Thursday, November 25, 2010

How Should Christians Approach the Problem of Evil

I was on Facebook Tuesday Night and came across a post from the Bible Answer Man with a link to an article from the Christian Research Journal called How Should Christians Approach the Problem of Evil by E. Calvin Beisner and Chad Meister. Beisner approaches the "Problem of Evil" from a Reformed perspective and Meister gives the Free Will perspective.They agree on the formulation and how the problem should  be posed.

Through the centuries theologians and philosophers from a wide range of backgrounds and interests have tried various responses to explain what appears to be a logical contradiction in the following five propositions:
             1.      God exists.
             2.      God is all-powerful.
             3.      God is all-knowing.
             4.      God is all-good.
             5.      Evil exists.

Both men are Christians and agree on a lot of things. Beisner wrote:

Does this mean God justifies His means by His ends? Yes. Is that wicked? No. An end-justifies-the-means ethic is fallacious and therefore wicked for finite men (who can neither control nor know all the results of their choices), but it is perfectly fitting for the infinite God (who both controls and knows all the results of His choices)–and, after all, God being supreme need not justify His choices to anyone:
So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? (Rom. 9:15–21).
Does the reality of evil make the existence of the Christian God impossible? No. For good reasons, God created a world that contained evil. For those same reasons, as we have seen, the Christian position does not self-contradict.

Meister wrote the following:

We have seen, then, that the atheist’s claim that there is a contradiction in believing in the coexistence of God and evil is false, and that the Christian faith does have reasonable explanations for how the God of the Bible and evil could coexist.10 For God to create a good and moral universe, He needed to make creatures with free will. Along with free will came the possibility—and, as it turned out, the reality—that these creatures freely would choose evil. God, however, is willing and able to redeem this fallen world and abolish evil. He will do it, and all will be well.

Where they disagree is regarding how to reconcile the existence of evil with the existence of God. I find that I agree more with Beisner than Meister. 

Beisner wrote:

A False Choice. Meister presents a false choice between libertarian freedom and “sham” freedom. That choice presupposes that for the compatibilist–that is, one who holds determinism and moral responsibility/free choice to be compatible, as I have argued–there is no difference between how a stone responds to gravity and how a child responds to his or her parent’s command. Hidden within this mistake is a deeper one: the assumption that “a real ability to choose one way or the other”—“libertarian freedom”—is the same thing as free will, that is, a will that is not predetermined. Compatibilists assert that moral agents (God, angels, and men) choose, but that choosing per se and choosing indeterminately are not synonymous.

I don't think we as human beings have libertarian free will because  we are enslaved to sin. The only one who truly had that kind of will was Adam, Eve, and Jesus. Adam and Eve were free of sin when they were created. They chose to be enslaved by sin when they chose to disobey God. Us? Not so not at all. Jesus was sinless because he is God.  No one else is in their league. We were born into sin. We can't obey God, without His help,  even if we wanted to and we don't want to by default outside of God replacing our hearts of stone with a heart of flesh!

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.- Romans 8:5-8

How Should Christians Approach the Problem of Evil
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