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Macrina on Eliminating Evil

I found this quote in a Facebook group I am a part of, so I cannot personally vouch for it. I trust it is correct. This is Macrina (the Younger) teaching her brother Gregory of Nyssa:

“For evil must be altogether removed in every way from being, and, as we have said before, that which does not really exist must cease to exist at all. Since evil does not exist by its nature outside of free choice, when all choice is in God, evil will suffer a complete annihilation because no receptacle remains for it.”

(Recounted by Gregory in *On the Soul and the Resurrection*.)

It seems to me that this fits very well with a Wesleyan-Arminian perspective. God is good and eternal. Evil is not eternal. Evil exists because of free choice. As human choices change to being more and more in God, evil becomes eliminated — Macrina actually says “evil will suffer a complete annihilation”.

The alternative view would be… what?

  • Evil is eternal and a co-equal principle to good?
  • The human creation was neither “good” (ט֑וֹב) or “very good (ט֖וֹב מְאֹ֑ד)?
  • Evil is a necessary part of human nature?
  • What?

It follows that evil will be eliminated in this life or the next — it is not clear to me to which she is referring.

John Wesley said:

“‘But surely we cannot be saved from sin, while we dwell in a sinful body.’A sinful body? I pray observe, how deeply ambiguous; how equivocal, this expression is! But, there is no authority for it in Scripture: the word, sinful body, is never found there. And as it is totally unscriptural, so it is palpably absurd. For no body, or matter of any kind, can be sinful; spirits alone are capable of sin. Pray in what part of the body should sin lodge? It cannot lodge in the skin, nor in the muscles, or nerves, or veins, or arteries; it cannot be in the bones any more than in the hair or nails. Only the soul can be the seat of sin.”

— John Wesley, “Christian Perfection” Sermons.

Most of Western Christianity has settled for a view which sees evil as an inherent part of human nature. But, how can this possibly be right? I think Macrina and many others are pointing us in the right direction: evil is a dysfunction.

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