Theodicy – The Problem of Suffering

Theodicy – The problem of evil

Liberal Quote                The very presence of evil either contradicts the omnipotence of God, or the goodness of God.

Sproul Quote                The question of the origin of evil is the most difficult question that the Reformed world ever faces.

Definition of Theodicy   Philosophical attempt to justify God for the existence of evil in the universe.

Godfrey Liebnitz

Distinguished between 3 types of evil:

  1. Metaphysical Evil                  (Imperfection or lack in the realm of being) (Because you are still becoming)
  2. Physical Evil                             (Disease, Accidents, Floods, Fires …)
  3. Moral Evil                                 (Sin)

Physical Evil flows out of Metaphysical Evil, and Moral evil flows out of Physical Evil.

Basically, you are a victim of your environment – not yet perfection.

God cannot create Metaphysical Being – because everything created is dependent – or God would be creating God.

Therefore God created something Metaphysically imperfect – the best God could do.  God did the best He could do.

This theory was the object of the satire written by Voltaire called VanDeed.  (spelling ???)

Problems with this Theodicy:

Man could not be held accountable for something that we cannot help.  Similar to what is going on in the judicial realm when no one is guilty, everyone is a victim of their environment.

Moral evil would therefore be something other than sin.

Theological problem:   we hold to a creation that was finite, but not flawed by sin.

Free Will Theory

Appealed to by Augustine and Anselm.

Any time you sin, you sin because you would rather sin than obey God.  (Edwards’ strongest inclination theory)

How can I be held accountable for choices I made by my fallen nature?

Problems with this Theodicy:

Doesn’t answer the problem:  Why would a creature created in the image of God, holy with no evil inclination in his soul, how would this person be inclined to chose evil?

What was the prior inclination or cause for Adam choosing evil?

Where was their perfect desire to obey God?

The mystery of iniquity

What role did the Devil play in the scene with Adam and Eve?

Deception ???       No … they were clearly told by God not to eat of the tree.

Coercion   ???        No … they would not be held accountable for their misdeed.

Augustine’s View

What is evil?

Evil depends upon the good for its own definition and existence.

Evil is not an entity.

Evil is the lack of goodness, or the negation of goodness.

Good precedes evil, and therefore evil follows the good and is dependent on the good for its definition.

Non-goodness … Ungodliness … Unrighteousness

Evil does not have an independent existence of its own, but it is real.  It is not an illusion.

For there to be evil, there must be an ultimate good for that evil to be compared to.

Evil bears witness to the existence of God – the ultimate standard of goodness.

Doetchyevsky (sp??)            “If there is not God, then all things are permissible