There is a lot of evil in the world. Let’s face it, the Problem of Evil represents a case against God that is difficult to defend against. I will explain why in this writing and present issues which we have seemingly swept under the rug or dodged that need to be addressed.
What is our response to the “Problem of Evil”? Typically one would argue that God has given us free will to choose between what He deems right and wrong. Yet, if God allows such free will to persist is He still sovereign over all things? I would argue that He is simply on the grounds that He allows it and He promises an end to sin itself as a fulfillment of prophecy.
Yet, even this is difficult to grasp in the context of the life we live and the things we encounter in day to day life.
Is it possible to grasp this dilemma of God’s sovereignty over all things while allowing evil to persist? Hardly. Some have argued that God allows evil so that we can see the need for Him or gain appreciation for the good. Such a response pins God with the burden of allowing what is called “necessary evil” despite His nature of being all loving and all powerful.
I want to jump back to the concept of free will specifically since it is the most common stance taken by Christians today. There is no doubt that even from Eden, God granted man the ability to choose between right and wrong. We have been given free will as a gift, yet I feel that free will is at its best unbearably heavy and difficult to embrace.
Why do I say this? Surely it is wonderful that God has given us the intellect to think for ourselves and come to Christ on our own free choice. That part of free will is beautiful. We serve a God who allows us to freely worship Him and seek Him.
Yet there are other sides of this gift.
For instance, while I may choose to do good through the Holy Spirit, someone else is choosing to do evil. Consider the situation in the Middle East. At this moment I may be giving a homeless man a sandwich to eat while a terrorist in the Middle East is shooting people down for not believing in their beliefs.
Why does God allow this?
Let me take this a bit further. Every day is an inner struggle in ourselves to either sin or seek God. We often choose to sin. We can only choose to sin because of free will. That is why I believe free will is such a heavy gift, if not the heaviest gift we receive day to day.
That is why I believe God calls us to Him through Christ. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we carry the weight of all free will encompasses. There is no other way to do this.
It has become clear to me that some religions have sought to counter this dilemma by forming laws which limit the freedom of choice. If there is no choice, there is only obedience. This solution is problematic as well.
What would Christianity look like if God never allowed free will?
I would imagine that we would describe Him as a tyrant, evil, or a maniac. Admittedly, some atheists use this approach already, but a lack of understanding on their part does not make such an accusation a fact, especially in this particular instance.
I think if it were not for the Holy Spirit, we would crumble beneath the weight of free will itself. The responsibility it carries is not something we can carry on its own. Indeed, we need assistance from the source of free will itself.
What we will find ourselves moving into with those who do not believe is that God gets the blame for all the evil in the world because He allows it. While there is a part of that which is true, it does disservice to the underlying issue:
Evil exists in the world because we allow it.
The secularist may make the argument that evil exists because of religion in the footsteps of ancient philosophers and John Lennon. I disagree. I am a Christian and I have never killed another human being or felt the inclination to because of religious differences or worldview differences. I’m searching for peace in the world like most are.
At best, we can say the religious fanatics who spread violence are the byproduct of man’s warped view of the Bible or other religious texts. At their core, religious texts inspire love, peace, and unity. It is when we freely choose to corrupt these messages that things get violent.
It is in our nature to be sinful and spread evil. That fact is inescapable. Anyone who says we are capable of any good by our own doing is simply promoting themselves and nothing more. That is why God draws us unto Him and wishes for us to allow Him to work through us.
Just how patient is God?
More patient than we can ever comprehend.