The Eternal Origins of Evil in Paganism

“[Ricouer] points out that in the Babylonian myth, creation is an act of violence: Tiamat, “mother of them all,” is murdered and dismembered; from her cadaver the world is formed.4 Order is established by means of disorder. Creation is a violent victory over an enemy older than creation. The origin of evil precedes the origin of things. Chaos (symbolized by Tiamat) is prior to order (represented by Marduk, god of Babylon). Evil is prior to good. Violence inheres in the godhead. Evil is an ineradicable constituent of ultimate reality, and possesses ontological priority over good….

In the Babylonian myth, however, there is no “problem of evil.” Evil is simply a primordial fact. The simplicity of its picture of reality commended it widely, and its basic mythic structure spread as far as Syria, Phoenicia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Germany, Ireland, and India. Typically, a male war god residing in the sky—Wotan, Zeus, or Indra, for example—fights a decisive battle with a female divine being, usually depicted as a monster or dragon, residing in the sea or abyss.5 Having vanquished the original Enemy by war and murder, the victor fashions a cosmos from the monster’s corpse. Cosmic order equals the violent suppression of the feminine, and is mirrored in the social order by the subjection of women to men. Male supremacy and contempt for the womanly is explicit in the Enuma Elish: “What male is this who has pressed his fight against thee? It is but Tiamat, a woman, that flies at thee with weapons!…

The implications are clear: humanity is created from the blood of a murdered god. Our very origin is violence. Killing is in our blood. Humanity is not the originator of evil, but merely finds evil already present and perpetuates it. Our origins are divine, to be sure, since we are made from a god, but from the blood of an assassinated god.9 We are the consequence of deicide. Human beings are thus naturally incapable of peaceful coexistence; order must continually be imposed upon us from on high. Nor are we created to subdue the earth and have dominion over it as God’s regents; we exist but to serve as slaves of the gods and of their earthly regents. The tasks of humanity are to till the soil, to produce foods for sacrifice to the gods (represented by the king and the priestly caste), to build the sacred city Babylon, and to fight and, if necessary, to die in the king’s wars.” -Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers

Witnessing Evil

“Visitors to Nazi Germany in the late 1930s spoke of the palpable evil in the “air,” of a pervading “atmosphere” that hung over the entire land, full of foreboding and menace. Those who leave South Africa remark on the sense of an enormous weight of anxiety and tension that drops off their shoulders as the plane leaves South African airspace. People who remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy will still recall a feeling of darkness over the face of the nation that lasted for days.” -Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers

The ‘Shape’ of the Mountain of God in Scripture

“Har Magedon – well named, this heavenly mount, the mountain of
God. For it is the mount of gathering in multiple senses. Primarily and
forever it is the temple-mount, the assembly place of the worshipping
celebrating entourage of the King of glory a myriad congregation of
angels and men (cf. Heb 12:18-29; Pss 479; 48; 102:21,22 [22,23]). Here is the council chamber where God assembles the heavenly elders for
deliberation (cf. Ps 82:1). This celestial mount is the paradise to which God’s exiled people of every nation are regathered (cf. Deut 30:3-5; Isa
27:12,13; 43:5; Jer 32:37-41; Ezek 11:17-20; 36:24). “Har Magedon is
the palace-fortress against which Satan’s antichrist, aspiring to the throne on this mountain, gathers his hordes in the final battle of Har Magedon (cf. Ezekiel 38-39; Rev 16:14-16; 19:19; 20:8), an event which, from the perspective of God’s sovereignty, is a divine gathering of the nations to Zion for their final judgment (cf. Joel 3 [4]; Zech 12:3; 14:2; Matt 25:31,32). This Mount of Assembly is the heavenly hearth to which the Lord gathers his elect, one by one in their passing from the earthly scene (cf. Isa 26:20; Luke 16:22; Rev 6:9-11) and as a
resplendent multitude raised from the dust in resurrection glory at his final harvesting of the earth at his parousia (Dan 12:2; Matt 13:30; 24:31; Mark 13:26,27; 2 Thess 2:1; Rev 14:14-16).” -Meredith Kline, God, Heaven, and Har Magedon, 56-57

What it Means to Really Believe in Total Depravity

Until you believe that you have all the resources within your own personhood to ruin your own life, you don’t really believe in total depravity. Until you believe that you are fully capable of blowing up important relationships in your life for bad reasons, you don’t believe in total depravity. Until you believe that someday it may actually seem like a good idea to stop worshiping God all together or to quit being a part of his family, you don’t believe in total depravity. This is what it means to say sin has so corrupted our nature that we are prone to hate our neighbor and hate God.

But, conversely, unless we believe God can intervene in the life of such a one, and give him or her gloriously different thoughts and desires than these, we also don’t really believe that “Christ Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

The bad news is bad, but the good news is greater.

Common Grace at Work in Science and Scholarship

“Knowledge of earthly things is possible, and there is a yearning to find out the truth about them. This is the basis of science and scholarship (law, medicine, mathematics, literature, and the liberal arts). These are the natural sciences, with philosophy as their crown. These gifts of the Spirit should not be rejected or despised, for that would be to despise God himself. Pagans themselves admit that philosophy, the arts, sciences, and laws were gifts from the gods. We cannot read the writings of the ancients without great admiration. If by the Lord’s will we can be helped by the activities of evil persons in the study of nature, in logic, in mathematics, let us then use these things. Zwingli said that whatever the pagans said that is good and beautiful, we accept and convert to the glory of our God. We decorate the temple of the true God with the spoils of the Egyptians.” -Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics