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Will God Protect My Children?

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Will God Protect My Children?

My friend was not a Christian, but he was seriously considering it. He was one of my wild friends from my younger, crazier days. We used to drive from bar-to-bar looking for nothing but trouble.

We often talked about Jesus. I was one of those dichotomous Christians who did what he could to evangelize while neck deep in the clutches of carnality (now I am just dichotomized in other ways!).

He was an atheist and pretty determined to stand his ground. Initially, our reconnect involved uncomfortable re-telling’s of our former days of sin along with some (compromising?) laughter about such.

But we spent the next year talking about Christ Here we were a decade later having the same types of conversations during a different stage of life. He’s married with kids. I’m married with kids. He’s thinking about bigger, more profound things. I’m teaching about bigger and more profound things.

Hurdle #1 – “Do’s” and “Don’ts”

I was very excited and prayerfully hopeful about what God might be doing in his life. We talked on the phone about once a week. Often, late into the night. During these talks, he would present his objections and questions and I would present the possible answers. Sometimes he put his wife on speakerphone to ask her own questions and listen along.

I sent him a couple of books that really helped him overcome some of his misunderstandings concerning the nature of Christianity. Primarily, he saw Christianity as a legalistic set of “do’s and don’ts.” He had never even come in contact with the idea of grace. Our conversations culminated in his reading of Chuck Swindoll’s Grace Awakening. He was refreshed. Hurdle #1, successfully jumped.

Hurdle #2 – Intellectually Naive

In the backdrop of our conversations was his perception that Christianity was naive, with no place for serious intellectual conversations. We talked much about this and I sent him a copy of one of my favorite apologetics books (save the Open Theology leanings) Letters to a Skeptic by Gregory Boyd (I told you I loved Gregory Boyd!). He slowly began to see that the central tenets of Christianity were not only sustainable but ultimately persuasive. Hurdle #2: successfully jumped.

Through this process, his objections were slowly losing steam. It was incredible to see the slow transformation of his mind. The misinformation was corrected as intellectual conviction grew. He had only one step left: an act of the will to stand before Christ and proclaim his helpless condition and ask for mercy. We were almost there.

The Unexpected Question

It was the day of Angie (my sister’s) funeral. He came to my parent’s house along with many other guests after I had preached at the church. He sat by the side of the house, timidly lurking about, not really knowing what to say. He knew Angie well and, like the rest of us, was devastated and confused by her passing.

When we finally talked (it was the first time that I had seen him since our reconnect), I could tell something was on his mind, something that the tragic circumstances of that week brought to his mind. We began to talk outside by his car. He mentioned my sermon at the funeral and seemed very appreciative. We talked a bit about Angie and many of our friends that had shown up.

Then things turned serious.

Grief in Dialogue

“Look, Michael,” he said, as if all our conversation until this point was just a deterring prelude to something more, “I get it!”

“Get what?” I responded.

“I get it. Call me whatever you want—a believer, Christian, or whatever… I get it. I believe. I believe all that stuff about Christ.”

Then there was some silence. I knew there was something more coming.

He continued, “But I am scared.”

“Scared of what.”

“You love Jesus and have been doing so much for him,” he said. ”Yet look at what has happened to you. Look at what happened to your sister. Look at the pain of your family. Look at your mom. Especially your mom. Your poor mom. She has always been into Jesus. She is the best example of a Christian I know of. Look at what God is doing to her. I am scared. I am scared of God.”

Will God Protect My Children?

After another period of silence he asked the question of the hour, “Will God protect my children?” He went on, “Will he protect them or is he going to do to me what he did to your mom? Because from where I sit it looks like if you follow the Lord too closely, he brings terrible things into your life. I love my children and I am scared to death that he might hurt them or take them from me because I follow him… to test me or something. I don’t want that.”

Questioning God’s Intentions

My friend was no longer questioning the reality of God, Christ, the resurrection, or even his own need for a savior. He was questioning God’s plan. He was questioning God’s intentions. Simply put, he was scared of God.

