In this article I discuss the concept of evil. I begin by showing that the concept of evil is not religiously neutral. Here, I will discuss the Western view of evil, influenced by Judaism and Christianity. Subsequently, I discuss Leibniz’s classic distinction between three forms of evil - metaphysical, physical and moral - and introduce the categories of natural and non-moral evil. Next, I show that one and the same event may be good in one respect and evil in another. Thus, the passion of Christ is a physical evil when we look at the suffering undergone, a moral evil when we look at the act of those who inflict it on Him, and a moral good when we look at the act of Christ: He gives His life for His friends. This I call the ambiguity of evil. Finally, I discuss two views on the origin of evil: dualism and the view of evil as a privation of a good that should be there, and argue in favour of the second.
This essay explores Thomas’ thoughts about the virtue of obedience (based on STh II-II, q.104), which is particularly valued as a link between the moral virtues and the theological virtue of charity (love of God). Obedience generates in the human person the moral disposition required for all the other virtues, a disposition which consists in the readiness of the will to submit itself to the rule of God’s will. Reflecting on the question whether one should be obedient to God in every respect, Thomas is confronted with an objection pointing to the story of how God commands Abraham to kill his innocent son, which is prohibited by natural law. I use the scarce but intriguing remarks Thomas made in response to this objection to propose a meaningful interpretation of obedience as a religious virtue, essentially different from its distorted imitation which consists in an immediate identification of one’s own will with the presumed divine will.