If you are a Christian, or even if you are not, you have probably heard some version of this question 1,000,000 times over, “How can God be good if He allows so much evil in the world?” There are other questions that are surely its sibling, “How can bad things happen to good people?” for example.
I must say – and I feel rather fortunate in this regard I suppose – that this question has never bothered me. I truly say that without any hautiness or air of superiority. The this-is-not-heaven answer and all that it implies has really always sufficed for me. I understand that sin has consequences, and many of those consequences can be seen in Genesis immediately after Adam and Eve are confronted by God about their sin. It is obvious that a level of strife and struggle for humans entered the world “through one man” that was, up until that time, not present as far as we can discern. I believe that we are BORN into this world as sinners and I believe that sinners are capable of evil.
Nevertheless, I do recognize that this is a critical question for those who are not believers, and indeed even some of those that are. It can be a serious roadblock to belief in God (not “a” god, but the God of the Judeo-Christian worldview).
My dad has an amazing ability to see past a question or challenge and highlight its a priori assumptions, weaker logical points, philosophical fallacies, etc. One of the things I LOVE that he says on this very topic is this, “So many are willing to blame God for the evil in the world, but no one wants to give Him credit for the good that is done in the world.” That is a marvelous point, and it highlights a different way for us to debate our non-Christian friends on this very topic. Instead of simply debating them about why evil is allowed, we can ask them to explain their own beliefs on the matter or challenge them with this question of why God gets no credit for the good that is done, but only for the evil. Too often we Christians get lured into defending our own positions without ever asking the skeptic to defend his.
I wanted to point out another view on this very topic that I ran across just the other night. I was reading brother Lawrence’s, The Practice of the Presence of God. This very issue is addressed in the “First Conversation” of the book. Here is an excerpt directly from my version:
Brother Lawrence wasn’t surprised by the amount of sin and unhappines in the world. Rather, he wondered why there wasn’t more, considering the extremes to which the enemy is capable of going. He said he prayed about it, but because he knew God could rectify the situation in a moment if He willed it, he didn’t allow himself to become greatly concerned.
I almost published this post last night, but it could turn out that my frustration with my wireless connection and WordPress paid off! I am curreently attending the weeklong program in apologetics put on by The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (www,theocca.org) in association with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (www.rzim.org). We were fortunate to have an hour-long Q&A session with Os Guinness this evening, and someone asked him this very question. He had a great answer…eloquently delivered. Essentially he said this (if I can take such liberties) – yes, there is evil in the world, but the world is NOT as it should be, and not only is it not as it should be, but it is not as it WAS and it is not as it WILL BE. That is, the world was not created this way, and when Christ returns and sets all wrongs right it will no longer be as it is now.
So, we must be compassionate to our seeker friends who truly and earnestly yearn to understand this issue (and not, as often happens, who instead want to use a supposed trap to try and beat up God in some way). Hopefully some of what I have listed above may help you engage in these conversations at some point with confidence and a new perspective.
Copyright © 2012 Jonathan Ruth