This is really the broader question of suffering. But it is also particular. It is not, “Why does God allow suffering in general?” It was not even a “why?” question. It was a “will?” question. What will God do? What can I expect as a child of God? Is He going to require too much of me? It is a question of counting the cost of following the Lord.

How do we answer such questions? How should we answer them to avoid misinterpreting God?

3 Really Bad Answers

Wrong Answer #1

Yes, of course he will protect your children. That is one of the benefits of being a child of God. Sign the dotted line.

I have searched throughout the Scriptures and cannot find any guarantees that when we follow the Lord, we, along with our loved ones, fall under a shield of protection that guarantees physical longevity, health, or safety. Believe me, I have searched for such promises.

My friend Trevin Wax in his book Counterfeit Gospels calls this the “Therapeutic Gospel.” It is the Gospel that offers benevolent guarantees of mundane goodness. It is the Gospel that says that once you have faith in God, you can expect physical blessings and security. About this Trevin says:

“If you believe that coming to Christ will make life easier and better, then you will be disappointed when suffering comes your way. Storms destroy our homes. Cancer eats up our bodies. Economic recessions steal our jobs. If you see God as a vending machine, then you will become disillusioned when your candy bar doesn’t drop. You may get angry and want to start banging on the machine. Or maybe you will be plagued with guilt, convinced that your suffering indicates God’s disapproval of something you’ve done. When we emphasize the temporal blessings that come from following Christ, we plant the seeds for a harvest of heartbreak.” (p. 54)

Wrong Answer #2

No, he will not protect your children. There is a good chance that God will take them from you to test your faith. Its called “bearing your cross.”

This is also an answer we must avoid. Suffering and evil are a part of the fall and are in God’s hands. While God uses suffering to bring us closer to Him and while we should not be surprised by these type of trials (1 Pet 4:12), we don’t know what God is going to do in our lives.

Matthew 5:45 says that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Suffering and pain are part of life. They are a part of everyone’s life. There is no way to know what God is going to do. While God is not in the business of making sure everyone lives as long a life as possible, He does desire Christians to live as full a life as possible.

All Christians I know have their share of suffering. All people I know have their share of suffering. The major difference between the suffering of the believer and the suffering of the non-believer is that the believers’ suffering is full of purpose. Romans 8:28 says that God is working all things together for good for those that love him. This “all things” includes suffering.

One thing we can be sure of is that life is going to take many terrible turns, but knowing that these things have meaning and purpose makes it bearable.

Wrong Answer #3

You’re misinterpreting things here. God was not involved in the death of my sister. God wanted my sister to live, but she decided to take her own life. God is not in control of the well-being of your children either. He has a “hands-off” policy on these types of things.

This is often referred to as “Open Theology”. It puts God in the cheerleading section of the game of life. Many people do this so that they can live with the reality of evil. If God could not have stopped what happened, then He’s acquitted (in their mind) of any wrongdoing. However, this is not the God of Christianity. The God of Christianity is a God who is sovereign over everything that happens. Daniel 4:34-35 is one of the great passages in all of Scripture speaking of God’s sovereignty:

“His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?'”

Even Satan has to come to God for permission to act (Job 1:6-12).

God’s “Perfect” Plan and His “Redeeming” Plan

This does not mean that evil and suffering are part of God’s perfect plan, but they are a part of His redeeming plan. Death, sin, and suffering are all evil. They were brought into the world when man fell in Eden. But God’s redeeming plan uses sin to right the wrong.

This is why God brought the greatest evil in the history of the world upon His Son. What seemed to be a defeat when Christ died on the cross was a wonderful expression of God’s love, redemption, and sovereignty introduced, not by the will of man, but by the predetermined plan of God (Acts 4:27-28). God is in control of all things, even our suffering.

My Answer

I don’t know if God will protect your kids in the way that you desire. I really don’t. I am sorry.

I had no guarantees for my friend. There are no prenuptial agreements that we can ask God to sign.

