Philosophical, and Emotional Reflections on a Perpetual Question by Joe Rigney (original source here)
Joe Rigney (@joe_rigney) is assistant professor of theology and Christian worldview at Bethlehem College & Seminary and author of The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts. He is a pastor at Cities Church.
Where was God?
The question is always the same.
After the initial shock and horror subsides, after the news crews go home, we’re always left with the same question: Where was God?
Did he know it was going to happen? Was he aware of the shooter’s plans? Does he have foreknowledge, foresight, the ability to peer into what for us is the unknown future? Christians can’t help but say yes. God knows the end from the beginning. Indeed, he declares the end from the beginning (Isa 46:9-10), and this exhaustive foreknowledge is one of the distinguishing marks of his deity.
Was he able to prevent it? Was his arm too short to make a gun misfire, to cause an evil young man to have a car wreck on the way to his crime, to give an off-duty police officer a funny feeling in his gut that would cause him to drive by an elementary school? If God can’t prevent something like this, then what good is he? Why pray for God’s help if he can’t actually keep murderers from executing children?
But, of course, the Bible says more than that God could have prevented it; it says that it occurs “according to the counsel of his will” (Eph 1:11). Indeed, he works all things according to the counsel of his will. And when the Bible says ‘all things,’ it means all things:
This ‘all things’ includes the fall of sparrows (Matt 10:29), the rolling of dice (Prov 16:33), the slaughter of his people (Ps 44:11), the decisions of kings (Prov 21:1), the failing of sight (Exod 4:11), the sickness of children (2 Sam 12:15), the loss and gain of money (1 Sam 2:7), the suffering of saints (1 Pet 4:19), the completion of travel plans (Jas 4:15), the persecution of Christians (Heb 12:4–7), the repentance of souls (2 Tim 2:25), the gift of faith (Phil 1:29), the pursuit of holiness (Phil 3:12–13), the growth of believers (Heb 6:3), the giving of life and the taking in death (1 Sam 2:6), and the crucifixion of his Son (Acts 4:27–28). (John Piper, “Why I Do Not Say ‘God Did Not Cause This Calamity, But He Can Use It For Good’”)
All things — good, bad, ugly, and horrific — are ordained, guided, and governed by the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
Does disaster befall a city unless the Lord has done it (Amos 3:6)? What about a school? I don’t say that lightly. I realize what I’m saying. Or rather, I know what the Scriptures are saying. I’ve wept with parents as they watched their child die slowly of an incurable disease. I’ve watched dementia rob me of my father, taunting me and my family with his slow death. I realize that confessing God’s absolute sovereignty over all things, including the pain in my lower back and the cruel disease stalking my dad and the horrific actions of a wicked man in Connecticut, is hard to fathom. But I’m not helped at all by removing God from the equation, by making him a spectator watching the tragedy unfold on CNN like the rest of us. If he can’t keep evil from happening on the front end, then how can he possibly bring us comfort on the back end?
It’s questions like these that have driven me again and again to the Scriptures. And what I’ve found there is a wealth of help in navigating the problem(s) of evil (there’s not just one, you know).
There’s the biblical-theological problem: What does the Bible teach on God’s goodness and the reality of evil, and how can we coherently put the pieces together?
There’s the philosophical problem: What is the relationship between creation, sovereignty, causation, freedom, and moral responsibility? God is all-wise, all-powerful, and all-good. Why then does evil exist?
And then there’s the real problem, the deepest problem, the one that in many ways drives the others and maintains their potency. I mean the emotional problem of evil. I mean the deep and profound revulsion we feel toward pain, the sense of outrage that we feel when we witness blatant atrocities and horrific suffering. I mean the howl of the soul that echoes in the recesses of our being when we’re confronted with cancer, genocide, hurricanes, rape, fatal car wrecks, school shootings, earthquakes, sex-trafficking, and the institutionalized murder of the weakest members of the human race. Whatever solution we pose to the theological and philosophical problem of evil should also at least attempt to address the psychological, emotional, and pastoral questions that well up in our hearts and minds.
This essay is an attempt to do just that. Here at Christmastime, in a season of grief and sorrow as well as expectation and hope, among a people who have eaten their fill of tears, I’d like to make a humble and serious attempt to wrestle with the problem(s) of evil, to shed light on this perpetual and vexing challenge to the coherence of our faith and the integrity and of our hearts.
