Showing posts from September, 2011

Is God Willing and Able to Prevent Evil?

Epicurus, the ancient Greek philosopher, stated the problem of evil thus:
Is God willing to prevent evil but not able?
Then his is impotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Whence then is evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?
This line of reasoning has been echoed by many throughout history, but it hinges on a mistaken premise. It assumes that a good God would not allow evil to continue. The reasoning underneath that premise goes like this:
1. We cannot think of any justifiable reason why God would allow suffering and evil to continue.
2. Therefore, God cannot have such a reason. The logic does not follow. Why should there be no reason just because we cannot think of one?

Alvin Plantinga writes in Warranted Christian Belief, "Suppose the fact is God has a reason for permitting a particular evil... Is it even likely that we would wind up with plausible candidates for God's reason?... Given that he is omniscient a…

Something Wicked This Way Comes

There is something very wrong with the world. The witch in Macbeth announced that "something wicked this way comes." There is no doubt that it has arrived. The existence of evil is undeniable. Many Christians, as well as others, have worked hard to provide answers for those who ask: Is God the author of evil or its helpless victim? Many have pointed to the thought of St. Augustine (354-430) for help in solving the vexing problem of evil.

Gregory Koukl, in his article Augustine on Evil states, "Augustine's approach was not just brilliant; it was practical. His insight is intellectually credibleandemotionally satisfying in that it gives hope and offers meaning to the Christian trying to make sense out of life in a fallen world." Two Aspects of the ProblemThe problem of evil can be phrased in several ways. One approach addresses the origin of evil, prompting the syllogism (a series of statements that form a reasoned argument): 1) God created all things; 2) evil is a…

The Death of Satan

On April 8, 1966, Time's cover declared that God was dead. Bill Hamilton explained the phrase he coined for popular culture, "The death of God is a metaphor. We needed to redefine Christianity as a possibility without the presence of God."

 It is interesting to note that Hamilton came to this conclusion after years of wrestling with the concept of God. When he was a teenager his friends had been building pipe bombs. The two Christian friends died. And the third, the son of an atheist, emerged without a scratch. How, Hamilton wondered, could a just God allow this? Why do the innocent suffer? Does God intervene in human lives?

 "Theodicy came to dwell in my 14-year-old head that Sunday," he says.

 Hamilton wrote out his two choices: "God is not behind such radical evil, therefore he cannot be what we have traditionally meant by God" or "God is behind everything, including the death camps — and therefore he is a killer."

 Hamilton didn't s…

Theology Is Worthless

In an interview about his biography on Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas makes a startling and stinging statement about what we can learn from the pastor and theologian who gave his life standing against the Nazi regime in his native Germany. The main thing it to realize that on some level, theology is worthless unless we live it. This is a particular challenge for us as evangelicals--you can say, "I believe this and this," but at some point God says, "If you're not living it, I don't want to hear about it." Sometimes we can worship an idol of theological correctness. It doesn't mean that theology isn't extremely important, and anyone who says it isn't is wrong. At the same time, it's not everything, and Bonhoeffer challenges us to understand that the two have to be one--our life and what we say we believe. You can't fool God with a statement of theology.

Weeping over America

This year in staff meetings we have been working our way through the book of Jeremiah. Although written over 2400 years ago, the parallels between his day and ours are uncanny. If God is still the same, his holiness hasn’t diminished, his standards for what constitute a good and just society haven’t altered, and our responsibility to hear and obey His Word hasn’t been negated, then the "weeping prophet" has a message for us. "If any nation will not listen, then I will utterly pluck it up and destroy it" (Jeremiah 12:17). Here is a sampling of the indictments Jeremiah made against Judah: They "went after worthlessness and became worthless" (2:5). They "turned degenerate" (2:21) and wore themselves out sinning (9:5). They were so wicked that they even taught "wicked women" things they didn't know (2:33). They "polluted the land with [their] vile whoredom" (3:2). They were callous and unjust toward the poor (2:34). They rep…