Tag Archives: theodicy

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?

What in the Hell?

fires of hell?

Scot McKnight has an intriguing post regarding Sharon Baker’s book Razing Hell: Rethinking Everything You’ve Been Taught About God’s Wrath and Judgment. His article here.

After you read these 7 considerations (from Scot’s post), will you please comment here?

1. Theodicy: how does God deal with evil if it, in effect, exists for ever in a hell-state? Does evil not continue to exist, even in spite of the statement in Revelation 21:1-4 that death and suffering will be no more? So, the issue here is squaring God’s goodness with eternal evil.

2. Eternal hopelessness: a traditional hell does not permit any hope after death for anyone, including those who have never heard. Is there a law that says God’s grace can only be active in the temporal sphere — that is, during our physical lifetime?

3. Eternal evil: does not the traditional view entail the view that God never really does purge his world of evil?

4. Justice vs. Love: the issue here is an old one. If God is love, how does justice fit in with that love. Is God ambivalent or split? An image of God that emerges for many is a cruel father who guides people to think of eternal punishment as an act of love.

5. Eternal divine violence: assumptions are that punishment is an act of violence and eternal punishment would mean God is eternally violent. She connects this view of God with acts of violence in history. She thinks God’s violence contradicts God’s love.

6. Retributive justice: again, a major issue is that God’s justice in the Bible — in Christ — is restorative but hell is a belief in a retributive justice that never becomes restorative.

7. Eternal punishment for temporal sin: how can it be just to punish a human being, who sinned temporally — that is over a life time (and no more), for an eternity for that temporal sin?