No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

Tag Archives: evil

God is great, God is good…


I was recently asked to write a discussion board post on the problem of evil for my Apologetics class.  This topic seems timely.  All of us are aware of the evil that was done by the soldier in Afghanistan.  The interesting thing is that all should (and do) rightly recognize this act as evil.  However not all recognize the fact that the feeling that we all have, comes from a natural law given to us from God.

“God might be great, but if so He’s not good; He might be good, but if so He’s not great.”

A critic would make this argument in an effort to state that there is a contradiction between a good God and a God that would allow evil to exist.  They would argue that if God were truly Omnipotent then he could eliminate evil, evil exists therefore God is not omnipotent.  They make this argument because simply the world is full of evil.  One cannot turn on the news and see evil perpetrated.  A recent example would be of the soldier in Afghanistan murdering women and children.  It is not just the evil of man that is called into question it is the evil that persists from natural catastrophes that call this into question.  As Mackie put it “a good omnipotent thing eliminates evil completely, and then the propositions that a good omnipotent thing exists, and that evil exists, are incompatible”.[1]

“The fact that you think there is evil in the world nearly demands the existence of God”

This logic holds true in that evil must be defined.  What this means is that an individual who would make the above argument would not believe in God.  The result of this belief is that there is no absolute moral law giver.  Meaning that moral values become relative to the individual making the argument.  Basically, what is evil or wrong to one, may not be for another.  The fact that we are able to look at situation (Afghanistan murders) and declare it to be evil, indicates that we must know that murder  is evil.  However, in declaring something to be evil, one must give up the moral relative position, and assume an objective moral position (murder is either right or wrong).  This underscores the idea that an absolute moral law giver would need to exist.  As Geisler and Bocchino state “Therefore, atheism cannot logically offer a definition of evil without appealing to an ultimate standard of good.  If atheists try to do so, they end up affirming the very existence of that which they claim does not exist – the ultimate good (God).”[2]

Ultimately the conclusion that must be drawn is that an atheist cannot look at any given situation and say that it is evil without losing the sincerity to the world view to which they believe.  As C.S. Lewis put it “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line”.  Atheism, when followed to its logical conclusion denies that there is any absolute right or wrong.  This is inherent in their world view.  All humanity experiences the emotion of feeling wronged or experiencing evil.  The only way to account for this is that we have all been given an absolute moral on that is written on our hearts.  This natural law was given to us by God.


[2] Geisler, N; Bocchino, P. Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith (Kindle Location 2806). Kindle Edition.

 

Mourning the Death of Osama Bin Laden…


If you’ve read this blog at all you know that we are not fans of any religion or worldview that sets itself up against the God of the Bible. Nor do we back down from honest and straightforward debate with proponents of those worldviews.  I’m also not a fan of heinous acts perpetrated against our great nation and her people.  So it will probably surprise you that I have been grieved over the last few days by the death of Osama Bin Laden and I have been doubly heart-broken over the reaction the majority of our nation has had over this news.  Before you even think it, let me say that doesn’t make me a Muslim sympathizer and it makes me no less patriotic.

Look, let me explain:  I’m not saying that justice wasn’t served… because it was.  Nor am I claiming that he didn’t bring it upon himself… because he did.  And I’m definitely not saying that he shouldn’t have been stopped and dealt with… because he absolutely 100% needed to be.

What’s got my heart hurting is the fact that there is one more soul whose fate is sealed to be eternally separated from the loving God of this universe in a horrible place called Hell and people are rejoicing over it.  Regardless of what people may claim or wish or pretend, or what Rob Bell may imply, Hell is very real… it is very bad… and it is eternal.  So much so, I’d not wish it on my worst enemy – Even Osama Bin Laden… Even Hitler… Even the people who have directly, personally and deeply wounded me (both intentionally and unintentionally).

Again, please don’t misunderstand me here…  I am NOT a fan of Bin Laden… I detest and denounce what he has done… He was evil to the core and I realize the chances of him ever accepting Christ were slim to none… Well, given recent events, Slim is permanently out of town, so the chances are obviously zero now. But we have condemned Osama for his blatant disregard for the value on human life, but yet, by rejoicing his death aren’t we doing the same?

