Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Good God in an Evil World? pt. 1

The question of why evil exists is a difficult one, but one that nearly every person has sought to elucidate. Thousands of various answers have been suggested. It is a struggle for people to believe that a good God could allow evil things to happen. Man has a challenging time accepting that there could be a good God in the midst of tragedy, suffering, and evil. Archibald MacLeish, a 20th century poet, expressed, "If God is God He is not good, if God is good He is not God." It seems absurd that God could be in compete control and yet let such horrible things happen on a daily basis. Yet this leaves man in a miserable and hopeless state, having to endure with trouble and powerless to deal with the evil around. In fact, this is the reason that many have contrived ideas about their own utopias, because they do not see that man is sinful, and think if we change our environment we can correct the wrongs of this world. Instead of subscribing to the answers the world tries to give, Christians turn to the source of all truth, God’s Word. Our problem is not with our God but with our understanding of Him, the reason we have sin now, and the final end. In order to accurately understand the problem of evil in our world, we must study what has been called biblical theodicy.

Theodicy is described as the branch of theology that defends God's goodness and justice in the face of the existence of evil. Using that definition, I would like to explain how a good, loving God could be sovereignly in control in the midst of evil. Out of the eight elements of biblical theodicy, the four I am covering in the next several posts are Satan, discipline, revelation, and eschatology.

In order to understand why evil exists at all, we must go back to the beginning. Evil was first conceived when Satan, an angel in the presence of God, decided that he wanted to have the authority and power of God Himself, confidently assuming that he could defeat the Lord Most High. God cast him out of heaven because of his wickedness. Since then, he has been deceiving and lying to try to turn people against God. We know from Genesis chapter 3 that Satan disguised himself as a serpent and tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. When Eve chose to believe him, along with her husband, both were cast out from the garden. Ever since, Satan has continued to seek out people to destroy. 1 Peter 5:8 says that, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” This prowling deceiver is said to describe himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), accuse the children of God (Zechariah 3:1), and deceive (Revelation 12:9). However, despite his power over this world, he does not have unlimited authority. As we learn in the book of Job, Satan prowled around the earth, but the Lord was the one who gave him permission to test Job. We also know from 1 Peter 5:8-9 that Satan is trying to destroy Christians and their joy. Satan then, is one of the reasons we have evil around us today.


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