neighbor. Sometimes your neighbor needs defending.

Helen: Can someone be a pacifist by not defending themselves, but ask someone else to use violence to defend them? Don't you also have to be a pacifist in your heart and mind and even if you were facing death, love your tormentor?

Fr. Hans: I have trouble with that too. Sometimes the scriptural injunction "love your enemies" is interpreted sentimentally. People mistakenly think it means that they have to muster good feelings about their enemy. It doesn't mean that at all. Loving your enemy means that you will act in truth towards them.

Helen: When you say, "act in truth," please explain that using the example of someone breaking into a home.

Fr. Hans: If someone breaks into your home, to act in truth is to stop his violence, to stop his crime, to stop his unrighteousness, and to stand up for the innocents who need your protection. Resisting the evil-doer defends yourself and others threatened by his evil. At the same time, you affirm his evil-doing is just that -- evil. Defense here is a righteous act and affirms that the evil is unrighteous.

Looking at it a little deeper, loving your enemy means that your response to him will not be infected by his evil. The scripture is clear here as well when it says "do not return evil for evil." Where the pacifist gets it wrong is that he assumes confronting the evil-doer with force is an evil in itself. It isn't.

Peter: Yes, just because you love your enemy doesn't mean you will confuse him with your friend.

Fr. Hans: Absolutely. It's great if you can make an enemy your friend, but the commandment doesn't presume this will happen and, frankly, usually it doesn't. So it must mean something more.

Peter: Our righteous resistance to the evil that is being attempted could be seen as instruction to the evil-doer that his attempts are not righteous.

Fr. Hans: Yes, and I've seen this approach create great good in the end. I've been in prisons and talked to prisoners who have come to Christ. Skeptics scoff at this but many jailhouse conversions are real. Would those conversions have occurred if someone did not stand in that man's way and say, "stop - you will not do this"?

Helen: So if I understand you correctly, secularists see violence as a thing in itself, they only see half of the battle, half of the truth. In their view, when people die, that's it, that's the end. In that worldview, if one faces violence and one of the possible outcomes is death, then no one wants to confront violence, it's the end of them. However, if you add the spiritual dimension to it ... let's take one of our soldiers who is protecting us and is killed, or a police officer who is protecting us. What does Christianity have to say about them?

Fr. Hans: The Scripture says, "no greater love has a man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend." When a soldier picks up arms and goes into battle to defend others, he lays his life on the line for someone else. If he's killed in battle, then his sacrifice may be the same sacrifice that Christ made when He laid down his life for us. The same goes for the police officer and any other public safety person. Look at the men and women who lost their lives saving others when the Twin Towers collapsed on 9/11. According to scripture, their sacrifice is accounted as righteous -- in obedience to the commandment of God to love the neighbor.

Helen: Let's move on to the commandments. We hear it over and over again, the commandment says, "thou shall not kill." How does that reconcile with war?

Fr. Hans: The commandment is "thou shall not murder."

Peter: What was the original language in which the commandments were written?

Fr. Hans: Hebrew. Some people use that as a blanket condemnation against killing. I don't see it. The murder of someone is not allowed, but sometimes killing someone is necessary and, I believe, even righteous. This raises the hackles of other Christians, so let me explain.

Everything must be done to lessen the loss of life. If you can talk the aggressor into surrendering his weapons, do it. But if innocent people are being killed and the only way to stop the carnage is to take out the shooter, then what other recourse do you have? Innocent people are being saved; the aggressor's violence is stopped.

Is the police officer that shot the aggressor guilty of murder? No. He has acted to save the innocent. None of this occurs without a cost, including to the officer who stopped the cycle of violence. But it is a cost that must be borne given that evil really exists.

Peter: So, in determining how we should act in life, we should look to what God would want me to do in this situation. In other words, should I stop the guy or just say kum-by-yah and let him carry out his unrighteousness.

Fr. Hans: Well, I think the pacifist would say kum-by-yah. Or, if he couldn't live with the ramifications of his own pacifism, he would call someone else to confront the violence for him.

