Never in the course of American history have Christians directly attacked for their faith more than now. As pointed out earlier, to a great extent our silence on these matters has led to our reaching this point in history. So, we cannot continue in silence and hope for the best. We must learn how to respond and defend our faith; if we are to remain the salt and light to a world in desperate need of the gospel message before our voices are silenced forever. That requires study on our part. We must prayerfully study God’s Word that we might be ready to respond when questioned with intellectually sound arguments of defense. Furthermore, we must teach our children to do the same. There is no question anymore whether our faith will be attacked; instead the question is when and if we will be prepared to answer.
Of all the questions levied against the Christian faith, the problem of evil is perhaps the one most used. Because of that, I want to confront that one first.
THE PROBLEM OF EVIL
Basically put, the problem of evil is why would an Almighty, all knowing good God allow such evil to exist in the world. Evil does exist; as we are all aware. Evil and suffering exists all around us. It presents itself in natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, flooding and drought for example. Furthermore, we see evil presented at the hands of human beings too numerous to count: mass murders, terrorist attacks, rape, lies, selfishness, and theft to name a few. As Groothius points out, “Human cruelty is all around us; we will find it within ourselves as well.” Then, there is the problem with disease and all its suffering. Even, the staunchest Christian is not exempt from suffering and the effects of evil. How then can we Christians say, God is good, loving and all powerful; if so much evil exists?
That perhaps is the question we are asked most often by the secularists. And it is the question our own hearts may ask at times; unless, we have come to recognize the truth so richly presented in the scripture. So, the argument presented by the secularists goes like this as presented by Groothius from his outline of Epicurus.
The PROBLEM OF EVIL
God either wishes to take away evil, and is unable; or he is able and unwilling; or he is neither willing or able, or he is both willing and able.
Epicurus then tries to work out each possibility
- If God is willing and is unable, he is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God.
- If he is able and unwilling, he is envious (meaning evil), which is equally at variance with God.
- If he is neither willing nor able he is both envious (meaning evil) and feeble, and therefore not God.
- If he is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils or why does he not remove them?
HOW TO DEFEND THE ATTACK
As a Christian, I have faced many trials due to evil, including abuse, cancer, chronic illness, multiple surgeries, financial disasters, as well as witnessing the suffering of my mother and husband due to bipolar disease. So, this is a question I have confronted throughout my life; yet, I can loudly confirm that God is fully able (all powerful) and is fully loving in having allowed evil to exist. He is wiser than we could ever imagine; and, as a loving God desires His creation to discover the greatest joy and happiness. Therefore, He endures the personal suffering of evil Himself, in order to allow us to discover that greater joy in Him. There are four major arguments to come to that conclusion which I wish to present for you.
Let me begin by pointing out that we cannot truly see or know what good is; if we have never experienced what the absence of good (evil) is. Just as darkness is the absence of light; evil is the absence of good. God did not create evil; however, because God is perfect goodness and righteousness-there stands to reason evil presents as a void of God’s righteousness.
THE ARGUMENT FOR FREE WILL
When God created the world and placed man in the garden of Eden; everything was perfect. God walked with Adam every day; yet, for Adam to truly experience that pleasure and to be able to love God truly, he was provided free will to choose. For that reason, God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden. Adam was told not to eat thereof. Therefore, a choice was provided to either trust God’s word or to choose to disobey God. Obviously, if Adam fully cherished the wonder and beauty of what he possessed in that relationship with God; however, he did not until it was gone. Only then could he truly experience God’s love, righteousness, and glory; but, to do so also meant he could see the evil which presented in God’s absence.
C. S. Lewis wrote in mere Christianity:
God created things which had free will. That means creatures can go either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata-of creatures that worked like machines-would hardly be worth creating.
The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each in an ecstasy of love delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free.
This is merely the beginning of the arguments for why evil exists, for which I will continue Monday to further defend the Christian faith. At that time we will further discuss how to respond when presented with the problem of evil; before, moving to other responses when attacked by those who question our faith. For now, let me give you the next paragraph of C.S. Lewis’ argument in defense of free will
Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently He thought it worth the risk. Perhaps we feel inclined to disagree with Him. But there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.
If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will—that is, for making a live world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings—then we may take it it is worth paying.
DO YOU KNOW CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOR?
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior: I urge you to go to my page titled How to Be Saved by clicking on this link. Because there is nothing more important than this, I urge you to seek Him today.
OR ARE YOU IN OF NEED PRAYER?
Two Newest Books Available
A labor of love, this book provides you with 3 foundations of truth from the scripture which once known will provide you with abiding, steadfast joy. Undaunted by the storms of life; your joy will overflow.
Providing a foundation of faith and hope; even, as we see so much evil in the world and in our nation. With so much sorrow and despair, this book I wrote to guide you into discovering God’s Perfect Plan of love; amid this chaotic world filled with life’s storms.
You may click on the picture for more information on either of these books.
OTHER RESOURCES AVAILABLE
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©Effie Darlene Barba, 2017
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned except for my own books. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Credits and Footnotes
 Groothius, Apologetics, 615
 Groothius, Apologetics, 616
 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (New York: HarperCollins, 1952), 47-48