Archive for December 2, 2007

My fellow blogger Daniel from Heart of Flesh answered this question very eloquently (no less for an english essay) and I would also say, theologically correct. In his English class, he is reading a book called “Night” about the Holocaust. The assignment was to write an essay explaining how God could allow evil things to occur such as the Holocaust. so here is his essay:

A Short Theodicy

How could an all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful God allow evil? The problem of evil has been like a dagger that has torn many theologies to shreds. Evil seems to put God on a slippery slope on which he is forced to sacrifice his omniscience, omnipotence, overall goodness, or love to justify himself. When evil sends its seasonal shockwaves it clashes with faith within our souls. For some faith is shaken, for others it is completely annihilated. But before we can get to the answer of why God allows evil we must deal with the question first.

Why does God allow evil? The question contains one basic assumption, that evil exists. If evil exists then we must be able to define it and distinguish it from good. We have now entered the field known as morality and ethics. The greatest philosophers have always struggled with formulating a system of ethics. How can we determine what is absolutely wrong or right? Well, I say we can’t determine what is absolutely wrong or right because we are finite beings who are not absolutely good or perfect! Only a being who is infinite and absolutely good can determine what is absolutely right. When we lose God we lose our reference point to determine what is right or wrong. If God doesn’t exist the question self-destructs.

For the question to be valid God must exist but the question itself still remains. Why does God allow evil? Many people think that God created evil because he created all things. What is wrong with this logic is that evil is not a thing. Evil is not some cosmic force floating around waiting to attack this world and humanity but it is simply the absence of good. The bible is true when it states that God created everything and it was good. What God did in creation was give us the ability and choice to disobey. He is by no means the author of evil. Now if God gave us the ability to sin, and sin would result in evil, didn’t he know what the outcome was going to be? Absolutely! Apart from those who take pleasure in blind-folding their god at this point I believe omniscience must be ascribed to God for him to remain true deity. The Creator’s knowledge is infinite and he knows all things past, present, and future. So now the question becomes…why did God give us the ability to sin knowing it would result in evil? I will return to this question at the end of my essay.

God’s justice seems to be put on trial whenever calamities strike. Before I give any type of answer vindicating God’s justice in the face of tragedies I want to go to somebody else who dealt with this same dilemma. He is the greatest mind of all time, Jesus of Nazareth. Just like in our time people were asking the same questions. Pilate who was the governor of the Roman province of Judea had executed some Galileans and mixed their blood with the Roman pagan sacrifices. There was also another incident in which eighteen died because of a tower that had collapsed in the town of Siloam. Jesus had been addressing a crowd when some told him about these events.

Recorded from Luke 13:1-5….. [There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he {Jesus} answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”]

It might take some time to recover after such a shocking and unexpected response. Jesus at the time was regarded as a prominent teacher and the crowd told him about these events probably seeking a response. So many questions could have resided in the hearts of the people. Questions such as….”Did they die because they deserved it?”…..”Why did such horrible things happen to innocent people?” Perhaps what is most puzzling about this entire passage is the response Jesus gave. “Unless you repent, you will likewise perish.” Rather than answer their questions directly he rebuked the reasoning behind the questions. When people wonder why God allows catastrophic events to befall them they all have this indwelling notion that they don’t deserve what they are getting. They deem God unjust. When true Justice is misunderstood all questions regarding God’s justice are tainted with faulty presuppositions. Most of the people in the crowd must have been Jewish. They should have known the sacred scriptures of the Jewish faith. They should have known the multiple places in scripture which say “the soul who sins shall die”. They should have known about their ancestry, how God promised Adam and Eve death if they disobeyed.

Do you consider God unjust because he allowed those eighteen to perish? Do you consider God unjust because of the holocaust? Let’s not forget the time when God flooded the whole earth, the number of deaths must be incalculable. We have a terribly vexed understanding of justice. The consequences of sinning against an infinitely holy and righteous God are infinite! Because of sin we deserve to pay for eternity. We don’t even merit the right to be breathing this moment. The evil that befalls us shouldn’t shock us but it is the lack of it. God’s wrath against us for our disobedience and rebellion towards him is completely just. The one event that could be regarded as the biggest injustice is the death of God’s son for sinners. He was the only man to live who was perfectly righteous. There was nobody less deserving of the cross than him. Yet it was God’s son who served as our substitute, taking upon himself our sins, and absorbing the wrath and punishment of God on the cross. But nobody regards God as unjust for that. Nobody is outraged that God would allow his son to die for us. We have a terrible misunderstanding of what true justice is, you see?

There is one more place in the bible I want to go to and it is at the end in the book of Revelation.“..and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” The book of Revelation is a prophetic book describing the end times. That particular verse describes an event in which people will worship a type of Anti-Christ. What is striking about the verse is that before the foundation of the world a book existed, the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. The Lamb is referring to Jesus Christ; throughout the New Testament the bible describes Christ as the Lamb of God who made the sacrificial atonement for sinners. Now, if that verse is understood correctly it has massive implications. It means that those people who like to blind-fold their god and deny his omniscience are exposed. Before the foundation of the world, before Adam and Eve, before sin, and before the Holocaust God already knew that he would send his Son to die for the world. So now I take you back to the other question, why did God give us the ability to sin knowing it would result in evil? I believe it is for the same reason why God allowed everything else to occur. It is for the same reason why God allowed his Son to die. It is for the same reason why God created the universe. God has decreed everything for his glory. He knew that humanity would disobey him and he allowed it to occur because it would magnify his greatness. Because of sin and because of evil he is able to show us his inscrutable justice and his amazing grace.

On the cross everything converged. The justice of God was vindicated because he unleashed his wrath on all sins. The mercy of God was extended to sinners because their debt was paid. The power of God was demonstrated in defeating Satan and disarming all principalities of darkness. The wisdom of God was shown in providing a salvation that would eliminate human boasting and pride. It is because of Christ that God holds back his complete wrath and judgment on us. If God would deal with us strictly by justice then none of us would be alive right now. Our only chance is to repent, to turn from our sin, and believe in what Christ did or we will likewise perish. I’ll end with this. I believe that many people have a deep resentment towards God because they think he sits up there unable to relate to our suffering. But I am confident when I say that evil is not something abstract to God. In fact it is something he is acquainted with. Long ago, God became a man and dwelt among us. He knew what it was like to be slandered, rejected, and betrayed. He knew what it was like to hunger, thirst, sweat, and bleed. More than that, he suffered more than any human being while he was hanging at Calvary, forsaken by his father, paying the price for all of humanity’s sin. God can and does relate to us. In him we have hope to face suffering even unto death.

John Piper touches on this in the video below in regards to the bridge collapse in Minneapolis earlier this year

Related Post:

Why does God allow evil? – Part 2

Why does God allow evil? – Part3: Pain and Suffering

If God knew people would sin, why did he make them?

Why does God allow evil? – Part 4: If God is so powerful and so good, why do bad things happen?