Source: (1999) In God and the victim: Theological reflections on evil, victimization, justice, and forgiveness, ed. Lisa Barnes Lampman and Michelle D. Shattuck, 17-35. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; and Neighbors Who Care: Washington, D.C.

In contemporary culture, two common perspectives on morality and responsibility diverge. Some maintain that environment so shapes our lives that we are responsible for our actions in only a limited sense; moreover, God and moral codes, being external forces, are oppressive. Others contend that we are free and therefore fully responsible for our behaviors, and that only belief in God provides a true and sufficient basis for morality. Miroslav Volf, a professor of theology, explores the biblical story of Cain and Abel in this essay to examine these issues of God, evil, morality, accountability, and response to evil. In view of the story of Cain and Abel, Volf argues that the mystery of evil is deeper and the remedy for evil more complex than either of the above perspectives allows. He then applies his arguments to crime and victimization.