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Archive for January, 2010

Why Doesn’t God Stop Evils Such As The Holocaust?

What is sicker or more evil than torturing and killing millions of people simply because of their nationality or the family they were born into? There have been many similar horrific evils such as the Holocaust throughout the centuries of humankind. But, one person killed or abused due to evil is tragic. What is more horrible than when an adult sexually abuses a young child for years, threatening them if they tell anyone of their dirty little secret? Evil is evil, regardless of the magnitude. Most of us believe God is powerful enough to stop evil, so why does God permit or not interfere more? The truth is because God or humans don’t measure evil in terms of how many humans are impacted, God would need to interfere constantly with human decisions to do evil than good. C.S. Lewis has suggested that wars, crimes, and injustices – evils that come through bad choices make by cruel and lawless people – account for at least 80% of humankind suffering. Most suffering is either self-inflicted or inflicted by others. I have written elsewhere about natural disasters.

Is it fair to accuse God of not caring because He doesn’t constantly interfere with the natural order of things? No one argues lack of freedom is either authentic or desirable. Freedom cannot be preserved with God’s constant interference. God surely is not responsible for choices His creations make any more than human parents are responsible for the decisions of their offspring. I do not agree with theologians who wish to protect a definition of God’s sovereignty or control that implies God foreordains or controls evil for some greater purpose. It is recorded God caused the Flood to punish, but no one should pretend to know when or if He is doing that in our lifetime. Jesus laid to rest the age-old argument that suffering is always directly because of one’s sin (i.e. John 9:1-3; Lk 13:1-5). God can still be considered sovereign, even though He gives up control for the sake of freedom. Just because God doesn’t control everything doesn’t mean God loses control. Evil is not some grand scheme by God! God certainly works to bring some good out of what was intended for evil, but this does not mean God orchestrated evil to accomplish this. Some may argue this gives no hope to the suffering if God doesn’t control everything. I believe it is very hopeful to know God does not cause evil, that evil is never God’s will, and that God grieves in our suffering and promises life after death. God certainly didn’t avoid evil Himself through the death of His Son.  

The Flood proves wiping out evil and starting over, allowing freedom, doesn’t cause evil to go away. It just grows back. The truth is the world often is changed for the better during suffering than prosperity. But, God doesn’t sit around scheming evil plots so we can learn these lessons. Humans don’t need this kind of help from God; humans plot evil just fine on their own. Besides making a mockery of freedom, instant healing or sudden rescue doesn’t always make us the kind of people we need to become. Jesus came as a suffering servant than ruling King because God perhaps knew something about human nature that we do not. I wish it wasn’t so, but the slow, necessary way of God through the Incarnation may be the best course of action God could have taken under the circumstances to change us and the world in the long-run. Jesus’ suffering, not His miracles, changed the world. I wish it wasn’t so, but suffering and not prosperity is what leads to necessary change. Just because God doesn’t stop evil doesn’t mean God isn’t involved and changing the world for the better.

Never give up being used by God this make this a better world. Strive to allow suffering to enable you to become more like God by being totally unselfish. How many people stood by when Hitler was becoming the person he was? Could he have been stopped early on?  It may not seem we are making a difference but we never know the impact we may be having by being involved in the lives of others. If someone had befriended Hitler as a young boy and sought to have spiritual influence and he responded, could we have been saved from this evil Dictator?

Why Such Sacrificial Rituals In The OT?

Why did God set up such an elaborate sacrificial system in the Old Testament when sins were committed. After all, Psalms 51 says no sacrifice is needed but only a contrite heart. The cultures in OT times were likely a significant consideration. The Canaanite religion sacrificial system was quite complicated and elaborate. The cultures in Old Testament times worshiped idols and developed their own sacrificial ways to please their different gods. The God of the Jewish nation showed a better sacrificial system. Among other things God never sacrificed children as did other pagan cultures. Could it be that God used the sacrificial system to show the differences between “God and gods?”  Within this context Old Testament sacrifices pointed toward the ultimate Sacrifice. The Old Testament teaches one purpose of the sacrificial system was so that people could anticipate and understand the Messiah was coming. 

We may not demand “rituals for righteousness” or amends because we are so unholy ourselves in comparison to God. I am less lightly to condemn or require amends  to avoid being hypocritical because of my own sins. Sacrifices in the OT demonstrated the seriousness of sin. Sacrifice is important in the healing process, both for the guilty and innocent parties. For instance when one steals, amends are necessary to pay back the victims of the sinful party. Verbal forgiveness only doesn’t right wrongs. Please do not conclude one can necessarily always payback what they have taken from someone (i.e. childhood with appropriate parental love, sexual purity). But, self-centeredness may only change when elements of sacrifice are present – repentance, verbal confession, and amends.

Why couldn’t God just say “I forgive you” rather than require the death of His Son on the Cross? As mentioned God doesn’t delight in sacrifice but a broken and contrite heart. (Ps. 51:16-17) The sacrificial system of the Old Testament was meant to lead us to repent, to follow love. Sinners must recognize how their selfishness is ruining their lives and the lives of others. The Cross was not a necessary sacrifice so God could feel justified in saving us; the real challenge was how to save us from ourselves.  Jesus died not to change God’s attitude but our attitude toward God. We must view sin as God does. The Cross is a revelation of God’s compassion, not an instrument of God’s revenge. The purpose of judgment is to provoke repentance, not to pay some penalty. Do we really think the Bible portrays God as an angry, wrathful God who must be appeased, that His Honor must be restored through the Cross before He can love us?  God determined the Cross was the best way to persuade us to stop sinning.  Jesus coming as a Ruling King than Suffering Servant would have left us demanding more from God and not ourselves. God is not obsessed with the guilt of our sins but restoration of the relationship. God does not need to be reconciled to us; we need to be reconciled to God.

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