Thursday, January 02, 2014

Inbox: How Can God Allow Evil?

A reader emails a thought on a post earlier this week:
“There’s more to be said on this subject: What would a situation look like in which human beings were fallen, but creation itself was not? Or what would a situation look like wherein evil type 1 (human evil) would be present but evil type 2 (i.e. ‘natural’ evils like earthquakes and cancer) were not possible?
Consider this:
A fallen humanity plus a protected creation means that while the knowledge of good and evil exists, only good can be actualized. It means a condition of ability-to-choose exists for humanity, but no ability-to-act-on-choice. Humanity can dream evil, but never put it into action; therefore, no actual freedom or choice is created, but humanity is constituted as inwardly wicked. Furthermore, since there would exist a permanent disconnect between inner nature and external action, it becomes questionable how a) sin could become recognized for what it is, and b) how salvation would be possible, since all we know about it suggests it is constituted by external events actualized within the world itself. Would humanity then be caught in a permanent condition of sin, with no remedy? Perhaps. But what is abundantly clear is that there would be no genuine ‘choice’ between good and evil, between God and sin, since no person could ever act upon such an inward impulse. 
If this is right, then a fallen humanity necessitates also a fallen creation — since humanity must have a place in which to actualize its choices and a stage upon which the drama of redemption can be set. And if having sin be recognized as sin, and if having a stage that is flawed in such ways as to allow for that all-important drama to take place entails a few instances of chaotic evil, a few earthquakes or cases of cancer, is that really surprising?”

1 comment :

  1. For Christians, there is yet another aspect to this, that "for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose".

    That verse has a sort of faux-cheery Sunday School patina over it for me, as it was spouted in many situations I considered to be corny when I was growing up. Which doesn't mean it isn't completely true. Last night, a "natural evil" occurred to a missionary I know: His house burned to the ground and he and the 12 people in the house escaped with only their lives and the clothes on their back.

    But "natural evil" gives God a canvas upon which to work out his purposes for his own glory. The missionary had been trying to sell the house that burnt for months to no avail. Apparently it is insured.

    So is it possible that "natural evil" has been worked together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose? We will see. But it's interesting.