Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Apologetics - Problem of Evil

Apologetic Thought – The Problem of Evil

If God exists, why is there evil? This is a major objection to Christianity. God is either all powerful or good. He can’t be both, or so the objection goes. If He is all powerful, he could stop evil from happening. If He is good, he would want to. Since there is evil in the world, He either can’t stop it or doesn’t want to. This objection, however, ignores major themes in the Scriptures and misunderstands the character of God.

First, we go to our main text for this week, Genesis 3. In Genesis 3 we read about how man sinned. It was here that death, pain, and hardship entered into creation. Why did this happen? How did it happen? The truth is, the Bible doesn’t give us an answer. We know that God created everything “very good.” We know that “very good” didn’t last. We know the Fall happened. We know it shouldn’t have happened. We know it was not God’s doing, but man’s. But we just don’t know why it happened. We know that evil exists, but shouldn’t, but we aren’t told the reason. This is difficult to understand, but it is what we are given.

So let’s cover a few other aspects of this objection that we can better grasp. Why doesn’t God get rid of evil and why do bad things happen to good people? These are two parts of the “problem of evil.” Let’s take the latter question first. Assumed in this question is that there is such a thing as a good person. “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12). Jesus had this to say: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19). In light of this, a better question is “why do bad things happen to evil people?” Not quite as compelling.

Given this, we can probably guess the answer to the question “Why doesn’t God get rid of evil?” Peter answers it in his second letter: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (3:9). If God got rid of evil right now, that would include you. We see this in the Old Testament. Think of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis. Or how the Ninevites were supposed to be destroyed, but repented because of Jonah’s preaching, and God spared them. God wants all to be saved, but not all people want to be saved.

Further into this issue is the fact that when God does take care of evil, people get upset and call Him a genocidal monster, such as in the case of the Flood or the Israelites taking over the Promised Land. He uses the Israelites to judge the nations that were sacrificing their children and doing other terrible things. At the time of the Flood, Genesis 6:5 says that “every intention of the thoughts of his [man’s] heart was only evil continually.” In these cases, God is taking care of evil.

Job is one person in the Bible who struggles with the Problem of Evil. Bad things are happening to him. We, as the reader, know why, but Job doesn’t. He starts to question God, demanding an answer. God doesn’t give him one, or at least not the one Job expected. God basically answers by saying that “I am God. I created everything and am in control. Who are you to demand something from me.” Job is not fearing, loving, or trusting in God above all things.

We, too, want to know why bad things happen. However, all we can really do is trust that God loves us and believe in the promise that Jesus took care of evil by dying on the cross. We will see the fulfillment of that promise on the last day. Until then, we have faith. “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:22-25). We can argue the philosophy all day long, but ultimately Christ crucified is the answer.
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