The Problem of Evil: Why We Need a Good Theology of Bad

newton ct imagesSadness. Grief. Shock. Horror. Questioning…lots of questioning regarding this recent tragedy that has severely impacted the lives of 26 families who must cope of the aftermath of loss and unspeakable violence. Sheer evil, actually. Even countless more are impacted: the responders, the survivors and their families and anyone else who got close enough to this tragedy to feel it’s penetrating arm.

The question of evil is most obviously on the minds of many. Christians have responded and some responses have been…troubling.

  • We’ve taken God out of the schools
  • Evil spirits at work
  • Video games
  • Gun control
  • Poor parenting

The commonality in all these responses is that there is something outside of oneself to blame. These responses are inadequate. Because they dismiss the very real presence of sin that resides within humanity. This sin and evil that entered the world through one man’s disobedience has impacted us all and subjected humanity to death, disease, dysfunction and delirium. (Romans 5:12; 8:18-22). There is something within, that when facilitated by aggravating factors, like mental illness result in horrific atrocities. But as long as the external factors are blamed, the root cause is overlooked. Jesus himself said

Listen to me, all of you and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man (Mark 7:14-15)

See also the compatible passage in Matthew 10:10-20. And specifically vs 19 – “for out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”

So we need a good theology of bad because unfortunately bad is with us. The problem of evil will persist until Jesus comes back and fixes everything. Until then, his kingdom breaks through in various ways in the midst of pain and suffering. We’ll celebrate that in a couple of weeks and marvel at the incarnation and the promise of redemption through God the Son, Immanuel God with us. He provides light, hope and comfort though not eradicating the presence of evil.  Until evil is eradicated with his glorious appearance, we wait and hope and trust though trying to make sense of it all. These are the unfortunate tensions of living in the already-but-not yet kingdom realities. For there remains grief, heartache and questions. .

Here are a few good articles I’ve come across.

An Insufficient Answer to the Shootings in Connecticut

Any Person is Capable of Any Sin

If God is Invited in, All is Well?

Continue to pray for the families of this tragedy.

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