Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Thoughts on the Problem of Evil

I am preparing my next Sunday school lesson which is all about the activity of God in creation, providence and justice. I was reading my materials when I came across the difficulty of explaining and reconciling the presence of evil and the goodness and the power of God in this imperfect world (This is called “theodicy”).

David Hume put it succinctly when he wrote about God: “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing: whence then is evil?” (Erickson)

I was studying some articles on the attempts at solving the question of theodicy and it can be classified into three: redefine evil, redefine God’s goodness, and limit the power of God..

Even Christians, once or sometimes often, tries to question God’s goodness in this imperfect world. When problems, tragedies or trials come, one is apt to doubt God’s justice. But most of the times, especially today where most of tragedies especially environmental disasters are caused by humanity, God is a convenient escape goat.

Sin is still the major problem. Most people who questions God’s justice, questions God’s justice because deep in their heart they don’t want to believe in a God that will make them accountable for their sins. So, with malice, they deny the existence of God because they fool themselves into thinking that God cannot exist in this evil world. No God, no accountability. As one thinker said, these people need pastoral care than help in working out the intellectual difficulties of evil.

Of course we can’t deny honest intellectual question about the problem of evil. But without faith, it will be impossible to overcome its circularity.

The truth is God is sovereign over everything even over evil. It is an assurance that everything that happens in this world is within God’s power for God alone is the ultimate power. It is an assurance that evil is already conquered, that salvation is a reality for if we consider that evil is a power outside and equal with God, how can we be sure that God can overcome evil?For some the problem of evil is the major stumbling to faith. But trying to explain theodicy is one thing we can only try. The attempts at resolutions and reconciliations without compromising God’s sovereignty is definitely out of our hands and attempts of this kind should be regarded as nothing more than attempts and not to be believed. It is always safest to be lean on God’s sovereignty when it comes to difficult Bible doctrines.

And to try to answer Hume’s question using reason is impossible because it is intruding into God’s divine prerogative.

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