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Evil Is Divided Into Two

4. How does Luther and Calvins view of moral evil differ from that of Catholicism?

The classical Christian approach to the dilemma of moral evil has been that people are abusing the freedom of choice given to them by their creator. With free will and the ability to choose between good and evil actions, people who exercise the wrong choices can create moral evil, which impacts others. The Catholic Church essentially takes this approach to evil. To understand their approach, one must understand the concept of original sin. When Adam and Eve were in the garden, they were created in the image of God, but with a presumably much more limited intellect than modern humans. They were forbidden to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, because it would give them moral reasoning, thus making them closer to God. However, they chose to eat of this fruit, which distanced them from the image of their creator. While doing so gave humans greater intellect, it was also their first act of disobedience against God and humans continue to pay for this original sin through the specter of moral evil. Luther and Calvins view of moral evil is heavily linked to the idea of predestination. While Calvin believed that damnation could be preordained, Luther did not. However, both believe in the idea of a creator God who determined the actions and events of the universe for eternity when establishing the universe.

Therefore, the idea of moral evil is less linked to the notion of original sin and moral choices, than it is to simply Gods will. In this way, they almost approach moral evil as others approach natural evil.

5. Explain new approaches to the understanding of moral evil.

There are several different new approaches to the understanding of moral evil. Many of these are based in soft-science approaches, such as sociology or psychology. They posit that evil is a learned behavior, and, therefore, since society is full of evil, people learn and act in evil ways. Moreover, because societies have established institutions, which reinforce evil, even good people in society will have a difficult time eliminating moral evil. In addition, some contemporary approaches still embrace the concept of original sin. Because original sin pervades humanity, and the human condition requires interaction between people, evil will never cease to exist. However, evil is not viewed as the consequence of failure to obey God, as it has traditionally been viewed from the context of an original-sin perspective. This new view of original sin has been greatly shaped by social movements like feminism.

References

Hill, B., Knitter, P., & Madges, W. (1997). Faith, religion & theology: A contemporary introduction.

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