A bridge in Minneapolis collapses. Nuclear weapons experimentation makes Kazakhstan home to people with awful disfigurements. A train wreck in Brazil kills eight and injures over 100. Civil war tears apart the hopes and dreams of children in Africa. ISIS continues its reign of terror in the Middle-east. Seemingly countless murders tear apart families.
Evil, defined for this article as sin or injustice against another human being, is all around us.
I am not about to try to give a comprehensive explanation for how evil came to be. I do not claim to be the kind of person who can do that. God created men with the ability to sin and the ability not to sin, but I cannot reason beyond that.
I do not know how evil came to be; I just know that evils exists. Evil is present. Evil is real.
What must exist in order for evil and suffering to be truly wrong? Does not the existence of evil itself require a standard of good?
Should we just accept evil as a part of the way the universe works? Should we accept a view of evil based on social convention, or the DNA encoded in our cells?
These things vary from one person to the next, but we do not find a definition of evil that changes greatly from person to person, place to place, or time to time. We always seem to have a notion of the way things ought to be.
I want a view of the world around me that accounts for the reality of evil and suffering. I want it to be called evil, not just the absence of happiness that is a social construct of mere men.
We know that this standard of good and evil must be real. Life makes no intuitive sense without it.
The denial of evil is impossible in view of the pain and suffering we see around us. I want cruelty to be profoundly wrong. For this, I need an absolute standard for what is right.
Christianity allows for this standard. It allows evil to be “evil.” Non-Christian views of the world do not allow for this standard because they provide no standard or right and wrong.
The theologian Greg Bahnsen writes:
… it is crucial to the unbeliever's case against Christianity to be in a position to assert that there is evil in the world -- to point to something and have the right to evaluate it as an instance of evil … the problem of evil turns out to be, therefore, a problem for the unbeliever himself. In order to use the argument from evil against the Christian worldview, he must first be able to show that his judgments about the existence of evil are meaningful -- which is precisely what his unbelieving worldview is unable to do.
Knowing that evil “is,” that it exists, is enough to convince us that there is a God. We cannot define evil without defining good. Evil is a falling short of the good.
Knowing that evil “is” leads us relentlessly to a God who is the definition of good. Without Him, we would not know evil when we saw it.
Of course, Christianity does not stop there. It also offers hope for deliverance from evil. In the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ we find ultimate deliverance from “the last enemy,” death. (1 Corinthians 15:25-28).
In Christ, we find deliverance from the power of evil and the forces that bring it about (Colossians 2:8-15). Many have found Christ to be their life and hope in the face of the real, tangible evil we find all around us. We turn in our next post to one outcome of the teachings of the Bible.