The Author’s Dilemma
Imagine the following conversation between two bookish college sophomores, sitting at a coffee shop just off the university campus. . .
“Face it; Suzanne Collins is a monster. All you have to do is skim the chapters. You can’t miss her atrocities. The crippled boy hacked down at the Cornucopia. The little girl with the spear through the chest. One of the “heroes” of the series “finishing off” one of the other contestants. I can’t fathom how Ms. Collins is still walking free in the streets. Have we really reached the point in our society where a woman can brazenly murder children and we just shrug our shoulders, give her a couple million dollars and a movie deal, and call it good?”
“No, your anger’s misplaced. Collins isn’t the evil one. Cato, the trained killer from District 1, he hacked the crippled boy. The boy from District 2 threw the spear (and then caught an arrow in his chest). And Peeta, the ‘star-crossed lover’ from District 12, he put that poor girl out of her misery (it was a mercy-killing, really). If you’re going to blame someone for the evil in Panem, blame the folks who wielded the swords and spears. Blame the Capitol for forcing them to compete. Blame the citizens for complying with the horror. Don’t drag Collins into this. She’s just the author.”
“Just the author? Seriously??? You think the characters just wrote themselves? For Peeta’s sake, the whole story is the product of her mind. Every knife thrust and snapped neck is her handiwork. Who do you think conceived the mutated creatures that tore the kids to shreds? Whose mind gave birth to tracker-jackers and their hallucinogenic stings? And don’t even get me started on the use of the bombs. You know the scene I’m talking about. Completely gratuitous and out of the blue. Pointless evil. Only a sadist could inflict such horrors.”
“No, it’s more complicated than that. She had reasons for why she included those things. The story she wanted to tell, the things she wanted to communicate: the existence of evil in her books served to unveil them. Here, let me try to justify the ways of Collins to man…”
Authors can get away with murder. Literally. And not just murder. All sorts of other atrocities are committed with pen and ink (or computer and word processor). Whether it’s J. K. Rowling and the death of Harry’s parents, or Suzanne Collins and her Death Match for children, or Tolkien unleashing orcs on unsuspecting villages in Rohan, authors spend their days bringing disaster and calamity on their characters.
It’s helpful when they admit it. Author N .D. Wilson cops to his authorial ‘crimes’ when he writes, “I have killed good people. I have orphaned children and have given villains a period of strength” (Notes from the Tilt-A Whirl, 110). Thanks, Nate. Your words will be used against you in a court of law.
Of course, no one is actually going to arrest an author for the evil in his novel, not least because his characters are merely fictions. But what if they weren’t? What if the characters had flesh and bone? What if they bled when pricked? What if their cries and pains and sorrows were as real as, well, you?
Are authors guilty of the evil committed by their characters? They certainly govern the worlds and characters they create, down to the last detail. But it would be odd to accuse Rowling of Voldemort’s evil. We don’t condemn Tolkien because he put Sauron in Middle Earth. The treachery of Saruman doesn’t defile him. He does not share the corruption of the Nazgul. And yet all of these are under his sovereign direction and design.
What if authors and their stories are pictures, images of something greater and grander? What if thinking about the existence of evil in Narnia, Middle Earth, and Panem can give us new eyes to see our own world and the curse that hangs over it, the sin and sorrow that grow like so many thorns and thistles infesting the ground? What if God is an author and this world is his story and we are his characters? Would we see the problem of evil in a different light? Would the problem of evil be solved? Or at least de-fanged? Can reflecting on authors and their stories help us to think more clearly about the Author and His story? I’d like to suggest that it can.
The Biblical Problem: God Is an Author, We Are His Characters
Here’s the basic claim: God is an Author. The World is his story. We are his characters.
Scripture points in this direction when it tells us that God preached the world into existence. “He spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Ps 33:9). He is the God who “calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Rom 4:17).
Not only did God create the world from nothing, he also sustains it from nothing at every point of its existence. All things were created by Christ (Col 1:16), and all things hold together in Christ (1:17). This too happens at the point of speech. “He upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb 1:3, italics added). If he stopped speaking, we would stop being. As N.D. Wilson reminds us, “This is his spoken world” (Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, 8).
