Back of the North Wind

Discussions of theology, philosophy, religion and life inspired by the writings of George MacDonald (and perhaps others such as CS Lewis) posted by "recovering fundamentalists".

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I am a "recovering fundamentalist". The trick is to figure out how not to throw out the Baby with the bathwater. I learn through dialogue, and so invite commentary on my posts to Back of the North Wind.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Remedy for Evil

George MacDonald writes in Lilith, chapter 31:

"Annihilation itself is no death to evil. Only good where evil was, is evil dead. An evil thing must live with its evil until it chooses to be good. That alone is the slaying of evil."

This is in contrast to both CS Lewis and Charles Williams, and of course, evangelical Christianity. The latter believes that only eternal punishment is the remedy for evil, or even for people who refused to repent during their life in this world. I've already given my opinion on that belief. CS Lewis portrays in The Great Divorce a picture of unrepentant sinners who in the end are indistinguishable from nothing. Lewis even has his MacDonald guide figure say, in one case, that there is a difference between "A Grumbler" and a "grumble". If there is still "someone" behind the grumbling, then there is a chance to redeem that person. But if all that's left is just the grumbling, "We'll not go on blowing ashes in our faces -- they must be swept up!" I wrote about another (not quite fair) representation of MacDonald by Lewis in an earlier post.

Meanwhile, Charles Williams gives a compelling portrayal of dissolution in Descent Into Hell, where a man on his way to damnation keeps making evil choices, and with each choice finds it harder to make a choice for good. In the end, he has lost his ability to choose anything at all, and seemingly, lost all identity and perhaps existence.

While I enjoy all three pictures (Lewis, Williams and MacDonald), I find MacDonald's assertion the one which is the most compelling.