The God I Don’t Understand
The Mystery of Evil
God with his infinite perspective, and for reasons known only to himself knows that we finite human beings cannot, indeed must not, “make sense” of evil. For the final truth is that evil does not make sense. “Sense ” is part of our rationality that in itself is part of God’s good creation and God’s image in us. So evil can have no sense, because sense itself is a good thing.
Evil has no proper place within creation. It has no validity, no truth, no integrity. It does not intrinsically belong to the creation as God originally made it nor will it belong to creation as God will ultimately redeem it. It cannot and must not be integrated into the universe as a rational, legitimated, justified part of reality. Evil is not there to be understood, but to be resisted and ultimately expelled. Evil was and remains an intruder, an alien presence that has made itself almost (but not finally) inextricably “at home”. Evil is beyond our understanding because it is not part of the ultimate reality that God in his perfect wisdom and utter truthfulness intends us to understand. So God has withheld its secrets from his own revelation and our research.
…whenever we are confronted with something utterly and dreadfully evil, appallingly wicked, or just plain tragic, we should resist the temptation that is wrapped up in the cry, “Where’s the sense in that?” It’s not that we get no answer. We get silence. And that silence is the answer to our question. There is no sense. And that is a good thing too.
Evil cannot be dismissed simply as “the price God was willing to pay” or “the risk God was willing to take” for allowing us the gift of free will. This provides no explanation for the origin or cause of evil, and it tends to reduce the evilness of evil by giving it a validated place in God’s moral universe.
On the contrary, evil is uncompromisingly rejected and denounced, and categorically doomed to ultimate destruction and eradication. It is the total negation of all that God is and wishes, hostile to the life, blessing, and goodness that God creates, Any “solution” to the problem of evil that makes evil less evil than the bible says it actually is, is no solution at all for the Christian. So there must be no compromise or confusion at this point.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
The Cross–Why and What?
p. 125 quote from John Stott:
The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalities which belong to man alone.
So it naturally follows [from discussion on dualism], in this way of thinking, that nothing of the earth or on the earth will survive into the eternal future after “the end of the world”. How could it? Only the spirtual world (God, angels, and redeemed souls in heaven) will be eternal. Physical bad; spiritual good. Very platonic. Very not biblical.
The New Beginning
[Speaking about the hymn “He Lives” which closes with “You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart!”]
Wonderful and true–but not how the apostles answered the question in the book of Acts. They were decidedly not proclaiming “Jesus lives in our hearts”. The religious and political authorities would not have minded that one bit, for it would have been as unthreatening as it was pitifully sentimental, just so long as Jesus was actually still in the tomb. the apostles were proclaiming that this same Jesus of Nazareth, whom the authorities had killed, had been bodily raised up by God and the tomb was empty. This was an objective witnessed fact, not subjective religious devotion to their late leader’s memory.