Some of you may call me a hypocrite because I am a proponent of capital punishment… And I definitely believe that Bin Laden should have been put to death (and unlike Mendenhall I do believe we have all the info we need to condemn Bin Laden’s actions and he would have undoubtedly been convicted had he made it to court)…. What I’m saying is that we need not rejoice over it.  There are often things that NEED to be done, but which should give us no pleasure in the doing of them… Burying the dead, disciplining your children, complicated and painful (but life-saving) surgery, chemo-therapy, etc. are all examples of things that have to be done that no sane person should rejoice over.  In fact, that last one may be the best example… Killing Bin Laden was chemo-therapy – it eliminated a cancer that needed to be dealt with, but is it cause for jubilant celebration? I submit to you no, it is not.

Consider this… 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”  That “everyone” includes people we’d rather not have existed… Hitler… Stalin… Bin Laden… child abusers… rapists… your ex… EVERYONE.  Further food for thought is Ezekiel 33:11 which says, “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’”

Does that mean everyone will believe and or that everyone will enter into Heaven? By no means, (God speaks about punishing the wicked in the Ezekiel verse – sorry Rob Bell, both God’s Love AND His Justice wins) but it does mean that we should value human life and desire, like God does that everyone come to know him… It means that we need to tell people about the good news of Jesus Christ… and it means we should grieve when people die without Him – even people as evil as Osama Bin Laden.  We need to love and pray for people as long as we and they are alive and let the Lord sort it out when we’re all dead (cf. Romans 12:19)… In fact Jesus Himself said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:43-45).

Getting to that place is hard… and it will require a revolution in thinking… but let me ask you this:  Can you bring yourself to care more about the Kingdom of God than the good ol’, US of A?  That’s where I believe God is leading me… How about you?

So yes, I grieve for Osama Bin Laden… as well as all who die without knowing Jesus. Do you?

The Challenger 25 Years Later: Responding to Tragedy


I was reminded that the Challenger exploded 25 years ago today… That means that 25 years ago I was a naïve and immature 10 year old trying to deal with the shock and awe of the tragedy by sitting around cracking stupid and insensitive “Challenger Jokes” in Mrs. Hoblitzel’s 5th grade class (no I won’t be repeating them here). It’s sobering and frankly quite embarrassing to think of how I behaved back then… but as is usual for me; “current” events have gotten me thinking theologically. Specifically today I’ve been thinking about how I’ve progressed throughout the years in responding to catastrophe.

Here’s the progression I’ve observed in myself – and I by no means want to claim I’ve cornered the market on how to appropriately respond to all tragedies – However, I’m hoping that as you read how I have in the past and am now currently responding to troublesome or “evil” events it will cause you to pause and consider what IS the proper response in light of who God is and our relationship to Him (throughout history, currently and in the future).  So, here goes (please keep in mind I’m not at all proud of these responses, but I think they will be helpful to our discussion):

Like I said above, when I was a kid I would respond to tragic events (and really pretty much most adversity I experienced) by either lashing out in anger and/or trying to defuse the impact by making light or making fun of the situation and/or the people involved.  So what if the nation was rocked by an unexpected and seemingly needless loss of life??? I was gonna have my laugh and try to get others to join along… The problem with this is that it was incredibly insensitive – it didn’t acknowledge the genuine pain people felt over the situation and it in no way considered God (and how HE felt about what happened).

As I grew into adolescence and young adulthood I slipped into a very jaded indifference… Sure, I’d put on a mask of concern and maybe even feign a little contrived and controlled outrage and sometimes I’d even revert back to the joke making… but inside, I really didn’t care. The two biggest examples I remember responding in this way were the Oklahoma City bombing and the OJ trial… Now, again, I have grown to deeply care about what happened in these (especially the OKC bombing), but back then my heart was very hard toward God and that translated in it being hard toward what He most cares about: people… My heart breaks in sorrow in how I used to think and feel, and now I am particularly grieved over the loss of life, especially when that life is one or more people who have not placed their faith and trust in Jesus.

