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Why Tragedy

Why Tragedy

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Published by glennpease
Why is evil and tragedy so real when God made all things good? Theodicy deals with defending God's goodness in a world with so much that is far from good.
Why is evil and tragedy so real when God made all things good? Theodicy deals with defending God's goodness in a world with so much that is far from good.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 28, 2009
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08/23/2010

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WHY TRAGEDYWHY TRAGEDY? Based on Job 1:6f By Pastor Glenn PeaseElie Wiesel, who survived Hitler's blood bath for the Jews, as devoted his life to telling theworld of this tragedy that he feels surpasses hell in its horrors. His books have motivated othersto write so that there now exists a holocost literature. There are books, plays, articles, and poems,about history's most unbelievable tragedy, which is the brutal murder of six million Jews. Wieseldid not see the entire million children who were killed, but he saw enough so that he was never thesame. He wrote:"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which hasturned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seventimes sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forgetthe little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned intowreathes of smoke beneath the silent blue sky."In another place he wrote that people tend to think that a murderer weakens when facing achild. The child reawakens the killers lost humanity and he can't go through with it. But it didn'thappen. "Our Jewish children had no effect upon the killers. Nor upon the world, nor uponGod." The result was that Wiesel did not respond like Job, but like Satan expected Job torespond. Wiesel wrote, "Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Howcan a Jew say anything religious thereafter?"Wiesel survived the tragedy but his faith did not. He could not understand how God couldallow evil to be so powerful, and so he concluded that God does not care. This is the test thatSatan put Job through many centuries earlier. All ten of his children were wiped out in one blow,and all of his wealth was destroyed the same day. Job also endured a holocost. His dream worldwas shattered by a nightmare, and his ideal family was instantly reduced to no family at all.There is obviously something wrong in a world where things like this can happen. If tragedywas just an isolated incident here and there, and limited to the bad guys, we could go along withJob's friends, and the problem of suffering would be easily solved. But tragedy does not have anyrespect of persons. The Jonestown massacre was not a mafia convention, but over 900 mostlyinnocent people. They were women and children, many of whom were good and godly. The worseairplane crash in American history did not go down with a load of pimps and prostitutes, but withrespectable citizens, some of whom were God's children. War, famine, and terrorism are snuffingout the lives of thousands every year, and disease takes a terrible toll, and in all cases the goodguys as well as the bad are victims.If the problem of suffering in this world does not bother you, you are yourself suffering fromhardening of the heart, of softening of the brain. Those who study Job's sufferings, and thetragedies of the world are forced to consider the subject called Theodicy. Theodicy is theustification of the ways of God to men. There have been many books written on this area of theology. Joni's second book, A Step Further is a Theodicy, and it is a good one. Many feel thatthe book of Job itself is a Theodicy. A Theodicy strives to show that as bad as things are, God isPage 1
 
WHY TRAGEDYgood and He is in control, and evil is not winning the battle. A Theodicy is the defense of God in aworld where evil often seems to dominate.The book of Job opens up the window of heaven, and enables us to see the problem of sufferingfrom a broader perspective. Job himself did not see what we can see. He had to go through histragedy believing that God was the sole cause of it all. Life is so much harder when you have onlya partial perspective. Most of the ways we explain suffering are only partial, and none of them fitevery situation. A wife comes to consel and you are not long in listening to her story before youcould watch her husband hang with a smile on your face. Then he comes in and tells his side, andyou wonder why there is nobody taking a collection to hang his picture in the hall of fame forendurance. The point is, when you see life only from one side you have a distorted view. We havea distorted view of most of life, and especially life's tragedies.The first thing the book of Job does for us is give us an insight into the conflict in heaven thatexplains some of the tragedy on earth. God gives us a wider perspective so we can avoid thepartial perspective of Job's friends. Satan is no equal to God, for God is clearly supreme. He setsthe limits to how far Satan can go. Nevertheless, He does give Satan the authority to test Jobwithin those limits. Who then is responsible for the tragedies Job suffered. Is it God for allowingSatan the freedom to test him, or is it Satan, for he is the one who actually carries out thediabolical plot. He motivates the enemies of Job to come and rob him and kill his servants. Heproduced the tornado and guided it to destroy the home where all Job's children were. Satanmasterminded the whole series of tragedies, and so he is clearly responsible. God is only partiallyoff the hook, however, for He gave Satan the permission. That is why we need a Theodicy. Weneed to explain how God can be good and just in doing this.The book of Job is teaching us that God is soverign and is the supreme authority so that evenSatan can only operate by his permission. But yet there is great evil that results from thispermission to do that which God Himself would never do. If God in His soverignty allows othersto do what He would never do, we can only conclude that God considers some other values greaterthan the prevention of all evil. If God can prevent evil by His soverign power, but choses not toprevent it, we are forced to conclude that either God is not good, or that God permits evil for agreater good. Weisel choose to believe the first, and Job choose to believe the second. Job, of course, made the wise choice, but we must still ask why? Why is Job's choice the best, and howcan God's allowing tragedy be justified. Theodicy is the name for the answers to that question.The classical Christian answer is the theodicy of freedom. God could have said to Satan, "Hitthe road you cynic. Your pessimisim about Job farce. Don't come back until you have developedthe skill of possibility thinking." God could have used His soverignty that way, but instead, Hechose to accept the challenge of Satan and allow him to test Job. God gave Satan freedom to dowhat was evil. Just as He gave man the freedom to do what was evil. If God is willing to let evilexist for the sake of freedom, then freedom has to be one of the greatest values in all the universe.When God made Adam and Eve He also gave them freedom to do evil. He warned them not to eatof the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but He gave them freedom to do so. He could haveeasily prevented it but did not. We see that evil existed before man.Page 2
 
