The Evil in This World: The God of Hate
Editor’s Note: FāVS has launched a new series on The Evil in this World. We see it every day in the murder and mayhem that trouble our lives. The world’s great religions have an explanation for this and different ways to describe the battle between good and evil. Those who do not subscribe to a religious tradition have their own perceptions of evil and good. How does your belief system describe both forces and how does it help you cope with the notion that evil exists in this world? Has your faith ever been shaken by the evil around you?
Guest Column by Lynn Kaylor
I’m a faith renegade. I follow a Gnostic path and Gnostics supposedly went extinct centuries ago. But we didn’t. We just re-organized in various ways. Gnosticism is a family of faiths for Magi, sages and others who dare to dream intentionally. Like it or not, gnosis happens; something hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. Sometimes we’re regarded as heretics for easy proselytizing. Some love to vent their “righteous indignation” on us, too.
One day, I told one of them, “I can understand your spirit because God is the God of Hate.”
“Blasphemy! God is the God of Love!”
“Who do you say is the god of hate?”
“Why, the devil, of course!”
“Remember Romans 9:13 where Paul quotes Malachi to say, ‘Jacob I loved but Esau I hated?’ If God ever hated anyone as both testify, then either God is the God of Hate or a servant of the god of hate. There’s no other logical possibility. Because you claim that God isn’t the God of Hate, He must be a servant of the god of hate whom you identified as the devil. God a servant of Satan? Are you kidding me?”
I could see murder in his eyes.
“Look. The fact that God is the God of Love doesn’t mean he’s not also the God of Hate. The opposite of love isn’t hate but indifference. Your Bible doesn’t teach a Zoroastrian-style dualism. Satan is a fallen angel, and we don’t need to make him a god. Don’t you see? None of us understands how to love properly, and we always hate far worse.”
The idea that God is the God of Hate reflects a protective care that none of us really grasp. The Quran tells how Moses begged to follow Al-Khidr despite the latter warning that Moses would impatiently question him. They went on a boat and Al-Khidr sank it. They met a boy and Al-Khidr slew him. They came to a wicked town who outrageously refused to show hospitality. Al-Khidr set their teetering wall upright. Moses challenged these actions. Al-Khidr revealed that he sunk the boat to prevent a tyrannical king from forcibly seizing it. He killed the boy to prevent his wickedness from corrupting his faithful parents. He straightened the wall to preserve a treasure beneath it so the orphans of a righteous man could retrieve it when they had grown.
The story illustrates how poorly we understand good and evil because none of us with our limited understanding see the bigger picture. We judge good and evil according to what we think immediately benefits us. Isaiah quotes, “I form light and create darkness; work peace and create bad (Hebrew: ra‘); I, YHVH, do all these.”
In fact, it was near the beginning when God planted the ‘Etz Hadda‘at Tov v’Ra‘ (The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil). How could knowledge of any kind of evil or bad exist if it didn’t first exist in the mind of God?
Here’s my Gnostic perspective. Science recently proved something that makes Gnostics smile: that at least locally, our universe is fake. To me, we’re all a dream in the mind of God: a multiverse full of strangeness and awe, especially with things like good, and evil. Even if a gnosis takes me into the heavenlies to reveal a fragment of what I had thought impossible, that expanded understanding remains just that — a mere fragment.
Though many dismiss that fragment as “evil,” some of us treasure it as good.
Lynn Kaylor has written about spirituality, philosophy and civil rights for over 30 years. She practices as a Melissite Gnostic on a solitary basis. She’s a longtime student of classical languages, performed missionary service in the former Soviet Union, and served as a Hermetic priest.