Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Facing Evil

If God is God, why is there evil in the world? This is probably the oldest philosophical question known to history. It is also one of the most persistent. The reason is that there are no easy answers. However, we are also forced to question whether something that has been around so long is really an unanswerable objection. When both parties have disputed an issue so long, we are forced to conclude the difficulty is real but not insurmountable. The basic Christian answer is that we live in a world that is the result of our rebellion against our creator. Now this is based on the idea that we are responsible for our actions, that we make genuine choices. One of the reasons the modern world struggles with this is that people believe we are not really responsible for our actions. But if we are merely the product of our conditioning, then we cannot know anything, for everything we think we know is merely the result of our conditioning. We can ask whether God could make a responsible person who makes choices and would always chose what is right, but it can be argued this is like making a square circle. But I believe the real issue lies elsewhere.  

I think the thing the majority of people struggle with is not the existence of suffering, but the fact it does not seem to be fair. Now this is a very real problem. But I think it is exaggerated by the fact that we believe we are, in most cases, basically good people and there are only a few people who really deserve to suffer. But the Scriptures say that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6) and that none us can stand before God and say, “I have a right not to suffer because I do not deserve it.” But given that some people are more blatant sinners than others, this still does not answer the question involved. I do not believe there ever was or ever could be such a thing as a fair evil; it is also like a square circle. Once evil is let into the world, it is a mistake to think it will always fall fairly on those involved. Also, God uses evil, even in its unfairness, to accomplish His plan. He uses suffering in the lives of those who are His children to make them better people (Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18; James 1:2-4). He may use kindness in the lives of those obviously in rebellion against Him to bring them to repentance (Romans 2:4; Acts 14:16,17; Matthew 5:45). We cannot know for sure what God is doing in each person’s life, but we need to trust Him. But if we reject God because of the existence of evil, we do not do away with evil, but we deny the only One who can truly fix the problem. The result is not to eliminate evil, but to make it incurable.

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