Posted in Bible Study

The Problem of Evil

Based RZIM Academy lecture 7 of Core Module by Os Guinnes

Evil is the greatest mystery in human life. People are asking honest questions to understand pain, suffering, and evil and as believers we need to provide an honest answer from the bible.

Matthew 26:38-39,42,44 NIV

Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” [39] Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” [42] He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” [44] So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

–  The Lord Jesus Christ suffered emotionally and asked  the Father to take the physical torture that will happen soon. He asked thrice but it is the Father’s will that prevailed. Because of God’s love to us, the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for us to have eternal life. 

DEFINITIONS:

  1. Evil – active intent to do harm
  2. Suffering/Pain – passive/experiential

THREE Sources of Evil

  1. Our bodies – fragility, dysfunction, disease
  2. Nature – tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, famine
  3. Human beings – war, political repression, ethnic violence

Common questions regarding Evil and Suffering:

  1. Why (not) me?
  2. Where is God?
    • The only excuse for God is that He does not exist. – Stendhal
    • If there is God, he is the devil. – Charles Baudelaire
    • If God exists, I hope he has a good excuse. – Woody Allen
    • Jesus displayed this existential cry on the cross.
      • Psalm 22:1-2 (NIV)
        1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
        Why are you so far from saving me,
        so far from my cries of anguish?
        2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
        by night, but I find no rest.[b]
  3. How can I stand it?
    • There is but one truly philosophical problem and that is suicide. – ALbert Gamus
  4. Why does God allow suffering?

THREE RESPONSES TO SUFFERING

  1. We are not that smart (skeptical theism)
    • Assumption: If God has good reasons for allowing suffering, we should know what they are.
    • TRUTH: God may have many reasons for allowing suffering that we do not and would not understand.
      • Romans 11:33 (NIV)
        Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and[a] knowledge of God!
        How unsearchable his judgments,
        and his paths beyond tracing out!
      • Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
        neither are your ways my ways,”
        declares the Lord.
        9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
        so are my ways higher than your ways
        and my thoughts than your thoughts.
    • The lack of ability to understand in the receiving agent does not necessitate a lack in the goodness of the communication.

2. God wanted to love me and you

  • Shouldn’t God have created us in a better world?
    • You would only be you in this world
    • Wishing suffering away means you wouldn’t have existed
      • Changing anything changes everything, and everyone.
    • The best of all possible worlds would not include you.
  • God desired to create a specific community of individuals. And allowing the suffering in this world allowed him to get precisely the community he desired. A community including you and me.
    • Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you,
      before you were born I set you apart;
      I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
    • Ephesians 1:4-5 (NIV) For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[a] predestined us for adoption to sonship[b] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
  • Scriptural theme of having specific individuals in mind before creation.
  • God delights in you simply because you are his child, created in his image.
  • A question: Could God could have wronged us, by creating us in this world, and offering us eternal life with Him, rather than creating a different world in which we never would have lived?

Human procreation risks great suffering and assured death. Why is it morally ok, loving, courageous?

  • The child who comes to exist would not have existed otherwise
  • Life itself is a great good

However reasonable it is to think that human procreation can be an act of love, despite its great cost, it is just as reasonable to think that God’s creation of the world we live in could be an act of love.

3. God is wiling to suffer alongside us

  • Christian worship a God who loved too much to stay removed from the suffering and pain of His creation.

Matthew 26:38 (NIV)
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

  • There is no amount of suffering that our God do not understand.
  • God knew the cost of creation, and he bore the burden himself.

HOW WILL WE DEAL WITH SUFFERING?

  • Suffering is a problem for everyone on earth, regardless of what they believe.
  • In Christ, we have assurance that one day there will be no more suffering.

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I'm a simple and funny guy who loves to travel with my wife. My passion is to teach, to empower and to inspire people.

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