WHY TRAGEDYAs we examine freedom we discover that it is really the basic source of all evil, and yet, it is themost treasured value of God and man. The only way we can justify God's allowing Satan to testJob, and Hitler to test the Jews, and all of the other holocosts of history, is to grasp the theodicy of freedom. St. Augustine in the fourth century was the first to put this into systematic form. Eversince then it has been the traditional view of both Catholics and Protestants. Most Christianshardly ever consider it, but the book of Job forces us to do so. Since God created everything thatis, and said it is very good, even Satan was made good. God created no natures or creatures thatwere evil. If God had made Satan evil then God would be solely responsible for the evil in theuniverse, but God made everything good.How then could evil ever get started in a good universe where all creatures and all things weregood? It came in by way of God's greatest gift to His highest creatures. It was by means of thegift of freedom. God could have prevented evil very simply by withholding the gift of freedom.God had the choice of making a world where no evil could exist, but He did not do it. At least inour world He did not do it. God may have created hundreds of worlds where there is no evilbecause there is no freedom. There could be worlds where all is beautiful and not one sin becauseall of the beings that inhabit it are programed to do only what is good.We live in a different kind of world than that. Those worlds are mere toys compared to ourworld. For here everything is real. There is life and love and loyalty. But there is also sin and eviland death because of the freedom of will. Those who think God controls all that happens in thisworld have a misconception of the value of this freedom of the will in God's value system. Itmeans everything to God to have free willed beings to relate to. They are not machines, but realpersons who are able to fellowship with Him. Their love and obedience is priceless, because theyare freely given, and not the automatic response due to programing. Islam says all is automatic,and God is the cause of all good and evil. Nothing can be changed for all is determined. This ispure fatalism and not the Biblical view of the freedom of choice.As on earth so it is in heaven; you get what you pay for. The cost of this type of world we livein is enormous. The cost is the risk of evil, for freedom to be real there must be allowance for thechoice of evil. There is no way to have freedom and avoid the possibility of evil. Satan was madewith the same freedom to chose good or evil. What is evil? Since God is the creator of all, andGod is good, evil is any use of freedom which is contrary to God's will, and what He would haveHis creatures choose. When any free willed being chooses to do what God would not haveprogramed them to do, had He made them robots, that is evil.These kinds of choices must be possible for there to be true freedom. Where there is noalternative there is no freedom. If you have to vote for the dictator in power, and there is noalternative, you are not in a free country. If you have to do the will of God, and there is no way todo what He does not will, you are not in a free world. What all this means is that evil is a necessityin the kind of world we live in. It is God's will that evil be possible, but it is not His will that it beactual. That is, God wills that you have the freedom to choose evil, but He does not will that youmake that choice. God makes evil possible by granting free will, but only free willed beings canmake evil actual by their choices. God makes man free to murder, but He does not will that theydo so. In fact, He clearly wills that they do not and threatens severe punishment if they do. WhoPage 3

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