The moral theology of evil

Earlier today I saw a clip where Franklin Graham attributed the coronavirus pandemic to the sinfulness of the world. According to him God is capricious and looks for ways to inflict pain and sadness on us. This reminded me of a chapter in Thomas Merton’s, New Seeds of Contemplation, which was published many years ago.

“The devil has a whole system of theology and philosophy, which will explain, to anyone who will listen, that created things are evil, that men are evil, that God created evil and that He directly wills that men should suffer evil. According to the devil, God rejoices in the suffering of men and, in fact, the whole universe is full of misery because God has willed and planned it that way.”

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

This runs counter to my own experience of God. It even runs counter to what Jesus said in the Gospels, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” I have to feel sorry for folks who’s image of God is like that of the harsh businessman waiting to exact revenge for transgression.