The Problem of Evil and the Bible (Part 2)

Stained glass of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Vienna, Austria, Europe


            As we move from introductory matters in part 1 to a biblical response to the problem of evil here in part 2, I will begin by first setting forth the four main points of my biblical theology of suffering as theodicy. Next, I will present these four points by briefly discussing select Old Testament and New Testament passages that substantiate and promote this theology of suffering while avoiding the pitfalls of proof-texting.

With regard to my four main biblical points, first, evil entered into the world due to the choice of humanity, not the choice of God: this was the origin of evil in the world. Secondly, the biblical witness describes how evil, suffering, and sin spread pervasively throughout the world shortly after its inception. Third, the Bible asserts that it is necessary for God’s people to endure evil and suffering in this world in order to inherit the goodness of the next. Lastly, the Bible foretells of the ultimate defeat of evil when Jesus returns to the earth to raise the dead, consummate the end of all things, bring the kingdom of God in all its fullness, and make all things new, the results of which entail no more suffering, pain, or evil.

I. The Origin of Evil in the World

Firstly, according to Genesis, suffering and evil entered the world when Adam and Eve disobediently ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3:6). The Bible says that when they ate, their eyes were opened and they knew good and evil (Gen 3:7).[1] Thus, in a perspicuous manner, the Bible declares that humans are responsible for the problem of evil in the world, not God as many nontheists purport. However, someone would object, “Why did God allow both good and evil to be known in the first place? Why not just good?” This question will be answered as we move forward. For now, the point is simply that God indeed allowed humankind to choose for themselves whether or not they would know good and evil. However, God does not leave humanity in this place, subject to horrendous evils, but rather he responds and acts to eradicate this problem which we will explore in part 3.

[1] What did they know before? Did they know good and not evil? Or did they know nothing at all? Or only what God told them? This would require a more in-depth study and closer reading.


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