Many Christians today don’t have a firm grasp on what the Bible says about Jesus. Was He just a wise man? A prophet? Douglas Groothuis presents biblical evidence for Christ’s lordship.
“I love Jesus,” exclaimed a woman in the audience, “but He never wanted anyone to worship Him!” As I looked at the group of about thirty people, I saw nods of agreement and heard rumblings of approval. Another member of the panel discussion that I was on said, “I find the way of Jesus helpful, but I can’t exclude anyone’s spirituality outside of Christianity.” Someone else in the audience declared that Jesus was only a prophet and that the Quran was more important than the New Testament. These comments were offered during a panel discussion on “spirituality.” Two of the other panelists were from a theological seminary where Jesus is not acknowledged as Lord and the Bible is not respected as God’s written communication to humanity. Another panelist repeatedly said all religions teach that we are one with God. She said she accepted Jesus — but only as one way, not the only way. Recent polls show that a disturbing percentage of Christians fail to understand what the Bible tells us about Jesus. According to a Barna poll from 2000, about one out of four born-again Christians believes that it doesn’t matter what faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons. Fifty-six percent of non-Christians agree. Many today water down the radical claims of Jesus — to say that “Jesus works for me” instead of “Jesus is Lord.” My experience highlights the challenge facing those who claim that Jesus is the singular way to God and redemption. Spirituality is “in,” but Christianity is often “out.” Our culture openly addresses the nature and needs of the soul and how to be spiritually successful. Most Americans have a positive view of Jesus, however blurry it may be. They see Him as a sage, mystic, or a prophet. Yet when Christians affirm that Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life,” and that no one can be reconciled to God apart from Him (John 14:6, NIV), many reject it. Is there a strong biblical case for the supremacy of Jesus in a world of personalized spirituality? A careful look at the New Testament — the main document we have about Jesus’ life — answers this question for us. I will present some of the biblical evidence that Jesus Christ was God Incarnate and the only way to abundant and eternal life. As Christians seeking to think biblically, it is important to know and affirm what the Bible says about Jesus and the way to salvation — whether it’s politically correct or not.
Prophet, Priest and King
Jesus never suggested that He was another prophet or that He was merely one of many mystics who tapped into spiritual power and knowledge. When Jesus was involved in a dispute about the Sabbath, He exclaimed that He was “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:23-27). Genesis 2:3 teaches us that God created and instituted the Sabbath; it was not invented by any mere human. Jesus is, therefore, claiming to have divine authority over the Sabbath as God. In another argument about the Sabbath, Jesus proclaimed, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” At this, the Jews tried even harder to kill Him because He was “making himself equal with God” (John 5:17-18). One should notice that Jesus did not oppose their conclusions. Jesus ended another dispute by saying, “Before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58). Jesus was referring to the time that God declared Himself to Moses as “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). Hearing this, the Jews then tried to stone Jesus, because He was claiming to have existed as God before He was born. Jesus claimed to be God incarnate. Although many claim that Jesus does not differ much from other religious leaders such as Buddha, Jesus’ claim to be God in the flesh singles Him out of the crowd. The Buddha claimed no such thing, nor did Muhammad or Confucius. But Jesus’ claims were not spoken in a vacuum. They were backed by His credentials. He fulfilled a host of prophecies given by the Hebrew prophets concerning His virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38), His divinity (Jeremiah 23:5-6; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1), His atoning work on the cross (Isaiah 53; 1 Peter 2:24-25) and His resurrection from the dead (Psalm 16:8-11; Acts 2:24-28). Besides this, Jesus substantiated His divine claims with a perfectly righteous life, compassion for the downtrodden (which was often expressed through His many healing miracles, including raising the dead), His genius and authority as a teacher, and His unsurpassed insight into the human condition. It is no wonder that people worshipped Him. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciple Thomas, who had doubted the reports that His master was raised from the dead. When Thomas saw Jesus, he cried out, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Jesus accepted Thomas’ worship. The Book of Revelation tells us that a host of angels and saints are continually worshipping “the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 5:12-13; see also 7:17). No other religious leader in history is accorded this honor; none other deserves it.
