Friday, November 16, 2007

Evil, Sovereignty and... Tears

I might have blogged about this, but truth is worth saying twice.

They say that the Problem of Evil is a problem for a Christian and not for Atheists. Although Atheists do (some) become atheists by not being able to reconcile how a Sovereign God could allow Evil to go on, unstopped, it is eventually the Christian who is left with the ball standing. In the end the Atheist has no Evil to talk about because its meaning is dependent on the existence of God. So the Atheist resolves the problem by eliminating categories. Simply put, there is a hidden premise operating in the Atheist's reasoning, namely, if we allow G = God exists and E = Evil exists the premise is : G -> NOT E. By contra-positioning this, we have E -> NOT G. Obviously Evil exists, hence asserting E, therefore, NOT G, i.e. God does not exist. I do not mean to be insulting but technically, the Atheist's world view would have to be this: We have Evil without God. Evil is the only reality then, at least if the Atheist be honest, (s)he should say that. Evil is the only reality. It is not a very prospective future is it?

There is also I think another hidden premise that Atheists are operating on, that is: the Sovereignty of God is the final message of Christianity. Now, is that presupposition accurate? Is that the story of Christianity? If Sovereignty is all there is about Christianity and Evil exists, I do not find it surprising that some wind up being Atheists. It is perfectly logical to be one.

This is my observation, when the Sovereignty of God is all there is and it is detached from the Story of the Cross of Christ, there are only two things that can happen, you either slump into despair or become an unbeliever. The Sovereignty of God however, is not the final message of Christianity - it is Jesus and His Cross. And if you are a Christian, and all your hearers hear from you is God is Sovereign like Allah is Great! well...IMHO, you are helping skeptics become Atheists.

For Atheists and Christians to preoccupy themselves with God's Sovereignty on one hand and Evil on the other is to dwell in a philosophical distraction. For a question has to be answered - yes, God is Sovereign and yes, there is Evil and the two are conflicting, but why the Cross? What was Jesus doing there?

I am just like you, when I am well I can sit here and pontificate and give advice, but honestly, I am as anxious as anyone else. I have no guarantee that God will intervene, in a manner that I want, over tragedies (i.e. Evil) that may come to my life. The truth is that when Evil hits us, we are left with nothing but lonely tears. David has this to say about tears...
8You have kept count of my tossings;[a]
(C) put my tears in your bottle.
(D) Are they not in your book?
Psalm 56:8

Has God put my(your) tears (i.e Tragedies, Evil) in His bottle? I believe He has, He has taken all our tears and put it on the person/ body of our Saviour Jesus Christ (His "bottle") when he nailed Him on that Cross 2000 years ago. He took your sins (and yes your tears too) and nailed it on Jesus. Though physically Jesus does not take take out our experience of being in tears, and we will be touched by them, no doubts about it, yet God has taken them for what reality they represent (Evil) and hanged them on Jesus.

8He will (B)swallow up death for all time,
And the Lord GOD will (C)wipe tears away from all faces,
And He will remove the (D)reproach of His people from all the earth;
For the LORD has spoken.
Isaiah 25:8

Psalm 56:8 is followed by verse 9 (obviously)

9Then my enemies will (S)turn back (T)in the day when I call;
This I know, [c]that (U)God is for me.
Psalm 56:9

Do not forget the for you there in that verse. Look at Christ on the Cross because of your sins.... and be convinced, God's Sovereignty is for you.

UPDATE: Just after posting I came across this which may help in talking about "Tears".


Doorman-Priest said...

Evil and the Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnibenevopent God:
St. Augustine = rubbish.
St Irenaeus (assisted by John Hick) = fabulous.


LPC said...


Thanks, without the Cross all things are --- useless.

What is Omnibenevopent? That is French no?


David Cochrane said...

Bro LPC,

The difficulty only exists when trying to explain the hidden God. God reveals himself in Jesus so a Christian can rely totally on that and not try to understand that which God has chosen to keep hidden. Unbelievers need to be shown sin and how Jesus answered for that which shows the loving God. It is beyond futile to try to explain tragedy and how God fits into the picture.

Atheists are only giving voice to the natural emnity we all have with God. So the natural theologian will attempt to form a god which he or she can love. When that is completed the honest person will see it is themselves who are god.

