From Good and evil to Reparations
Good and evil
In response to the difficult question of how the God of Love and Prince of Peace can be reconciled with the suffering that evidently exists in God’s creation, I am reminded of what God Himself says about this, in Isaiah chapter 45 verse 7: ‘I form the light and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things’ (King James Version).
The answer, far from being simple, has perplexed godly men and women throughout history. The general consensus is that God both creates and permits evil for reasons which are good; but due to the limits of our human understanding we are quite unable to comprehend His purpose, while in no way denying God’s providence.
One further observation, which I would make on Tony D’Souza’s article (24 June), is where he says that ‘that of God in everyone roughly equates to conscience’. My point is this: God’s Spirit indwelling us is God Himself, whereas the conscience is a part of our mind, which is acted upon by God’s Spirit. These two ought not to be confused, because there is some danger in listening to our human, fallible conscience as if it were the voice of God.
Anthony Gimpel writes (17 June) of his experience that ‘a gathered Meeting can only happen when Friends are in physical presence with each other’. My own experience has been different. Gathered Meetings depend on many factors, but for me the most important is the commitment of Friends in the Meeting to waiting and listening: a ministry of attentiveness. There are more ways than the physical of being present.
Just as conversations ‘in the things that are eternal’ can happen on the telephone or in letters – even in emails! – so gathered Meetings are not confined to physical spaces. Isaac Penington’s ‘place to stand in’ was not a building of bricks and mortar but a place of the spirit. I hugely value being able to sit in a room with Friends for Meeting for Worship, but it has also given me great joy to be gathered with Friends who cannot be in the same room with each other or who for all sorts of reasons are unable to attend Meeting physically at all.
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