In John 21 (I love this story), Christ has already risen from the grave. He is talking to Peter and has some hard news. He tells Peter, in essence, that he is going to suffer and die for his faith. Peter, curious and somewhat agitated, looks at his friend John, looks back at Christ and says, “What about him. Is he going to die too?” That is where we are. We come to Christ and say:

  • What about [fill in the blank]?
  • What are you going to do?
  • What is in store for me if I follow you?
  • Are you going to protect my children?

I suppose that the Lord’s response to Peter is the best answer we are ever going to get. Christ said to Peter “If I want him [John] to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22). In the Greek, this is emphatic:

You follow me. Take your eyes off the details of the future and you follow me. I have John under control. You follow me. Your children are mine and I love them. You follow me. I don’t follow you. You follow me.”

We don’t come to Christ because of guarantees of health, wealth, or protection from physical danger. We come to him because He is Lord. We don’t become Christians because of fringe benefits; we become Christians because Christianity is true. We come to Christ and bow our knee knowing He loves us enough to die for us. We come to Him knowing that His plan, whatever that may be, is full of love, purpose, and wisdom. We come to Him because of the guarantees of the life to come, not the guarantees of this life.

67 Responses to “Will God Protect My Children?”

  1. “My friend was not a Christian, but he was seriously considering it.”

    Becoming a Christian is not something that ‘we do’.

    We don’t make a list of pros and cons, size things up, and then make a choice.

    No one who is a Christian decided to be one. He calls us…and He chooses us. In the hearing of the gospel, faith is born (or not). “Faith is a gift of God.” Christianity 101

  2. Brother Stumblefoot 2014-08-04 at 10:30 pm

    I think God does “ultimately” protect our children, in that His plan of redemption is so much bigger than we have supposed. Luke 19:10; He. 2:9;1 John 3:8; He. 2:14,15 John 12:47; Luke 9:56 John 6:51,John 12:32; John 4:42; Ro. 5:18, 19; Ro. 11:15, Ro. 11:32; 2 Cor. 5:19, to list a few references.

    Sure, it can get very tough in this life, but the ultimate plan of a universal redemption through Christ’s death on the cross gives us a promise that one day “All Shall Be Well,” as one writer has put it.
    `

  3. God lets it all happen. But He uses it ALL for His purposes.

    Don’t think so?

    Just go to any children’s hospital. Walk through the cancer ward.

    • …and there you will see proof that if there is a God, he certainly stopped caring about us a long time ago…

  4. As much as you point out some legitimate errors, your answer is a bit lame and empty. What about Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

  5. He is a hard God. How many children were drowned in the flood? A man was blind all his life just so God could demonstrate his glory. Joseph was forgotten in prison for 7 years until God decided to use him. Canaanite women and children were mercilessly slaughtered. We generally come to faith believing in the loving, “soft” God of our own making, but He is hard. How many of us would torture a child for his own glory? How many of us, if we could save all people from a burning building would only save a few? Or how many of us would desire to see them burn forever and ever? This is hard to explain. But it needs to be discussed. For me, it only makes sense in a world where God allows some limited choices to be made. With choice comes responsibility and consequences.

  6. really,no other option than full trust…

    they shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.

    Jesus said “You do not want to go away also, do you?” and one must answer Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

    fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell then there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment and the one who fears is not perfected in love

    The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped…so return to your rest, O my soul, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

  7. Nayda Wallace 2014-08-06 at 2:37 pm

    Hi Michael:

    Appreciate your comments re: sovereignty of God. When facing believers who question life events I always answer thusly: “God is God and I’m not!” It’s simple really. If God managed things the way we would choose, he would be a lesser God with just a finite mind. I have confidence knowing God thinks and plans with God-thoughts and God-plans. In this I can rest.

    Nayda Wallace

  8. This is what I do not understand. When confronted with the realities of this world, rather than construct a worldview in light of the evidence, so many Christians shrug their shoulders and say “I just have to trust that I’m right!”.

    The “I don’t know” answer that Michael provides is telling. It is not what one would expect after reading, say, Jesus tell the apostles that if they ask for anything in His name, He will give it. What it says is that there is a belief that God is perfectly good, all-powerful, all-knowing, etc…. but that these attributes tell us nothing about something as simple as protecting children. We could probably successfully predict 99% of people’s responses on this “issue”, despite limited faculties. Yet, with some Being who is supposed to have both the desire AND ability, and we “don’t know”…?

