Thoughtful Thursday: An Almighty, Good God Allows an Evil World?

Human Brutality, one of the World's worst evils.

Here is a response to a difficult subject: Evil and human suffering. Your comments are valuable here. Thanks for reading.

The following are comments from a former classmate Marty Schoffstall as placed within the comment section on blog site of Theology Professor Ken Miller.

From Marty:

Dr. Dorsey [professor of Old Testament Studies] says that the story of the prophets (a rather large portion of the canon) looks like this:

(1) God Is Allowing Wickedness…
For a season…. and the wicked to succeed in their opposition to Him to temporarily triumph over Him (and over those loyal to Him). He may allow them to spurn Him, mock Him, humiliate him, or persecute those who remain loyal to Him.

(2) God is redirecting their evil….
to accomplish his own good purposes. The deeds of the wicked play into God’s hands and are used by God to further his own semi-secret agenda. [During this time when evil appears to prevail], God’s children are encouraged to: (a) Trust God, (b) Wait patiently for the time when God will intervene and right all wrongs, (c) Remain loyal and obedient to him.

(3) Finally, God dramatically intervenes…
to defeat his enemies. God is vindicated the wicked are punished; and those loyal to God are rewarded.

Now as my old friend friend Dr. Cunningham from UVA who was a very competent Roman Catholic Theologian on the side used to say:

“…mercy and justice are always in tension. We want mercy for ourselves, and justice for the other…”

Eventually we grow a little wiser and want some mercy for the other as well; however, we can never give up the concept of justice completely. Some decisions are so revolting (like genocide) that they must rigorously opposed, some people are so broken (like serial killers, serial kidnappers, etc) that we invest enormous time and money in the criminal justice system to stop them, they are horribly corrosive to society, they must be stopped.

How do you respond?

6 responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: An Almighty, Good God Allows an Evil World?

  1. semi-secret agenda? intriguing…Please elaborate further…

    • This could pertain to not knowing what God is up to, but knowing his character is good, and knowing that he will right all wrongs and redeem/restore creation in the end.

  2. Evil itself is irrational; we are foolish to think we can fathom it by reason. As I read the Bible, even this form of revelation does not explain it. What it does say about evil is that God is thoroughly opposed to it and redeems it. Redemption, not explanation, is His response. When we get on board with that idea we’ll get somewhere–and not before. And I think my colleague, Dr. Dorsey, has it right.

  3. Quick…first thought…..

    I can agree with both teachers here in that God is thoroughly opposed to evil and redeems it for His glory and name.

    What I disagree with, however, is that God allows evil to triumph over Him at any time (as stated in point #1). That is a (in my opinion) a view of God and evil that is influenced by our ‘old nature’ to justify the very nature of evil….and, I am so glad that I don’t have to deal with that nature anymore.

    Scripture (especially the Old Testament) speaks of God allowing the “enemies” of His people to overcome them so that HE can show His people His Mercy….although, the 40 year trip in the wilderness that Isreal endured was due to their own disobedience rather than God’s vindication of evil.

    The God of the old testament is the same God as in the new testament. His covenant is consistent and His promises are the same. Walk with Him by faith, obey His Word, and He will call you righteous…as it was with Abraham, so it is with us. The difference now is, the means by which we can come to Him.

    God isn’t out for vindication…and He never was. He was and is, however, always looking for ways to extend His mercy…and always will be…even unto the end….

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  5. I don’t usually have much to say (on blogs or in real life) when this subject comes up (God allowing evil in the world). It’s just one of those areas I haven’t struggled with personally, and I avoid saying *that* because it sounds like I’m minimizing the struggle, when really I do appreciate that it is hard for some people to reconcile.
    But personally, life never made sense to me before I believed in God. All the crap that happened, especially all the double standards that family and friends employed to make everything seem ultimately like my fault, made me feel like I was the scum of the earth or something. It wasn’t until I realized the whole world was fallen and it wasn’t just me, that I started developing a realistic sense of my place in it. To me, it now makes perfect sense that everyone, including me, is going to hurt each other, even when we’re trying not to. Why not in horrific ways at times, as well as in subtle ways where the destructiveness isn’t immediately apparent? And why even notice there is anything wrong, unless there is a higher state from which to have fallen? And why shouldn’t the Author of that higher state be able to reconcile us to Him, by using redemption to unite mercy and justice?
    I’m not trying to say that I have it all “figured out.” When I say it makes sense to me, maybe I’m saying it *feels* intuitive 😉 In hindsight and all that.