Resurrection and the Life
To better understand why Jesus is the only way, we need to center on His death and resurrection. No founder or leader of any world religion claimed to die as a sacrifice for human sin in order to set us right with God. Nor is any other world religion based on the resurrection of its divine founder. Jesus taught the Jewish teacher Nicodemus that God’s love was supremely expressed by sending His “one and only Son” so that whoever trusts in Him would not be lost but would experience everlasting life (John 3:16). Jesus is God’s only son, the once-for-all revelation of God among us (Matthew 1:23). He came not simply to display His deity in humanity, but to offer Himself as a sufficient sacrifice for our wrongdoing and separation from God. Jesus declared, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10) and “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus announced to His disciples that He possessed “all authority in heaven and on earth,” and that they must “make disciples of all nations” by teaching them to obey His teachings (Matthew 28:18-20). This call to discipleship is rooted in the reality of the resurrection of Jesus in history. The origin and rapid growth of the Christian movement cannot be explained apart from this supernatural event. The New Testament’s reports of the resurrection of Christ are written by eyewitnesses or those who carefully consulted them not long after the events occurred (2 Peter 1:16; Luke 1:1-4). Their truthfulness as historical documents stands up to careful testing. Confessing Christ as the risen Lord need not be and should not be a blind leap of faith in the dark. Indeed, Peter told his readers that they should “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). Jesus is not a hobby. He is Lord. Therefore, Peter preached that “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). In a world filled with many false views of Christ, we can rest in the truth of the gospel, “because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Copyright © 2006 Douglas Groothuis. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
In the classic Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, the most important writer of the 20th century, explores the common ground upon which all of those of Christian faith stand together. Bringing together Lewis’ legendary broadcast talks during World War Two from his three previous books The Case for Christianity, Christian Behavior, and Beyond Personality, Mere Christianity provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear this powerful apologetic for the Christian faith.
C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce is a classic Christian allegorical tale about a bus ride from hell to heaven. An extraordinary meditation upon good and evil, grace and judgment, Lewis’s revolutionary idea in theThe Great Divorce is that the gates of Hell are locked from the inside. Using his extraordinary descriptive powers, Lewis’ The Great Divorce will change the way we think about good and evil.
My career as a Cold Case Detective was built on being evidentially certain about the suspects I brought to trial. There are times when my certainty was established and confirmed by the cumulative and diverse nature of the evidence. Let me give you an example. It’s great when a witness sees the crime and identifies the suspect, but it’s even better if we have DNA evidence placing the suspect at the scene. If the behavior of the suspect (before and after the time of the crime) also betrays his involvement, and if his statements when interviewed are equally incriminating, the case is even better. Cases such as these become more and more reasonable as they grow both in depth and diversity. It’s not just that we now have four different evidences pointing to the same conclusion, it’s that these evidences are from four different categories. Eyewitness testimony, forensic DNA, behaviors and admissions all point to the same reasonable inference. When we have a cumulative, diverse case such as this, our inferences become more reasonable and harder to deny. Why did I take the time to describe this evidential approach to reasonable conclusions? Because a similar methodology can be used to determine whether everything in the universe (all space, time and matter) came from nothing. We have good reason to believe our universe had a beginning, and this inference is established by a cumulative, diverse evidential case:
Philosophical Evidence (from the Impossibility of Infinite Regress)
What has the past 150 years shown us about Darwin’s theory of evolution?
Like any good scientist, Charles Darwin made a prediction by which other scientists could test his theory in the future. In other words, he made Darwinism falsifiable—capable of being proved false. More than a century and a half later, we are in a position to judge whether his theory has indeed been falsified.1
Precursors vs. Sudden Appearances
Darwin packaged up his book On the Origin of Species shortly after its publication and sent it to the most renowned scientist of the time, Harvard geologist and paleontologist Louis Agassiz.2 After reading it, Agassiz informed Darwin that the fossil record did not support Darwin’s theory that all life began from a common ancestor and then proceeded through the process of natural selection, generating gradually more complex life-forms.
Agassiz pointed out that, instead, the fossil record was marked by the sudden appearance and disappearance of unrelated and different species. Moreover, many of the most complex life-forms appeared very early in the history of existence.
In a written response, Darwin acknowledged that if whole groups of species were to have indeed appeared suddenly, his theory would be proved false. Darwin wrote, “If numerous species belonging to the same genera or families have really started into life all at once, the fact would be fatal to the theory of descent with slow modification through natural selection.”3
The most disturbing fossil evidence against Darwinism in the mid-nineteenth century was the sudden geological appearance of a whole range of complex sea creatures in the Cambrian formation of Scotland. The Cambrian fossils date back to 530 million years ago and have no apparent predecessors, only very simple life-forms like sponges and unicellular animals.
