The Problem of Evil

One of the most intriguing parts of the Saddleback forum last week was when pastor Rick asked the Candidates about evil, both were emphatic that it does exist and needs to be accounted for.

The idea of evil seems to have almost universal acceptance.  I can think of almost no one I have ever met that does not believe in the idea of evil.  Though there may be more who are gravitating this way, they usually change their minds after they leave their freshman philosophy class and gain some life experience.

Tim Keller’s book “The Reason For God” treats the topic at a more conversational and understandable level than just about anything I have ever read.  I know I have pushed the book numerous times on here but if you have not read it make it the next book you read.

I bring this up because its a subject that I have deeply wrestled with at times and believe can be one of the strongest emotive causes that people push away the idea of God.  Yet the problem is, without a belief in God we lack the repitore to even use such words as “good” and “evil.”  I was reading Justin Taylor’s blog this morning and there was an interview with renowned theologian John Frame about the problem of evil.  Here is one of the questions and answers Frame gave about theism being needed to use moral language.

3. People often think that the logical problem of evil is a problem primarily for theists. Would you say that it is at least equally problematic for atheists? Why?
In order to formulate the problem, atheists have to use the concepts “good” and “evil,” which make no sense in their system. If good and evil are just names for our feelings of approval or descriptions of the pleasure that comes from various events, then there is no reason to assume that God would produce only good and avoid all evil. So, as some have said, if believers have a problem with evil, unbelievers have a problem with both good and evil. For on the unbelieving view, there is neither good nor evil in an objective sense. Still, it is legitimate, I think, for atheists to question whether the Christian faith is consistent within itself. Whatever the unbeliever may think about good and evil, he has a right to ask how the Christian concept of good and evil is consistent with the Christian view of God.

So next time when we feel overwhelmed or distraught by all the “evil” we see around us, may we realize that the groaning in our spirit is a testament to the ongoing redemptive work of God in this world and the hope that he has implanted in us.  Our hope in the face of evil is actually a strong confirmation that God is with us.



One Response

  1. Having been back in a small town in Iowa for while, I have been amazed at people’s ability to ignore evil. There is a daily living routine and when something comes in and distracts from that or threatens that routine, people are very quick to ignore and even attack that change. It is a symptom that has become classic Bible belt in conditioning. People follow suit of their parents or traditions of churches, not because they believe in or have a desire for Christ, but because it is what is expected of them. There is this fear of being made known. A fear of walking in the light, if you will. I appreciated your words, Ryan, and ask that you keep me in your prayers as I continue to try to communicate the gospel in this masquerade of a town.

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