Thinking theologically about evil & suffering

October 09, 2013

A post by Edwina Hine

This weekend I was sent a link to the following article ("The War on Christians"). It is an article that draws sharp attention to the persecution of various Christian communities around the world, including the recent attacks on churches in Peshawar Pakistan, and in Wajir Kenya.

Image courtesy of Google images
The article quotes a recent study conducted by the Gordon -Conwell Theological Seminary that calculated that approximately 11 Christians are killed every hour around the world. As the article goes on to catalog an array of shocking instances of Christian persecution around the globe, the reader is left asking - why is the world silent when such things happen? The article cited above,  covers the topic quite well,  however after reading it, I was left asking more than why is the world silent?.  My reading of the article brought me also back to the well worn question of why god allows such evil ? 

It is a question that can perplex both Christians and non Christians alike, however recently I also read "Acts of God . Thinking theologically about natural disasters and other evils" which was republished in our 10th Anniversary edition of  Case Magazine. I found this a very insightful article that helps the reader come to terms with some the issues that cause some consternation when dealing with this topic. Matheson Russell's article does not aim to answer all the questions regarding evil and suffering, but it leads the reader to think through carefully many of the issues involved.

We are reminded in the article we have a deeply responsible God, and that he does have sovereignty over all creation, and at the same time we cannot escape the fact that the

overarching biblical narrative of sin and redemption takes as its premise that there are beings that actually oppose the will of God and actions that occur in disobedience to his commands. At every turn in the biblical narrative it is assumed both that God is the sovereign creator and that God’s sovereignty is contested

When I first read the article "The War on Christians" I  admit I was a little disheartened, but when reading Russel's article in Case,  I was reminded that God is loving and active in this world - that when Gods world is
vandalised by pointless, destructive and despicable acts carried out in defiance of God’s express will, it doesn’t matter how extreme the evil is, it does not exceed the reach of God’s justice, the depths of his love, or his capacity to redeem.

Russel's article goes on to remind us that God's sovereignty is exemplified in the the arrival of Jesus as Messiah,  he has not let evil go unchecked, he has not abandoned his promises,  and we has not forgotten to uphold the cause of the innocent.

God in Christ has waged the decisive battle to judge sin, overthrow evil and defeat death. And what he began in the death and resurrection of Christ he has promised to complete when Christ returns.

I can well recommend reading Matheson Russell's article which is available to read on  the CASE website. A back issue of Case #34 can be purchased here, or  if you wish to become a Case subscriber you should visit here.


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