Monday, October 22, 2012

"All things work together for good..."

C Michael Patton is writing The Discipleship Book: Now That I Am a Christian, to be published next year. Perhaps because I was a teacher I particularly like brief explanations that adequately introduce arguments about difficult issues. I think this chapter from Patton's upcoming book does a fine job summarizing "The Five Responses to the Problem of Evil":
.... C.S. Lewis, the great Christian writer, wrote a very academic book on pain, suffering, and evil called The Problem of Pain. It was a wonderful, monumental work and I recommend it without hesitation. But after he wrote this work, he experienced pain and suffering at a different level. It is one thing to evaluate something from the outside; it is quite another to personally experience it. C.S. Lewis lost his wife after a battle with cancer filled with ups and downs. It broke him and brought him to his knees, and he rested for a bit in front of God, asking painful questions which stemmed from his disillusionment. Thankfully, his whole experience is recorded in another book about pain. This one was a very personal book called A Grief Observed. In it he laid himself bare before God, expressing his confusion. I highly recommend this book as well. These are two very different works, one intellectual and one emotional, by the same person about the same subject. ....
The intellectual problem summarized:
The intellectual problem of evil attempts to address a logical problem in a world that has pain, suffering, and evil, yet has a good and all-powerful God who rules it. Let me define this problem using a syllogism:
  • Premise 1: God is all-good (omnibenevolent)
  • Premise 2: God is all-powerful (omnipotent)
  • Premise 3: Suffering and evil exist
Conclusion: An all-good, all-powerful God could not exist since there is so much suffering and evil in the world. If he did, he would eradicate this evil. ....

Therefore we begin to question God’s role in all of this. And we are brought to this dilemma. If God exists, if God is good and does not like evil, and if God is powerful enough to change things, why does evil still exist? Let me give you some of the wrong ways people handle this issue. ....
Patton proceeds to define and respond to four wrong responses:
  • The Sadotheistic response
  • Open Theistic response
  • The Pantheistic response
  • The Atheistic response
And ends the chapter with "The Christian response." Read all of the chapter here.

The Five Responses to the Problem of Evil | Parchment and Pen

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