Psalm 139 stresses that the speaking God is present everywhere, that there is no part of creation devoid of his presence:
“Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
No matter how high you go, no matter how low you go, no matter how far you go, God is present and active. Jonathan Edwards captures the extent of God’s presence and activity in the world in a wonderful section from a sermon on this passage.
God is present everywhere, whereas any other being is only so by His operation and influence. God is in the continual exercise of His infinite power and wisdom throughout the whole creation. Every moment takes a continual act of infinite power to uphold things in being. When we look upon anything that we can behold, we see the present operation of infinite power; for the same power that made things to be the first moment that they ever were is now exercised to make them to be this moment, and is continually exercised to make them to be every moment that they are.
God’s preservation of the world is nothing but a continued act of creation. We read that God created all things by the word of His power, and we read that He upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb 1:3)…. As it is the continual operation of God to uphold things in being, so it is the divine operation that keeps them in action. Whenever a body moves or a spirit thinks or wills, it is infinite power and wisdom that assists it. God has established the laws of nature, and He maintains them by his constant influence….With respect to ourselves, it is because God is in us that our blood runs, our pulse beats, our lungs play, our food digests, and our organs of sense perform their operation.
So when we look at the sun, moon, and stars above, or look upon the earth, or things below, if we look so much as upon the stones or under them, we see infinite power now in exercise at that place. If we look upon ourselves and see our hands or feet, these members have an existence now because God is there and by an act of infinite power upholds them. So God is not only everywhere, but He is everywhere working. (“God Is Everywhere Present”)
Psalm 139 also provides the most explicit biblical support for the author-story analogy. “All the days ordained for me were written in a book when as yet there were none of them” (Ps 139:16). God is an Author and our days are his story. Combined with the earlier passages on creation through speech, perhaps we can say this: God writes the book of history, and then reads it aloud into existence. He puts pen to paper and forms a plan for the ages, and then performs a dramatic rendering of his epic poem that is so potent that his words actually take on flesh.
This analogy tightens the God-world relation without abolishing the Creator-creature distinction. God is absolutely transcendent and wholly ‘other,’ and yet as C. S. Lewis reminds us, “The world is crowded with him; he walks everywhere incognito.”
The analogy enables us to affirm, with the Bible, God’s total and exhaustive sovereignty over all things while refusing to minimize the moral significance of our decisions. Because just as the Bible is clear about the ‘all things’ that God governs according to his wise counsel, it is equally clear that we are completely and wholly responsible for our thoughts, intentions, and actions.
We can’t absolve ourselves or others of blame because God freely and unchangeably ordains whatsoever comes to pass. “God made me do it” does not exonerate us any more than “the devil made me do it.” The Scriptures are clear: we can choose life or death (Deut 30:19). God will judge us for our actions (2 Cor 5:10) and words (Matt 12:36–37). We have some inherent capacity to respond to God’s commands, exhortations, and warnings (Exod 20:3; Gal 6:10; Rom 8:13); otherwise, he would not have given them. Our actions are instrumental and necessary in the completion of God’s purposes (“How will they hear without a preacher?” Rom 10:14). And answered prayer depends in some measure on our persistence (Luke 18:1-8) and our asking with right motives (Jas 4:2).
Of course, Christians who submit to Scripture will receive both strands of biblical teaching, regardless of whether the details and mechanics can be fully worked out and comprehended. But then, having embraced the teaching of the whole Bible, we can seek to press into God’s ways, laboring to understand what we have believed.
The analogy of an author and his story helps us to understand how God can be completely, totally, and exhaustively sovereign; how human beings can be responsible; and how their choices and actions can be meaningful and significant. It allows us to see layers in our understanding of causality.
Why was it always winter and never Christmas in Narnia? Because the White Witch enslaved the land.
Why was it always winter and never Christmas in Narnia? Because that’s the way Lewis wrote the story.
Why does Aslan have to die? Because Edmund was a traitor.
Why does Aslan have to die? Because that’s how Lewis wrote it.
Who killed the White Witch? Aslan did.
Who killed the White Witch? Lewis did.
Every aspect of the story—from plot to characters to background details—is under the sovereign control of the Author. And the actions of the characters are necessary for the resolution of the plot.
