What is evil?
While many Americans have been reminded of the ever present evil in our world through the current Israel-Hamas conflict, some Americans have taken it upon themselves to define evil on their own terms. An action is no longer evil if it is in the name of fighting occupation or oppression—no matter how vile and heinous those actions are. This is a version of worldview thinking in extremes.
Praxis Circle has spent a good deal of time discussing the nature of evil. Contributors James Hall and Charles Mathewes in their Praxis Circle interviews discuss evil at length. Whether you believe evil has an independent metaphysical existence (say, personified or actualized by Satan), is the applied absence of the good or God as manifested in human thinking and behavior, a type of behavior (reference) given a word (sense), or just a plain fiction depends on your worldview.
But humanity can, does, and, we argue, should agree that some form of evil does exist, and it’s more important than ever for us to get on the same page in the public square. Recently, Lance Morrow of EPPC wrote a very thought-provoking article for WSJ about this entitled “Your Periodic Reminder That Evil Is Real.” Evil is back and, in fact, never left us.
Praxis Circle Contributor Frank Hill recently shared his thoughts on evil and anti-Semitism in the United States, explaining why Americans with a Judeo-Christian worldview have given the strongest support to Jews and Israel throughout the years. This article is shared below in full with his permission.
HILL: Anti-semitism, Hamas, ‘nones’ and American evangelical Christians
October 18, 2023
Originally published in the North State Journal
Where is all this animosity and antisemitic hatred towards Jews coming from in America today?
It is emanating right from the heart of the modern Democratic Party―from the uber-progressive left-wing. The depth and width of anti-semitism in the Democratic Party even had Jake Tapper on CNN shaking his head in wonder as if no one ever saw it coming.
“Hamas” means “violence” in Hebrew in case anyone needs to understand the evil facing Israel today.
Why is it so “surprising” to anyone in the media, the Democratic Party or anywhere else that these progressive socialist Democrats are so antagonistic towards Jews and Israel?
Close to 30% of Democrats today say they are either atheist, agnostic or have no religious faith, all grouped together under the “None” category. “Nones” are not getting any spiritual or historical training from churches or synagogues today. God forbid any such theological education is offered in public schools or on college campuses.
Is there any wonder why they don’t think Israel has any special extraordinary place in world history? Nones don’t believe there is a God, Yahweh, in the first place. To them, Israel is just another imperialist conqueror of poor, downtrodden Palestinians even though there has never been Palestinian rule in the region since the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land over three thousand years ago.
As recently as 1960, 91% of American Democrats professed to have religious faith and were considered solid reliable defenders of Israel. Close to 80% of Jewish voters still vote for Democrats, apparently believing this is still their grandparents’ Democratic Party.
It most definitely is not. By contrast, the strongest support in America for Jews and Israel for the past half century has come from Bible-believing evangelical Christian Republicans.
Why is that?
Evangelical Christians believe everything in the Old Testament ― just as Torah-believing Jews do. They believe God provided a ram to be sacrificed by Abraham instead of his son, Isaac. They believe Isaac’s son, Jacob, wrestled with an angel and was given a new name, Israel. Evangelicals believe the burning bush spoke to Moses; the Red Sea parted for the exodus of the Jews from Egypt and every other act of God recorded in the twenty-four books of the Old Testament.
Evangelicals believe Jews are God’s “chosen people” ― and we Gentiles are blessed cousins to have been allowed salvation through faith in Jesus as detailed in the New Testament.
Ask any evangelical Christian what they think about God protecting Israel and they will rip off a litany of biblical stories as historical proof Israel where God delivered Israel from destruction. They will go on to say America should do everything humanly possible to help them survive, even though they know God miraculously has delivered Israel numerous times through His divine intercession.
To name one notable instance, Gideon took 32,000 men of Israel to go against the huge Midianite army of 135,000 soldiers. 22,000 left because they were afraid and did not trust God would deliver victory. Of the 10,000 left, Gideon chose only 300 after they scooped up water with their hands out of the nearby spring instead of lapping it up like a dog. When Gideon gave the signal, the 300-man Israeli army broke clay pots and blew horns. The sleeping soldiers of Midian were so startled when they awoke, they began fighting each other amidst the confusion and were routed by the tiny Israelite army.
Non-believers will scoff and say any miraculous victory by Israel in the Bible is a made-up legend or mythology which never actually happened. For more recent proof of God’s deliverance of Israel in the face of arrayed Arab armies, Israel defeated Egypt, Syria and Jordan in the Six Days War in June of 1967 and annexed the entire Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza strip now under attack. In October 1973, Israel again defeated the much-larger allied Arab forces and almost pushed into Egypt before a ceasefire was implemented.
Both underdog victories are viewed by evangelical Christians and the world that God must surely have been at work protecting Israel. We can pray He does it again.
There is no prohibition against praying for deliverance from enemies in the Old Testament. There is no prohibition against praying Hamas will turn against Hezbollah and Iran just like the Midianites did to themselves. Unless you want to go join the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), you can pray this prayer from Psalms every day:
“Deliver Israel, O Lord, from the evil man; preserve them from the violent man…Grant not the desires of the wicked: further not his wicked device; lest they exalt themselves…Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again.”
To those with a Judeo-Christian worldview, evil should not be nuanced when behavior is clear and certain. Historical fact cannot be mistaken for political agenda. Confucius is quoted saying, “If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things.” This is common sense that isn’t as common as it used to be.
In other words, the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name. Jews, Christians, and many Muslims are solid in their belief that the foundations of life in this world are our relationship with God, human dignity, rights and duties, imago Dei, the sacred nature of the body as the temple of the soul, and personhood.
When atrocities are committed against any human being made in the image of God—whether Jew or Palestinian—we must have the courage to label it correctly. Indeed, moral truth is far more certain and important than the “scientific version.” Human beings are free to choose the true, good, and beautiful, instead of the wicked and depraved.
Let’s do so starting now and support those in greatest danger.
For more resources on the concept of evil, here are just a few of our blog posts on the subject:
To read more featuring Contributor Frank Hill: