poking the Problem of Evil

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Just some thoughts I’m thinking…

I think Christians gloss over the “problem of evil” far too quickly.  Consider these typical quick answers to the very difficult question of why an omnipotent, loving God allows evil in His world:

We wouldn’t understand God’s goodness if it weren’t for evil.
Bull-hockey. If God needs evil around in order to display His goodness, He’s not all that grand.  Even if I were amazed by His ability to bring good out of evil, I would always know in the back of my mind that God was incomplete apart from the existence of evil … which diminishes His goodness.

Because God works all things together for good, the bad things that happen aren’t really all that bad.
What an insult to the person who is hurting!
Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, even knowing He would be raising Lazarus from the dead. Life sucks sometimes … for real. And it’s not “whining” to admit it.  Death is a curse, not a blessing. Sickness is the result of the fall. Broken relationships are evidence of sin, not healing. Just because God does work good doesn’t mean that we’re somehow supposed to convince ourselves of a dreamworld where evil isn’t really all that bad.
In fact, I *hate* stories where the bad guy is all cleaned up and sympathetic and wishy washy.
Solomon says in Ecclesiastes that wise men live with the curse of understanding how bad things really are.

Because God is in control, whatever happens is the best possible alternative. 
I’ve got mixed emotions on this one. I understand the massive gravitational pull of the doctrine of sovereignty (especially in Reformed theology) toward this current universe being the best one because God wouldn’t let anything happen that shouldn’t.
But Voltaire was right to rip Leibnitz’s “this is the best of all possible universes” theory to shreds. Stupid idea.

I think many people run around saying nice-sounding things to hurting people because it makes the counselor feel better.  None of us really wants to live life in the dangerous fault line between faith and uncertainty, wondering whether the next earthquake will shake our foundations to the core.  But I think the issue of evil doesn’t neatly tie up into a package with no loose ends… no matter how hard people try.

The Gospel does not come with a  long list of pre-qualification steps, external requirements, or other demands upon the sinner. It simply offers eternal life for those who believe what is in essence a simple message: that Christ died, was buried, and rose again as a vicarious sacrifice for sinners.

I’m kind of noticing that Christianity (at least in the Southern parts) puts a lot of external demands on people before it will acknowledge them as Christians. And so I see people trying to clean themselves up before having anything to do with religion

Or Christians who shy away from reaching out to the hurting and needy in the Church itself because they’re afraid their actions (love) will be misunderstood as “putting a stamp of approval on someone’s sin.”

Man, that is *bad* theology right there….


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