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The Problem of Evil

Denominations and Their Teachings on the Problem of Evil


The problem of evil is a significant theological and philosophical issue that has been addressed by various Christian denominations. Here are some denominations and their perspectives on the problem of evil based on the provided search results:


1. Catholic Church


The Catholic Church teaches that the answer to the problem of evil lies in Jesus Christ, who conquered evil through His death and resurrection. The Church emphasizes that every aspect of Christian doctrine, including the goodness of the universe and the promise of eternal life, is part of God's response to evil. The Catholic perspective often includes the idea of redemptive suffering, where suffering can have a purpose in God's plan and can lead to spiritual growth and closer union with Christ.Unbiblical.


2. Reformed Tradition (Calvinism)


The Reformed tradition, as articulated in documents like the Westminster Confession of Faith, holds that God ordains everything that comes to pass, yet He is not the author of sin. This tradition emphasizes God's sovereignty and the idea that human free will operates within the bounds of God's providence. The Reformed perspective often includes the concept of "compatibilism," where God's sovereignty and human responsibility coexist.Unbiblical.


3. Evangelical Christianity


Many Evangelical Christians address the problem of evil by emphasizing human free will and the fallen nature of the world. They often argue that God allows evil and suffering as a consequence of human free will and sin, but He also provides a way of redemption through Jesus Christ. This perspective highlights the importance of personal faith and the transformative power of the gospel.Biblical.


4. Orthodox Christianity


The Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that evil is a result of humanity's misuse of free will and the subsequent fall from grace. Orthodox theology emphasizes the process of theosis (divinization), where believers are gradually transformed into the likeness of God. Suffering is seen as a means of spiritual growth and purification, and the ultimate victory over evil is found in the resurrection of Christ.Unbiblical.


5. Arminianism

Arminian theology, which is prevalent in many Methodist and Wesleyan traditions, emphasizes human free will and God's foreknowledge. Arminians believe that God permits evil and suffering because He respects human freedom, but He also works to bring good out of evil situations. This perspective often includes the idea that God's love and justice will ultimately prevail and that He will hold individuals accountable for their actions.Semi-Unbiblical.


6. Lutheranism


Lutheran theology acknowledges the mystery of evil and suffering, emphasizing that God's ways are often beyond human understanding. Lutherans believe that God permits suffering but is not the author of evil. They emphasize the importance of trusting in God's promises and finding comfort in the cross of Christ, where God Himself suffered for humanity's redemption.Unbiblical.


7. Philosophical and Apologetic Approaches


Some Christian philosophers and apologists, such as Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne, have contributed to the discussion by offering defenses and theodicies. Plantinga's "Free Will Defense" argues that the existence of free will is a greater good that justifies the possibility of evil. Swinburne suggests that certain evils may be necessary for the greater good, such as the development of virtues like courage and compassion.


Different Christian denominations and theological traditions offer various explanations for the problem of evil, often emphasizing aspects such as human free will, the fallen nature of the world, God's sovereignty, and the redemptive work of Christ. While the specific teachings may vary, the common thread is the belief that God is ultimately good and just and that He has a plan for overcoming evil and suffering through His divine purposes.


WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS—THE ANSWER TO THE PROBLEM OF EVIL


When someone asks, “Why does God permit evil?” they often seek not only answers but also comfort. This question, especially when born out of severe loss, reflects a deep need for solace. The Bible offers such comfort through three important truths.


It Is Not Wrong to Ask Why God Allows Evil


Some people worry that questioning God implies a lack of faith or disrespect. However, asking sincerely places you among faithful individuals. The prophet Habakkuk asked God: “Why do you make me see wickedness, and why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Why are destruction and violence before me; and why do strife and contention arise?” (Habakkuk 1:3, UASV). Jehovah did not rebuke Habakkuk; instead, He had these questions recorded for our benefit (Romans 15:4).


God Feels Deeply for You in Your Suffering


God is not distant or indifferent. He “loves justice,” and He hates wickedness and the suffering it causes (Psalm 37:28; Proverbs 6:16-19). In Noah’s day, Jehovah felt “grieved to his heart” due to the violence on earth (Genesis 6:5-6). God’s feelings have not changed; He still detests wickedness today (Malachi 3:6).


God Is Never the Source of Wickedness


The Bible makes it clear that God is not the source of wickedness. Those who blame God for such things as murder and terrorism are misrepresenting Him. Job 34:10 states: “far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong!” James 1:13 adds: "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one." Therefore, if you have suffered evil, rest assured that God is not to blame.


Who Rules the World?


If God is loving, just, and powerful, why is there so much evil in the world? Many mistakenly believe that God directly controls everything. Some claim, “Not one atom or molecule of the universe is outside his active rule.” However, the Bible teaches otherwise. 1 John 5:19 states: “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the wicked one.” Jesus identified this wicked one as Satan the Devil, whom He called “the ruler of the world” (John 14:30). This makes sense, as Satan is cruel, deceptive, and hateful—traits that underpin much of the suffering people experience. But why does God allow Satan to rule?


