The Problem of Evil: Deliver Us From Temptation

Please watch the short video:

The illustrator and narrator have asked that continually nagging question: How can there be a good God yet all this bad in the world?

Above all, this is the question the church must answer. The question and the current response to reject anything smacking of “institutionalized religion” do not erase the human need for divine connection. It does call into question the way God has been perceived and described for millennia. Is God really the great and fearful power-mongerer in the sky, wreaking vengeance on hapless humanity if we don’t see things a certain way? Yet even the ultra-orthodox are not spared horrific events and despairing nastiness.

We can debate our theological issues ad infinitum, but until we have a concept of God that is able to encompass and transcend evil AND whose people actively address the nature of evil in the world rather than collaborating with it, the church has no power.

When Jesus spoke, he broke the system of religious people being participants in evil and oppression. He called us to actually love as God loves, to be perfect as God is perfect, to show mercy, to pray for our enemies, to carry their burdens for them, not seek to destroy them or cast them out.

These are big charges. We’re so hung up focusing on individual sexual sins or theological differences that we can no longer see the logs in our eyes that are destroying others in our raging self-righteousness and power-grabbing self-preservation.

This is why we are drawn to stories of saints–or make them up–because we need to know that somewhere, somehow, someone managed to transform evil into good without themselves succumbing to the temptations.

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” What’s the temptation? That we will use the tactics of evil to “do good.”  That we will condemn the sin in the other, but will tolerate it and even celebrate it in ourselves.

I know there is goodness everywhere–probably thousands of unsung good stories for every single episode of unmitigated evil. But unmitigated evil, too often masquerading as good, threatens to destroy the world.

Church: what is your answer here?

14 thoughts on “The Problem of Evil: Deliver Us From Temptation

  1. Eschatology provide the answer to the so called problem of pain and suffering. God is able to stop pain and suffering at any given moment. In fact He will bring a stop at the judgement day where the evil-doer will receive due justice and victims restored beyond what could be fathom in a since that their past and present suffering would be surpassed by joy. That God has permit or allow pain and suffering to rule for a while could be due to His love and mercy, waiting for some evil-doers to turn to Him for their salvation.

    Thus there is no problem of so called evil in Christian theism.

    1. An omnicompetent God exists
    2. Instances of pain and suffering exists
    3. Omnicompetent God possibly has sufficient reason(s) to permit instances of pain and suffering.

    1,2 and 3 shows that there is no intellectual problem of pain and suffering. Emotional problem, yes! I have cry night and day my God, my God, why have you forsaken me. In my emotion breakdown and when God appears as cold as ice and as far as east is from west, I know God is most close. At the cross, His love shined most and it is when God appear to desert us that He is with us.

    That is Church answer. Not the answer but possible a answer. One among many 🙂

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  2. As for humans and good and evil, I like Martin Luther’s simul iustus, simul peccator. I would also recommend Doug Frank’s book A Gentler God, which is a bit hard to find, but well worth the search. If you Google Doug Frank, you can find how to purchase it.

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  3. Christy, I thought you might be interested in a blogging movement which has sprung up to promote compassion.. It’s called 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion and we will be doing a post about compassion on February 20, UN Day of Social Justice. Here’s a link: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/bloggers-unite-for-a-better-world-1000-voices-speak-for-compassion/

    Many of us are now looking beyond the conventional Church building for answers and spiritual guidance, meeting God and other Christians in more relaxed and open settings.

    Church is not always the more welcoming place and I have often struggled to find a place. Can be quite clicky. Or there are the unwritten codes.

    That said, I do attend Church regularly and do belong. It’s just been a struggle.
    Love & God Bless,
    Rowena

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  4. Wisdom Teachers in the past spoke of a life of fairness, peace, respect, oneness of life and their teachings are still with us. However, today our teachers are having to battle over matters of empty tombs, or sexual preference, rather than feeding the poor and healing the sick. The evil being carried out under the flag of religion is driving many out of the churches,temples, mosques, etc.

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      1. It doesn’t matter, brick and mortar, coffee shop, or blogs, religious ideas of a feather will flock and each will interpret the goodness of the others. Our hope is in God, both inside and outside the church. It seems that successful religious organizations often find the fight against internal and external evil to be too risky. Finger pointing churches/ religious groups are an easier sell in this world. It’s less disturbing and lacks the difficult challenge of following in the Way of Christ. As for evil, allow me to abuse a quote from the great sage Forest Gump. Evil is what evil does. I have come to believe that Divine resistance often manifest itself in human acts of defiant love for life. I like Wesley’s idea –or my understanding of him- the Kingdom of God or true religion, being born in the heart and moved to an increasing rejection of evil and acceptance of love. As for natural evil, it happens to all of us and it hurts. I think my fear of natural evil reflects my love for this life and maybe a little lack of faith. Does the love and joy of the resurrection hold an equal or greater life than my mortal existence? I believe it does, but there are those times … BTW, I think this is a great blog, thanks for your work.

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        1. This is so well stated. I agree with you. The more I learn about the Wesley brothers’ philosophy/theology the more I agree with them. Unfortunately, most of the Christian denominations (I am RC) have strayed so far from their original teachings. We need to close ranks and return to our roots, our original mission. There is much work for us to do in this broken world.

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        2. I so appreciate your words here. Yes, indeed, evil is as evil does. I am often in despair for the church as it is right now, but do not believe God or goodness has abandoned the world. Thanks for reading.

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