However, Darwin remained confident that with continued fossil collection, paleontologists would find the precursors his theory demanded.
So how has this dispute between two great intellects of nineteenth-century science played out to-date?
The Fossil Record Now
The fossil record has increased by orders of magnitude. In fact, Cambrian animals—with all of their rich disparity—have been found all over the world, notably in British Columbia, China, Australia, and Greenland. Yet precursors to the Cambrian animals—outside of single-celled life and simple sponges—remain undiscovered.
Two prominent twentieth-century paleontologists, Niles Eldridge and Stephen Jay Gould, have admitted that stasis (a period of little or no evolutionary change) is the dominant characteristic of the fossil record. Gould called it “paleontology’s trade secret,” and “an embarrassing one at that.”4
Gould and Eldridge postulated a non-Darwinian, but naturalistic process to account for what the fossil record shows. The sudden appearance of new higher-order life-forms needed an explanation; Gould and Eldridge provided one: what they called “punctuated equilibrium.” Those who hold fast to the notion of very gradual incremental changes use the term “punk eek” to ridicule the idea that somehow major changes can occur quickly and not be a form of creationism.5
One of the richest Cambrian fossil discoveries is in the southern Chinese province of Kunming. Chinese paleontologists seem to be convinced that the gradual incremental changes postulated by Darwin just do not explain the Kunming fossils. This led one Chinese paleontologist to say, “In China we can criticize Darwin but not the government. In America you can criticize the government but not Darwin!”6
To be sure, Gould and Eldridge are not creationists, but they are part of a growing number of scientists who, like these Chinese paleontologists, are admitting that Darwin’s self-imposed test of his theory simply is not finding empirical support. Part of the reason that materialistic philosophy—which states that only the material or natural world is real and therefore everything can be explained in terms of molecules in motion—prevails in spite of the evidence is rooted in one definition of science. That definition allows no inference of non-materialistic causes to be considered.
Hence, when evidence from science points to a Creator, it is said to be “non-scientific” because it falls outside the bounds of the modern definition of “science.” This circular reasoning stands in contrast to the original impetus for science that follows the evidence wherever it leads.
Failing the Test
So how do the neo-Darwinists respond to the apparent failure of Darwin’s own test for his theory?
Some still have faith that the fossil record will eventually yield support for Darwinism, in spite of the huge and uniform sampling that says otherwise. Others claim that the soft body parts of the predecessors could not fossilize, and therefore the evidence has not been preserved. This later claim has been laid bare by the discovery of Cambrian-era fossilized soft tissue.7
Darwin put forth a test to his theory—namely that the sudden appearance of most of life’s major body plans or phyla in the Cambrian era would in time be shown to be part of a gradual progression of life’s increasing complexity. However, the absence of his predicted precursors remains, despite the passage of more than 150 years of intense investigations on all continents.
Although not the only flaw in Darwin’s theory, it is the one that he himself set forth as a critical test. And so far his theory has failed that test.
– See more at: http://www.exploregod.com/how-darwin-failed-his-own-test#sthash.LNziKiRS.dpuf
Stephen Meyer attempts to explain the origin of life in a way that combines Biblical fidelity with scientific rigor.
For years, debates over the origin of life were framed as a fight between the growing scientific evidence for Darwinian evolution and what many believe are the plain teachings of the Bible about a literal seven-day creation event. But in recent years, a third option has emerged under the banner of “Intelligent Design” or ID for short. The ID movement attempts to combine Biblical fidelity with scientific rigor, and even though many scientists have criticized the movement as being unscientific, it’s hard to ignore the growing number of people embracing ID explanations for life on earth.
Stephen Meyer, founder and director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, is a respected leader in the ID movement. He is author of Signature in the Cell, which uses genetics to argue for ID, and his newest book, Darwin’s Doubt tackles the most controversial aspect of Darwin’s theory of evolution: the rapid appearance of animal life 530 million years ago. Here we talk about what he believes are weaknesses in Darwinian explanations for the origin of life and what he thinks it will take to make an intelligent defense of Intelligent Design.