    We could try, as John B. (and others) does, that free will is the culprit. But free will does not create droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. Sure, a parent might make the free will decision to leave their child in the car, but that doesn’t mean God has to let the child die.

    At some point, when confronted with these realities – which we KNOW are true – one has to ponder what it means for God to be “good” and/or all-powerful, all-knowing, etc. And if one still calls God “good”, what does that even mean? That He allows people to suffer “for His glory”? Why is THAT good?

    One has to be REALLY convinced that God is “good” in order to insist, as pretty much anyone will, that the ONLY option is to just believe/trust/hope/cross your fingers. The question I would then pose is what evidence is there of God’s goodness that so overwhelms the alternative of reconsidering what/who God might be?

  9. Could occams razor apply here? I think we live in a world where things happen as I would expect them too. I see no reason at all to inject a supernatural being into any explanation.

    I saw a news video once where a muslim mans house had just been destroyed by an earthquake. He just accepted it as the will of Allah…

    I believe there are plenty of “promises” in the bible that events in people’s lives should be testable as to whether or not christians/muslims/whatever are really getting some sort of extra support from a deity. I’m just not seeing it.

    • @Jimmy, Occam’s Razor *could* apply, but this is a device that is only used when all the evidence is considered equal. All things considered, if we think the evidence is essentially balanced, then the simplest explanation is preferred. I don’t think the evidence is balanced; I think it’s tipped in the favor of theism.

      So the question then becomes what kind of deity might it be? In the modern era, we pretty much universally assume that God is good, and that is what I’m bringing into question here. Assuming/concluding that God exists, why is it that we think that “God is love” or that “God is good”?

  10. @Jimmy, if such things were testable then they would be natural, and not supernatural. The whole claim of religion is that there is a supernatural realm which by its nature is not testable because it is not controlled by causes originating from within our universe.

    @JB Chappell, the alternative to there being a good God is really that there is no God at all. You don’t need a God to explain why things are bad. You need one to explain why things are good. There’s some glass half empty, glass half full thinking here.

    • @John, the alternative to there not being a good God is not that there is no God, but that there is a God who is amoral, or who is bad, or a mix of both good and bad, etc. The dichotomy doesn’t make sense. I agree that we “don’t need a God to explain why things are bad”. But we obviously don’t need God to explain why things are good, either. On the other hand, we do need God to explain why there’s anything at all. Or, at the very least, we have good reasons for thinking there is a God. But a God who created the universe is not necessarily a perfectly good being.

  11. I think that the author nails the answer, when he deduces: “I don’t know if God will protect your kids in the way that you desire. I really don’t. I am sorry.”

    Sometimes it’s OK to accept the mystery of God and our Christian faith.

    Just this past week, Christian children were beheaded in front of their mothers by the ISIS Islamic Army in Iraq. Raising our children to be Christians endangers their lives, rather than protects them. This is the mystery of martyrdom. It is the mystery of the cross.

    Lord have mercy on us

    • @Pete, if I’m a detective and I come up with some half-baked idea (and I’m not trying to say Christianity is half-baked), and people point out multiple things wrong with my idea, would an appropriate response be “sometimes its OK to accept the mystery”?

      At some point there has to be an objective analysis as to whether one is simply “accepting a mystery” or just labeling “OK with serious worldview flaws” as “mysterious”.

  12. “We come to Him because of the guarantees of the life to come, not the guarantees of this life.”

    I think you have it backwards. Jesus was usually focused on the present, showing us how we can live for others in the here and now … how the Kingdom is here and now … how we shouldn’t really be concerned about some future pie in the sky, but rather be focused on loving others today, doing good to others, showing compassion, grace, empathy … in the here and now. In this life.

    I think he did give us a guarantee of this present life, and I think this guarantee is the central reason for His very existence and mission. That guarantee is the unfailing nature of love. Jesus more or less reveals that everything will fail (religion, prophecy, words, etc.), but that love — real love in the here and now — will never fail.