As God got a hold of my attention and my heart I quickly transitioned into another and radically different response to personal, national and even global tragedy – I wanted to discover (and then proclaim) some “greater good” had and/or would come from it all. I was quick to fire out Romans 8:28 “All things work together for the good…” in an attempt to make sense of it all and out of a sincere motivation to comfort and build up those affected by various tragedies.

This is a view and a practice I’ve held to until just very recently… The three basic problems with this: 1) Verses such as Genesis 50:20, Job 1:21 and Romans 8:28 seem to be blanket statements promising some greater good, but when looked at carefully they are NOT actually blanket promises (we don’t have time to go into all the hermeneutics here, but read them for yourself in context and I think you will find me to be right); 2) If there is a “greater good” for a very visible tragedy for things to balance out wouldn’t the good also need to be visible and noticeably better than the evil event? (What is the visible “greater good” for the holocaust, the tsunami a few years back, Katrina, children being raped and brutally murdered, the OKC bombing, and 9/11?)  3) If God NEEDS these evil events in order for some greater scheme of His to come about, would that not make God guilty of and/or dependent upon evil? (I cannot in good conscience and will not charge God with evil – that is a theologically indefensible position and it would be plainly sinful (cf. Job 1:22 & 2:10).

So, how do I respond now? Well, first, I recognize that we live in a broken world – one that has been broken since Adam and Eve sinned. Because this world (including nature and culture) is broken and people’s relationships with one another, with themselves and with God are all broken bad stuff is bound to happen… This brokenness is the REASON for all the garbage that goes on, however, there doesn’t HAVE to be a PURPOSE for the evil (i.e. a “greater good” to be made out of it). Sometimes, out of His goodness, God will take a bad situation and make it better and/or bring some sort of good out of it – but He is under no obligation to do that 100% of the time (and He doesn’t) – sometimes, often even, bad stuff just happens and that’s it, period – no greater good occurs.

The second thing that I recognize is that sin and the evil it produces and has produced grieves God greatly.  The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that we are to Cast all our anxiety on him because he cares for us (1 Peter  5:7). He sympathizes with us in our pain and He ready willing and able to comfort us in our sorrow and affliction. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1: “our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

The last thing that I remember (and this personally brings me the most comfort) is that we know with 100% certainty that God will one day make all things right – The curse will be reversed:  Evil and agents of evil will be dealt with, the perfection of the Garden of Eden will be restored, those who have accepted Him through faith will be able to have continual fellowship with God in His presence, the world will be made new, our bodies will be glorified, there will be no sickness, no sorrow, no pain, no death and no tears. He has already taken steps to make this future reality possible.  The story of how He has done that and is continuing to do so is the central theme of the Bible.

So, I guess what I’m driving at is the next time something shockingly bad (like Challenger, 9/11, the tsunami, OKC bombing, or something more personal) occurs, don’t joke about it, don’t blow it off as insignificant and don’t try to placate people with promises of some greater good… Instead, I would challenge you to point them to Christ, who wants to have a relationship with them, will one day make all things right and who can comfort them beyond measure with peace that passes understanding (cf. Philippians 4:5-9) in the here and now.

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Why does God allow bad things to happen?


I know Kevin promised updates on the G90X on Monday’s.  Well…Kevin is not here, and I felt like I needed to post this.  I will give an update tomorrow on the G90X.

This piece is a companion piece to “Is God Evil”.  Just to recap… Two common arguments used by atheists and agnostics alike is that God is either evil because He is in control of everything and allows bad things to happen or He is not in control.  In the “Is God Evil” blog I refuted both of those points using God’s Word as the foundation.  So the natural response…If God is in control, and God is not evil…why then would He allow these things to happen?

I first began to think about this topic because I had my own motivations to study it.  I was curious about why God would allow a recession of this magnitude and other bad things I saw in the world around me.  I also was faced with a discussion with an agnostic/atheist who said they refused to believe in a God that would allow such horrible things to happen.  This gets to the heart of the matter for a number of atheists and agnostics.  Why? 

