The media describe the violence of ISIS as evil, as if that explained everything, but it actually explains nothing The problem is that in the modern secular culture the word “evil” is meaningless. Secular culture has decided that evil spiritual power do not exist, but without actually getting rid of them. In that context, evil is just something that most people hate. Evil is label for things that repel the sensibilities of modern society.
Christians should have a different concept of evil, because they realise that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against evil spiritual power in the spiritual realm (Eph 6:12).
However, even for Christians, the problem is not just evil people. Really evil people are rare, and usually isolated and relatively harmless.
The most dangerous people in the world are not evil people, but ordinary people who believe their cause is so good that they are justified in doing evil to achieve it. It is not evil people that we should fear, but ordinary people doing evil to achieve what they perceive to be good.
Hitler is an example. He did not set in train a policy to annihilate the Jews, because the loved doing evil. He believed that getting rid of the Jews would be really good for the world, so he was willing to do evil things to accomplish it. He was dangerous, because he believed that if the ends are good enough, evil means are justified. If he had been pure evil, he would never have risen to power. It was because he appeared to be good, and was ruthless in seeking what he saw was good, that people supported him.
A different example is the bombing of Dresden at the end of World War 2. It is generally agreed now that this action achieved no military benefit, except that it punished the German people. Yet thousands of people were killed and maiming the violent firestorm that swept through the city. I suspect that future historians will see it as a barbarous act, but at the time it was accepted a necessary act of war. Winning the war against Nazism was such good goal that evil means were justified. The end justifies the means.
A modern example is the invasion of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of civilians lost their lives. Millions lost their homes. Normally an event that killed so many people would be described as evil. However, because these deaths were a consequence of actions to support a good cause, they are seen differently. George Bush was a good person, whose cause was so good, that he was justified in doing evil.
I will explain Jesus approach in the next post.