This is the sort of layered causality that we see in the story of Job, whose goods are stolen by Chaldean raiders, whose children are killed in a natural disaster, and whose body is afflicted with disease by the enemy of our souls himself. Yet in all of these calamities, in all of these evils perpetrated by Satan and carried out by wicked men and the forces of nature, Job recognizes the sovereign hand of the Lord, the one who is to be blessed when he gives and when he takes away (Job 1:20-21).
We see the same layered causality in the story of Joseph, who was sold by his jealous brothers in a fit of wickedness and sin, falsely accused by a spurned woman, punished by an angry ruler, but who, in all of it, was also sent by God to be the means of deliverance for his people. Joseph’s confession stands as a banner over every evil action ever committed by the wicked: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20). Not just “used it for good;” meant it for good. Intended it for good. Designed and purposed the very evil of men for the ultimate good of his people.
So then, the author-story analogy, with its layering of divine and human intentions in both good and evil acts, has biblical and theological legs, both in terms of explicit Scriptural warrant and potent explanatory force. But will it find further corroboration in the realm of philosophy?
The Philosophical Problem: God’s Will and Ours, and The Greater Good
Before exploring the analogy philosophically, it’s necessary to anticipate one of the chief objections to its use. Put simply, some might argue that the analogy breaks down because we human beings are more ‘real’ than fictional characters in a story. We have more existence than Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy (or Katniss, Peeta, and President Snow). The point is granted; in terms of being and reality, we have more substance than these fictitious persons.
But the triune God is more real than C. S. Lewis or Suzanne Collins. In fact, I’d suggest that the distance between real humans and the Pevensies is far less than the distance between Lewis and God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And this distance between human authors and the Divine author is what makes the distance between real persons and fictional characters largely irrelevant.
For therein lies the uniqueness and might of God’s creative power: when he invents a world other than himself, he makes it real and actual. Our fictional creations are phantasms, existing only in minds (or on pages or movie screens). But God’s creations have substance, really living and moving and having their being in him. As N. D. Wilson has written:
“[We are made of] words. Magic words. Words spoken by the Infinite, words so potent, spoken by One so potent that they have weight and mass and flavor. They are real. They have taken on flesh and dwelt among us. They are us.” (Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, 23–24)
It is because of God’s infinite, reality-causing power that the author-story analogy retains its potency, despite the vast distance between God’s creations and our own. It’s also this infinite power that forms one of the crucial steps in the philosophical problem of evil.
The Classic Problem of Evil
Stated simply, the philosophical problem goes like this:
(1) If God is all-knowing, then he knows what evil is.
(2) If God is all-good, then he himself is not evil and he would prevent evil, if he could.
(3) If God is all-powerful, then he can prevent evil.
(4) Evil exists.
(5) Therefore (1), (2), or (3) (or some combination), must be false.
The author-story analogy clearly holds to (1) and (3). It’s (2) that is denied, since God remains all-good even if he allows and ordains evil for his own wise and good purposes. In other words, God may ordain that evil exist because the existence of evil serves some greater good that God has in view. The author-story analogy sheds light on how God is not tainted by the evil of his creatures and on why God would ordain evil for his own wise purposes.
With respect to how an all-powerful Author is not tainted by the evil actions of his characters, philosopher Hugh McCann argues that we should distinguish between the following two statements:
God causes Pharaoh to harden his heart.
God causes Pharaoh hardening his heart.
In the former, God appears to be acting upon Pharaoh, manipulating his will in some way. In the latter, God simply causes Pharaoh himself in all of his willing and acting. The distinction is subtle but important.
The first way of viewing the relationship can tend to make God appear like a puppeteer pulling Pharaoh’s strings, doing violence to Pharaoh’s integrity as a responsible moral agent. The latter is more consistent with the author-story analogy. God’s creating and sustaining Pharaoh carries along with it the specific actions in which Pharaoh is engaged. Thus, God causes Pharaoh in his willing.
In this view, God is not doing any violence to Pharaoh’s will nor is he properly the author of Pharaoh’s evil. The evil is predicated to Pharaoh, not God. Instead the creation of Pharaoh is what is predicated to God. Thus God is not acting on Pharaoh’s desires or will in order to bring about the hardening. Rather, he is directly involved in the existence of Pharaoh, which includes the specific intentions, desires, and acts in which Pharaoh is engaged.
