Dan Popp
Judging God: The so-called "problem of evil"
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By Dan Popp
May 6, 2014

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. – Joseph (Genesis 50:20, NAS95)

I've never understood why anyone would write, or read, a book on "the problem of evil." The very first chapters of the Bible explain how a good God fashioned a good creation, and yet evil exists. You may not like the explanation, but you can't say that believers "have no answer" for this "problem."

It simply isn't cricket to invent your own god and then say that "God" can't answer your questions about evil. The God of the Bible isn't responsible for the crimes of the god in your head. But as I said in another piece, He is answerable for the actions ascribed to Him in the Book He gave us, according to the way He tells us that things work.

After having read the Genesis account of how evil entered the world, one possible charge remains: Since God knew that evil would result from His creation of angels and humans, God is ultimately responsible for the evil.

I'm going to surprise you by conceding that point.

God could have prevented the existence of evil by simply not creating any free moral agents. The defense – the point that needs to be taught much better to Christians – is that God allows evil temporarily in order to achieve a greater and lasting good.

Job suffered harm by divine permission, but God's purpose wasn't harm; it was to benefit Job and every reader of his book throughout history. If Joseph's brothers hadn't sold him into slavery, all of them – and countless others across the region – would have died in the coming 7-year famine. Those who shouted for Christ's crucifixion and those who drove the nails were guilty of the most heinous injustice ever committed – which resulted in the eternal victory of righteousness.

If the evil that God allows doesn't lead to greater good, then God will be blamable. Some Christians, I fear, fall into Dualism by thinking that the devil has messed up the world, but God will put it right again. If that's all He does – merely restores everything to the way it was before the Fall – then we'd have to say that the whole exercise was a waste. The Bible promises that it will all be worth it.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.... (2 Corinthians 4:17)

This assertion is so strong in the Scriptures that some have imagined that all things will work together for good not just for the loving-and-called, but for everyone. But this is contradicted by other passages. "The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born," said Jesus. (Matthew 26:24)
    Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness." Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. (2 Timothy 2:19-20)
Evil will be made into Good, but I must not assume that my sins will work out for my good.
    But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world? But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner? And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), "Let us do evil that good may come"? Their condemnation is just. (Romans 3:5-8)
I'm not claiming to know how this transformation will happen. But God has promised that it will happen. And He has proven that it does happen. Many Christians today will testify that, if not for a certain evil event in their past, they wouldn't be blessed to the degree they're blessed now. Maybe this has happened to you, or to someone you know. While we're forced to admit that most of the bad done in the world has not yet been turned to good, these little downpayments of God's purpose cannot be dismissed.

If we want to judge God justly, we can't condemn Him for allowing evil. Not yet. That verdict must wait until all the evidence is in – until His project is finished.

...but just as it is written, "THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." (1 Corinthians 2:9)

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17)

© Dan Popp

 

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