Sin, Evil, and Hope for the Future

Sunday, November 24       9:30 a.m.-10:15 a.m.

What is evil?  Does it exist, or is it just an old-fashioned term still believed in by Christian fundamentalists? Is there a relationship between individual sin (evil), such as adultery, murder, unforgiveness, and institutional sin (evil)?  Some would say the latter includes the penal system, oppressive governments, legal systems, and various economic systems. Systems, including government and religious institutions, understandably find it necessary to protect themselves by urging people to consider them above reproach. But without a critical eye, without discernment, we tend to enforce and give legitimacy to a kind of structural evil, “the evil done on our behalf.”

We’re very good at exposing and condemning individual evil; people get put in jail all the time for acts of individual evil.  But what of the underlying level of evil, those systems we create to control disorder and violence in society? Do we not tend to believe that they are above criticism? Richard Rohr, a Roman Catholic priest and Franciscan monk, believes that “we legitimate, enforce, and justify our group egocentricity . . . while not now calling it egocentricity, but necessity.” Does a culture of violence (i.e., evil) promote individual violence (i.e., evil)?  Do we tend to spend too much time routing out individual sin but miss the larger, underlying sin? The Bible says that the Devil, “the Deceiver,” is a master at disguise and we are easily fooled and misled.

Please join The Rev. Al Niese for this important forum on an age-old topic. Do we have reason to be hopeful for the future?


Facilitator:  The Rev. Al Niese