    Guaranteed. In this life.

  13. I did a sermon on this topic just last week (August 3; link:http://www.summit4square.org/#!audio/c1xvu). The problem is that we often want an easy answer – that somehow whatever happens is ordained by God for a higher purpose. But it isn’t always the case. God can redeem anything, but He doesn’t cause everything. In the parable of the house built on the rock and the house build on the sand, both homeowners encountered the same storm. They just had different foundations. Life happens to everyone. When we make everything according to the “will of God” we reach a point where we have to start denying reality. If you listen to the message, you’ll see what I mean about 2/3 of the way through it. God just is not responsible for everything – He would be a monster if He was.

    • @Stuart, if God is as many/most Christians conceive, then He is most definitely responsible for everything. The reason for this is twofold: 1) He created the universe, so nothing would be happening now were it not for His action. As such, He is at least indirectly responsible. 2) Being omni-everything God has the power to change bad things from occurring, but doesn’t. Having that ability, but refusing to take action, means that He at least *allows* everything to occur. Those that allow things to occur at least share responsibility with those who cause the action.

  14. The author could have just shrunk this whole blog post to one simple word..

    “No”

    There is no indication that christian children (or the children of Christians) fare any differently than any other children. The reasonable and obvious answer is just simply “No”, the christian deity will not do any more for your children than he does for any other children. My personal opinion is that this reveals a real lack of any sort of need to start talking about mysteries. This isn’t mysterious at all.

    Raising christian children doesn’t create any different danger for them than raising atheist children. My children have have been somewhat ridiculed because of their non-belief. There are many muslim countries where one would be a fool to be openly atheistic, you could be killed immediately.

    Not that I’m in any way indicating that anyone should be punished for their belief, it would be nice if everyone on the planet allowed everyone else to believe what they chose.

  15. ” God just is not responsible for everything – He would be a monster if He was.”

    If I stand by and do nothing when I see evil being done and it’s within my power to stop it, then I’m negligent. The christian deity, as I understand it, is all powerful.

    If I, as a mere human being, with mere human morality, and mere human strength can be held accountable for a lack of action, how much more should an omnimax being be heald accountable.

    Keep in mind when I post, I’m an agnostic/atheist. I do not hold your deity accountable, but I’m often completely confused as to how believers do not.

    It seems that no matter which deity, believers are quick to count the good things and praise their gods, but never ever quick to lay blame when their deity could have but used a thought to stop evil.

    • I touched on this Sunday. Two points; the first is that perhaps the thing that makes us most like God is our ability to make moral choices. If that is the case, then we must have freedom to choose evil or we don’t really have choice. What kind of people would we be, what character would we have, if God always cleaned up our messes before we made them? And the second thing is that if God stopped all evil, it wouldn’t be evil by our definition, it would be evil by his definition. You might not like the result. And I completely get that from your perspective this can be adequately explained by the lack of an involved God.

      • @Stuart, these are fair questions. It is also fair to ask what kind of person/being would allow people to suffer so much, just to teach a lesson? Would you allow your children to starve to death, just to show others how “evil” it is? If you think it is wrong to do so, it is difficult to conceive of why it would be OK for God to do so. And that is aside from the issue of it being plausible that God having the power & knowledge to teach these lessons in some other way.

  16. I appreciate your reply Stuart.

    My opinion is that what I see is best explained by no involved deity (and I’m not a deist, so no deity at all).

    Let me pose a hypothetical for you, if God took away the evil, and he takes away our free will, then how the heck do you explain a heaven with no evil and yet with humans? I know some very good christian people, but you take away the parts that make them human beings and they certainly wouldn’t be human beings any more.

    You can certainly have evil AND free will without allowing children to suffer for years with cancer and then dying miserable deaths. You could most surely still have free choice without gratuitous misery and suffering.

    I know lots of really good christian people and I know lots of really good non-christian people. Comparing between how they experience suffering and loss in their lives has revealed no compelling reason to need a deity (to me).

    But that’s just me I suppose, I know plenty of folks take great comfort in imagining that there is a greater power watching over them and caring for them in some way.