JM: For starters, will you describe the argument of your previous book, Signature in the Cell, and why it’s foundational for what you’re suggesting in Darwin’s Doubt?
SM: In Signature in the Cell, I explained that chemical evolutionary theories—theories that attempt to explain the origin of the first life from simpler non-living chemicals—have failed to do so. I also showed that these theories have failed in large part because they do not give an adequate explanation for the origin of the genetic information in DNA necessary to build the first living cell. Instead, I argued that Intelligent Design (ID) best explains the origin of that necessary information in part because of what we know from our uniform and repeated experience of what it takes (namely, intelligence) to generate new information—especially information that is encoded in a digital form.
In Darwin’s Doubt, I show that theories of biological evolution—theories that attempt to explain the origin of new forms of life from simpler pre-existing forms—also face an “information problem.” In particular, I show that events in the history of life such as the Cambrian Explosion, in which numerous novel forms of animal life arise in the fossil record, not only represent an explosion of biological form, but an explosion of biological information. I argue that the standard materialistic evolutionary mechanisms such as natural selection acting on random mutations do not account for this explosion of new information in the biosphere. Instead, I again point out that, as one information theorist put it, “the creation of information is habitually associated with conscious activity.”
JM: What was the inexplicable conundrum that Darwin recognized and acknowledged, and why does it matter?
SM: Darwin expressed a doubt about the ability of his theory to account for an event in the history of life known as the Cambrian Explosion. The Cambrian Explosion refers to an event in which most of the major animal groups appear abruptly in the fossil record without any apparent evolutionary precursors. Chordates such as fish, arthropods, various types of worms, mollusks (e.g., shellfish), and many other groups of animals, first appear in a geological “blink of an eye,” without any direct ancestors in the fossil record. Even Richard Dawkins has observed that the Cambrian animals looked as if “they were just planted there without any evolutionary history.”
JM: Did Darwin attempt an explanation, or was there simply a void in his theory of natural selection?
SM: Darwin himself knew that the abrupt appearance of animals in the ancient fossil record posed a problem for his theory. He knew that his proposed mechanism of natural selection worked gradually by acting on “numerous, successive, slight modifications.”
But the Cambrian Explosion contradicted that expectation, since it showed diverse and complex animal body plans appearing abruptly, without any fossil record of their gradual evolution in lower Precambrian strata. Darwin acknowledged this problem in his On the Origin of Species, and said it presented a “valid argument against the views here entertained.”
Nevertheless, he suggested that perhaps future fossil discoveries would document the missing Precambrian ancestral fossils of the Cambrian animals. As I show in Darwin’s Doubt, however, fossil discoveries since Darwin’s time have actually intensified the mystery associated with the Cambrian Explosion—as has our growing knowledge from molecular biology, genetics and developmental biology about the importance of genetic and other forms of information to the origin and maintenance of animal life.
JM: And you believe the information necessary to build the Cambrian animal forms arose from an intelligent cause, rather than an undirected natural process?
SM: In Darwin’s Doubt I argue that there is good reason to infer the activity of a designing intelligence in the history of life. The DNA in all forms of life contains information in digital form that functions much like a software program. The development of animal life also contains other forms of information called epigenetic information, or information stored beyond the genome.
We know from experience that software comes from programmers. We know generally that information in whatever form we find it—whether inscribed in hieroglyphics, written in a book or encoded in radio signals—always arises from an intelligent source. So the discovery of information in the DNA molecule, and our realization that events such as the Cambrian Explosion required huge infusions of new information into the biosphere—the provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a role in the history of life, even if we weren’t there to observe the first life or new animals coming into existence.
JM: How is Intelligent Design distinct from both Creationism and Darwinism?
SM: Contrary to media reports, Intelligent Design is not a religious-based idea, but instead an evidence-based scientific theory about life’s origins—one that challenges strictly materialistic views of evolution.
According to Darwinian biologists such as Oxford’s Richard Dawkins, living systems “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” But for modern Darwinists, that appearance of design is entirely illusory. Why? Because they think the undirected processes of natural selection acting on random mutations can produce the intricate structures found in living organisms. In contrast, the theory of Intelligent Design holds that there are tell-tale features of living systems and the universe that are best explained by a designing intelligence. The theory does not challenge the idea of evolution (defined as change over time), or even common ancestry, but it does dispute Darwin’s idea that the cause of biological change is wholly blind and undirected. Intelligent Design, unlike Creationism, is not based on the Bible. Design is an inference from biological data, not a deduction from religious authority.
