The Envy of the Devil & the Glory of God by Leon J. Podles

The Envy of the Devil & the Glory of God

Samuel Johnson calls envy the most malignant of vices, because it diminishes another’s good without increasing one’s own. A thief at least gets some goods as the result of his theft, but the envious man in attacking another only wounds and does not profit. The spiritual being whom Christians call the Adversary knows that he cannot win against God in a direct contest, but he can attack God’s glory, that is, the perception of God’s goodness and wisdom by men and angels. In an unfallen world, God would be transparent in all creation. No one could doubt his existence or his goodness. But in a fallen world, the chief source of disquiet about the very existence of God, or whether he can be called good in any human sense, is the evil in human history and in creation.

The strength of this difficulty should not be underestimated. Even men of great and unshakable faith, like Cardinal Ratzinger, say that the evil in the world gives them pause. The past century has been a horror story come to life. Children have had their brains sucked out; Jews were buried alive so that the ground moved for days; concentration camp inmates were thrown alive into pits of burning bodies or drowned in pools of excrement; planes were crashed into towers that crumbled into shards and dust—why have not the heavens darkened? Nor is this past century unique. History was a slaughterhouse even before it was written down.

Nor is history the only spectacle that could cause us to doubt the goodness of the Creator. The animal world is full of horrors. Some insects digest their victims alive; human beings are attacked by flesh-eating bacteria or viruses that cause them to bleed from every orifice. Is this a design of darkness, to appall?

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Leon J. Podles holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia and has worked as a teacher and a federal investigator. He is the author of The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity and the forthcoming License to Sin (both from Spence Publishing). His latest book is Losing the Good Portion: Why Men are Alienated from Christianity (St. Augustine’s Press). Dr. Podles and his wife have six children and live in Naples, Florida. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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