Helen: Is that a true pacifist; one who says I am pure of heart and clean of hands, but I still must call in the cops or the military to take care of the threat.

Fr. Hans: All he's doing is shifting the moral responsibility onto someone else.

Peter: That's right, in our analysis of the situation; if we stop with him we're being superficial. We have to go further if we're going to find the truth.

Fr. Hans: That's why the pacifist, in situations that involve other people, becomes functionally irrelevant.

Helen: Massad Ayoob, a police officer we've interviewed previously, responded in just the same way. Both of you have had first-hand experience with this issue. (See: http://peterandhelenevans.com/articles-lethal.html.)

Peter: Repentance doesn't seem to happen by itself. It happens because you encounter an obstacle that makes you change your mind.

Christianity is a very realistic approach to life. While it does deal with the mystical and the invisible, the precepts of how to live a good life are time tested and we've seen what happens to cultures that abandoned it; for instance, Soviet Russia. It's taking them decades to weed out the corruption that festered without moral guidance. The good news is that it is coming back and one of the obstacles that provoked its 'repentance' was the United States. However, these precepts work on a local level too. For the past four decades we've had problems with the rehabilitation of our criminals. This report shows that counseling without repentance, if you will, does not work. (See: http://peterandhelenevans.com/articles-farabee.html.)

Fr. Hans: Yes, and this process is woven into the fabric of human experience. You cannot avoid or escape it. Life is full of conflict, obstacles, even of warfare. Life is a struggle between darkness and light. Sometimes it takes on a violent, physical manifestation, like between criminals and the police or wars between nations; sometimes it's emotional; sometimes intellectual. Conflict is endemic to life, and much of the conflict has a profound moral dimension.

Helen: This is in direct contradiction to the common idea which some think is Christian, that there is really no evil, just a distortion of the Truth. Movies such as the Lion King propose this idea. Is that Christian thinking?

Fr. Hans: No, that's not Christian at all. In fact, it leads to a denial of evil.

Helen: When people hold the life-is-harmony point of view, it's easy to see how they believe we can talk to the terrorists and just show them the light, bring them back to balance.

Fr. Hans: It's really the classic battle of our age. Solzhenitsyn says the line separating good and evil cuts right through the human heart. That's what the Christian believes. The heart is where the line resides and where the battle ultimately is won or lost. The other view is that the dividing line exists within the cultural structures and all we need to do is change the structures and that will change the man.

Peter: Oh yes, that sounds like the materialist, Marxist perspective.

Fr. Hans: Yes, it really is. It started with Rousseau when he rewrote Genesis and placed human society as the locus of the fall. Genesis says something different, that the locus of the fall is in the heart of man. It's in the heart of Adam. Of course, "Adam" in Hebrew means "man". Adam represents all men.

Helen: We hear the phrase "those who live by the sword will die by the sword," and take it to mean "no war, no violence." Can you tell us the origin of that phrase and how we should interpret it in the modern world?

Fr. Hans: It's in Matthew 26. It's when Peter drew out his sword to attack one of the soldiers who came with the guard to arrest Jesus. Peter thought the resolution to the impending crucifixion was to attack one of the guards. Well, it wasn't. In Christ's case it was actually to let the violence play out. Even though the violence played out, Christ defeated death and imprisoned Satan.

Peter: Imprisoned Satan?

Fr. Hans: Yes, Christ took away the fear of death because, in the resurrection, death itself has been overcome and we need no longer fear it; nor the spiritual force (Satan) behind it. Now, getting back to living by the sword and dying by the sword; it means we look beyond the surface of things and we recognize the conflict in human existence has a moral component that cannot be separated from religion and God.

Helen: One of the minor feasts is about a great battle at Constantinople.

Fr. Hans: Yes. When we recognize the spiritual underpinnings of things, we can pray for the understanding to wage the war correctly. And the term "spiritual" here means the moral and religious dimension of life; the awareness that our moral decisions must draw from deeper resources than our own mind and that ultimately God will judge us for what we have done.

