The Problem of Evil

Last week I said, “Next week I’ll post an update of the comments that I made on books opposing open theism in my initial ‘Some Books on Open Theism’ post.” However I still haven’t received one of the books that I planned to comment on, and so am postponing publishing that post.

“Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature–that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance–and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell me the truth.”

This is the challenge that Ivan presents to Aloysha after describing several incidents in which children were grossly mistreated in Book VI, Chapter 4, of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (available online free at Project Gutenberg). Basically Ivan is charging that, even if He offers a place in Heaven in the end, the kind and amount of evil that God allows to take place in the world casts doubt on His character and/or power. In other words, he raises what is known as “the problem of evil.”

This fall the Life small group that my wife and I attend plans to study the problem of evil (and suffering) using a booklet by Randy Alcorn based on his If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil (Multnomah Books, 2009). As I did when we studied Ephesians 6:10-20 in May, I’m going to post here comments and questions on what we study. Hopefully the group’s study and what I share of it here will result in our being encouraged by what the Bible reveals about evil and suffering and being strengthened to hold onto our faith when we encounter storms in our lives. I plan to publish the first post in that study on July 26. However in the two weeks before then I plan to consider what the opening and closing chapters of the book of Job reveal about the problem of evil.

But back to Ivan’s challenge. Aloysha answers softly, “No, I wouldn’t consent.” However he goes on to answer with flashing eyes a question that Ivan had asked before issuing the challenge, “Is there in the whole world a being who would have the right to forgive and could forgive [the horrible suffering that people had inflicted on children in the incidents that he had described]?” Here is his answer: “You said just now, is there a being in the whole world who would have the right to forgive and could forgive? BUt there is a Being and He can forgive everything, all and for all, because He gave His innocent blood for all and everything. You have forgotten Him, and on Him is built this edifice, and it is to Him they cry aloud, ‘Thou art just, O Lord, for Thy ways are revealed!'”

Similarly Randy Alcorn concludes in his booklet that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is God’s answer to the problem of evil. I hope to demonstrate this to the Life group and here in the next few months.

Next week I’ll honour Canada Day by posting an article on it by a guest author, Allison Hunter-Frederick, and the following week I’ll post the update on the comments that I made on books opposing open theism in my initial “Some Books on Open Theism” post.


3 thoughts on “The Problem of Evil

    1. Bob Hunter Post author

      Thanks for the encouragement, Rodney. Unfortunately most members of our Life group don’t use the Internet. Hopefully those in it who do use the Internet will share their thoughts here as well as in our group discussions. However your saying “as well as the groups maybe” has given me the idea of my trying to share here some of what is said in our group discussions, either in follow-up posts or in comments on the posts. Thanks for the idea.


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