Such a view has the advantage of maintaining God’s complete sovereignty over all of our actions, while also preserving our genuine freedom. Our actions are as free as they can be. We form our intentions and carry them out. God does not act on our will from the outside, manipulating us to get his way. On the contrary, he has created us as beings that will. If he had not done this, there would be no “us” to will at all.
It is not as though God creates us and then places our desires, intentions, etc. inside of us. There simply is no “us” until these things are in place. God cannot manipulate us until we exist, and once we exist, he has no need to. He has created us (presumably) exactly as he wants us. And he further sustains us exactly as he wants at every step along the way. But at no point does he ever so act as to do violence to our wills. That is simply impossible on the view presented. Apart from his creative activity there is no will to act upon. He simply creates us exactly as we are, doing exactly what we’re doing. Both we and our decisions are not the result of God’s creative will, but the content of that will.
(The previous section is heavily indebted to McCann’s work. See the bibliography at the end of this essay.)
Evil as Narrative Tension
Turning to the question of why God would ordain that evil exist, again the analogy has much to commend itself. If the world is a story, then evil is really an example of narratival tension. Thus, we can see more clearly God’s reasoning in permitting and ordaining that evil exist. God ordains evil for the same reason that Lewis creates the White Witch: so that Aslan will have someone to conquer. Evil exists so that Good can triumph. Death exists so that it can be thrown into hell (Rev 20:14). And this does not in any way minimize the wickedness or horror of evil. God is sovereign and evil is real.
This way of looking at the world allows us to view every part of the story through two lenses: a wide lens and a narrow lens. The narrow lens keeps us from minimizing the reality of evil, as if pain and wickedness were simply illusions. We must never give in to the false logic that says, “Because God ordains all things, there is really no such thing as evil.” The Bible will have nothing to do with such reasoning. Christians do not shrink from calling evil “evil” (Gen 50:20), or calamity “calamity” (Isa 45:7), or disaster “disaster” (Amos 3:6). What’s more, we are called to weep with those who weep, to fight the curse that hangs over this fallen world, and to rage against the darkness with all the power of the light.
At the same time, we must not elevate evil above its station. Nothing happens apart from God’s wise and good decree. Therefore, we must not stop reading in the early chapters. The story does not stop, and so our wide lens allows us to see, or at least to trust, that Judas’s betrayal will not go unpunished, Wormtongue’s lies will not stand, and the blood of the martyrs will in fact bear fruit. This is a happily-ever-after kind of story. This is the kind of story where dragons are slain and tears are wiped away and faithful death is always followed by resurrection. Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
The Emotional Problem: Divine Author, Divine Character
This narratival account of evil and the greater-good theodicy that accompanies it has much to commend itself. It is biblically faithful and philosophically cogent. It deals honestly with the layers of reality as set forth in Scripture. It takes the question of God’s power and goodness and human freedom and accountability seriously, offering a nuanced perspective on causality and moral responsibility. And it offers us hope and stability in the midst of suffering and chaos, freeing us to rest in the goodness and wisdom of the divine author.
However, there’s one more piece to the puzzle, the place where God takes the analogy, shatters it, and puts it back together in a way that bends our very brains.
Begin with God’s revelation of himself to Moses in Exodus 3. God reveals himself in two ways: as “I Am Who I Am” and as “Yahweh,” the name by which he is to be remembered throughout all generations.
“I Am Who I Am” emphasizes that God is the Independent, Self-Existent One. He is not ultimately defined by anything outside of himself. He is absolute, independent, autonomous. He has no needs or unmet desires. He existed before creation and apart from creation. As Paul says, “God is not served by human hands, as though he needed anything” (Acts 17:24). He is perfectly and infinitely and completely happy in the fellowship of the Godhead.
So when God says “I Am Who I Am,” he is emphasizing his God-ness, his independent and self-sufficient existence.
The name Yahweh, on the other hand, stresses God’s relationship to his creation, the reality that he is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (Exod 3:15). He is Yahweh, a God merciful and compassionate, having mercy on whom he has mercy (Exod 34:6). What’s more, some Hebrew scholars believe that the name Yahweh is actually based on the causative form of the Hebrew verb hayah, “to be.” These scholars argue that we should interpret the name Yahweh as “The One Who Causes All Things to Be That Are,” or “The Causer of All Things” for short. Thus, the name Yahweh stresses the absolute sovereignty of God over all of creation.