JM: Isn’t it clear by now that the scientific community has a consensus on evolution? And if so, doesn’t that matter?
SM: Truth in science is often achieved by challenging a consensus when new evidence suggests that a consensus view is wrong. In Darwin’s Doubt, I explain that the consensus that existed a generation ago, in favor of the still standard textbook version of evolutionary theory called Neo-Darwinism, has now fractured as evolutionary biologists themselves are now proposing numerous new theories of evolution.
I also show in my book that many of these theories are superior to the previous consensus view, but that they too fail to explain the origin of both the genetic and epigenetic information necessary to build the new animal life that arises in events such as the Cambrian Explosion. Into that dynamic situation in evolution biology in which there is currently no consensus about the cause or mechanism of macro-evolutionary innovation, I propose the theory of Intelligent Design as an explanation for the origin of the novel information necessary to build novel forms of animal life.
As Islamists continue to kill innocents, they provide more fuel for the oft-made atheist claim that religion is evil. Atheist Richard Dawkins condemned the recent attacks in France by tweeting, “No, all religions are NOT equally violent. Some have never been violent, some gave it up centuries ago. One religion conspicuously didn’t.”
Dawkins is right that some religions and religious people have consistently perpetrated evil. Atheists often use this fact to support atheism. However, the existence of evil turns out to be a bigger problem for atheists to explain than for theists. The kind of evil Dawkins and the rest of the civilized world abhor doesn’t disprove God—it disproves atheism.
While it’s commonly thought that only theists have to explain the existence of evil, the truth is every worldview does. Eastern pantheistic religions try to get around the problem by denying that evil even exists. Evil is an illusion, they say (and according to them, so are you!). Theists say evil is real and try to explain how evil and God can coexist. Atheists tend to be caught in the middle. In one breath they are claiming there is no good, evil or justice because only material things exist—we are just material molecular machines “dancing to the music” of our DNA (as Dawkins himself put it). In the next breath they are outraged at the great injustices and evil done by religious people in the name of God.
Well, atheists can’t have it both ways. Either evil exists or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t exist, then atheists should stop complaining about the “evil” things religious people have done because they haven’t really done any. They’ve just been “dancing to the music” of their DNA. If atheism is true, all behaviors are merely a matter of preference anyway. On the other hand, if evil actually does exist, then atheists have an even bigger problem. The existence of evil actually establishes the existence of God.
To explain why, we need to go back to Augustine who puzzled over the following argument:
God created all things.
Evil is a thing.
Therefore, God created evil.
How could a good God create evil? If those first two premises are true, He did, and this is a God problem. So God must not be good after all. But then Augustine realized that the second premise is not true. While evil is real, it’s not a “thing.” Evil doesn’t exist on its own. It only exists as a lack or a deficiency in a good thing.
Evil is like rust in a car: If you take all of the rust out of a car, you have a better car; if you take the car out of the rust, you have nothing. Or you could say that evil is like a cut in your finger: If you take the cut out of your finger, you have a better finger; if you take the finger out of your cut, you have nothing. In other words, evil only makes sense against the backdrop of good. That’s why we often describe evil as negations of good things. We say someone is immoral, unjust, unfair, dishonest, etc.
We could put it this way: The shadows prove the sunshine. There can be sunshine without shadows, but there can’t be shadows without sunshine. In other words, there can be good without evil, but there can’t be evil without good.
So evil can’t exist unless good exists. But good can’t exist unless God exists. In other words, there can be no objective evil unless there is objective good, and there can be no objective good unless God exists. If evil is real—as the recent headlines from France plainly reveal—then God exists. The best evil can do is show there’s a devil out there, but it can’t disprove God. The very existence of evil boomerangs back to show that God exists.
C.S. Lewis was once an atheist who thought evil disproved God. He later realized he was stealing from God in order to argue against Him. He wrote, “[As an atheist] my argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
Stealing from God is what atheists tend to do when they complain about evil done in God’s name. Richard Dawkins is correct that religious people have done evil things, but his atheism affords him no objective standard by which to judge anything as good or evil. So he steals goodness from God while claiming He doesn’t exist. Dawkins has to sit in God’s lap to slap His face.