Helen: In Catholicism, they have the "just war" doctrine and it's always in self defense. However, there is no Christian tradition that says war is just when it's simply to rob another of property or gain territory or conquest. Self defense is clearly justified, but not conquest.

Fr. Hans: That is an important point. As Christians we must be especially vigilant because it's very easy to be corrupted by the evil of the evil-doer. It is very difficult to keep ourselves morally clear headed in the presence of real evil especially in the rush of conflict whether it is physical, emotional, or intellectual. Again, the Scripture says don't return evil for evil. That means we must understand the true nature of the conflict and respond appropriately. The key here, however, is to respond.

Peter: Rather than react.

Fr. Hans: Yes. Or, the other side of the coin, to be passive. Sometimes passivity is necessary to stop a greater evil from occurring. This is where we get into the area of voluntary sacrifice, like Maximilian Kolbe who gave his life to save another person in a Nazi concentration camp, for example. Active resistance would have got them both killed. Other times however, passivity is elevated to hide cowardice. Passivity is not a virtue if it's just cowardice.

Helen: There are so many incorrect Christian teachings being bantered about in the media and in general conversation. Do you want to comment on any that come to mind?

Fr. Hans: I do. I see a resurgence of what I'll call the Christian Left. From my perspective, the Christian left is afflicted with a moral confusion that is nearly impenetrable. Their moral reasoning is shaped by the leftist cultural paradigm that arose after the American defeat in Viet Nam. They assume as a matter of dogma that the leftist moral vision is Christian, and set about providing the Christian imprimatur to it.

They talk a good game but if you look at their history, it's loaded with all sorts of moral criminality. The Christian left has a history of supporting tyranny just like their political counterparts. The National Council of Churches, for example, actually funded Marxist insurgent groups responsible for killing people, including Christians.

Peter: They would like to turn what's going on in Iraq into another Vietnam; to declare defeat and make it so.

Fr. Hans: Yes. I don't think they really care about the war. What they really want is to regain the cultural dominance they had in the 1960's until the Reagan Revolution. They want to define for the country and the world the limits of U.S. power using the Christian moral calculus. Meanwhile the mainstream media looks to them for the deeper definitions and meanings about conflict and warfare.

Helen: Yes, but it's not only people with a political agenda. There are people who just don't know Christianity but 'feel' they are spiritual. Those who are influential on the spiritual fringes say these spiritual teachings will just 'enhance' Christianity. Without a firm foundation in Christian teachings, the 'seekers' are easily misled, especially with the secular bias of the press and the push by those with a political agenda. For example, one of the main ideas bantered about on TV is suffering. Countless people tell us "conflict is suffering and God does not want us to suffer." Is that Christian?

Fr. Hans: I think it is naive. Suffering is endemic to life. The commandment doesn't say that God doesn't want us to suffer. The commandment says that we are to ease the suffering of others. We are to bear one another's burdens.

Helen: So we're talking about two world-views. One is that there shouldn't be suffering, all is in harmony, we only confront the distorted Truth that just "looks like" evil. The other world-view is that there is evil and there is suffering.

Fr. Hans: Yes. Some of this confusion arises from our wealth I think. Wealth is a double-sided coin. On one side, it can bring great good into the world; on the other it can dim our spiritual awareness. What happens is that we confuse discomfort with suffering. This is really a self-centeredness that blinds us to the suffering of others. All too often when we say we don't really want to suffer we really mean that we don't want any discomfort.

I see this a lot with seniors, they enter the final stages of life and the body starts to break down. Moral clarity returns as a result of their suffering. Deeper questions are asked and the answers comprehended more clearly. Real suffering burns away the self-centeredness.

Helen: So in those cases, suffering is a blessing.

Fr. Hans: Yes. We have to acknowledge that the world is broken and there is suffering in the world. We are commanded to ease the suffering of others. To assume that suffering is an anomaly and does not belong to life is just wishful thinking. Further, when we seek to escape this hard truth, we render ourselves blind to the suffering of others and stop helping them, and we render ourselves spiritually defenseless to a greater suffering that might otherwise come.

