Advent and the Problem of Evil

Most attempts to answer the question how can a righteous God allow so much evil and suffering in the world? fall short, in my opinion, in two ways.

Looking at our lives now under the aspect of eternity may not solve the problem of evil entirely, but it gives a perspective that can be of great comfort to a suffering Christian.  Furthermore, many of the cases that seem so problematic–why did those children die?  why did God let those innocent people get killed?–have to do with death, and if death is mitigated by an afterlife that goes on forever, the examples can lose their force.

 

Fleming Rutledge reminds us that Advent is not primarily about the baby Jesus.  Rather its main emphasis is the Jesus who comes as the mighty judge who will set the world aright.  That was the theme of John the Baptist:  “He who is coming after me is mightier than I. . . . His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:11–12).  Which relates Advent to the problem of evil.

Most attempts to answer the question how can a righteous God allow so much evil and suffering in the world? fall short, in my opinion, in two ways:

(1)  They speculate about God apart from His incarnation in Christ.  From a Christian perspective, you just can’t do that.  Christ is how we know the Father.  Apart from Christ, God will be terrifying.  Also, approaching the problem of evil apart from Christ almost always concedes the assumption that the skeptics start from:  That God is far above His creation, looking down on all of the suffering and evil that goes on and does nothing.  The God of Christianity, though, is precisely the one who “has come down from heaven” (in the words of the Nicene Creed) to enter the human condition in all of its suffering and evil.

Not only was God “made flesh,” becoming fully human, He somehow  on the Cross “bore our sins in his body” (1 Peter 2:24) [that is, took into Himself all our evil]  and “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4) [that is, took into Himself all our suffering].  [Question:  We hear a lot about how Jesus bore our sins.  Why do we never hear much about how he also bore our griefs and sorrow?]

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