II Corinthians 10:5

"Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."

September 11, 2008

Why Does a Loving God…?

September 11, 2001. At 8:48 a.m., American Flight 11 crashes into the North tower of the World Trade Center, in the heart of New York City. Some think it is just an accident. At 9:06 a.m. another plane crashes into the South tower and President Bush calls the crashes, “An apparent terrorist attack on our country”. At 9:43 a.m., American Flight 77 with 64 people on board crashes into the Pentagon. 9:55 a.m. – thousands of people watch in shock as the South tower collapses. At 10:10 a.m., United Flight 93, with 45 people on board crashes into a rural Pennsylvania field. Some people on board Flight 93 fought the hijackers, probably saving the White House or Capitol from being hit. At 10:29 a.m. the North tower collapses.

It would be the worst attack ever on American soil. More civilians lost their lives on September 11, 2001, then on any other day in American history.

Seven years have now passed since that day, but Christians and non-Christians alike still ask the question, “Why does a loving God allow evil and suffering in the world?”

First of all, I believe evil and suffering are a result of man’s fallen nature. When God created mankind, he created us to be perfect beings, living eternally, in harmony with Him and fellow man. But with the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden, sin entered the world, and with sin came evil and suffering.

Secondly, I believe that God uses the evil and suffering in our world to draw us to Himself. Look at the story of Job. Everything Job had except for his life, and a few “friends” were taken away from him. God allowed Satan to stretch out his hand against Job and bring much evil and suffering into his life. Through all of his sufferings Job experienced God in a way that would never have been possible without the trials God allowed. In Job 42:5, Job says that before his trials he had heard of God with the hearing of his ear, but after all the evil he endured, his eyes saw God. It is in the midst of horrible circumstances that we really “see” God.

Thirdly, evil and suffering are in the world today, because God did not program us to be robots. Because God gives us the choice to obey, love, and serve Him, there had to also be an opposite choice to disobey Him, and do evil. Greg Koukl, president of the apologetics ministry Stand to Reason, has this to say about our free will and what it has to do with evil: “When we raise children, we desire them to do good, but we realize that they might turn out bad. So what do we do? Chain them to their beds or lock them in a closet to insure that they stay out of mischief? That would be barbaric. In the same way, God has dignified man by giving him choices. Man’s choice to do good, to live in conformity with God’s desires is only meaningful if there is an alternate choice to do evil. God won’t chain man to the bed or lock him in a closet. That would be cruel.”

So, why do you think God allows evil and suffering in the world?

-Meagan Wanschura

“Suffering, tragedy, and profligate evil now function as warning signals. Like the ache of a limb out of joint, the pain of living in a broken world tells us that something is amiss. If God took away the pain, we’d never deal with the disease. And the disease will kill us, sooner or later.” –Greg Koukl


Aronne said...

I think you have summarized the issue pretty well, Meagan. Bravo!

bwanschura said...

Nicely done Meg. I believe one reason God allows evil is so we can grow in our faith. Also, if we are never subjected to evil can one truly know how precious goodness is?

Isaac Alzen said...

Good post. I think this is an argument that many people need to hear. Our sin brings glory to Christ's perfect righteousness.

Tyler Godin said...

Great points Meagan! It's interesting how people never mention God's name until a tragedy happens. Then all of the sudden God comes into the picture, and everyone starts wondering why such a good God would allow evil. But, when good things happen in their life, God doesn't even cross their minds.

Ted Sands said...

Concerning those posts that said something to the effect "if we are never subjected to evil can you know good:" Does this somehow mean that Adam and Eve, prior to sin, knew less of good that after their sin? If the original sin was that they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, can we contrast "the knowledge of good and evil" with "the knowledge of God?" I would contend that were we only capable of knowing God and not discerning between good in evil, we may all be better off. But, since the fall, we are aware of that which is good and that which is evil. God is not our consuming passion. Rather, good as opposed to evil is.

Anonymous said...

Great article Meagan! I'm really enjoying reading this blog. :)


christina hall said...

In "The Problem of Pain", C. S. Lewis explains why God not only allows, but rather gives us pain as a nature outflow of His love for us. I love the analogy he uses...

"We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefor something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character [the character of Christ]. ... Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life-the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child-he will give endless trouble-and would, doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient [having the faculty of perception by the senses]. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and recommenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumbnail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is nature for us to wish that God designed us for a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less." -C. S. Lewis

Erika said...

I have enjoyed reading your viewpoints on these crucial issues, Meagan. I like your points - free will, greater godliness, and fallen nature (God did create a perfect world). I just wanted to point out also that one might say, “Wait a minute. I asked why God allowed sin, evil, and suffering into the world. If he made it so perfect in the first place, wasn’t he powerful enough to guarantee that it would remain that way?”
God had several other choices. He could have made a world of: (1) nothing; (2) moral neutrality (no good or evil or all good & evil); (3) no good; (4) no evil; (5) good & evil with always free choice of good; (6) no free will; (7) good & evil with free choice.
God didn’t create (1) because nothing isn’t better than something. This option is not even comparable with the current world; you can compare apples and oranges; you can’t compare apples and nothing.
God didn’t create (2) because of His holiness. If there is what is all-good (God), there must be a possibility for that which is not all-good. This is evil. So if the world is like Him, it is good; if not, it is evil.
God didn’t create (3) for obvious reasons: an all-good God wouldn’t create an all-evil world.
God didn’t create (4) because He wants us to freely choose to love Him. If there were no possibility of choosing evil, we would blindly love God. God doesn’t want robotic love; He values voluntary love that much.
God didn’t create (5) because it is logically contradictory in the actual world. God can’t grant us free will to choose sin and at the same time guarantee we will always choose good - thus overriding our free will. We can’t have a world where we freely choose and yet there is only one option you will choose. One option is not a choice. Either we have free will or we don’t.
God didn’t create (6) because he didn’t want robots or animals — he wanted free love, as already covered.
Thus, God, in his infinite wisdom, created (7). But the result is that we live in a world of evil, sin, and suffering.
Now I admit that this is pretty technical and has very little value in responding to actual tragedies in the real world - but it has intellectual and scholarly logical value.
Thankfully, God hasn't deserted us and one day we will live with him in THE perfect world! This world of sin may not be the best possible world, but it is the best possible way to the best possible world while preserving free will and defeating sin.

-Erika Wenzel