Recently I had a conversation with a woman that I have worked with for nearly a year.  Somehow during the conversation she had mentioned something about a trial, so I inquired.  It turns out that her son had been murdered.  The story is painful.  All I could think about was what my response would be had something like this had happened to my kids.  Anyway, her son had been shot because of an argument that went out of control.  The guy that shot him then proceeded to pour gasoline on him and set him on fire.  As she is telling the story she begins to cry, and then the most amazing words came out of her mouth… “I am so grateful that he was saved.  I know that I will see him again.”  Amazing!!  Here, this mother had lost a son, in the most extreme way, and was still grateful to God.

So why would God allow this to happen to her child?  Why would God allow a child to be raped (as David pointed out on several occasions from the “Is God Evil?” post)?  We could look at the cause of evil in the world today.  How the fall of man has allowed sin/disease into the world.  I would rather focus on the “why?” as opposed to the “how?”  Perhaps the “how?” can be addressed in a future post.

The first thing that has to be said when looking at the question “why” is that we have no way of knowing why God does the things that he does.  As smart as we all like to think we are we have no idea.  The perfect illustration to this is the book of Job.  To understand what I am talking about you have to understand Job.  Job was upright and blameless.  He had not committed any specific sin when God allowed Satan to strike at him.  Thus Job (and his friends) asked the question….why?  Why would God do this to him?  Now Job claimed he had done nothing wrong, and if he only had the opportunity to present his case to God he would be able to explain this.  Job friends said that he had to have done something wrong…otherwise why would God punish him?  Neither was right.  God responds in Chapters 3842.  God challenges Job’s by asking him a series of questions.  Basically God asks Job…”Who are you?”  He does this in a sarcastic manner.  Jobs response in 42:2-3 shows the lesson to be learned.  There are things we cannot comprehend, things we will not understand.  God makes this point very clear to Job, and Job gets it.  What is the first answer to “why?”  We will never know until God reveals it to us.

There are additional answers that we have been able to identify from the New Testament that allow us to understand why God would allow these things to happen.  In my comments to the “Is God Evil?” post I identified a few. 

The question was asked then…”Does God really need to allow these things to happen to display Himself?”  The answer is yes.  Yes, He does. 

–          It allows a witness

We draw this example from Christ.  1 Peter 5:1 is an example of how suffering allows us to be effective witnesses.  Peter watched the suffering of Christ.  For this reason he was able to be an effective witness to the event.  Can you speak to suffering, if you have not seen the misery that comes with it?  Can you speak to anything with wisdom, if you have not participated?

–          It develops our capacity to comfort others

Look at 2 Corinthians 1:3-7.  Paul is making two distinct points.  First, that God is the father of compassion and comfort.  God will always be there to comfort us.  Also Paul makes the great point that the suffering we endure will create patient endurance and allow us to share our comfort.  Seriously, who is more able to provide more comfort in times of suffering?  Those who have not dealt with any, or those who have?  This was Paul’s point.

–          It is a training tool

Suffering allows us to grow.  James 1:2-4 tells us that trials will help us persevere.  The Bible verse here says it all. “… that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” See the parallel passage in Romans 5:3-53Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

–          It displays the awesome power of God’s grace

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 displays this point.  Here Paul is under attack, and describes the thorn in his flesh (suffering).  Paul pleaded with God three times.  God’s response?  My grace is sufficient.  God did not tell Paul, okay I will make it all stop.  God responded by saying, I get it, and my grace is enough for you during these trials.

It is hard to endure or even watch the evil and suffering that exists in the world.  How do you, from any perspective answer the question, “Why would God allow that to happen?”  Rape, child molestation, murder, genocide etc…  Look at the above answers.  As painful as it is for us, our faith has to reside in God, otherwise…what else is there?  Man? Randomness?  Chance?  These things happen for any number of reasons that will be beyond our control.  We must, in all circumstances, know that we must continue to have faith in God.

Is God Evil?


Is God Evil?

What a question to ask.  When you look out at everything happening in the world how can you not help but to wonder?  We have seen a number of calamities over the last 10 years.  Just to name a few, September 11, Katrina, Haiti, wars, a tsunami, and recently earthquakes and volcanic activity.  In addition to these major events innumerable amounts of people have suffered pain because of cancer, murder, rape, kidnappings, divorce or whatever.  If God is a God of love how can he allow these things to happen?  An agnostic said to me once, “I refuse to believe in a God that allows these things to happen.”  And I’ve seen an Atheist write, “If their God is so loving why does he allow violence?”

