Posted tagged ‘Suffering’

Suffering Eternal Decisions

February 21, 2018

Depositphotos Image ID: 31692361 Copyright: DesignPicsInc

I often listen to podcasts in the morning as I shave, shower, brush my teeth and get ready for work. Today I was listening to Dr. William Lane Craig respond to some questions about free will and suffering, and his comments prompt this blog piece.

He made the following statement

“Natural suffering forms the arena in which the drama is played out of people being freely called to come into the kingdom of God and find an eternal relationship with God. It is not at all improbable that only in a world infused with natural suffering would an optimal number of people freely respond to God’s gracious and initiatives and come to enjoy a relationship with God and eternal salvation.”

Dr. Craig represents the Molinist view of the tension between God’s sovereignty, knowledge and power and man’s free will. On the Molinist view, God knows the future, but he does not determine it. Knowing the future, God chose to set the universe in motion, but he does not determine every aspect of it, including the choices that people make. Knowing the future, God chose to set the universe in motion, and to that extent, He determines the outcome, because He knows the outcome. He does not determine it, however, to the extent of interfering with the free will He gave humans who are created in His image. The fact that he knows the outcome, does not mean that He determine the choices each person makes. Each person is free to choose as they will, but God knows how they will choose from the beginning, and so He wills it.

This is (my simple version of) the Molinist view. It respects God’s sovereignty, while acknowledging the clear implication of free will and moral responsibility to which God holds us that is reflected from beginning to end in the Bible.

I tend to like the Molinist view, but I am always somewhat cautioned in my own thinking not to be overly concerned with doctrinal nuances. I don’t want to die on a Molinist hill other than the Gospel. The Calvinist resurgence in the church today stands in contrast to a more Armenian view of inviolate free will. Many have been the discussions and debates between these two views, and I fear we spend too much time and energy on debating when we should spend more time living out the Gospel. I think Paul might lump these debates in the category of vain discussions.

Still, I think it is good to chew on these things as they may be beneficial to our knowledge and understanding of God. As I thought about Dr. Craig’s comment above, I could not help think that this is a kind of divine utilitarianism – what is optimal for generating the most free will responses of love for, relationship with God and eternal life with God.

Dr. Craig’s thesis is an attempt to explain why suffering exists in the world when God is supposed to be good, all-powerful and sovereign. Why doesn’t God stop suffering if He is all those things? Why does he allow suffering at all?



The Problem of Evil and Mystery of Will

October 28, 2017

depositphotos Image ID: 135430388 Copyright: KrisCole

I am reading a book by Clay Jones called Why Does God Allow Evil? I highly recommend it. The “problem of evil” is one of the more challenging questions that we face in life, and difficulties struggling with that question have led many people to abandon or refuse to embrace faith in God.

Why does God allow pain and suffering? If God is good, how can He allow people to suffer? Why doesn’t God stop evil? If God exists, why does He allow evil to exist? These are just some of the variations of the problem of evil.

The problem of evil is a challenge for every worldview. Responses include that there is no God, and that’s just the way it is (a naturalistic world view); evil is just an illusion of unenlightened souls (a Buddhist or eastern view); evil is result of bad karma (Hindu); or evil is the result of rebellsion against God – sin (Christian). We all struggle with the conviction that things simply aren’t the way they ought to be. That Utopian disconnect urges us to ask, “Why not?”

I think, personally, that the Christian worldview makes the most sense of this question. It begins with the story of God and Adam and Eve. Whether the story is allegorical or historical, the answer involves God’s purpose in creating man, man’s finite, corruptible character (compared to God’s infinite, pure character) and a plan to develop this corruptible creature (man) who is created in God’s own image into a pure, loving relationship with God that is defined by God’s pure character, and not the corruptible nature of man.


Suffering, Hope Deferred and Desire Fulfilled

May 1, 2017

depositphotos Image ID: 27797997 Copyright: xura

“[U]unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies[1], it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses[2] it, and whoever hates[3] his life[4] in this world will keep it for eternal life[5]. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”[6]

Things aren’t necessarily as they seem. Our lives seem vibrant, filled with import and purpose when we are children. Everything is fresh. Summer days, puffy white clouds and blue skies seem to last forever. The older we get, the faster the days seem to go, the less the sun seems to shine. The more fleeting becomes the clouds and the blue skis. The polish of our lives, which seemed so fresh once, begins to dull.

For most of us, we fight disappointment throughout our lives. Our dreams never seem to come to fruition. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick….”[7]

We learn to carry on. We have nowhere to go but forward. Those of us who don’t spend our time thinking of what could have been, might have been, make an awkward peace with the past. We try to make the most of the present and adjust hope for our future.

We learn to dream less. We learn to rein our hopes in, tethering them closer to the ground. Disappointment lowers our expectations. We cling to what we can hold onto, and we risk, thereby, losing it all.


Suffering & God’s Compassion

September 14, 2014

Jesus Suffering lightstock_115938_xsmall_user_7997290

“You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” (James 5:11))

People can relate to the story of Job. He suffered the loss of his family and all he owned. Many people have suffered similar losses, but what of the compassion of God?

Job is a long book, and most of it focuses on Job’s suffering and questioning – Why me?! We are told in the beginning that Job was pure and upright, but then he suffered terribly at the hands of the devil while God seemingly looked on. His religious friends are not very sympathetic and do not offer much to him but to question why God would treat him so poorly if he was really that good. For Job, their “help” did not help! Sound familiar? (more…)

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