Doctrine of Evil Final Woodbridge Essay

Submitted By simonemel
Words: 4364
Pages: 18


Themes for Dealing with the Problem of Evil

Submitted to Dr. Russell Woodbridge in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course

Theo 626 – B04
Introduction to Seminary Studies


Simone Atkinson
March 9, 2014

Table of Contents
Introduction 1
Development of the Doctrine of Evil 3
The Nature of the Problem of Evil 5
Current Solutions Presented on the Problem of Evil 6
Finitism 7
God’s Goodness Modified 8
Denial of the Problem of Evil 10
Themes for Dealing with Evil 11
Evil is Necessary as a Part of Creation 11
Clarifying What is Good versus Evil 12
Evil Results from Sin 14
Application of the Doctrine of Evil for the Church Today 15
Conclusion 15

The issue of God and evil is an important theological subject in Christian theology. The problem has had various solutions and the Book of Job addresses the problem of evil. However, the question still arises as to why righteous people suffer. Although a partial answer is given in 1 Peter, James 1 and Romans 5, the subject continues to attract theological and philosophical interest in religious studies and the Christian community today.1 The main problem lies in the premise that Christianity insists that God is omnipotent and is simultaneously perfectly good.2
Erickson notes that there are two types of evil in the discussion. First, there is natural evil that is void of man’s will or actions and there is evil that is referred to as acts or aspects of nature that works against humans. These include destructive forces such as hurricanes and tornadoes and other catastrophic occurrences that lead to the loss of life and property. There is also the suffering and loss of life that is caused by diseases and illnesses that bring pain and suffering to man. 3 Second, there is moral evil that is based on the choices and actions of man who are free moral agents here on earth. Circumstances of wars, crime and issues such as discrimination and injustices are just a few examples of such types of moral evil. While moral evil is caused by the exercise of man’s free will, natural evil is a part of God’s creation.4 The salient issues to be discussed in this paper will include the nature of the problem of evil as it relates to God’s omnipotence and his goodness in terms of his attributes of love, mercy and patience. The paper will then discover and review several types of solutions to the problem of evil that includes finitism, a modification of the concept of God’s goodness and a denial of the presence of evil altogether. Then several themes of discussion for dealing with the problem of evil will be covered since no one solution has been found sufficient to deal with the problem. This paper argues that a total solution to the problem of evil is beyond human capabilities and the problem is best dealt with in terms of several themes that focus on God’s sovereignty and His positive relationship with human freedom and independence. This discussion is important for the Christian community as it explores an understanding of human freedom in synthesis with God’s sovereignty. In addition, if Christians are unable to understand the subject of the problem of evil, they will be faced with the challenge of ministering to non-believers who use the problem of evil as a reason for rejecting belief in God.

Development of the Doctrine of Evil
Historically, the problem of evil has been discussed in many forums and debates. Gnosticism, for instance, had a dualistic world view. God and the spirit were good and all created mater was evil. They separated a superior entity form God, an imperfect being called the Demiurge, whom they believed to be the creator and ruler of the world and an evil being. They denied Christ’s humanity and saw Christ as the one sent to rescue particles of spirit trapped in matter.5
Then there are theodicies that can be defined as theological attempts “to justify