This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Resist not evil, the purifying function of the Antichrist

It is one thing to say that all is as God wills it; it is another to contemplate how this is so. Evil is an acting for in all creation, and permitted to be, and so we must ask why, and the answer we give determines how we deal with it. It also determines how we are able to relate to the culminating manifestation of that evil via the Antichrist.

The common answer provided by Christianity is that God permits evil for the sake of a desirable end. So be it, but this doesn’t really explain much and also why not just skip to the desirable end? We can only assume that if this were possible then God would have opted for such a route and avoided the whole problem of a ‘necessary evil’. Besides, is it not somewhat insulting and even blasphemous to suggest that God is being somehow compelled to compromise, to accept a ‘necessary evil’ in order to bring about the Good? Put in such a light, the idea that God permits anything at all that he does not actually want and that is not in some way an aspect of the Good is absurd. All that is must be susceptible to interpretation as an aspect of God’s good will: beyond the polarization of things into ‘good and evil’, which is legitimate to an extent, we must hold that in an Absolute sense, there is only ‘the Good’.

What, then, could be good about evil? This seems to be a nonsensical question, but consider:

In hindsight, and in our own personal experience, we look back on our sufferings and we acknowledge that, much like the discipline provided by our parents, our trials were not ‘evils’ imposed by a malevolent force, but were ‘lessons’. But they did not take on the appearance of a lesson until later.

The transformation of a pain, a suffering, even a death, from evil to ‘lesson’ changes its meaning for us entirely. For that which is a lesson, especially if this lesson is provided by a holy master and in turn is properly understood and integrated by the disciple, is a kind of truth. It is only the lesson that the disciple fails to grasp that hurts him and is perceived as a lie instead of a truth.

Life’s suffering is evil insofar as we remain ignorant of its specific outcome, for us as individuals or, on a larger level, for the cosmos as a whole. The outcome is typically the violent removal of our illusions, the destruction of worldly dependence, or our own ignorant willfulness and vain planning. In this light, evil tends toward our purification, and viewed in this light it is instructive rather than destructive, or we could say that it is destructive only of that which needs to be destroyed because it is not of God.

Returning then to the Antichrist and his cosmic function, we might say that he performs in personal mode the same function that evil performs in our own experiences: the Antichrist purifies the world by magnetically drawing toward itself in a kind of singularity all that is flawed and all sort of ‘secondary’ evil. When this ‘concentration’ of evil reaches its climax in the Apocalypse, Christ returns and ‘discards’ it as one would discard a poultice from a wound after it has performed its function of ‘drawing out’ the infection.

It is in this way that the Antichrist is actually laboring in the service of the Creator, and it could not be otherwise. Understanding this, we can see that certain sayings of Christ, such as ‘resist not evil’ and that ‘evil must come’, are statements about the nature of evil and its beneficial function according to the Divine Will.

Having said all of this, we do feel compelled to offer a disclaimer to ward of certain misunderstandings. The above doctrine pertains to evil as viewed from the point of view of metaphysics, which is to say, beyond the level of the personal and as it would seem ‘in God’s eyes’. To adopt this point of view is not in any way to nullify the opposing point of view, equally valid, which is that of human experience. From the point of view of man, evil is still evil and is experienced as contrary to God’s will and an affliction: the point is not to pretend that the murder and starvation of innocent children is ‘good’ or that we must cease to hate it: the point is rather to acknowledge that by transcending the human point of view we are able to comprehend certain mysteries that would otherwise baffle us. The challenge is always to retain our proper relation to the human state (perceiving evil as evil) while at the same time gaining an appreciation for the Divine Will, which encompasses all things and is beyond any kind of good-evil dualism, but rather embraces all and directs everything toward an ultimate Good.

If this doctrine causes you to dismiss the sufferings of your fellow man on the grounds that ‘God wills it’, then we can say that you have failed to integrate both points of view and ought to fall back on the more conventional, strictly human, doctrine of evil as ‘contrary to God’s will’. One must never sacrifice one’s humanity in an attempt to reach some perverse, pseudo-esoteric understanding of cosmology. On the contrary, it is a question of understanding how the more Divine truths can be accepting while also retaining a healthy identification with the human condition in which we are situated, and a health empathy with our fellows. That is the challenge, and it is difficult—that is your warning about this doctrine, and you should take great care that you conceive of it properly lest you slip into error about such an important concept as the nature of evil and its necessarily differing relation to God, on the one hand, and man, on the other.

We can summarize this last warning by observing that although Christ said that ‘evils must come’, he also said: ‘woe to the man through whom they come!’ We are not absolved of moral responsibility just because evil is necessary to complete the manifestation of God: evil is still ‘the great wall’ that separates us from Him, and the true horror of evil is that if we do not overcome it, or permit Christ to overcome it for us and within us such that it is He who lives in us and not ‘ourselves’, and if in the end the wall remains and we have never ‘died to sin’, then all that has been said still remains true: evil, that which is not God, will still be extracted and discarded as refuse, and we will have become part of that refuse. The horror of evil and its consequences thus remain, even if envisioned as a necessary purifying force operating in the cosmos: woe to the one who is himself the stain to be removed.

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