Why is there so much evil and suffering in the world if the Judaeo-Christian God exists? This question presents us with the challenge known as the logical problem of evil. The solution to this problem, Scripturally and logically, is the high value placed on significantly free (ie libertarian free will (LFW)) people (see post).
A common challenge to the free will defense (FWD) is that God could create a world in which significantly free people never “go bad”. The FWD, as posited by philosopher Alvin Plantinga, however, rests on the idea that creating people with LFW makes such a world impossible (quotes).
God can create free creatures, but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all. … He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so.
C.S. Lewis would agree with Plantinga, a world in which people are significantly free yet never do anything but good is not possible, even for an omnipotent God. Continue reading
Irenaeus was a bishop and theologian during the 2nd century. His 5 part work entitled Against Heresies gives us a view into the early church. As Christmas approaches, here are some of his thoughts on the Incarnation (III.20).
Just as the physician is proved by his patients, so is God also revealed through men. And therefore Paul declares, “For God has concluded all in unbelief, that He may have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:32) [saying this in reference to man], who had been disobedient to God, and being cast off from immortality, then obtained mercy, receiving through the Son of God that adoption which is [accomplished] by Himself.
This adoption, which is a work of God, is granted to all who have an active faith in God and the salvation that comes through Christ.
For he who holds, without pride and boasting, the true glory (opinion) regarding created things and the Creator, who is the Almighty God of all, and who has granted existence to all; [such an one,] continuing in His love and subjection (obedience), and giving of thanks, shall also receive from Him the greater glory of promotion, looking forward to the time when he shall become like Him who died for him,
But this promotion is only possible because the Word was willing to become flesh (John 1:1,14). Continue reading
Irenaeus, a 2nd century theologian, defended Christianity from the Gnostic philosophies that were popular at the time. His 5 volume work, Against Heresies, dedicates the first two volumes to describing the Gnostic views and then precedes to dismantle them in the remaining volumes.
Throughout the work we are invited to explore the fundamental beliefs of the early church as they are contrasted with the opposing system.
Underlying Irenaeus’ defense lies the questions: how do we know what the truth is? and how do we decide between different interpretations of Scripture?
The heretics did not just offer a different worldview. They were using Scriptures to uphold their ideas – which centered on two gods – a good one and an evil one. It was the evil god who created the physical world that we must rid ourselves of. Continue reading