A Prevalent Problem

There is a problem in this world, an evil, and a "bad", that are so prevalent, one would have to literally be living under a rock, to have missed its ugly face. However, even under that rock one would find himself struggling with the evil within his own self. The problem of evil is plainly stated as “if God is omnipotent, meaning all-powerful, and He is also benevolent, meaning all-loving, then how, or why does evil still exists in this world, created by such a God”.

Evil is divided into two categories, moral evil, and natural evil and biblically speaking, actual sin and conditional sin. These two evils, while distinct in their own categories, are not separate from each other. “According to the bible, natural evil is the consequence of moral evil”. Job had assumed that natural evil had come upon him without him deserving it, until he humbled himself after divine rebuke from God (Job 42:1-6). Moral evil is “the act of man conscientiously choosing to violate a known law of God”, while natural evil is “the state in which we are born", or evil that may or may not be within the realm of our responsibility. Natural evil can take form in things like earthquakes, hurricanes, or even being born blind, (John9:1-34) or with an illness of some kind.

The bible explains the beginning of sin in a very conscise way, containing “the fall” of humankind in the third chapter of Genesis. So simply put, the reason for evil is sin, and the reason for sin was disobedience of the law of God. However, from that simplicity, raises many questions. God gave one command, that Adam, could eat freely of every tree except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; but should he eat of the latter tree, he would die (Genesis 2:16-17). With no reason being given for Adam not to eat of the tree, it can be assumed that it stood as a test of obedience. If a test, then God being omnibelevolent, gave this test to the first man, who was sinless, and endowed with intellect, emotion, and will, so that he could make the free will choice, given him, to obey God, or disobey God. Therefore from the choice freely made, moral evil took hold, and from the sin of the first man and woman, the whole of creation is became “subject to futility” and now creation itself is waiting eagerly to be set free from its slavery to corruption (Romans 8:20-21) when Christ returns, thus natural evil was born, and therefore solidifying, the bond between natural and moral evil.

Many theodicies have been structured pertaining to the problem of evil and pain. One such structure is call the extreme rationalistic theological system. This system states that “God is the only metaphysically necessary being, and there are an infinite number of contingent finite possible worlds God could actualize, but there is only one that is the best possible world, and God is obligated to make the best…”. This sytem promotes the idea that since God is obligated to create the best, and He has, then since our world contains moral evil, then He created moral evil as being part of the best possible world, and if He refused to create a world like this, then He would be morally flawed, and not be supreme. This system however does not fall in line with the omnibenevolance of God and therefore must be rejected.

Other well known systems are known as modified rationalistic theological systems, which intermingle the extreme rationalistic system and the free-will system. There is an infinite numer of finite contingent possible worlds, some that are evil, so therefore God could not make them, but there is possible, more than one good world. God was also free in respect to which good world He decided to create. The problem with this theory is that this theological system does not allow for an evil world to be created. So these theologians must then “specify a reason that this world is one of those good possible worlds” if it contains evil.

There are then some who hold to the free-will theological system. This system creates a coherent and balance understanding of evil, and allows for God to maintain His omnibenevlance and omnipotence. This system states, that “God is not the cause of evil in the world; the abuse of human free will is”. It can also not be stated that God is guilty of evil, for having given humans free will. “God is still good for giving humans something which they could, and in fact did, abuse, because a world in which there are significantly free beings (even though they produce evil) is a far better world than one that contains no evil but is populated by automatons”. Free will is plainly seen as the will of God, because He cannot make significantly free beings and then also make it so they always freely do good. Free will involves evil, however a free being, that can love freely and truly, far outweighs any evil created by the free being.

The problem in defining and defending, lies with consistency. Our theodicies must be at the very least, internally consistent, in order to “structure an answer that demonstrates that these propositions (God is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and evil exists) taken together are logically consistent”. Therefore for evil to exist in the world, and God to still remain true to His nature, evil must be an act originated on our part, allowed by God, yet not originating with Himself. This makes logical sense when you question why God would still beckon you to Himself, if He first caused you to sin, which separated you from Himself.

I believe that personal experience with evil does shape ones view and trust in God. However, Paul tell us to rejoice regardless of circumstance. I believe that the sufferings of this world, are merely another directional to look upward to heaven, knowing that this is not our home, and that we will be glorified one day, with the Almighty in heaven, free from sinful, evil bodies, corruption and pain. Jesus endured the cross with pleasure, because of the salvation that He was securing for His church, and bore the pain of crucifixion, subjecting Himself to pain that He did not cause or create, because of His unfailing, divine love for us.

Grace and Peace

-Nick Muyres