“If Truth is taken away from us, then Right and Wrong are taken from us as well. If we don’t know Right and Wrong, then we can’t, we won’t control ourselves, but will look to someone else to bring order through brute force and raw power. We will be controlled by a tyrant, and we will no longer be free…”
― Frank E. Peretti, Nightmare Academy
The Challenge of Death and Suffering
As Christians, we believe in a good God who is all-powerful and all-loving. Yet, we cannot escape the reality of evil and suffering in the world. Many people reject belief in God because they can’t imagine a world in which God and evil both exist. It is a good thing to take evil seriously and to find it abhorrent. It would be far more disconcerting to talk with a person who finds no problem with the existence of evil (though a consistent atheist would have to say so).
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Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.
– Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 37a
“It is when people do wrong things wilfully that they are the more likely to do them again.”
“Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves!” he said, and it became a proverb, though we now say ‘out of the frying-pan into the fire’ in the same sort of uncomfortable situations.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again)
“Eomer said, ‘How is a man to judge what to do in such times?’
As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien (The Two Towers)
“It is perilous to study too deeply the arts of the Enemy, for good or for ill.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring)
“For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien (The Return of the King)
“Never laugh at live dragons”
“Speak politely to an enraged dragon.”
“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit)
Gandalf: Be on your guard. There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.
Gandalf: You cannot pass! I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor. The dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udun! Go back to the shadow. You shall not pass!
Galadriel: The Quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little, and it will fail, to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while the Company is true.
A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.
ARAGORN, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means–the only complete realist… (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)