Helen: A simple example of that might be a toothache. It hurts, and going to the dentist might require bloody intervention, or inflict suffering, resulting in more pain for a while, but it's a healing pain.

Fr. Hans: Yes. When I visit people who just had surgery, I remind them that surgery is like being in a car wreck. It brings great shock to the body and they have to give their bodies time to heal. However, that car wreck, actually an imposed car wreck, is going to bring about greater healing in the end.

Helen: This is reminding me of our war in Iraq. We had to break some things and now it's healing.

Fr. Hans: One never knows how one will heal. The uncertainty is hard, but that's part of life, too.

Helen: When people hold this naive belief that suffering is somehow wrong, then it would be difficult for them to face everyday situations, let alone a war.

Fr. Hans: Yes, and sometimes confrontation is necessary. I also work with teenagers. If a teen is on drugs, sometimes I have to hit them, not physically of course, but with the truth. Sometimes it shakes them awake; other times something more severe is needed like an arrest or accident. The confrontation makes them very uncomfortable; often they are scared. But the pain is necessary because it breaks the lethargy. Do they suffer a bit because of my intervention? Yes, they do, but when the fantasy is broken, the truth can flood in. Then, with the right kind of therapy, they can rediscover themselves and get on with life.

Helen: You're reminding me of a conversation with another priest where he said if we put God's mercy and God's justice together it doesn't make sense to us. There is no way to reconcile mercy with justice here on earth.

Fr. Hans: I think that Christ enters the world in fits and starts. What I mean by this is that the Kingdom of God is not here yet and we are still in a battle between light and darkness, good and evil. In other words, Christ enters the world in fits and starts according to whether or not Christians live "in the spirit of God," as St. Paul says.

In concrete terms this means that to love your neighbor is to do righteousness, but love here is not a sentiment but concrete action. It presupposes maturity, sobriety, discernment, courage, resolve, sacrifice -- all the virtues that give life meaning and purpose and separate man from the animals. These virtues have their source and origin in God, hence the commandment to love God and neighbor.

Peter: There is a secular notion going around that, -- well, it's certainly materialist -- that there is no evil in the world. There are just "misunderstandings" and "distortions of the truth." That doesn't sound like Christianity.

Fr. Hans: It's the great materialist deception. If all that is in the world is what you can see under a microscope, then good and evil become merely social constructs. In the end you become a utilitarian: what works is good; what does not work is bad. There is no way to reconcile yourself with real evil, like serial killers or suicide bombers for example, and you end up dismissing it as something other than, or less than, evil.

Peter: You might call it "politically incorrect."

Fr. Hans: Yes. A lot of what I am saying is politically incorrect. If there is no spiritual dimension to life, there is no moral accountability above what is socially useful. Yet evil has a spiritual dimension to it. Evil is a twisting and perversion of the good and it is ultimately rooted in the human heart - not in social institutions that surround a person. This does not mean that evil cannot be institutionalized. It can. Look at the Nazi death camps, for example. But even the camps were run by people. Without people, the gassing would have stopped.

Peter: Ultimately, morality comes down to individual conscience.

Fr. Hans: Sort of, but even that needs some qualification. It's interesting that you bring this up because I've been doing a lot of thinking about this subject.

Recently, I talked to a Jehovah's Witness, the daughter of a woman in my congregation who is passing away. My parishioner is deeply worried that her daughter will not be able to attend her funeral since the daughter's religion does not allow the daughter to step foot into an Orthodox Church.

I talked to the daughter and she told me her refusal to enter an Orthodox Church was "a matter of conscience." I suggested that we have the funeral in the funeral home. That way the daughter could attend and her mother's desire fulfilled. The daughter agreed.

Now in reality, the Jehovah's Witness religion is a modern form of the ancient Arian heresy that swept through the Byzantine Empire in the first few centuries of Christian history. The Arian precepts were soundly repudiated centuries ago. So yes, for the daughter, not entering an Orthodox Church was indeed a matter of conscience but it came from a conscience imperfectly formed.