A Dispute Raised in the Garden of Eden


Consider a loving and capable parent publicly accused of lying, abusing authority, and withholding good things from their children. Would that parent disprove such accusations through violence? Of course not! Doing so might lend credibility to the accusations.


This illustration helps explain Jehovah God’s handling of a challenge raised against Him in Eden. There, God announced to Adam and Eve a wonderful project: to fill the earth, subdue it, and turn it into a global paradise (Genesis 1:28). Hundreds of millions of God’s spirit sons were keenly interested in this project (Job 38:4, 7; Daniel 7:10).


Jehovah gave Adam and Eve a beautiful garden with all its delicious fruits. Only one tree was out of bounds—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. By not eating from this tree, Adam and Eve would demonstrate their trust in their Father, recognizing His right to decide what is good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17).


However, a wicked spirit son, Satan, desired to be worshipped. He told Eve that if she ate the forbidden fruit, she would not die (Genesis 3:1-5). Satan essentially called God a liar and accused Him of withholding vital knowledge. Satan implied that humans should decide for themselves what is good and bad, questioning God’s fitness as Ruler and Father and suggesting that he could do a better job.


Through these lies, the angel became Satan the Devil, meaning “Resister” and “Slanderer.” Adam and Eve sided with Satan, rejecting God (Genesis 3:6).


Jehovah could have destroyed the rebels immediately, but such issues cannot be resolved through violence. Many angels were listening, and a significant number later joined Satan, becoming demons (Mark 1:34; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).


Why Has God Not Gotten Involved?


By seducing Adam and Eve into choosing independence from their Creator, Satan founded a family under his authority. Influenced by their “father,” the Devil, this family would choose its own goals and standards of conduct (John 8:44). Would this way of life bring true freedom and lasting happiness? Jehovah knew it would not but allowed the rebels to pursue their course to settle the issues raised in Eden fully.


For over 6,000 years, mankind has built various systems, trying different forms of rulership and codes of conduct. The results are evident. The human family is not truly happy, peaceful, or united. Wars, famines, natural disasters, sickness, and death have plagued humanity, causing “futility,” “pain,” and “groaning,” as the Bible states (Romans 8:19-22; Ecclesiastes 8:9).


Some may ask why God has not prevented tragedies. Preventing every crime and tragedy would make it seem that rebelling against God has no consequences. Jehovah is not behind the scenes, ensuring Satan’s system succeeds or finding the key to happiness. Yet, God is not indifferent. He has been active, as we will see.


“My Father Is Working”


Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (John 5:17). Since the rebellion in Eden, God has been very active. He inspired Bible writers to record His promise that a future “seed” would crush Satan and all who side with him (Genesis 3:15). This Seed would form a heavenly Kingdom that would bless obedient humans and end all suffering, even death (Genesis 22:18; Psalm 46:9; 72:16; Isaiah 25:8; 33:24; Daniel 7:13-14).


Jehovah sent Jesus Christ, His Son, to earth as the future Ruler of that Kingdom (Galatians 3:16). Jesus focused His teaching on God’s Kingdom, providing a living preview of what He will accomplish as King. He fed thousands, healed the sick, resurrected the dead, and calmed storms, demonstrating His power over the natural elements (Matthew 14:14-21; Mark 4:37-39; John 11:43-44). Concerning Jesus, the Bible states: “No matter how many the promises of God are, they have become ‘yes’ by means of him” (2 Corinthians 1:20).


Those who listen to Jesus and come “out of the world”—the system estranged from God and ruled by Satan—are welcomed into Jehovah’s family (John 15:19). This global family of true Christians is governed by love, committed to peace, and determined to eradicate bigotry and racism (Malachi 3:17-18; John 13:34-35).


Instead of upholding the present world, true Christians support and proclaim God’s Kingdom, as commanded by Jesus in Matthew 24:14. Proclaiming and teaching the “good news of the kingdom” worldwide is crucial. Christianity has faced divisiveness since the apostolic age. Within a few decades of the apostles’ deaths, schisms appeared. Celsus, a second-century opponent of Christianity, sarcastically noted that Christians were “split up into ever so many factions, each individual desiring to have his own party.” About 187 C.E., Irenaeus listed twenty varieties of Christianity; by 384 C.E., Epiphanius counted eighty (The Story of Civilization: Part III—Caesar and Christ). Today, there are over 41,000 Christian denominations, all differing in beliefs and teachings. Most do not teach what the Bible authors intended but rather their interpretations. They do not let God’s Word guide their conduct, whether its standards are popular or not.


About the Author

EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 220+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).


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