Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

William Lane Craig explains why God permits evil and suffering

The first video is from his debate with Dr. Bruce Russell at West Point. Dr. Russell asks why an all-powerful, all-good, all-loving God would allow his creatures to suffer. Dr. Craig responds to the argument in the two clips below.

Part 1:

This is one my favorite debates. You can buy it here.

And here’s a clip from the re-match with Austin Dacey.

Part 2:

Craig says something like this in the first clip: (paraphrase)

It is not God’s purpose to create a comfortable environment for His human pets.  On the Christian view, we are not God’s pets.  And the purpose of life is not happiness, as such, but rather the knowledge of God and His salvation––which will ultimately bring true happiness.  But many evils occur in life which are utterly pointless with respect to producing human happiness.  But they may not be pointless with respect to producing a deeper knowledge of God.

I have to confess that the argument from evil and suffering lost all force for me when I began to think of it as the argument from self-centered hedonism, or “the argument from whining”. We don’t have a right to happiness in this life. That’s not the point of life. I think that God expects us to rise above that sort of selfish pleasure-seeking and to look to his interests – defending his reputation, telling people the truth about him, and achieving his goals. And it doesn’t matter if it makes us unpopular or causes us to suffer. We have to do the right thing, and there are no promises. Sometimes you will do everything right that God wants you to do, and you may still face some kickback. And it happened to Jesus.

When I look at Jesus I do not see a man trying to make himself happy in his own way. I do not see a man who views his relationship with God as a means of achieving happiness in this life. I see a man who thinks that his service to God may cost him everything, including his own life. The normal Christian life is a life of self-denial and suffering. We ought to do what is necessary (study, charity, chastity, sobriety, fidelity, self-sacrificial love, etc.) regardless of whether we like it. We do what is best for God. I think that some of us twist Christianity into hedonism. We just add an imaginary old man with a white beard sort of standing back and wishing us to have a good time in our own way. That’s not Christianity.

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What the Bible tells us about the character of God

Here’s a post by Matthew who blogs at iPandora. He explains how the personality of God as presented in the Bible is very different from our human personalities.

Excerpt:

In the timeline of the Promise Land journey, this event occurred just two months after God’s parting of the Red Sea, and only about 2 weeks after God had led His people to an oasis with 12 springs and 70 palm trees. In other words, God’s provision in greater and lesser (though still great) ways was fresh on the minds of His people.

Or was it.

Exodus 16 opens with the people grumbling.

And not just the regular travel pains, this is specific whining and wanting for the comforts of Egypt. God had shown them the Egyptians low regard for their lives. He’d shown them His own supremacy over and above the greatest kings of this earth. He’d shown them his tender and remarkable hand in the smallest of details by leading them to a symbolically perfect place of provision.

And they were already complaining.

Ingratitude is a morally despicable attitude and an ingrate is an ugly person. Yet here was the entire congregation of Israel grumbling at their want in this wilderness and wishing for the meat pots of Egypt.

If any of us were in God’s position, we’d consider ourselves quite justified in being incensed at the complaints of this recalcitrant and backward people. We’d rail at the ingrates and give the whole nation a dressing down they wouldn’t soon forget.

But God doesn’t.

And that’s where it is most true that this lion is no tame lion.

This rest is here, in which he explains what he means by that last line. But now I’m going to make a few points of my own.

Why do Christians today read the Bible when it is so old? Well, God wanted Biblical writers to record propositional statements about him so that we could all read about it and learn about what God is like. And what do we find in the Bible? Well, one of the most compelling reasons for people to consider the claims of Christianity is that when you read the Bible, you find out that God is not just a bigger version of man.

We can see this clearly when we look at Jesus the Messiah dying on the cross to atone for the sins of we, his rebellious murderers, or God the Father feeding the rebellious children of Israel when they are ungrateful for being delivered from slavery. God is not like us – he is different. He has his own character. And our job is to get to know him as he is, and then try to freely choose to act in ways that honor him as he is.

Tough Questions Answered wrote a recent series of posts on how NOT to read the Bible. Here’s part 1 and part 2.

My series on sin and Hell

This series explains why humans do with respect to God that gets us in trouble, how God has made a way for us to make it right, and how Christians can explain all of this to others without feeling ashamed to speak about it.

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