So when we hear that phrase, we can't always take the ideas it defends at face value even though we still must respect the person who holds them. Morality arises from a deeper place within, of which the conscience is a part. Actually it's rooted in our orientation towards God. The deeper question of human existence is not really "what do I believe?" but "who is this God in whom I say I believe?"

Helen: We hear it all the time, "if there is only one God, then Allah has to be the same as the Christian God." And it's not just Allah, it's Buddha, Krishna, all Gods are the same.

Fr. Hans: That works as a mathematical axiom, but not much more. It illuminates nothing. Look at the Muslim uprising. Is the "God" of Mohammed the God of Isaiah and Paul? I don't think so.

Helen: Recently a military fellow stood up in his Christian Church and said that Allah was not the Christian God. The media were all over him, so we want to be very clear here. Allah is not the Christian God. What most people don't take into consideration is that there is a whole invisible world out there - demons, angels, invisible creatures - some out to help us and some out to do us harm.

Fr. Hans: Yes, this "God" who spoke to Mohammed is saying a whole lot of different things than the God that spoke to Isaiah and the Apostle Paul.

Helen: That's exactly why we're told not to have false gods. On to another point. There is a diluted Christianity that says God wouldn't want us to fight, wouldn't want conflict. Compromise has become the supreme virtue. The compromise you did with the Jehovah's Witness is a preference. You weren't compromising the Truth.

Peter: There wasn't a compromise at all. You both did something that allowed you both to uphold your convictions.

Fr. Hans: Yes, we both did what was right. I respected the daughter's faith while the daughter respected the mother's faith. We were able to find a common ground based, ultimately, on the love that mother and daughter share. This obeys the commandment of God to love the neighbor.

Helen: Recently two journalists were forced to convert to Islam and then they were released "unharmed." Many newspapers are touting this as a reasonable action to avoid conflict. Many people have written in blogs that they believe they can be a Christian and a Muslim at the same time. Is compromise the better path, according to Christianity?

Fr. Hans: I'm real careful of judging someone in that situation. I'm sure the pressure can be unbearable. However, those that say a person can be both Christian and Muslim understand neither.

Helen: Could you explain further?

Fr. Hans: People who understand what faith is know that religion can't be a bargaining chip. I'm not sure anyone would convert to Islam if they understood the ramifications of their conversion. I have to assume though, that some of them do. From the other direction, if a person really understood the Christian faith, it would be difficult to forsake it for the Muslim faith.

Helen: What about this general idea of compromise that is being espoused? "If we just compromise with the extreme Islamists, then there won't be conflict," is a standard idea we hear floating around. After all, Christianity is about avoiding conflict at any cost. What do you say to that?

Fr. Hans: People who believe that are indoctrinated with the secular idea of religion. They believe religion is no more than a code of behavior, socially useful to a degree but of no more importance than the shirt you put on in the morning. The common dictate is "do what is nice", not "do what is right".

Many people don't realize that how we think about God shapes how we live our lives -- and this is as true for the atheist as the believer. Religion is the wellspring of morality. Religion determines our moral view; how we treat one another and how we live in this world. It doesn't matter if you believe in the God of Abraham or the God of Mohammed or even if you say you don't believe in God at all. Short of narcissistic delusion or a psychopathic orientation, God is ultimately the final reference even if only dimly perceived and even when He is posited as existing if only to deny Him.

Man is a religious being. Try as we might, we cannot get away from that. That's what the secularists don't understand. They've adopted the secular idea that if they don't see God, He does not exist. It represents a spiritual blindness of the first order. Life though, has a way of correcting that. Things happen that compel us to call out to others, sometimes even to God. We need to be patient.

Helen: This is part of a larger movement, it seems. We were watching Book TV and a fellow wrote a book suggesting that since religion is causing so much division in the world, we should just take the Bible as a book of good manners. If there is anything in there that causes someone else distress - for instance, homosexuality or abortion - he suggested it would be the Christian way to just eliminate it or compromise on it and all "just get along." Is that the Christian way?

