A Theological Pondering

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Ironically, it wasn’t until I had to take a class outside of the Religion Department at William & Mary and took Ethics in the Philosophy Division that I had to actually study Theodicy, better known as “The Problem of Evil.”  The argument, to paraphrase, goes something like this:

If God is all good, all powerful, and all knowing, then why does evil exist?



(Image courtesy of ags-ligenlewe.com)

I get this question a lot in some form or another from Atheists and Agnostics, even Christians.  For me, it works out theologically through free will and empowerment.  As a Methodist, I come from the free will side of Christianity which means that I do not believe in predestination.  I cannot imagine God deciding before I was born whether or not I was saved or damned without even taking one breath.  I believe that God is a God of Grace.  God, out of love for each of us, offers us salvation from Sin and redemption from our sins which we are free to accept or reject. 

To use ridiculously huge theological terms, I do believe that God is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing).  I also believe that God is omnibenevolent (all good), but not because God couldn’t do evil.  To say God could not do anything evil means that God would not be all powerful by virtue of God being unable to all things.  Instead, God chooses to be all good, to refrain from evil because God has the power to choose.  There is power in choice, just as there is power in action or choosing not to act.  God’s power is also revealed in God’s empowering of us.  Not only must one have power to give power to others, but one must be secure in their abilities to be willing to share power.  It is far easier to be a dictator and rule by force and fear, than to empower others to share in government.  God does just that by allowing each of us to make choices, by granting us free will to decide for ourselves how to act, what to believe, and whether we will accept God’s gift of Grace.

So God empowers each of us by granting us free will, and what we do with that free will creates good or evil in this world.  Human beings murder, rape, steal, exploit, degrade, abuse, and innumerable other sins.  We choose to act selfishly and with wanton disregard for God’s will or the impact upon innocent people.  The existence of sin is tied to our bad decisions; it is the out flowing of wrong choices that run counter to how God has called us to live.  God does not make us hate.  We choose to hate others for whatever petty, selfish reason we concoct.  The sad truth is that all too many of us will choose not to believe in God, not to follow God’s word, and not reject a life of sin.  But there is another way; the way of Jesus Christ.  The more you begin to follow Christ, the more sin begins to slips from your thoughts, your desires, your actions.  We can all assist Christ in eradicating evil from this world, but it begins with us.  The choice is yours.

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