First Things First
This post will be a little more “religious” in nature, so if that’s not your thing you may want to check out now. It is also a very difficult and complicated conversation to have. I do not believe anyone, myself included, knows the correct answer for sure. I do not believe we could even articulate the correct answer since we are not God. This blog post is meant to share one opinion, of one possible answer to the question. I not only respect the different opinions than my own on this topic, but I believe most of not all opposing views are well thought out, intelligent and logically consistent within a given set of postulates or foundation truths. Having said that, here’s my opinion 🙂
The Kingdom of Heaven
My church home, Community Christian Church of Naperville (aka Yellow Box) is currently doing a series about Kingdom of Heaven. If you are a follower of Jesus, you know that followers have been called to work to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to the world around us. Of course, the big question in that is, what is meant by the Kingdom of Heaven?
I love the way our church defined it. The Kingdom of Heaven is defined as – God gets what God wants. That is the best definition of the Kingdom of Heaven I have ever heard. I love the simplicity of it, but I also love the deep and profound truths that simple statement is built upon. The two most important foundational truths behind that definition as they relate to the topic of evil are the following:
- What God wants is always good
- The story of creation and the Garden of Eden (paradise) was God’s intended design
- God does NOT get what he wants in this world
- The world was and is broken because of evil (sin) done by mankind
- God’s followers have to work hard to move things in the direction of what God originally wanted
Consensus is Difficult
Some or even many “Christians” would not agree with some or all of those stated foundational truths. Certainly many outside the Christian faith would not resonate at all with those concepts. For those of us who do believe in those two truths, how we interpret the world around us is always filtered through the lens of those two truths. They become logical pillars in the way we view the events and happenings around us.
Answering the question, Why does God allow bad stuff to happen? is much easier to answer if you agree with those two truths. God does not allow bad things to happen. They happen as a result of a fallen, broken world that has been and is being cursed by the evil and sin done by people. God never intended for the world to be this way – to have pain, suffering and injustice. As followers of Jesus, a big part of our daily mission, is to help make the world more like God originally intended it to be – alleviate pain, suffering and injustice.
Wars have been fought over the interpretations and worldview presented in the last couple paragraphs. Thousands of books have been written and hundreds of thousands of hours of debate has happened around this topic. We won’t do it justice in this blog post. What I would like to discuss, is one possible explanation of where evil would come from if everything God wants and creates is good.
The Original Source of Evil (or, one potentially legitimate original source)
There are three parts of the Bible that are relevant to this discussion. The first is Genesis, chapter 1. God says over and over again that everything he created was good. He also says that he created man and woman in his image. The second, comes from James, 1:13-15.
And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
The third, are the parts of the Bible that discuss Satan. What is important to note, is that Satan was created by God – so he must have started out good – but at some point early on in the story, he turns against God and chooses an evil path. So, if Satan started out good, what made him turn to evil? Was that God’s fault? If God did not create evil, where did it come from?
The passage from James says that, evil (sin) comes from our own desires. So, when Satan chose to sin and turn away from God towards evil, what made him do it? The passage from James is clear that God does not tempt. So, if everything was created good, where does the temptation comes from that causes Satan to choose evil?
I believe that one possible answer is that it comes from the desire to be God. For God himself to desire to be God is not evil, because he is in fact God. But when his creation has the desire to be God, that is evil (sinful) and that causes separation from God. Not because God separates himself from us, but because in choosing evil, we voluntarily choose separation from God – because we want to play the role of God in our lives – we desire to be God.
Did God Create Evil?
Satan desired to be God. In the creation story, Satan tempted Adam and Eve to desire to be God. The desire to be God, if you are God, is good and healthy. The desire to be God if you are not God, is evil and unhealthy – eventually leading to physical death, decay, etc. Since God created us with free will to choose, we can choose to let God be God, or we can choose the desire to be God. It is in this choice, that evil is created by our choice.
Creating the ability to choose not good does not in itself create evil. Only an actual choice made creates evil. At least that is the way I think of it. The ultimate, primal, first layer in the hierarchy, temptation of any created, intelligent being is the desire to be God. Every time that desire is played out, evil is created and good is cursed and forsaken.