October 20, 2017

Coffee Cup Apologetics 2: How Can You Believe in God When There Is So Much Evil?

041-coffee-steam-cup-pic.jpgHere is the second in the Coffee Cup Apologetics series: Answering the question “How can you believe in God when there is so much evil?”

Referenced in this podcast: Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Coffee Cup Apologetics Website.

Comments

  1. Larry - KY says:

    The problem of “evil” and a good God is better grasped when we understand WHY God allows evil in the world today…to point to us Christ crucified for us. Understanding evil in the world in the light of the Cross, suffering, theology of cross, is not a dreary pessimism but the most optimistic there is, hope, that is utter expectation, because in the midst of the contrary or contrast of suffering, evil, the devil and appearance of God’s abandonment of God’s people we are forced to see God. God hides Himself to reveal Himself this way. He is not revealed in the grand but the abandoned where He is not expected to be. The crucifixion is the decisive definition of this forsaken-ness. When Moses asked to see God’s naked glory God said he’d have mercy upon whom he’d have mercy and show Moses not His face, His glory, His fame, what He is famous/glorious for, we can’t handle that and live unto God but must die, rather He showed Moses His backside, the place where God is not expected to be found, the Cross, His backside. He turned His back on Moses which LOOKS like abandonment by God but SAID this is My mercy, where Christ is found and you can know ME savingly. When we turn our backs on someone it is to show a kind of forsakenness to them, a snub. But when God does this (God shows Moses His backside, Israel apparently abandoned in the desert yet God was with them, when we suffer evil individually or corporately and ask, “where is God in all of this”, THERE is where HE is for us at the Cross of Christ. In this sense evil, though suffering and ought not ever be considered less than REAL pain, in this we are pointed to Christ crucified for us. This is HOW we believe in a loving God amidst evil.

    This is the link between personal suffering and the Cross both at the individual level and at the body of Christ level. Suffering is what drives men to Christ and it is under suffering that the Gospel becomes the brightest as all forms of “sight” are destroyed. The hope of the Gospel is NOT increased because great and grand things are happening, because that does not point to the Cross for you it points to “things great big are happening”, some might say a form of “signs and wonders” faith. Oh no, the Gospel is shown forth most brightly under suffering. No man clings so strongly to Christ as the man reduced to nothing and nothing is all about him, his idols are all burned up in the fires of suffering and at last the Cross is the ONLY place he may look and hope, even in and particularly in suffering.

    The whole entire point of the Cross as it links to our suffering is that we do indeed die the first death but the second death we will not suffer. What tormented Jesus at Gethsemane was NOT the physical death on the cross to come as cruel and horrible as that was. Many men have died that way, two that very day, and some worse deaths, the little death or first death of the body. No, what terrified God the Son was the second death, the forsaken wrath of the beloved. THAT death we will not suffer. So when we suffer in this life the pain is real, but we find comfort in that because of Christ we will NOT suffer the second death…morning yet rejoicing.

    The Gospel “conquering the world” does not point our “glory diseased” minds to the Cross but the action at hand. What do you do when the action is not big or grand? Doubt the faith? No, when things seem there worse and few believe and apostasy is rampant and it looks as if God has abandoned you/us, God is NEVER closer in this life then in those very times. For among the suffering, the Cross is with you.
    You should read Eli Weisel’s “Night”. A powerful true account of the slow creeping up of the Nazis upon the Jews in the eastern block countries. It is a short book but exceedingly intense, the suffering they went through. Even just reading it you find yourself exasperated. It’s inconceivable to the modern mind that has never even come close to that level of outward suffering and persecution. That was a time when a manifestation of the beast rose up under Hitler and the Jews where targeted. What struck me about the book was Weisel’s statement that MANY Jews afterward became atheist. Why? The extreme suffering and abandonment and a false view of the faith, deliverance from evil, drove them to assume first that God had abandoned them and then finally a small leap of reason from there to God doesn’t exist because SURELY He would not allow this happen to God’s people if He did (theology of Glory).

    Christians today should beware of this. Their view was fundamentally and functionally the same view that ultimately underpins the other two views of the kingdom coming here and now and in power. The Jews of WWII didn’t understand the suffering as to merciful wrath to drive them to the Cross, but rather as ultimate wrath and abandonment, atheism was inevitable at that point. THAT is how an atheist is made. It should have drove them to our God, to the Cross but for the most part it didn’t because they had all along been taught something else about the kingdom of God. This in turn drove them to further apostasy. Not understanding the Cross and suffering and evil, the Gospel, this is what happens. People who think “end times” stuff is but a “non-essential” doctrine we can shake hands on differences are dupped and in my opinion dangerous compromisers for the sake of false ecumenical togetherness. They have NO understanding of the extreme nature of the devil’s persecutions and how this is NOT a secondary doctrine but a doctrine at the very heart of the faith for the faith, hope and love of God’s people.

    And this even plays out for us today. Be it on the individual level or corporate level. When bad things happen, either persecution or general suffering in this life (sickness, sudden death of loved ones, tragedy) it is all too easy to think God has abandoned me. The devil’s trick, then, is to turn you from God by holding up only wrath so that you will despair and turn to him thinking him to be god (he will not appear as the devil to you but as god). But this same suffering and evil understood through the Cross turns to favor your faith. For now, though the pain is real (physical, mental or spiritual), personal sin, the sight, experience, feelings, “goings ons” around the country and world which seem contrary to our faith – really make us hold all the more tighter, trusting in the Cross of Christ alone. It DOES NOT remove the very real pain and we should not pretend it does and take a stiff upper lip, but even IN this the Cross is all the more precious! The false crutches of sight and experience are destroyed by suffering for they are no longer able to support and all one can do is grasp the gift of Christ for me/you.