Just who is this God? Allah isn’t a candidate because, according to Islamic doctrine, Allah is arbitrary and thus can’t be the unchanging standard of good. The true God is the God of the Bible who is revealed as the unchanging ground of all goodness.
Richard Dawkins and other atheists might object, “But how can the God of the Bible be the standard of goodness? Doesn’t He do evil in the Old Testament? And why would a good God allow evil to continue?” Those are some of the many questions I address in my new book, Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case, from which this column was adapted. Look for more here in the coming weeks.
Dr. Frank Turek is a dynamic speaker and award-winning author or coauthor of four books: Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Correct, Not Politically Correct and Legislating Morality.
THE PROBLEM OF EVIL AND SUFFERING, PART 1
The reality of evil and suffering confronts us on a daily basis; we read about it in the news and sometimes we experience it firsthand. This reality won’t go away, and many have found it to be a stumbling block to belief in a loving God.
There are two fundamental types of evil:
(1) Moral evil: evil attributed to human beings; and
(2) Natural evil: the problem of pain coming from the universe, for example tumors and tsunamis.
Likewise, there are two fundamental perspectives on evil:
(1) That of the sufferer; and
(2) That of the observer.
Someone who is suffering evil needs more than theological or philosophical answers; they need the comfort of friends and family – the ministry of presence. On the other hand the observer of suffering will often have many questions, for example:
Why must this person suffer?
Where was God when this tragedy happened?
Why doesn’t God stop the suffering?
How are we to deal with questions such as these? There are no easy answers, but we should understand that using evil as a reason to reject the existence of God turns out to be illogical. For without God we have no basis for characterizing something as either good or evil. This is expressed by Richard Dawkins, one of the leading New Atheists, who described the ethical implications of his naturalistic worldview as follows:
In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.
It is significant that Dawkins wrote that there is “no evil and no good”, for this underscores the fact that a naturalistic worldview provides no basis for ethics or morality. However, we know intuitively that good and evil are real; a study of human cultures from around the world and through the ages shows that we share a sense of right and wrong. This speaks to a “law is written on (the) hearts” of all people, as Paul wrote. We are moral beings, and this is powerful evidence of a just God who made us in His image.
Some may contend that the existence of evil is proof that a good and just God does not exist. While rejection of God may solve an ‘intellectual problem’ for them, it also removes any basis for hope. As Dawkins wrote, “there is, at the bottom, no design, no purpose…” ,surely a recipe for hopelessness.
The book of Job describes the suffering of a man who experienced both natural and moral evil on the same day: violent weather resulted in the death of all his children, as well as the death of his sheep and shepherds, while marauders stole the rest of his livestock and murdered his servants. He was subsequently afflicted with painful sores. The account makes it clear that God did not originate either the moral or natural evil that Job experienced. Rather, it was Satan who asked for and received permission to originate this evil for the purpose of testing Job’s faith in God.
This explanation, however, leads to several other questions, perhaps the most pressing being: Why did God create a universe that would allow evil? Surely He could have made beings incapable of evil. Of course, even we can do that – we call them robots! Wishing for beings incapable of evil is essentially wishing ourselves out of existence. God took the risk of creating beings with freedom of choice. This is similar to the risk that every parent takes when bringing a child into the world: the risk that their child would one day reject them. Aren’t we glad that our parents took that risk!
Although Job cried out to God for an explanation of his suffering, instead of receiving a direct answer, he was challenged to focus on God rather than on his problems. This gives us a clue that instead of asking “Why” when we see evil, we should take a different perspective: look at God’s power and justice and remember that He is sovereign. Once Job did this, he realized: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted…I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job recognized God’s sovereignty, and that through his suffering he had been drawn closer to Him.
We have a major advantage over Job: we can see God’s nature clearly in Jesus Christ. In the next Apologetic Minute we will look at what Jesus had to say about the problem of evil, and how we know that God cares deeply about human suffering.
Is God Good? (2-minute video, very good)
Walking with God through Pain & Suffering by Tim Keller
(10 copies of this excellent book are in the Lending Library)
Did God Create Evil?
 Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: Basic Books, 1996), 133, quoted in John C. Lennox, Gunning for God: Why the New Atheists are Missing the Target (Oxford: Lion Hudson, 2011), 135.
 Romans 2:15 ESV
 Job 42:2, 5- 6 ESV