FAQ: Why Does God Allow Evil?
The dilemma of evil has haunted theologians, philosophers and everyday Christians for centuries. It is the ammunition loaded into the conversational guns of those who argue against Christianity.
Nearly every day we hear about natural disasters, terrorism, and profound tragedies. Regardless of the situation, suffering from acts of evil always leave people shocked, grief-stricken, angry and numb. Tears flow freely and hearts carry deep ache for what has been taken from them.
With pain so heartfelt, people naturally begin to ask questions like, “Why does God allow evil to happen?” or, “If God is so powerful and so good, why is there so much suffering in the world?” These are valid questions which deserve answers and in times of pain, should be answered with sincerity and truth.
First things first
Before we can answer people’s question of, “Why does God allow evil?” we need to first determine what they believe about God. Asking the question, “Do you believe God exists?” will quickly determine their belief.
If they don’t believe God exists, or they are unclear as to who God is, then answering the question, “Why does God allow evil?” becomes a fruitless discussion. Spend some time first sharing about who God is. If they do believe God exists, again it is best to spend time sharing about the character of God.
Sharing about the character of God will help bring clarity and begin to answer the question of why God allows evil.
Here are some verses which may help.
The question of evil
It was the issue of evil that initially led author and scholar C. S. Lewis into atheism. However, upon further reflection, Lewis began to see that if there is no God, then there is no such thing as evil either. He wrote: “Evil can only be known and measured against a standard of good. Apart from God and the morality that flows from Him there is no standard — and therefore no evil either, but we know in our hearts, it’s inescapable — that evil is real.” His conclusion that evil is real proved the existence of God.
We are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and He has given us the free will to decide how we act and the ability to make moral choices (Genesis 2:16–17). Every one of us is capable of making selfish, self-centered and evil choices. Whenever that happens, people get hurt. Doing our own will is much more common and certainly much easier.
We cannot blame God for the tragedy in our world, we must blame ourselves or those who have ignored who and what He is.
Created for purpose
God created us for a purpose (Ephesians 2:10). He created us to know Him and to enjoy Him; to live and bring glory and honour to Him. If we look around at society, it is easy to see that humanity is not bringing glory to God. Rather there is a brokenness in the world. We see it in the evil of terrorism, we see it in war, violence, abuse, deceit and betrayal.
The sin problem
In ignorance to God, we could search high and low for the reason of the brokenness, but the truth is, beneath it all, the problem is spiritual. Really, we are the problem (Romans 3:23). We have not lived for God, we have not followed His rules, rather we have made our own. We have not valued a relationship with Him. The Bible calls this sin. Sin is running from God, trying to do life our own way. Sin is taking the title of God and putting it upon ourselves. It is because of sin that we as humans have become hostile not only towards God but towards others. The Bible says the consequence of sin is death.
The righteousness of God
When we ask, “If God is so powerful and so good, why does he allow evil?” we ask the wrong question. What we should be asking is, “How does a holy and righteous God, knowing the evil we thought, said or did yesterday, not kill us this morning?” If we don’t ask this question, we continue to avoid responsibility for the problem of sin. We think the problem is in God, not in ourselves.
To state that God should hold off evil means we believe there is someone, somewhere, good enough who does not deserve the consequence of sin.
The supremacy of man
When we pose the question, “Why does God allow evil? we ask from a position of belief in the supremacy of man as if to say, “How dare God not deploy his power on behalf of almighty man.” However, when we flip the question back onto ourselves, from a position of belief in the supremacy of God, we then respond with, “How dare I deploy my power as though I am almighty God.”
The real problem
Underneath it all, the real problem is us. The problem with evil and suffering is us. In our free will we have chosen to disobey God. We start with ourselves as the supreme being, not God. We judge God by how well He carries out our agenda for the world. We fall for the lie that we are the most important and as a result, we want a God who is omnipotent (all powerful) but not sovereign (in authority). If God is omnipotent but not sovereign, He is at our mercy, but if God is both omnipotent and sovereign, then we are at His mercy.
God allows evil in the world, for if He was to remove it, He would have to remove us, as we are all inherently evil because of sin.
The character of God is that He is omnipotent and sovereign, but He is also loving and if we submit to Him, He is faithful and just, willing to forgive us of our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). It is in submission to Christ that we overcome evil.
Rather than blaming God and questioning His rationale on evil, we aught be thanking Him for His kindness and be about promoting His cure for evil and its consequences — Jesus Christ!
Here are a few links to other websites on the topic: