Last Updated September 5, 2023.
“It’s one of the first things an intelligent man like Kevin, who comes to the Church later in life, notices. There is a pervasive incongruity between the Church’s theology and the way most of us in the church live.”
“One of its faces, yes. Hypocrisy. Saying one thing but doing another. Studying to be a priest while hiding a small cocaine addiction, for example. The world flushes this out and cries scandal. But the more ominous face isn’t nearly so obvious. This is what interested Kevin the most. He was quite astute, really.”
“I’m not sure I follow.”
Here, Ted Dekker highlights a recurring question posed, especially by modern Christians, to the religion’s conception of evil, which defines a multitude of actions as “sinful.” Namely, are these actions morally equivalent? Or do they exist in a hierarchical system by which some actions are more evil than others? Here, too, Dekker intimates the idea that evil exists in all people, that it is in fact less dangerous when it manifests in those where it is less expected, because here it is easier to come to terms with. When a priest is found to do something wrong they are condemned, but when an average parishioner, perhaps under the guise of good intentions, commits an evil, it is less likely to be commented upon.
And does man simply choose evil, or does he create it? . . . Is evil a force that swims in human blood, struggling to find its way into the heart, or is it an external possibility wanting to be formed?
This passage raises another key question of morality—namely, where does evil come from? The Christian belief that human beings are corrupted by original sin, and are thus always liable to commit evil, is here contrasted with another Christian concept: the idea that everyone has free will, which would enable one to go through life without performing any evil actions.
People tend to react to other people in wholesale rather than in detail, right? He's a minister, so I hate him. She's beautiful, so I like her. One month later you wake up and realize you have nothing in common with the woman.
This statement is a comment on the superficiality of human prejudices, how an individual responds to people on the basis of one characteristic without investigating who they are. By means of this passage, Dekker makes clear the danger of forming snap judgments or long-term relationships on the basis of such fleeting prejudices.
Living is about clucking your tongue and enjoying the sound.
This quote is a critique of the “whitewashed tomb” conception of morality, in which one lives life according to what one imagines are good deeds and becomes arrogant as a result, passing judgment on others in a way that very much contravenes the religious virtues one professes to follow.
I’m a skeptic of religious systems, not of the faith. Someday I will be happy to discuss the difference with you.
Here, Dekker comments upon the distinction between the purity of personal faith and the fallibility of institutionalized religion, which may be corrupted by worldly impulses and temptations. The difference is not always clear to characters like Jennifer who are not religious, but it is very significant to those like Kevin who profess religious faith and depend upon that faith for a sense of their own goodness in the face of evil and danger.