What I Read Online – 09/24/2013 (a.m.)

24 Sep
    • The problem of suffering, sin and evil, in its myriad forms, is the most difficult problem that any Christian faces. The problem is sometimes construed too abstractly, as if it were only an intellectual problem. But it isn’t. It is an intensely human problem, a pastoral problem, a global problem, a problem that everyone lives and breathes.
    • So, we can return to the first option, i.e., the notion that the incompatibility between God and evil is necessarily the case. Remember that we noticed, in the first option above, that the notion of an impossible co-existence might be affirmed by the objector in such a way that moves him to argue that the two “existences” are necessarily incompatible. But, as we said, this pushes us to ask about how we know what is possible and what is impossible, especially when it comes to God’s existence, as well as His nature, and the nature of evil itself.
    • As we invite the objector to walk across the bridge with us, then, we do so by reminding him that he has asked us to make sense of our beliefs. If what he is asking is that we make sense of our beliefs based on his view of reality, this will, indeed, be impossible. His view of reality, as the objection illustrates, makes no room for God. To try thereby to make room for God is futile and foolish; a barrel full of crude oil has no room for water, and it wouldn’t mix with it if it did. We explain to the objector, therefore, that since his objection includes my belief in the existence of God and my belief in the existence of evil, I will need to respond to him in the context of those beliefs, and in order to do that, he will need to walk along with me for a while.
    • we could remind him that our knowledge of God is not something that is self-generated, or gained by a “proper” use of reason. We don’t affirm God’s character because we’re smarter than others, or because of our innate genius. We affirm it because this is what God has told us about Himself. 
    • He may protest, and loudly, that we are no longer standing on the same ground. But we were never on the same ground, at any point, in our discussion. That’s what makes a debate what it is.
    • To try to define compatibility/incompatibility or possible/impossible without reference to God is to wrench these words from the only home that can accommodate them.
    • You can begin to see how this might go. Once we make it clear that we have to subsume our own reasoning process under the authority of Scripture, then Scripture defines what compatibility is. It may not (and does not, in some cases) tell us exactly how two apparently incompatible things can become compatible, but that they do is beyond question
    • At this point, we could begin to explain God’s plan for redemption in history, culminating in the One who came, as both God and man, to, at the end of time, completely and eternally subdue the evil that has, seemingly, run rampant since its introduction into the world in the Garden. We could tell him that we agree that evil is opposed to God and His character, but we could also tell him that, in God’s plan, He determined to wipe away all evil, by taking that evil and suffering to Himself, and by taking it to the grave. Having conquered suffering and evil in His resurrection, He is now in the process of subduing it completely. In His perfect timing, He will subdue it completely and all who trust in Him will participate in evil’s final un-doing. This way of responding provides a pastoral and practical response to what is often, and otherwise, discussed only as an abstraction. Christ and His work point us to the only true response to this problem, both philosophically and pastorally. 

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Posted by on 24/09/2013 in Current Issues


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