A little over a week ago I was impressed to begin reading a book subtitled, ‘A Report on the Banality of Evil’ concerning the Nazi war criminal ‘Adolf Eichmann.’ I admit that my book selection may seem a bit strange but I was even more surprised to see at the same time on the front page of the Washington Post an article entitled, ‘The banality of evil 2019’, (not your typical article heading…for sure), it was about the Virginia Governors stance on abortion from conception through birth. Was my reading the book along with seeing the article a random event or a mere coincidence? I believed the two to be connected and worthy of more than a cursory glance.
The reason I began reading the book on Eichmann was because I have been interested in what would cause a nation to become so morally bankrupt that such men as; Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Franco, Kim Jong-un or a Mussolini, would be allowed to rise to places of prominence. It seems unfathomable that a nation would intentionally turn a blind eye to the evil that emanates from such men. As a Christian I felt that it had to be more than a cult of personality but a demonic principality that had been allowed to not only possess an individual but to hold sway over an entire geographical region such as a nation and in the process deceive an entire populace. Read (2 Cor. 4:1-18) NIV
Satan enjoys it when God’s children leave him and his work alone. It is what evil desires as a response to their activities, to be left alone. As Christians we must be watchful so that we cannot be accused, because of our silence, of being complicit in Satan’s schemes. It has been said and rightly so, that “for evil men to accomplish their purpose it is only necessary that good men should do nothing.” Let us be careful that we do not succumb to the spirit of complacency. (Romans 12:9) says, “… Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Remember, the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ still beckons mankind therefore “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
The church needs to be vigilant in seeking out and praying against the evil that affects the hearts of men. There are those who have become experts at creating confusion and are masters of contention through the use of their smooth speech and flattering words. They need, no they demand control and the only thing they desire is that which will satisfy the evil cravings within their hearts. They play on the sympathy of others, demanding it for themselves while giving none to anyone else. In their hearts they do not struggle against sin or evil since they delight in its presence and they do so while masquerading as someone who possesses a noble character.
The saying, ‘the devil is in the details’ is true. For these men to succeed they need the assistance of ordinary people such as an Eichmann. Eichmann was one of the key figures in charge of the implementation of the Final Solution, the extermination of millions of Jews. Yet Eichmann was nothing more than a thoughtless bureaucrat, passionate only in his desire to please his superiors. The author of the book found that democracies are in danger of becoming increasingly bureaucratic states, and they do it without realizing they have embraced totalitarianism. Looking at the current field of Presidential candidates we can easily see a marked rise in socialism, fascism and communistic leanings within our political system. What the author found to be disturbing about totalitarian regimes, was their production of ‘ordinary’ bureaucratic men who lead compartmentalized lives—dutifully and even eagerly obeying orders that led to the killing and torture of people during the day while remaining ‘good family men’ at night. This notion of a motiveless, thoughtless bureaucratic man was what the author meant by the ‘banality of evil.’
Christian writer C.S. Lewis made this observation at the close of WWII: “The greatest evil…is conceived, and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men and with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.”
Take for instance Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia as he spoke during a radio interview about making distressed newborns ‘comfortable’ while the family decides whether to resuscitate. There is only one word that can describe this kind of action, ‘infanticide’ the killing of babies born outside the womb. Consider these sobering facts; 55 million died under Hitler’s fascist, totalitarian state, 30 million under Stalin and communism and 60 million under the U.S. and Planned Parenthood. The danger of extremism is the same regardless of political leanings; Nazism and Fascism evolved from “right-wing” extremism, and Communism evolved from “left-wing” extremism.
The Problem of Good & Evil
If those things done by Eichmann were terrible and yet the man seemed quite ordinary, and commonplace what does that say about the problem of good and evil? If the problem of good and evil, is connected to our ability to tell right from wrong, then we have a personal and moral responsibility to be able to differentiate between what is true and what is a false. When we compromise the truth we will in fact be contributing to evil. James 1:22 says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own self.” Lies attack us from within, corrupting our soul and our spirit while affecting our physical bodies with caustic illnesses. It doesn’t stop with us personally untruth corrupts not only our soul but our family, friends, community, and eventually our nation.
But why would I be writing this to Christians? Surely those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior have passed beyond all possibility of reacting in such a manner as an Eichmann. Character however is not a small thing. When you lie to yourself you betray who you were destined to become. Acting out a lie causes a weakening in the link that comprises our character. A weak link will eventually find its breaking point and when that occurs we will find ourselves allowing and doing things that previously we never thought possible. The great deceiver is also the father of lies. Be careful of deceitfulness it can deceive even the most watchful Christian. (Luke 6:42) says, “First take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Character is determined by how much truth we can tolerate. If we train ourselves to listen, to what we are saying and what we do, we can learn to be aware of the internal division and weakness that is transforming us when we misbehave and misspeak.
Paul says in (2 Timothy 4:2), “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” Why did Paul put the words, rebuke and encourage in the same sentence? Because the church has been given the mandate to bring the body into Godly maturity and it does this through encouraging them in their faith while not forgetting its responsibility to rebuke and redirect them when they are wrong. As much as we need to be encouraged we also need to be aware when we are doing things that God disapproves of. It is difficult to do this if we are hesitant in dealing with the difficult issues of our day. As hard as it is to talk about these issues not talking about them doesn’t make them go away, in fact it only solidifies the deceivers hold over the situation. (Read also Titus 2:1-8)
We pray that your heart is free from the past, enjoying the present, and with hope for the future.
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