    • The essential foundation of Christianity is that the sacrifice of Christ is what provided the reconciliation between man and God, and that it redeems the evil we do. Perhaps in heaven we will see with spiritual eyes in such a way that evil will no longer be attractive – like the way a child sees things differently when they become an adult. As for suffering and misery, it may not be gratuitous, it may be an essential component of how a world with choices has to work – but granted there is some speculation in that. And of course, there are the ripple effects of our own choices. When someone chooses to commit an evil act, it can ripple through dozens of people and multiple generations. But I don’t expect to change your theology (or lack of interest in one) through argumentation. Few people are logically convinced to follow Christianity – there usually has to be something happening on the inside first.

      • You’re right Stuart, that’s a LOT of speculation.

        I do appreciate the honest response though.

        I was a believer for a long long time, it had it’s very good points and some bad points. I’m happy as a non-believer at this point. I did go through a very argumentative first few years before I realized the no one comes to either atheism or Christianity through logical arguments. There has to be something else going on inside. For me, I couldn’t reconcile the bible with the reality I saw in my own life or in the lives of others.

        Of course, I don’t expect to change your mind about your faith, but atheism has answered most (certainly not all) of the big questions I couldn’t have answers for as a believer.

  17. C Michael Patton 2014-08-10 at 1:14 am

    Jimmy,

    Your response is very encouraging in a rather odd way. I have a blog post coming out Monday that is advice to atheists. My basic contention is that I have never engaged with an atheist that I believe is intellectually honest and has the ability to see the relative strengths of Christianity and weaknesses of atheist yet, of course, remain compelled that atheism is still the best option.

    Your statements above are the exact opposite of this and I appreciate it very much. None of our systems are perfect (as you say).

    While I would with all my heart that you would return to the faith, I am so glad that there are representatives such as you who seem to see and honest picture of things and remain calm and respectful. Keep it up.

  18. Thank you for your kind comments.

    I’ve never engaged with a theist that I believe intellectually honest myself actually.

    I’ve simply come to a live and let live point in my life I think. I don’t believe that beating believers over the head with what I believe are terrible weaknesses in their pro arguments is a productive exercise. There is something more psychologically deep to belief (I would say the same thing for unbelief).

    I’ve examined at least hundreds of debates, no matter how well or poorly the arguments are made on either side, it’s almost universal that neither side comes out with a different opinion than they went in with. That makes me cautious of my own worldview.

    I’ll keep reading your blog and posting comments so long as it remains complementary and friendly, I have no interest in being argumentative or trading insults. I’ve been down that road (guilty party sometimes), it causes the mind of both those being insulted and those doing the insulting to shut off.

  19. Stuart was the first to bring this up, and it’s a little disheartening that it took so long, but the beginning and end of this discussion for a Christian is the death and resurrection of Christ. IMHO, this is the best reason(s) any religion gives for God being good. Think about it: why would Hebrews have thought that God was not just good towards *them*, but perfectly good? The Israelites enemies sure wouldn’t have thought in such a way. Why do Muslims think that God is perfectly good? Pretty much by fiat. You have to.

    The Christian does at least have some evidence that God is (somewhat) altruistic. How good this evidence is, is a different question – as is are all the other questions that the death & resurrection prompt (why is a blood sacrifice necessary? why wait so long? etc.).

  20. @JBChappell

    There actually is no mystery as to why horrible things happen, from an eastern Christian perspective: it is because God gave humans free will (we are made in His likeness, in that way), and humans are free to reject God. This absence of God is called evil. Humans are encouraged by Satan and his demons to reject God and act in evil ways.

    I supposed the mystery is: why do some people get chosen to suffer and some don’t? Or more accurately, why do people doing evil things choose some people to hurt and not others? Is there any reason at all as to where evil strikes?

    The evil one just absolutely hates us. What a miserable entity. There was a post about a year ago on this excellent blog and title was basically, “should we pray for Satan”? Yeah that’s just what he wants, because prayer = love.

