Answering Atheists: How could a loving and powerful God allow evil?

thewellI received an email from a great pastor-friend of mine – Dean Inserra, pastor of The Well in Tallahasse, FL  (check him and his church out at www.nomorethirst.org and www.deaninserra.com).  He wanted me to comment on an email he received.  Here’s what the email said…

I was told by a member of your church of the “youpick” series that you are hosting at your church. I recently had a discussion with him about God and religion. I told him a few truths about my spiritual life — or lack thereof — and how I had attempted to counter such. I spent three and a half years searching for God, trying to find some semblance of His existance, some substantiation of the fact that Christ is God’s son — not simply an exemplar of morality. I told everyone I was Christian, but I could lie to myself no longer. I knew that if God was real, He would know I did not truly believe in Him. While most naturally assume I am Christian be it either my high levels morality or the fact that Christianity sort of comes standard around America for white middle-class families, I cannot claim Christianity., nor the belief in any higher power. I know not your extent of religious knowledge outside of the theology of Christianity, but I find myself in correspondence most with Theravada Buddhism. However, I was told to come to you with any questions I had about the faith. While I have innumerous questions, one I care to start with actually comes from a philosopher I disagree with on most every aspect, a philosopher from the days of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero; the philosopher Epicurus.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent.
Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent.
Is He both able, and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is He neither able, nor willing? Then why call Him God?

Again, I could ask a million questions, but I suppose this one is as good as any to start.

Here was my honest, concise, short, and Christ-centered reply:

Man, have you answered this yet?  In short, I would affirm that God is both all loving (benevolent) and all powerful (omnipotent)!  I know you would, too.  And yeah, this is the age old question of where people can often get off track.  I think what is called “The Greater Good Theory” answers this question best.  The greater good theory says that God allowed Satan to deceive Eve and for her to lead Adam to sin because God had a greater good in mind.  When He created everything, He called it all “very good” but it wasn’t yet glorious.  If sin had not entered into the world, then there would be no need for the Son of God to enter the world as the God-man, Jesus Christ.  Adam would be lord (with dominion over all things under his feet and subduing the whole earth), heaven would be forever separated from earth, and man would not know about God’s grace, mercy, love, or forgiveness because he would be ignorant of God’s wrath, judgment, anger, etc.  I think its kind of like growing up in Hawaii…you just don’t realize how beauitful it is because that’s all you’ve seen all your life.  But if you grow up in Detroit and see the ugliest city ever, you will truly be amazed at the beauty of Hawaii once you got to finally visit.  Because God has allowed sin into the world….we see the greatest beauty of God throught the person and work of Jesus Christ…Jesus as Lord through His life, death, and resurrection.  Now that is way better than Adam ruling!  Even by allowing sin, God is totally all-loving, all-powerful, all-good, and all-AWESOME!

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