Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #2

Read: “The World, the Flesh, and the Devil”


This short chapter is packed with insight. Taking the threefold paradigm of historic moral theology, Rohr sets the trajectory for what he develops in the rest of the book. When the world, flesh, and devil dynamics converge, they create what Dorothy Day called, “the dirty rotten system.”

And it is a system. Rohr points out that failing to see it as such, “the world and the devil basically got off scot-free for most of Christian history.” This failure, he writes, has led to “many twentieth-century catastrophes that often took place in Christian countries.”

But there’s more—it is a system that benefits its adherents. Rohr devotes chapter four to this idea, but he mentions it in this chapter. “Injustice always profits somebody,” he notes. And the ultimate benefit is that the evildoers come to “think they are doing a holy duty for God.” It is calling evil good. Evil advances appearances, not realities.

It is impossible to underestimate the extent to which we under the guise of evil. As I read this chapter, I thought of these things…


–war justified under the guise of “peace-keeping”
–greed, justified under the guise of “a strong economy”
–voter suppression: justified under the guise of “election integrity”
–male dominance: justified under the guise of “complementarianism”
–subjugation: justified under the guise of “Manifest Destiny”
–power: justified under the guise of “law and order”
–elitism: justified under the guise of “personal freedom”
–exploitation: justified under the guise of “national interest”

Rohr’s chapter reminds us that evil cannot stand the truth. Indeed, as Jesus put it, evildoers prefer darkness to light…precisely because their deeds are evil (John 3:19).

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 43 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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