This series is by RJS as Scot and Kris enjoy South Africa
Chapter 2 of Tim Keller?s book The Reason for Godbroaches the problem of pain. Given the pain and suffering in the world ? either God is not good or God does not exist. This argument has many variations but there is an underlying thread of continuity. Certainly there is a great deal of pain and suffering in our world, not to mention out right evil ? from a tsunami that wipes out a quarter of a million people in a day, a disease that takes the life of a child or young parent, or a drunk driver who kills a family in an instant, to intentional and premeditated exploitation, abuse, and murder.
We cry out – If God is great and transcendent ? why hasn?t he stopped evil and suffering?
Or is there a reason for evil?
Keller offers the usual platitude ? who are we to think we know God?s ways and perhaps we don?t see the good reasons for what appears as evil in the world. After all God used suffering in the life of Joseph to save the Israelites from famine. ? Of course this doesn?t address the issue of why there is famine (an evil) in the first place, or why a salvation that results in captivity and then the killing of first born sons of the Egyptians is in fact a ?good? outcome. Come on ? the real question here is – if there is a God why do we live in this story that includes, integrally, pain and suffering?
But Keller moves beyond this ? to point out that we don?t worship a God aloof from the evil in the world ? but a God who came himself incarnate in Jesus to experience and ultimately to conquer pain and suffering in the world. Resurrection, initiated by the resurrection of Jesus, is ?not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you always wanted.? (p. 32) and “Jesus insisted that his return will be with such power that the very material world and universe will be purged of all decay and brokenness.” (p.33)
So…Far from disproving the existence of the Christian God ? the existence of pain and suffering, however it came about, is the reason for the story we find ourselves in. The Christian story is the story of evil conquered.
Which leads to my questions:
How would you respond to the proposition that pain and suffering demonstrates that an all-good and all-powerful God does not, cannot, exist? Why did God ? does God ? allow pain and suffering?
And… What has helped you most in struggling with evil and injustice in this world?