• The Lesser of Two Evils is… Evil

    by  • September 26, 2016 • Government, Greek, Uncategorized, Zion • 0 Comments

    It is a simple mathematical and logical proof that the lesser of two evils is still evil. If this seems doubtful to you, consider this illustration of the concept from the movie “Master and Commander, the Far Side of the World”, where the lesser of two weevils is, most obviously, still a weevil. One does not become good by the simple act of being compared to another.

    In light of the fact that the lesser of two evils is still evil, consider the following statement from 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 which is rendered in the King James Version as:

    21.  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
    22.  Abstain from all appearance of evil.  (1 Thes 5:21-22 KJV)

    The word “appearance” is problematic, and a poor translation. The evil spoken of in verse 22 is not just that which is apparent, that which appears, but rather evil in general, in all of its many varied forms, apparent and hidden. The aggregated evil is the counterpoint, the parallel, to the general good in the preceding verse. The evil in question is all kinds of evil, all forms.

    21.  πάντα δὲ δοκιμάζετε, τὸ καλὸν κατέχετε,
    πάντα / pánta  –  [Acc Pl N Adj]  all things, everything
    δὲ / dé  –  [Particle, Conj]  and, but, now (often unexpressed)
    δοκιμάζετε / dokimázete  –  [PAM-2P]  to make a critical examination, to determines genuineness, to put to the test, examine, prove
    τὸ  / tó  –  [Acc S N Def Article]  the, this one, that
    καλὸν / kalón  –  [Acc S N Adj]  good, full measure, blameless, excellent
    κατέχετε / katéchete  –  [PAM-2P]  to hold fast, to retain faithfully, to adhere firmly
    22.  ἀπὸ παντὸς εἴδους πονηροῦ ἀπέχεσθε. (1 Thess 5:21-22 SBL Greek NT)
    ἀπὸ / apó  –  [Prep]  from, away from
    παντὸς / pantós  –  [Acc Pl N Adj]  all things, everything
    εἴδους / eídous  –  [Gen S N  Noun]  a variety of something, kind
    πονηροῦ / ponēroú  –  [Gen S N Adj]  (that which is) evil, (every kind of) evil, wicked, bad, degenerate, worthless
    ἀπέχεσθε / apéchesthe  –  [PMM-2P]  to avoid contact with, keep away, abstain from, refrain from

    The Greek uses the second person plural present active imperative form of the verbs  δοκιμάζω / dokimázo and  κατέχω / katécho,  and the second person plural present middle imperative form of the verb ἀπέχω / apécho  to indicate this is not just an injunction to avoid, if one can, evil, and, when convenient, hold on to its opposite. Rather the emphasis is on the command; hold fast, hold tight, and do not let go, to that which is good. This is to be coupled with an emphatic, forceful abstention, a rejection, a denunciation of evil.

    A more correct translation  of verses 21-22 would therefore be:

    21.  But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; (NAS)
    21.  But examine all things; hold fast to what is good. (NET)
    21.  But test everything; hold fast what is good. (ESV)
    21.  Test all things; hold fast what is good. (NKJV)
    22.  Reject every kind of evil. (NIV)
    22.  Stay away from every form of evil. (NET)
    22.  Abstain from every form of evil. (ESV)
    22.  Abstain from every form of evil. (NKJV)

    The demands of the Christian life are that we keep ourselves unspotted, unstained, untainted from the world, from evil (James 1:27).  We are to go about doing good (Psalms 34:14; 37:3; Luke 6:35; Alma 41:14; D&C 6:33-34), much good. Like Joseph in Egypt, how then can we choose evil (Gen 39:9)?

    When presented with two choices of varying degrees of “evil,” always think outside the box and pick a third choice. None of the above. Do not let your voice legitimize and approve that which is wrong.

    There is no ambiguity here.


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