Fr. Hans: No. Basically this is just a capitulation to whoever has the loudest voice in the culture. By that reasoning, Dietrich Bonhoeffer should not have resisted Hitler because Bonhoeffer was causing social friction.

It's the same with moral issues. Abortion is either the killing of an unborn child or it isn't. One is true, the other is not. The same is true of homosexuality. Either marriage or family means something or it does not. You can't have it both ways. If the author was writing during abolition he'd say Christian efforts to free the black man were wrong. All the author wants are neutered and effete Christians to blunt secular criticism.

Peter: So, would you say that secularism is a religious world-view?

Fr. Hans: Absolutely. In fact, I wonder if secularism is a modern heresy given that it appropriates Judeo/Christian concepts and terminology but divorces them from the Judeo/Christian God.

The great discomfort among many secular Americans is that the religion that they have dismissed for the last half a century needs to be revisited because we are now being visited by religious fanatics. The fanatics sense that our secularism is a great weakness of character that makes us vulnerable to defeat -- and they are correct.

Many Americans sense the threat and are beginning to see that their reflexive assumptions about religious faith are impotent to meet it.

That's one reason the left is having a hard time gaining traction. Even the anti-religious left now is calling out their old warriors like Jim Wallis and Bob Edgar -- I call them "born again apologists." What the activists desire in cultural terms is a religious answer to the left's fundamental irreligiousness. This is a contradiction of course, but one the left seems willing to live with and one that the Christian left seems eager to accommodate.

Helen: They just had a big meeting here in Washington a month ago.

Fr. Hans: There is nothing new there. It's just these old shop-worn moral appeals that still have some moral power because they are ultimately dependent on the Christianity that they disdain. But they can't go beyond that. They offer nothing that can help us analyze this Muslim threat and understand it. You cannot understand another religion and learn how to live with it if you disdain your own.

Helen: All it takes is one generation. Current history seems difficult to teach each generation let alone the long history of Christianity. So when people don't want to be burdened by the hard teaching of history or Christianity there is always the soft media and Hollywood to teach a warm fuzzy version.

Fr. Hans: Think back years ago to the fairy tales parents used to read to their children. Remember how violent they were? Little Riding Hood and the wolf who eats children were violent, but they spoke of truth, they prepared children for how life is. What we're doing now is sapping our children of any defense against the true nature of things. It's another reason why so many kids have a hard time understanding not only the differences between right and wrong, but even why a person should do right things.

Peter: I think that's one of the deeper confusions kids have about Christianity. For instance, "if God is really as good as He is, then I wouldn't be so inconvenienced in my own life." Or the question of why bad things happen to good people - the notion is that if God were 'really' good, He wouldn't let this stuff happen. Those notions are based on our own naivete, our confusion and our self-centeredness. We think our own notions of what feels good for me is co-extensive with what God's goodness is.

Fr. Hans: Yes. Too often Christianity is perceived as no deeper that the petty moralisms that get tacked on to the end of situation comedies. That's as deep as it goes. Be nice, be happy, then God is happy.

Helen: It seems one part of Christianity ignored by the mainstream media is that God is just. Do you believe that?

Fr. Hans: I believe that. God is who He is and He's not going to conform Himself to our ideas of who He should be. A big part of life is getting to know this God who reveals Himself to us.

Peter: We'd like to wrap up in a generic way. How should the Christian respond to evil?

Fr. Hans: Since you asked a theological question, let me respond with a theological answer: "With great discernment."

Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse is a Greek Orthodox priest and edits the website OrthodoxyToday.org

Peter and Helen Evans, http://www.peterandhelenevans.com. This husband and wife team -- freelance writers and speakers -- teach a philosophical approach to conservatism, and are scheduled speakers at Blogging Man. They are also real estate agents in the Washington, D.C., area.

Copyright 2006 by Peter & Helen Evans

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Posted: 05-Oct-06

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Copyright 2001-2020 OrthodoxyToday.org. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article is subject to the policy of the individual copyright holder. See OrthodoxyToday.org for details.

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