We’re all familiar with the words “deliver us from evil” in the Lord’s Prayer. However, the original Greek uses the phrase “τοῦ πονηροῦ,” best translated as “the Evil One.” So, Jesus is praying that we be delivered, not from evil events or motives, but from Satan himself, the Devil.
How to understand in modern terms Jesus’ personification of evil? Well, if God is defined as “Being Itself,” the Devil is a symbol of “Non-Being,” against which God struggles. Jesus is assuring us that, no matter what reverses God suffers in time and history, God—the “Ground of Being”—will ultimately triumph over Non-Being both in history and in our individual lives.
But how can that be? Were the six million Jews murdered by Hitler saved from the Evil One? Only, I’d argue, if there is a Heaven, the biblical symbol for Eternal Life. But what is Eternal Life? Is it a state of being in which our individual consciousness is preserved and flourishes?
I would answer, “Yes.” Of course, that answer raises another problem. Our modern, secular viewpoint is materialist. Modern humankind recognizes as real only that which we can see with our eyes or our scientific instruments. The idea of a spiritual realm in which we live an Eternal Life is commonly considered nonsense designed to allay our fear of death. And I feel the force of that atheistic idea. I myself am drawn to that rationalist argument.
Yet my spiritual side tells me that we must trust God. God—Being Itself—will take our finite, human being into Itself after we die. My ultimate take-away from the Lord’s Prayer? God will defeat the Evil One.
~ Richard Russell
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