Friday, December 14, 2012

Why? The Nagging Question

HT: Patrick Chan


  1. Thanks for this article Patrick.

    "In order to come to terms with evil, we need to develop a more God-centered perspective and recognize that God has purposes beyond those that we can presently fathom."

    I wonder if there are some/many Christ-rejectors who think this answer is a cop-out.

    (Although I agree with this answer!)

  2. I'm convinced that our understanding of evil is not fully developed. We can draw certain conclusions from Joseph's distinction between acts of evil and intent. Much of what we consider to be acts of evil are evil only in context of being performed by fallen men in particular situations. There's no difference between the act of adultery and the act of marital sex except the context of a committed relationship defined loosely enough that we debate divorce and remarriage within the Body of Christ. If the ceremony were enough to warrant a commitment, then we have problems. Additionally, as fallen humans, none of us enters into a committed marriage without importing our own sin. I only mention this by way of example. The issue of evil becomes extremely complex if our goal is to merely to behave well and call ourselves good.

    On the other side is the knowledge with Joseph's distinction that nothing we do is truly good because it is always laced with sinful intent and everything God does is always good. for us, even though we may have a core desire to do good, we are not unilateral creatures. There are always tangential desires that creep in. How many of us can say that we are not motivated in the least by a desire to share some of the glory with God for doing something well in his name? Even every act of humility has an element of false humility as long as we need some element of sanctification.

    The balance in a fallen world is that some acts carry the weight of divine justification. God could call his people to kill for the right reasons and be held accountable for not doing so. By saying this, however, there are many who would look at their sin and try to find justification for it where scripture can be twisted to that end. This can only be divine justification. It was the penitent prayer of the tax collector rather than the falsely righteous prayer of the pharisee that received justification. They were still sinners. The pharisee thought his good behavior was worth something. Indeed, we should vie for good behavior, but the best among us have no greater cause to stand before God unashamed. Thanks be to Jesus Christ because he stands with us.

    One further observation is that

    1) if behavior by itself is not evil
    2) some acts are justified because of an evil world
    3) God never sins
    4) Everything we do is laced with sin
    5) Acts are caused by both God and us

    Then things that are evil for us to do are not evil for God to do. This is what typically troubles us, but it follows if 1-5 are all true. We want to be able to say that we can be as good as God by exhibiting good behavior. We also want to say that God can do evil when we must live in a world that is cursed and difficult because of the sin of our father, Adam, that we have perpetuated generation after generation since then by the mere fact that we have been born separated from God. So it is our guilt that must be addressed, not God's. So even if God directly causes our difficulties, it is on account of our sin, not his.