Sunday, 13 November 2011

Three sources of Evil: Flesh, World, Devil


From Unseen Warfare edition published by St Vladimir's Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, USA, 1987. From Chapter 1 (emphasis added):

There are many who say that the perfection of Christian life consists in fasts, vigils, genuflections, sleeping on bare earth and other similar austerities of the body.

Others say that it consists in saying many prayers at home and in attending long services in Church.

And there are others who think that our perfection consists entirely in mental prayer, solitude, seclusion and silence.

But the majority limit perfection to a strict observance of all the rules and practices laid down by the statutes, falling into no excess or deficiency, but preserving a golden moderation.

Yet all these virtues do not by themselves constitute the Christian perfection we are seeking, but are only means and methods for acquiring it.

There is no doubt whatever that they do represent means - and effective means - for attaining perfection in Christian life.

For we see very many virtuous men, who practice these virtues as they should, to acquire strength and power against their own sinful and evil nature 

- to gain, through these practices, courage to withstand the temptations and seductions of our three main enemies: the flesh, the world, and the devil...


From The Book of Common Prayer (emphasis added):

Almighty God, our heavenly Father,

we have sinned against you
and against our fellow men,
in thought and word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.


Flesh, world, devil = weakness, negligence, deliberate fault.


Flesh/ weakness = Original sin, natural passions, selfishness and short-termism.


World/ negligence = Distractions. Focusing on Life rather than reality; on status, comfort and pleasure rather than sanctification, deification, salvation.


Devil/ deliberate fault = choosing to serve as a tool of purposive evil, which is nihilism, which is denial of reality, which is practiced by

systematic destruction of The Good

(i.e. destruction of Truth, Beauty and Virtue and their Unity by denial, subversion and inversion).


Three sources of  Evil.

The Flesh is pretty much a given factor for an individual, for humanity.

The World is much more powerful in the West now than it has ever been anywhere in human history.

The Devil is an unknown quantity, but as C.S Lewis says in Screwtape Letters:

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.


Of course, all these sources of Evil are linked in a unity: but modern Evil is characterized and made distinctive by an historically vast and pervasive expansion of The World - of Negligence.


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