Christians will do that too. If they are bitter, angry and filled with hate so will their god they have fashioned be filled with bitterness etc. The god of many calvinists is that way. This is how they can say that a loving God is gratified with people going to hell instead of not being pleased with the death of the wicked.

What is facinating and tragic is to see the interaction of an atheist and a Christian with his or her self fashioned god.

I digress.

God's peace. †

Doorman-Priest said...

Non, LPC. Je just ne can pas le type.


LPC said...

Bro David,

This is how they can say that a loving God is gratified with people going to hell instead of not being pleased with the death of the wicked.

Ain't that a wonder. I often observe that when one claims that God is happy to send people to hell (by decree), I conclude that his God absolutely hates sinners. People need to see that Jonathan Edward's sermon "Sinners in the hands of an angry God" might be a fine preaching of the Law but it is not a preaching of Christ crucified - for sinners.


Hehehe (LOL). Come to think of it, it was a typo no?


Doorman-Priest said...

Oui, cest vrai.


LPC said...


Careful, this is a blog for general audience.

Don't say bad words (LOL)!!


J. K. Jones said...

I would covet your comments on my own treatment of this at:

This is a very personal issue for me.

Anonymous said...

LPC, you make some very good points. I think an atheist, though, needs more concrete descriptions of what we mean when we say "He took your sins (and yes your tears too) and nailed it on Jesus." An atheist (and lots of others too) would ask, "What does that really mean?" What does "take your sins" mean and what does "nailing it on Jesus" mean? If I have to describe it, maybe I would say something like the Spirit of God was in Jesus because God became a man to be able to totally "feel" what it was to be human and to be able to communicate with us in a way never done before. And to be able to offer his love in a way never done before. The Spirit of God in Jesus was able to surround and encompass all that had transpired and would transpire in the world, including all our sins. It was as if all evil actions that ever occurred were drowned in the loving Spirit of God. So, an atheist may ask, "I can do whatever I want because Jesus forgave me and forgives me?" I would say, "No, you can do whatever GOD wants because the Spirit of God is now available to you having been sent into the world by God the Father through Jesus the Son. And yes, you can CHOOSE to not do what God wants and live your life however you choose, but God has made it clear what is right and what is wrong and has made it clear that we will be held accountable for what we do. You can be free from your sins (actions opposed to God's will) but with that freedom also comes responsibility to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

Joanie D.

LPC said...


Firstly, thanks for your visit.

Indeed, I was half being accurate there, as you pointed out the Atheist may find it strange to talk about "sins".

Prior to serving the Gospel, the Law must first be served with its severity. I am not serving it in the post because most I want to comfort my readers with the Gospel.

In fact as former Atheists myself I would say that Atheists are Theists in denial. So according to Romans 1, he knows that he is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, I am skeptical in thinking that he does not know what sin is because one thing for sure, the Atheist has a notion of Evil.

If he asks me - what is sin - I will reply - you got a notion of Evil right? He says -- yes, to which I will follow up -- "that is what sin is...Evil" and I will follow up further by saying ... "if you be honest...that is what you are SIN/EVIL", the I will serve the Gospel.

If he says to me "oh sweet, I can do whatever I want because Jesus paid for my sins"... I will reply and say to will still wind up in hell for that because what you have is not faith in Christ, but what you have is still mortal sin.

Anyway, I hope it has today if not in the future when we surely experience tears...



solarblogger said...

Hey, Doorman Priest. I wondered if you could expand just a bit on your assessment of Augustine v. Irenaeus & Hick.

I find Augustine helpful, but not someone to be used as a stand-alone answer.

I think his idea that a universe that had both good and evil in it might on the whole be better than one that had only good in it was insightful. How that gets applied might be another thing altogether. For me it's like Freudian dream theory. The theory strikes me as brilliant, even if I think Freud flubbed almost every interpretation he made with it. (I have seen others use it well.)

Augustine made some applications of the theory in The City of God that I found abhorrent. Imagining that we can find the good that justified God allowing the evil is silly, and especially silly when horrible evils are said to have been allowed to create the opportunity for rather trivial goods.

What was Irenaeus's position? I've read in him some, but have heard few expositions. Most had to do with recapitulation, which I find intriguing.

LPC said...

Thanks for the suggestion Solar, I think D-P should say something about it too as I am interested to know.

BTW Augustinian Successor I think may well contribute to this topic too. It would be an interesting discussion