Greetings Dear Reader,
Anne has asked a question with which philosophers have wrestled since there were philosophers. Let me say first, there is not a simple or easy answer. There is an answer but it does not satisfy the human mind disinclined to faith. I will not gloss over this but I must have more brevity than I would want to have.
If you want to do a deep dive on this try reading Confronting the Problem(s) of Evil
Biblical, Philosophical, and Emotional Reflections on a Perpetual Question by Joe Rigney. It is well worth the time it takes to walk through his approach to this topic. Here I would like to remind everyone of the first part of Anne’s questions:
This is something that I don’t understand: what about all the truly horrible things in life? I mean things like wars, terrorism, exterminations, children dying, people and animals being tortured to death, you name it. How do you account for all that in respect to God?
I am not going to take the path that I too often see where one tries to “justify” things based on the necessity for faith in God’s sovereignty. I do believe that God is sovereign and that he is in control of all things. I do believe that he has a universe that is unfolding as it should. I believe that one of the problems is that we have too small a view of God.
I am not trying to play the “mysterious ways” card here. My brother explained it quite well this way. His younger son cut one of his fingers badly when he was quite small. He cut it lengthwise from base to almost the tip. At the time the injury was devastating and the worst thing imaginable to the small boy. Today he does not remember the pain or the suffering. We who are parents have all seen this play out.
To the child the injury is all-consuming and I have seen my own children reject my help when they were small. We cry out over the ills of the world from our perspective but do we really try to see them from God’s? All of our current ills are part of the preparation for what is to come. We are offered the opportunity to love each other now but eventually we will anyway.
It is only part of the answer, but I truly think that when we either reject or accuse God based on the hurt we experience or see we are looking too small. I do not view God as simply allowing things that are wrong in our eyes. I think that we need to adopt an understanding that though God is not responsible for the existence of evil he is accountable for it.
Before those who share my faith burn me in effigy or reality I am not saying that God is to blame but, rather, that he takes accountability for our sin. He does this by loving us beyond the evil we do. He does this by having an ultimate response in place for all that is evil in the world. His response is to promise that “all things will be made new again,” that he will “judge and repay,” and that he “is not willing that any should perish.” The entire process is to get things back to the “good” state that existed after creation and before we defied God.
Another part of my brother’s response that is important here is the understanding that this life is not the life. This world is not the destination. We will talk about the nature of evil tomorrow but for now I would like you to dwell on this question Dear Reader: Do you remember being in the womb or being born? You see, we are in the gestation process for the life that is promised us.
Please just remember that I am laying a slow foundation here. Think through this a bit and tomorrow we will talk about evil proper. For now, though, if there is any possibility that there is a God, then he is either all good or all evil. I do not think an evil god would be able to give us good things. I do think that a sovereign good God can allow us to create evil with our free will and have a plan in place to make even our worst work out for good.
Wishing you joy in the journey,
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, “That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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