One of the biggest issues that Christian apologists deal with is the question of evil. In all, a reasonable understanding of Christian theology quickly answers this opposition to the faith. The real problem, however, is not that the Christian intellectual response to the problem of evil is insufficient, but that the objections to the Christian faith raised by the problem of evil in many cases is an emotional objection to the faith masquerading as an intellectual argument.
A few years ago, I was a pastor of a church and I was run out on a rail – I had not asked the right questions when I went to Wisconsin, and did not know the full history of the assembly I was pastoring. When it was over, I watched my wife, in tears, over the attacks on me by people we loved and I thought, “God, I was trying to serve you, how could you let this happen to me?” A little more than a year later, my wife and I lost our first child to an ectopic pregnancy, and we both still grieve for our Avery. In that case, I gave up hope for a while, until our pastor began preaching a series on 2 Corinthians, which he entitled “Down but not out.” Again, my questioning heart asked God “Why me?” The real challenge of evil is ultimately the problems of pain, hopelessness, and bitterness in the heart. The lost, perhaps, will not find what I am about to say compelling, but here are a few things we need to keep in mind when we face the conundrum of evil:
• Our internal objections to the trials of life are based in the assumption that we deserve better, or that we are innocent. Scripture is clear: we have inherited a sin nature; mankind is not innocent. Before salvation, we were not merely hell bound sinners; we were hell deserving ones. While the Christian has been regenerated, we still aren’t precisely innocent of wrong-doing. As believers, we have already received better than we deserve.
• God has not taken us out of the world – this universe was damaged by the curse, and creation groans. We cannot argue that every bad thing that happens to a believer or to an unbeliever is a direct result of an individual sin. However, Scripture never represents it as such: it represents the world as a broken paradise. As Ken Ham describes it, creation is like a gallery of ancient Greek statuary. Creationists admire the beauty of creation; the demonstration of God’s master artistry, while the atheist sees only that the statues have been broken over time.
• God is great enough, that He chooses to use the evil in this world for the believer’s good, and to woo the wicked to turn to Him. This reveals both His power and His love.
As a Christian, I believe that the problem of evil comes down, not to the failings of God, but to the failings of man. Any thoughts?