    Theologies of glory, religious, false Christianized ones, or secular always try to work their way out of suffering and evil and ultimately denying God making Him a false God or no God at all (atheism). But what do you do when in x years it gets worse for you and not better? Even more that generation of Christians in the future who WILL experience extreme persecution and suffering and apostasy, what will these “pie in the sky” doctrines do for them? Nothing, suffering (inward, outward, sins of our own, the sword, etc…) is our lot in Scripture and we MUST teach and know and proclaim that the CERTITUDE of God’s word is that HE WILL deliver HIS people no matter what the most EXTREME contrary of sight, experience, emotions, events, sin, etc… are occurring. If you are suffering from depression, ‘where is God’, then the Cross is your hope, don’t let the devil tell you God has abandoned you because His Word is CERTAIN, CHRIST FOR YOU and IN that abandonment, that evil, GOD IS CLOSEST to you AT THE CROSS.

    What will bear you up under suffering and evil, the Cross, but the pain may remain.

    I read a quote the other day that made Luther’s theology of the Cross click in a way I’d not quite grasped. The quote was from Feuerbach saying, “The God hidden behind his own majesty and glory is a god shaped in our own image”. I’ll attempt to elaborate.

    It struck me that when we “see”, so to speak, the “over coat” of the majesty, holiness, glory and law of God we cannot “see” God correctly. We look upon this outward cover say through the Scriptures, particularly of Law and the attributes of God, then we kind of “speculate” or dream up what this might look like under the coat of the Words and descriptions – the nakedness of Him behind it. Thus, we draw up a glorious God where no “evil” should be in this world, then see evil, then conclude, there must be no God AND never solving the problem of evil in the entire process. ALL atheist, like I use to be, are drawn forth from a “view” of God’s naked essence of glory and majesty (read Nietzsche or some other famous atheist). So we attempt to draw up or carve out the nakedness of God or the front side of God from the “overcoat” seen. When we do this we inevitably hone out an idol of what we, twisted and fallen now and driven religiously by fear of punishment and hope of reward, think that “looks like” and call that idol, which we developed from our ideas and even our interpretation of ideas from Scripture, God. But THAT god is not GOD, but the idol, devil and Baal we’ve carved out mingled with our inward concept of god, namely our fallen selves as a god. From this we pervert God more and more and in our “religious” nature we begin attempting to “implement” that god upon the world and others. This idol manifest itself in its mercilessness from pietistic “Christianity” to people flying planes into buildings for the perceived “righteousness” of God cleaning up the world to which we’ve honed from the afore mentioned process, because “evil” needs be dealt with this way we think. And we do it worst of all to save ourselves, that is we kill others for our salvation. We turn the Law of life, altruistic love, into its opposite, a murderous selfishness by thought, word or deed. But God doesn’t clean the world up Satan’s way. Thus, in seeking to be this god and be like this god in majesty, glory and righteousness so we can BE WITH this same god or worse have God adoring us as god, we actually become perverted and murder and covet against others. In summary we “see” the overcoat of the majesty, glory and holiness of God and speculate what the naked God underneath in fullness might be, a deeper grasp or “seeing” of the overcoat. But this God we cannot conceive rightly but only perversely. Here we become proud of our efforts what ever they may be.

    In paradox to this is the God of the Cross or the “back side” of God displayed in apparent weakness and folly. This God doesn’t look majestic but pathetic, not holy but quite common, not glorious but very forsaken and this God allows evil to be suffered, especially Jesus. This is a God wearing dirt, human flesh created from the dirt, for clothes. We naturally repulse from this God of the Cross, Who allows evil, looks like no God at all to us. But to see this God is to see God in reality. Seeing this cover of God, weak human flesh, Who gives of Himself for us, we see the real God and thus the way we should have been and will be. Too see Jesus is to see the Father.

    It makes me wonder, also, about the encounter Moses had with God on the Mountain when he asked to see God’s glory and God’s reply was, “You cannot see my face, no man can see my face and live…” I’ve always understood that in that to see God so nakedly glorious we would even cry out for death as Isaiah did, “…a man of unclean lips…”. And that is true for certain. But I wonder if there is not kind of Law/Gospel idea behind this. Could it possibly mean that a man beholding the raw nakedness of God’s holiness, majesty and glory cannot live because he must then learn that there is no life in attempting to gain eternal life by obedience to the Law and works? For certainly we cannot find life that way but death, seeking life this way does actually end in eternal death for us in the next. But finding death to ourselves in this life by the Cross, we have eternal life in the next, the back side given us. And so God hides Moses in the rock crevice and shows him His backside, His weakness and folly. He doesn’t reveal his majesty, holiness and glory nakedly to us, but shame, common-ness and forsaken-ness in human flesh.

    Evil is allowed by a good God because in that very evil the Cross becomes bright to us, our self glory ideas are destroyed and we finally call out to Him AS God to be saved and He becomes God to us, a Saviour.

    Blessings,

    Larry – KY

  2. Michael, this is more of a tech question, but any idea if there’s a way to include a volume control in the little embedded audio player? (or is there a way that I’m not seeing?) Thanks!

  3. Jon: I listen to this on five different machines and there’s no volume issue, but as to your question there is no volume control.

    You must have a kickin’ system. Maybe your audio out is set high.

  4. It’s definitely not an issue with your player or anything. You’re right, I can just continue to adjust my master volume control.

    No worries, and thanks for the response.