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« Dead Sea Scrolls Online | Main | Faith & Logic Aren't at Odds »

September 27, 2011


Can the situation with Lazarus be extrapolated to also include believers today? It is easier to see the value in Lazarus being visibly resurrected by Christ as a testament to Christ's deity and power (which is what, I think, verse 15 is pointing out).

I've read excerpts from Piper's "Don't Waste Your Cancer." I wondered if the same could be written of other horrible situations such as child molestation, incest, etc. "Don't Waste Your (fill in the blank)."

The highest pinnacle of Christian maturity is the unconditional love for God and man.

It's easy to love God and others the way we love ice cream or anything pleasurable. But loving God in the midst of suffering, when we know He is in full control , or loving our enemies as they assault us, brings us to a place of Christian maturity otherwise unattainable.

The trials and tribulations are among the true blessings of God as He perfects His unconditional love in us.

This view does explain suffering neatly. Many would disagree, but it is tidy.

However, it fails completely to explain evil.

Jeff - can you say whether you think this post was intended to explain evil? If you think it was intended to explain evil, can you say why?


No, I don't think this post was intended to explain evil.

You and I agree that this post doesn't tackle the problem of evil. Are you familiar with other sources that do a reasonable job of covering the topic? If not, I can point you to some.

One place to start might be STR resources on the problem of evil.

I'd be happy to chat more if you'd like.

All the best.

My point in the brief comment was that the determinist point of view cannot explain evil.

If God determines everything, and is in "total control", then to be consistent one would have to say that evil is God's creation.

This does not reflect the Biblical view of God, IMO.

Jeff, was it evil of God to want Joseph to be sold into slavery by His brothers? The brothers did evil, yes, but when God "meant it for good," was He doing evil?

If not, then it seems one can say a human being does evil while at the same time saying that a God who is sovereign over that action did not do evil.

I need to do much more thinking about this, but because of the Joseph counterexample (unless you're willing to say that God did evil there) it certainly doesn't seem that we must say a God who is sovereign over actions created evil.

Jeff, are you saying that God's sovereignty makes him culpable for the evil we see in the world? In your view, is the only way out of this problem to suppose that God has no control over some things? (After all, one can't be held responsible for that which he has no control over.)

Amy makes a good point--some actions (or events?) are split. Joseph's brothers did evil selling him into slavery, but God did good by setting up a course of events that would save nations from a severe famine. God permits people to do evil in order to accomplish his good purposes.

Another example: Jesus suffered the worst punishment and execution the Romans had to offer, though the governing authority, Pilate, declared him completely innocent (John 18). Surely the execution of an innocent man is evil. Yet God meant through this to reconcile the world to himself (2 Cor 5).

Amy and Jesse make arguments that bring me back to my original post :

I've read excerpts from Piper's "Don't Waste Your Cancer." I wondered if the same could be written of other horrible situations such as child molestation, incest, etc. "Don't Waste Your (fill in the blank)."

What I'm trying to hash out here is that if God caused Joseph to be sold into slavery - if that was the plan from the beginning, wouldn't that mean that all of the things like rape, child molestation, abortions, etc. are also a part of His plan?

I lose sleep over this issue. I do not doubt God's sovereignty. I am not an open theist. But, I do struggle with determinism/predestination and free will.


It's a tough issue; I'm not sure I can offer anything useful.

I would like to point out one thing though. It certainly has more emotional appeal when you bring up "things like rape, child molestation, abortions, etc" but are these actions any worse than crucifying the son of God?

I agree with you, Jesse, about the emotional appeal. I would not say that they are worse than the crucifixion.

However, the general statements about "struggle" and "pain" and "hardship" that are often brought up in arguments do not carry the same weight of specific examples. (i.e. - It's easier for me to brush off an amorphous word such as "a trial" than it is to brush off a specific example of said trial.)

Dave? Amy?

If you're trying to think carefully through all these things (God's sovereignty over evil, etc.), I have a couple recommendations for you that I think could help: If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil and Sinners in the Hands of a Good God.

One thing that might be helpful about the If God Is Good book is that the author does use specific examples of evil in specific, real people's lives. As you say, it's harder to deal with specific examples, so maybe this would shed some light on this for you.

Even if you end up disagreeing, it's good to get a thorough understanding of the issue from people who can explain it well.


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