The ESN Day Ahead ended well, and the main Following Christ conference has begun. I am assisting with the Humanities track, chaired by Michael Murray of Franklin & Marshall. In his opening remarks about human flourishing, Dr. Murray described the danger that ethical subjectivism poses to the gospel. If there is no right or wrong, if “evil” is an outdated concept and what we think of as “sin” is really just “bad manners,” then the gospel no longer makes sense. God seems cruel and vindictive to send his only Son to die on the cross to save us from…bad manners. Therefore, it is key for Christians to maintain the reality of evil in the world and in our own lives.
Interestingly, this dovetails with remarks made by Mary Poplin during the ESN Day Ahead. Before she became a Christian, she held a very pantheistic view of reality, and denied the existence of true evil. One of her students consistently asked her whether she believed evil was real, and refused to let her explain it away. Part of her conversion was the realization that evil truly existed – that, in fact, it existed within her own self and that she need Jesus to cleanse her of that evil.