Monday, April 11, 2011
John MacArthur: I told you that I was going to speak on the problem of evil. Why did God allow evil in the world? You could frame the question a number of ways. If the Creator God is so good, why is there so much evil in the world? In fact, the reality of evil in the world is one of the favorite justifications of those who reject the God of the Bible. They're eager to ask those questions in a myriad of different ways...how can God be holy and allow His creation to be dominated by unholiness? How can God be perfectly righteous and ordain the presence of unrighteousness? There are a number of ways that this particular idea is effectively communicated. One is a syllogism, a series of logical steps such as the biblical God is loving...the biblical God is all-knowing, the biblical God is all powerful, yet massive evil exists in the world therefore the biblical God does not exist. That is to say that whoever allows this evil cannot be loving, or cannot be holy, or cannot be all powerful or all knowing and still allow evil.
In the minds of many, this backs Christians up into an impossible corner. There are many who see this as putting us, I guess you could say, at fourth and forty on our own ten-yard line. And our only option is to punt. And there are many Christians who would agree with that and they would grab Deuteronomy 29:29, "The secret things belong to the Lord," and punt that into the opposition's territory as far as they can. Is that the best we can do when pressed against our own theological end zone, is to punt Deuteronomy 29:29? Isn't there anything better than that in the divine play book? Isn't there some kind of long pass we can complete, something that will not only allow us to escape from defeat, but guarantee victory?
I believe there is. I believe that Scripture gives us an answer and without hesitation we can know that answer, we can understand that answer, and we can find eminent satisfaction in that answer. It is not enough to simply say the secret things belong to the Lord, which is to say we don't know, God doesn't tell us. God did not tell Adam and Eve why He let that snake in the Garden. And He didn't tell them why He gave that snake the ability to talk. Nor did God tell Job why He unleashed calamity, disease, disaster and death and Satan into his life. And when Job tried to get an answer out of God, He never did tell him why. So isn't that the best approach, to just say we really don't know, Scripture doesn't tell us? That would be the best answer if Scripture didn't tell us. If that was honestly the case and we said that we have no scriptural answer, that's fine. But we do have a scriptural answer, that's fine. But we do have a scriptural answer.
And this opens up to our thinking a whole category of theological truth that goes under the name of theodicy...theodicy...t-h-e-o-d-i-c-y, theodicy. It comes from two Greek words, theos meaning God, and dikewhich is the root of the words that mean righteousness or righteous, or just, or justice. A theodicy is an explanation of how God can be just, or how God can be righteous. It is a defense of God's righteousness in the face of the presence of pervasive sin. And so I want to give you what I believe is a biblical theodicy, a biblical defense of why God who is holy, who is loving, who is all-knowing, who is all-powerful has allowed evil to dominate His creation?
So I'm going to put together my own little series of logical points. Number one, evil exists...evil exists. This is without serious argument. It is incontrovertible unless you are a Christian science advocate. It was Mary Baker Eddy Patterson Glover Frye...she had a problem with men...who basically developed what is called Christian Science. The teaching of Christian Science is this, "All evil is an illusion. All sickness is an illusion. And even death is an illusion." Christian Science is actually like Grape Nuts. If you've ever had Grape Nuts, I don't know why they named them that, they're not grapes and they're not nuts. And Christian Science is neither Christian nor scientific. But it sounds impressive....