"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." Dietrich BonhoefferAnd not to warn those immersed in evil is a failure to love.
Peter Kreeft has an interesting article on the problem evil, a subject that deserves serious reflection especially during Lent when the Church admonishes us to repent and hear the good news of the Gospel. Here's a little from Kreeft's article:
More people have abandoned their faith because of the problem of evil than for any other reason. It is certainly the greatest test of faith, the greatest temptation to unbelief. And it's not just an intellectual objection. We feel it. We live it. That's why the Book of Job is so arresting....
There are four parts to the solution to the problem of evil . First, evil is not a thing, an entity, a being. All beings are either the Creator or creatures created by the Creator. But every thing God created is good, according to Genesis. We naturally tend to picture evil as a thing—a black cloud, or a dangerous storm, or a grimacing face, or dirt. But these pictures mislead us. If God is the Creator of all things and evil is a thing, then God is the Creator of evil, and he is to blame for its existence. No, evil is not a thing but a wrong choice, or the damage done by a wrong choice. Evil is no more a positive thing than blindness is. But it is just as real. It is not a thing, but it is not an illusion....
The worst aspect of the problem of evil is eternal evil, hell. Does hell not contradict a loving and omnipotent God? No, for hell is the consequence of free will. We freely choose hell for ourselves; God does not cast anyone into hell against his will. If a creature is really free to say yes or no to the Creator's offer of love and spiritual marriage, then it must be possible for the creature to say no. And that is what hell is, essentially. Free will, in turn, was created out of God's love. Therefore hell is a result of God's love. Everything is.Knowing that hell exists, Christians have a serious obligation to warn those in danger that their evil actions put them at risk of going there Isn't that what Peter and his colleagues did on that first Pentecost when they went out and confronted those visiting Jerusalem? When they finished, the people were "deeply shaken" and cried out, " What must we do?" The message is clear. "Reform your lives." Jesus made it clear that reform meant repenting and obeying the laws of God and conforming our wills, not to the world, but to the will of God. He left us the sacraments to help us with His grace.
No sane person wants hell to exist. No sane person wants evil to exist. But hell is just evil eternalized. If there is evil and if there is eternity, there can be hell. If it is intellectually dishonest to disbelieve in evil just because it is shocking and uncomfortable, it is the same with hell. Reality has hard corners, surprises, and terrible dangers in it. We desperately need a true road map, not nice feelings, if we are to get home. It is true, as people often say, that “hell just feels unreal, impossible.” Yes. So does Auschwitz. So does Calvary.
In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoefer, a pastor who died in a Nazi camp, warned that the messenger of Christ's Gospel will suffe, but with the" assurance that in their suffering they will be as their master" He calls that a "great consolation." He also warns that the "messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the divisions which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace....If they called Jesus a devil, how much more will they call the servants of his household devils."
We are living in a wicked time just as Bonhoeffer did. The persecution against Christians is growing. The verbal attacks are a warning of the persecution to come. Nevertheless, we have moral obligation to call evil evil and to proclaim Christ's message to those who are willing to hear it. Let none of us be silent or speak soothing words that tickle ears. In that strategy lies the ruin of our brothers and sisters and our own destruction. Rather, let us continue to urge people not to conform to the world of political correctness and sin, but to embrace the will of God reflected in the Commandments and the Beatitudes. For in that way lies eternal life.