Monday, October 4, 2010

Romans 8:18-25 (+1:16-32) Theodicy and Other Questions

Why do bad things happen to good people? How can there be a loving God with so much evil in the world? How can you believe in something that you cannot prove?

Such questions preoccupy people a lot. Christians would like to know the answers to them in order to better defend what they believe. Non-Christians like to pose them because it shuts Christians up. The truth of the matter is that, ultimately, they do not matter. At least the unknowable answers do not matter. Our approach to these issues needs to be something other than traditional apologetics.

Here in Romans, Paul does not pose the question of evil, but rather presents the correct response to it. Hope. If we have assurance of something, we cannot hope for it. It is not a possibility; it is a given. In the same way, faith is a belief in something that we cannot prove. If we could, we would not need faith. Instead of wasting energy in engaging these false arguments posed to us, we need to address the motivation behind these questions.

Romans 1 tells us that all people everywhere have knowledge of God. They know that He exists and that He has certain qualities. They know of His natural law and they know that they are guilty of breaking that law and facing the consequences. It is this knowledge that causes people to choose to turn away from God and pretend He does not exist. It is easier to do that than face the truth. As Christians it does little good to try to convince someone that what they know and fear is true.

However, that is not our task anyway. We have been given a message of forgiveness and grace. That message is indeed helpful when we are faced with people in denial born out of fear. Don’t play the philosophical game of fighting these questions. It is like tic-tac-toe; nobody wins. Cut through all of that with the story of God’s love and see what happens.

Thanks to Thomas K. Johnson for unknowingly help me put these thoughts into words.

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