Think of it this way: C. S. Lewis has existence apart from Narnia. Even if the Narnian chronicles were never written, C. S. Lewis would still exist. Thus, C. S. Lewis simply is who he is, apart from Narnia. However, in relation to Narnia, he is also the causer of all things that are. Narnia has no existence apart from him; therefore, were he to reveal himself in Narnia, Narnians could call him the Causer of All Things. So too with God. Apart from creation, he is God, I Am, the Self-Existent One. But in relation to creation, he is Yahweh, the Causer of All Things. Thus, “I Am” emphasizes God-as-God; Yahweh emphasizes God-as-Author.
Now here’s the amazing thing, the piece that I’d missed for so long. How do we know that God is God? How do we know that God is the Author, the Causer of All Things? Answer: God reveals it to Moses in a burning bush, at a particular time, in a particular place. In other words, we come to know that God is self-existent and that he is the Author because God reveals himself as a character within the story. God is not merely the one in whom we live and move and have our being. He is also the one who speaks to Abraham at Mt. Moriah, who leads Israel through the wilderness as a pillar of cloud and fire, and who makes his presence to dwell in the temple in Jerusalem.
God-as-Author and God-as-Character means that we can view God’s relationship to the world in two complementary ways. On the one hand, he is transcendent and high and lifted up, looking far down upon the children of man. He is the Alpha and Omega, relating to creation atemporally, outside of time. If history is a great river, he views the entire sweep of it — twists and turns and all — in one comprehensive glance from his heavenly mountain.
On the other hand, he enters into his story as a character, walking with his creatures and engaging with them as fellow characters, rejoicing over their successes and grieving over their losses. He enters the river and rides the rapids with us, hands waving wildly in the air. This is the God who weeps, the God who repents, the God who changes his mind. This is the God who, though unchanging, becomes flesh and dwells among us.
Which brings us to Christmas. This is what the Incarnation is all about: the Author of the story becoming not just a character, but a human character. In this narrative, God is the storyteller and the main character. He is the Bard and the hero. He authors the fairy tale and then comes to kill the dragon and get the girl.
The Incarnation is God’s definitive answer to the emotional problem of evil. The living God is not a detached observer or absentee landlord. He doesn’t stand aloof from the suffering and pain and evil that forms the central tension of his epic. The God who is born is also the God who bleeds, the God who dies, the God who identifies with our sorrows by becoming the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief.
God comes down, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and draws to himself all of the sin and the shame, the rebellion and the hate, the sickness and the death, and swallows it whole. And he swallows it by letting it swallow him. The Dragon is crushed in the crushing of the Prince of Peace. The triumphant hour of darkness and evil occurs on the day we know as Good Friday.
This biblical paradigm frees Rachel to lament when Herod slays her little children, to weep that her little ones are no more, knowing that God is weeping with her, shedding Christmas tears of sovereign mercy. And it does so without removing the soul-anchoring consolation that the Author of this story has good and wise purposes in writing his story in the way that he does. We desperately need both aspects of the analogy. We need a Sovereign Author who crafts each chapter, paragraph, and sentence (no matter how horrible) into a fitting narrative, one in which evil exists to be crushed underfoot. And we need a Consoling Character, a very present help who identifies and suffers with the brokenhearted, entering into our pain and loss with love that will endure long after the last tear falls.
Because in the story God is telling, evil does not have the last word. Good Friday is not the end (which is why it’s so good). He burst from the spiced tomb on Resurrection Sunday, commissioned his disciples, and ascended to his throne, where now he sits until all of his enemies are subdued under his feet, including and especially Evil.
This then is the truth, goodness, and beauty of the Christian answer to the problem(s) of evil. It is the confession of Jesus Christ, the Divine Author who never himself does evil, but instead conquers all evil by enduring the greatest evil, and thereby delivers all those enslaved and oppressed by evil who put their hope in him.
O Come, O Come Immanuel.
Resources for Further Study
Wayne Grudem. “Ch. 16 God’s Providence” in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995.
Hugh J. McCann. “Divine Providence.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2012 Edition)
Hugh J. McCann. Creation and the Sovereignty of God. Indiana University Press, 2012.
John Piper. “Why I Do Not Say ‘God Did Not Cause This Calamity, But He Can Use It For Good’”
N.D. Wilson. Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009.