Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Caught in the molasses of time"

Anthony Sacramone, at First Things, writes that:

An extended dialogue between biologist Richard Dawkins and Christian apologist Alister McGrath—originally shot for Dawkins’ BBC documentary The Root of All Evil but never used—has surfaced on YouTube. (note: actually Google Video)

In the hour-and-ten-minute clip, the professional atheist Dawkins comes across as almost fair-minded, and Alistair McGrath demonstrates a crisp and vital intellect.

But McGrath does stumble. ....

Sacramone says McGrath didn't adequately answer the "why does a good God allow bad things?" question. Here is the video interview.

He offers one of the possible answers:
.... “I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven,” Jesus tells his disciples (Luke 10:18). The end of Evil and its attendant evils is a foregone conclusion, a closed case. Natural disasters and the machinations of wicked men have been finally arrested—at the cross. But Jesus’ declaration of victory is an eschatological statement—made even before the cross had been planted in Calvary’s soil. We finite creatures are caught in the molasses of time and must endure the death throes of all that is contrary to God’s final purposes as if in slow motion. ....

Which is to say that there’s the “already” of salvation history—He is risen—and the “not yet.” And the “not yet” entails suffering in this passing age—suffering that is often unjust and seemingly pointless, but in the hands of a sovereign and Good God a tool to conform his children to the image of his Only Begotten, the true purpose of their predestination. (So as not to be misunderstood, because suffering falls within the permissive will of God, and can even be used by him for ultimately good ends, is no excuse for complacency; the alleviation of pain, done in the name of Jesus, is, like preaching and teaching, a heralding of the kingdom and a diffusion of hope.)

Now, a sovereign God does not displace secondary causes in Christians’ thinking about how the world works. Shifting tectonic plates do give rise to earthquakes and tsunamis. But Christians also believe God continues to intervene in the affairs of his creatures and does so to remind them that the world and its horrors are not beyond his purview, and that the saved child and the answered prayer is a foretaste of the age to come, in which every tear shall be wiped away and the body will no longer be an occasion of sin or pain.

But a foretaste only. Which is why sometimes only one child is saved. And why only Lazarus is raised from the dead. They are signs of the “already,” while the rest endure the “not yet.” ....[read it all]
FIRST THINGS: On the Square » Blog Archive » Why Do the Heathen Rage?

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