Sermon quotes on Good and Evil

Thomas Aquinas

Good can exist without evil, whereas evil cannot exist without good.

Augustine of Hippo

We do not know why God’s judgment makes a good man poor, and a wicked man rich. . . . Nor why the wicked man enjoys the best of health, while the man of religion wastes away in illness. . . . Even then it is not consistent …Good men also have good fortune and evil men find evil fortunes. . . . So though we do not know by what judgment these things are carried out or permitted by God, it is none the less beneficial for us to learn not to regard as important the good or evil fortunes which we see shared by good and evil persons alike. 

Augustine of Hippo

The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The knowledge of good and evil seems to be the aim of all ethical reflection. The first task of Christian ethics is to invalidate this knowledge.

Edmund Burke (Attributed)

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Richard Cecil

Faith makes all evil good to us, and all good better; unbelief makes all good evil, and all evil worse. Faith laughs at the shaking of the spear; unbelief trembles at the shaking of a leaf, unbelief starves the soul; faith finds food in famine, and a table in the wilderness. In the greatest danger, faith says, “I have a great God.” When outward strength is broken, faith rests on the promises. In the midst of sorrow, faith draws the sting out of every trouble, and takes out the bitterness from every affliction.

Richard Dawkins*

Good and evil – I don’t believe that there is hanging out there, anywhere, something called good and something called evil.

*For Contrast

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man.

Mahatma Gandhi*

In a strictly scientific sense God is at the bottom of both good and evil.

The Way to God: Selected Writings from Mahatma Gandhi, North Atlantic Books, 2011, p.21.

*For Contrast

Donald F. Glut

“But how am I to know the good side from the bad?” he asked, puzzled. “You will know,” Yoda answered. “When you are at peace . . . calm, passive.”

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Brant P. Hansen

Dear Everybody,

We have a serious problem:

All of us think we’re good people.

But Jesus says we’re not.

Sincerely, Brant P. Hansen

The Truth about Us: The Very Good News about How Very Bad We Are, Baker Publishing Group.

Brett Hansen

“I’m not a good person” is a shockingly countercultural thing to say. We all want to think we’re “clean” and that we’ve avoided whatever “big sins” are on our own personal lists. But we trust ourselves too much. We are inconsistent. We don’t even live up to our own stated beliefs. (Just think about all the things you’ve faulted others for.

The Truth about Us: The Very Good News about How Very Bad We Are, Baker Publishing Group.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, Oslo, Norway, 10 Dec. 1964.

Peter Kreeft

Our judgements of good and evil … presuppose God as the standard. If there’s no God, there’s neither good nor evil. There’s just nature doing what it does.

Kenneth Scott Latourette

That free will was demonstrated in the placing of temptation before man with the command not to eat of the fruit of the tree which would give him a knowledge of good and evil, with the disturbing moral conflict to which that awareness would give rise.

Ursula K. Le Guin

“You must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on that act.”

A Wizard of Earthsea, 1968.

C.S. Lewis

Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.

A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C. S. Lewis, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003, p.120.

C.S. Lewis

Whenever you find a man who says he doesn’t believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later.

C.S. Lewis

Good and evil increase at compound interest. That’s why the little decisions we make every day are of infinite importance.

A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C. S. Lewis, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2003, p.171.

C.S. Lewis

Telling us to obey instinct is like telling us to obey ‘people.’ People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war. Each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of the rest.

John Milton

It was from out the rind of one apple tasted, that the knowledge of good and evil, as two twins cleaving together, leaped forth into the world.

Areopagitica, 1644, p.12.

Malcolm Muggeridge

The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality, but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.

Friedrich Nietzsche*

There is an old illusion. It is called good and evil.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra

*For Contrast

Flannery O’Connor

Good and evil appear to be joined in every culture at the spine.

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, Macmillan 1969, p.200.

John Ortberg

Art is built on the deepest themes of human meaning: good and evil, beauty and ugliness, life and death, love and hate. No other story has incarnated those themes more than the story of Jesus.

M. Scott Peck

The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual – for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.

The People Of The Lie, Random House, 2015, p.290.

William Penn

A good End cannot sanctify evil Means; nor must we ever do Evil, that Good may come of it.

Benjamin Franklin, Franklin’s Way to Wealth and Penn’s Maxims, Courier Corporation, 2012, p.67.

Dorothy L. Sayers

While time lasts there will always be a future, and that future will hold both good and evil, since the world is made to that mingled pattern.

William Shakespeare

The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.

All’s Well that Ends Well, 1603-4, act 4, sc. 3, l. [83]

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

It was only when I lay there on the rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not between states nor between social classes nor between political parties, but right through every human heart, through all human hearts. And that is why I turn back to the years of my imprisonment and say, sometimes to the astonishment of those about me, bless you, prison, for having been a part of my life.

Paul Tillich

The character of human life, like the character of the human condition, like the character of all life, is “ambiguity”: the inseparable mixture of good and evil, the true and false, the creative and destructive forces-both individual and social.

J.R.R. Tolkien

There was a solemn article in the local paper seriously advocating systematic exterminating of the entire German nation as the only proper course after military victory: because, if you please, they are rattlesnakes, and don’t know the difference between good and evil! (What of the writer?) The Germans have just as much right to declare the Poles and Jews exterminable vermin, subhuman, as we have to select the Germans: in other words, no right, whatever they have done.

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014, p.93.

Mary Wollstonecraft

No man chooses evil because it’s evil. He only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.

A Vindication of the Rights of Women & a Vindication of the Rights of Men, Cosimo, Inc, 2008.

N.T. Wright

When you pass beyond good and evil, you pass into the realm where might is right, and where anything that reminds you of the old moral values—for instance, a large Jewish community—stands in your way and must be obliterated.

Taken from Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright Copyright (c) 2006, p.43 by N.T. Wright. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Jonathan K. Dodson

If we’re unable or unwilling to discern a norm to judge what is good and evil, the whole moral order will tumble into confusion. If we don’t get the moral facts straight, a variety of “crises” will compound, and we’ll sail into a very dark night. We are in an age that desperately needs to know how to determine good from evil. Without this moral discernment, we’re unable to move toward human flourishing.

Taken from Our Good Crisis: Overcoming Moral Chaos with the Beatitudes by Jonathan K. Dodson Copyright (c) 2020 by Jonathan K. Dodson. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

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