St Pauls GoodNews

This Week

  • Today: 10:00 Worship; 11:00 Fellowship Meal
  • Monday @ 5:30 p.m.: Girl Scouts
  • Tuesday Bible Study: @ Jeremiah’s, 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday @ 11: Spiritual Council; Outreach: 1 p.m.
  • AA Meetings: in the Parish Hall:
    • Tuesdays, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. – Discussion
    • Wednesdays, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Big Book
    • Fridays 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Discussion

Making Peace Seminar Today!

We will take a break today from this 12-week video series by Jim Van Yperen based on his book, Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict. Meetings will be Sunday mornings, 11:00 a.m.

Don’t Do This

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. —Ephesians 4:31-32

(…continued…) Slander (βλασφημία), translated as evil speaking in the Authorized Version, is the next step in the escalation, as complaining turns into blame. The Greek root is where we get the English word blasphemy, but here it is not directed toward God, but toward other people. And in the same way that blasphemy demeans the character of God, this kind of blasphemy demeans the character of other people.

Today, for slander to be libelous it must contain some element of falsehood. It is the lack of factuality that makes it libelous, and not merely the fact that the person being attacked doesn’t like it. The slanderer may be misinformed about various facts, and not be aware of the falsity of the accusation. But the ignorance of the attacker does not relieve the slanderer of either the guilt or the sin of the slander. Older words that describe the character of slander are scurrilous and calumnious. The easy way to avoid slander is not to say false or degrading things about others.

Malice (κακία) is the last term in this list, and it refers to malignity, ill-will, and the desire to harm others. It is a kind of wickedness or depravity, and often begins with a disregard for law. It involves wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws, and originates from the disregard of God’s law and/or the desire to determine law for one’s self. It begins with a self-identity that is full of pride and despises biblical norms. It thinks of itself, not as ordinary, but as unique, contrary to common norms. Malice involves the reversal of values such that evil is valued because it is uncommon, and good is despised because it is common. Of course, the malicious person does not see it like this. Maliciousness values the outlier for its radical diversity from the norm, rather than valuing the commonality of the norm. The malignant person cannot discern and/or does not value subtle differences of character, but prefers a self-identity that is outside of the norm. Such people usually consider themselves to be special and/or more important than others.

This is a difficult concept to convey because so many people today have already traversed a reversal of values, and the current culture now generally honors and promotes this reversal of values as if it is the correct order of values. As maliciousness becomes increasingly popular, it also becomes increasingly thought to be healthy, and the reverse—preference for the time-honored human norms instituted by Jesus Christ—are increasingly thought to be not healthy. Where Christianity works to make Jesus Christ the norm or archetype of humanity, the spirit of malevolence does the opposite.

This is the character of original sin that has issued from Adam’s rejection of the idea that only God can determine good and evil. Adam and Eve sought to be like God in this regard, determining good and evil for themselves, at the behest of the Serpent (Genesis 2:17, 3:5). In a fit of pride, Satan thought that he knew God, and God’s thoughts and values, well enough to codify them. We see this when the serpent asked Eve, “Did God actually say…” (Genesis 3:1). Eve answered by adding to God’s conditions, “neither shall you touch it” (Genesis 3:3). The Serpent then corrected Eve, “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Again, God knows better than to think that sin can make humanity His equal. It is Satan’s assessment of God, and it is short of the reality—and that is the problem. It’s a not an accurate assessment of God’s understanding. Everything that the Serpent said is in service of this lie.

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