We have seen that God has a very good reason to allow pain and suffering in the world—its possibility was the only way he could create us with true freedom and all that goes with it. But what about hurricanes, earthquakes, and diseases? Can God not limit these and still preserve human freedom? He can, but it seem there may be other morally sufficient reasons for him to permit these evils. I’ll offer an argument to this conclusion in the next few posts.
We often say God can do anything—this is what it means for him to be “omnipotent.” But last week I argued there is something God cannot do. He cannot create people who are free and then determine what they will choose. Some object this limits God and makes him less than all-powerful. If they are right, the response to the Problem of Evil from human freedom is derailed. Is this a good objection?
If God has good reasons to permit Evil, the argument against God due to the reality of pain and suffering evaporates. There seem to be two good reasons for God, being all-good, to nevertheless allow Evil to exist. This week I’ll offer the first reason, along with an explanation of why this makes sense.
There seems to be a compelling argument that, given the reality of Evil, God does not exist. But wait—there is more to the story! If we dig a bit deeper we find a problem with one of the premises (and therefore the entailed premise and conclusion). This week I’ll begin to explore “the rest of the story.” But to do so I must first review how to evaluate arguments.
Many argue the reality of pain and suffering proves God does not exist. But this is only true if the premises leading to this conclusion are correct. Last week I discussed why Muslims reject the first premise and why they are wrong. But others think the problem is elsewhere: either God is not all-powerful, or Evil is not real. Do either of these responses solve the problem?
Some believe God exists, but he can’t do anything about pain and suffering. He is just not powerful enough. Others believe God exists, but he doesn’t want to do anything about pain and suffering. He is just not good enough. Both attempts to explain the existence of God given the reality of Evil are common. I also think they are both wrong.
“Life is pain…. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.” So says the Dread Pirate Roberts (in The Princess Bride—a must-see movie!) Roberts is right. Life is full of pain. From getting splinters while woodworking to losing loved ones (as I wrote about in my last series here), we all suffer more than we care to admit.
A healthy theology of death also embraces the fact that death is a normal part of life. Note I didn’t say a “natural” part of life. Our nature is not to die—it is not how God created us. But after the fall it became a normal part of everyone’s life. Only by accepting this will we be able to say goodbye well.
In addition to a healthy theology of grief (last week), a healthy theology of death is also essential to being able to say “goodbye” well when the time comes. Having a “theology of death” may seem odd, morbid, and even wrong. Ours is such a life-affirming and life-focused culture that we rarely think of death. Therefore, it is not surprising that most of us don’t have a theology of death, much less a well-developed one. But this is exactly what we need in order to be able to say goodbye well.
As I shared last week, in January I said “goodbye” to my father, as he passed “from the land of the dying to the land of the living.” Since then I’ve reflected on four principles that can help us say “goodbye” well. I hope you find these principles helpful as you join me in transitioning from the season of saying “hello” to the season of saying “goodbye.”
The Society of Christian Scholars is officially established! Spread the word (www.SocietyofChristianScholars.org) to any and all Christian professors and graduate students who want to connect with other Christians in higher education and access the best resources to help them flourish as Christians in academe.
I’m going to take a little time away from posting weekly articles on this site, for personal and professional reasons. My father recently passed away, and I need to create some “space” to process his passing. Furthermore, much of the next month is consumed with establishing the Society of Christian Scholars on March 1 (www.SocietyofChristianScholars.org). I hope to post again in early March.
Until then, grace and peace.
I was surprised this topped the charts last year. It is on a very important topic, but is quite technical. I decided to write it because it needed to be written, but I didn’t think it would get many views. 560 people thought otherwise, making this the most popular post of last year. (It being promoted by someone else in December didn’t hurt either!)
More people commented on this post than any other. So I was surprised that this was the second most popular article of last year…I expected it to come in at #1. With 462 views, the second most popular article of 2018 was Four Reasons Why the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (1 of 8).
As I did last year, I am again re-posting the top three articles from last year. The third most-read article was “Announcing the Society of Christian Scholars” posted July 5 and having 432 readers.
This is a good time to repost this article—we are less than two months away from the establishment of the Society of Christian Scholars! If you know any Christian professors, graduate students/post docs, or campus ministers/campus pastors who serve Christian professors, please help us get the word out by inviting them to visit www.SocietyofChristianScholars.org.
Over the past few months I’ve outlined a robust argument showing the Bible is inerrant, due to it being written by those commissioned by God to communicate His Word (prophets for the Old Testament and apostles for the New Testament). However, some alleged writings of apostles didn’t “make the cut” and are not included in the New Testament (such as the Gospel of Thomas). Some cry “foul” and accuse the early church of picking and choosing what they wanted to include in the Bible. Is this true? How did the early church come to conclude which books should be included in the New Testament?