Atheists will use the following argument to show that our God is not in control, and/or our God is evil:  “Your God says that he is in control of everything, this means that he allows bad things to happen.  This can only mean one of two things…God is evil because he allows evil things to happen to others, if you say that he is not Evil, but is in fact love, then God cannot be in control of the world because of all of the evil that happens.”

If you have ever been in a heated discussion with an atheist, or even an agnostic, this topic surely came up.  With an atheist, it came up as another reason for them not to believe in God at all.  If it was an agnostic, it came up as a reason for them to not believe in the God of the Bible.  Thus, either directly or indirectly, they claim that the Bible is errant, after all the Bible emphatically claims that God is good (cf. 1 John 1:5, Psalm 25:8, Genesis 50:20).

So the real question is…Is God Evil?  The simple answer….NO!

And not just a simple no, or a feeble no.  Not the kind of no you hear from your child as you ask them questions when they know they have been caught in the middle of a lie.  The answer is a very strong NO!

To prove this “NO” I am going to focus on two key points used by atheists and agnostics to formulate their opinion…God is not in control, and God is Evil.

God is not in control: Atheists and Agnostics alike will try to tell you that bad things happen because God is not in control.  So what do we know so far about God being in control?  We know that God is omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (everywhere at once).  We can confirm that God is everywhere, and that he knows everything.  But what does the Bible say about God’s control.  How does he demonstrate it in the Bible?  If you look at the Bible you will notice that God demonstrates He is in control, not only by the large things, but also with the smallest things. 

God’s word is really fascinating when is comes to His power.  God could simply say that I am in control of everything and be done with it.  But, what God does is demonstrate his power. Sometimes He does so in the most extreme circumstances (Sodom and Gamorra), others in the most simplistic circumstances.  Here are a few verses… God’s own words… about his control.

Matthew 10:29 – God demonstrates that he is in control of the small things.

 Mark 1:27 – God has the ability to intervene against evil spirits.

Amos 3:6 – God controls disaster.

Matthew 8:27 – God controls nature.

Proverbs 21:1 – God controls our leaders hearts.

Luke 22:31-32, Job 1:12 – God controls Satan

The Bible does not give us a simple statement, like… “God controls everything.”  The Bible gives us a complete picture of what God controls… which is everything.  Birds, demons, natural disaster, human hearts, nature, and even Satan himself.

All of this will lead some to the conclusion: Well, if God is in control of everything… God must be evil.  This is where atheists will try to catch you. 

God is evil: If God is in control over everything, we now have to show that the result of that is that God is good, rather than evil.  To demonstrate this we need to look at one of the deepest characteristics of God: His love.

God’s love is all over the Bible.  Included in this is the ultimate display of love, the sacrifice for others.  If God is love…how can God be evil? 

 How much does God loves us?

1 John 4:8 – God IS love

Romans 5:8 – God has demonstrated that love through Christ

Romans 8:38-39 – There is nothing you can do that can separate you from God’s love.

And the ultimate display in love…

John 3:16 – God sacrificed his only child because of His love for you.

Many question the motivation of God.  I know that I certainly have.  It has to be a natural reaction in some cases.  No matter what, there are two things that are constant, God is in control and God is love.  Everything our Father does is because He loves us … because He loves you.  The problem with the argument presented by many is that they try to force God into being one thing or the other.  If God is in control He is evil, if God is not evil there is no way He could be in control.  God is perfect in nature, and is perfectly capable of being in control of everything, and being love at the same time.  The next question some will naturally ask…why?  Why would God do these things?  Well….It’s not so much “do” as it is “allow”. God doesn’t do anything evil, but He does allow evil to exist and persist, for now. Why? Because He loves us too much to make us simply be puppets. We don’t always know what the specific reasons for bad stuff happening is, but what we can always bank on is that ultimately everything that happens branches out from His love for us. How does that work? Well… maybe next time.

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