There are some questions about the Christian faith that you’ve undoubtedly heard, wondered, and/or been asked. When the questions arose, it’s very likely that you either already had an answer, didn’t have an answer but felt confident you could find one, or were straight up stumped. All of us have been stumped at one time or another (or more frequently than that for some of us!) but it’s our response to being stumped that’s important. We either let our puzzlement fester into doubt or seek out an answer from respected sources. I hope you’ll always choose the latter!
problem of evil
Friends, we recently finished reading Why Does God Allow Evil? by Dr. Clay Jones. It’s the fantastic culminating work of decades of teaching and research. Buy it. Read it. The end.
Recently there was an officer involved shooting near our home. Two men were wounded, and unfortunately, one of the police officers died. At our son’s school, kids were given the opportunity to write letters and draw pictures to encourage the local police department. When he came home from school and shared what he knew about the incident, our other son launched into a textbook “Why does God allow evil?” interrogation. He was so upset in that moment by the injustice and the loss of life.
Eventually, our conversation led us to God’s justice and our eternal home. I explained that our forever home with God will dwarf our suffering during this life. Neither child could conceptualize where people “are” after they die, or where they’ll be for eternity. They had the vocabulary mostly right, but there was a disconnect between the words and the meaning, and they were obviously confused. So we sat down and drew a diagram to help them “see” what happens when we die.
“It’s not fair!” This is a phrase my children are beginning to test out as they face the consequences of their decisions or balk at parental direction. Humans love to shift blame. We are pretty good at it. We have been doing it since Adam took a bite of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil and then blamed his wife for giving it to him (Genesis 3:11-12). In a similar way, many people resist the guilt of original sin by asking, “Why am I held accountable for the bad choices of Adam?”
This question can take on a few different forms but the essence is usually asking why God would allow pain, suffering, or death to effect a seemingly innocent person. Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? How do we answer this question when our peers, family members or friends ask?
The following is a fairly straightforward, logical response to “Why do bad things happen to good people?” PLEASE remember this however, if a hurting, grieving human being approaches you in their moment of need, they are probably not interested in hearing you launch into a polemic against the existence of “good people.” In those moments we need to be the listening, empathizing, sympathizing hands and feet of Christ. Certainly, your head knowledge will inform your response, and there are definitely times during conversation or debate in which the above is entirely appropriate to share, but deeply hurting and emotional people need your love and compassion in that moment far more than they need a lecture. In other words, know your audience, listen well, and love as you ought.
We hope you will find this list of collected bits from around the web interesting and useful today. This week we focus on the problem of evil(why does a good God allow pain and suffering?) and end with a wonderful article about why it matters to think about these things. Let us know what you think, or if you’ve seen something else that we missed! Be sure to also check out the Picture Book Apologetics project on Kickstarter. We greatly appreciate your support!