Can’t God just stop pain if he wants to? Why does he allow suffering if he is all powerful? Doesn’t this make God unloving and unjust?
Pastor Tim takes on this important question in today’s sermon.
Stephen Fry Interview:
Free will was the cause of our doing evil, and Your righteous judgment of our suffering it.
-St. Augustine, Confessions 7:3, 5th c.
Meanwhile let us remember that our ruin is attributable to our own depravity, that we may not insinuate a charge against God himself, the Author of nature. It is true that nature has received a mortal wound, but there is a great difference between a wound inflicted from without, and one inherent in our first condition. It is plain that this wound was inflicted by sin; and, therefore, we have no ground of complaint except against ourselves.
-John Calvin, Institutes 2:1:10, 16th c.
A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil. The fact that free creatures sometimes go wrong, however, counts neither against God’s omnipotence nor against His goodness; for He could have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good.
-Alvin Plantiga, The Nature of Necessity, 1974
The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs– heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
This is part four of a new sermon series at New Life Presbyterian Church called, Hard Questions, Real Answers. Here is the schedule of our sermon series with the topics we will cover:
|9/10/23||How can we say that Christianity is the one true religion?|
|9/17/23||How can we say that the Bible is the only true religious text?|
|9/24/23||How can we take the Bible literally?|
|10/1/23||How can a loving God allow suffering?|
|10/8/23||Doesn’t science disprove religion?|
|10/15/23||Doesn’t Christianity allow slavery?|
|10/22/23||How can you believe in hell?|
|10/29/23||How can I be in the Church when it has hurt me and so many others?|
|11/5/23||Isn’t Christianity anti-women?|
|11/12/23||Isn’t Christianity homophobic?|
|11/19/23||How can we adhere to a religion with so many problems?|