    • @Pete, free will does not explain all suffering. Free will does not cause tectonic plate shifting. Free will does not cause drought, or monsoons. Free will does not cause tornadoes or hurricanes. Etc. So, unless you are willing to say that the devil created the laws of nature, earth, and/or weather patterns, etc., these things are a direct result of God’s creative work, and God allows them to occur, and people to suffer from them, for a reason *other* than free will

  21. As a parent I’m always terrified by this question. It makes me want to curl into a ball in a dark place in absolute bleak terror of God.

    But then I remember that God didn’t protect his son from the suffering of this world either – so who am I to demand that He protect mine? He promises to be with us when awful things happen and that is really the extent of what He can do. He can only do what is NOT sin which means He can’t do just ANYTHING. His power is bounded by His holiness.

    The idea popped into my head also that sometimes He lets children die because He knows He will lose that child if they grow up. Have no idea if this is true…

    What really bothers me about some of the posts is that they assume that we suffer when evil happens but God doesn’t. He has the ability to feel and He feels along with us. An entity that loves can not feel happy when those loved suffer. No one has endured more suffering than God. He sees all the suffering. Yet somehow it isn’t time, it isn’t holy and it isn’t loving to intervene. We don’t see the whole system….

    If you really stop to think about what would happen if God saved us from the consequences of our own and others evil you end up with a more evil world not a more loving world. Ask any missionary – the hardest places in the world to evangelize to are those with lots of material comforts, people tend to take credit for those blessings and thing they don’t need God.

    As far as natural disasters go…. for the most part we know where in the world these tend to strike… maybe we should stop trying to house huge populations in those areas? If you don’t build in a flood plain…. I’m in Texas so don’t tell me we’re out of room…..

    Lastly, perhaps there is so much evil in the world today because the Church has made a mess of the great Commission?

  22. On the question of God allowing vs causing evil: Suppose you had a 21-year-old daughter and she was determined to marry the bad boy. You know that he is going to abuse her and ruin her life. Suppose you also know that they will have children and those children – your grandchildren – will be warped into adulthood by the actions of this man. Your daughter refuses to listen to you and is defiantly determined to do this her way. The guy isn’t doing anything illegal, so you can’t call the cops. You absolutely know the future, either because you can see it or you are just that good at predicting human behavior. Would you be justified in chaining your daughter in your basement to keep her away from this guy? Why not?

    That’s exactly why God must allow us free will. The alternative, from the standpoint of right and wrong, is worse.

    • @Stuart, there are million scenarios we could propose involving morally difficult decisions. I think it’s an indefensible claim to propose that fore EVERY bad moral choice someone makes (that harms another), the ONLY reason God allows it is because not doing so has worse consequences. But the biggest problem isn’t even with allowing free will, per se. I think you can make a decent argument that allowing free will does mitigate allow the suffering that we see.

      But not all of it; not by a long shot. There is plenty of suffering that is caused in this world by the natural order of things. God doesn’t allow earthquakes because of free will. He did, however, create the earth as it is, knowing that it would be populated quite heavily. Lightning strikes, meteors, blizzards, etc. – none of these are the result of bad moral choices by people. Yet, God allows them to cause death and suffering.

      For each of these of things, we can think of some far-fetched, strained, hypothetical reason why God might allow it. Earthquakes are bad, but tectonic plate shifting is the result of a natural process that also has many benefits, for example. Problem solved! Or is it?

      One can always continue to rationalize God’s goodness in that vein. But if we change the order of our thinking, and ask, “would I expect a perfectly good being to create a world such as this?”, I think you’d have to agree the answer is “no”. The difference is in allowing evidence to affect the conclusion, rather than trying to rationalize an assumption.

      • There was a book written not long back – I don’t remember the title – that proposed exactly that scenario. That a world with plate shifts and tornados and other chaotic conditions is the only kind of world that could exist in the structure God made. But any worldview, whether of natural process or God-ordained processes, requires certain assumptions. We want to find evidence for or against God in the question of whether bad things happen to good people (they do) and whether bad people get away with bad things (they do). But those are mostly based on an assumption that God is primarily interested in our happiness. Those disappointed in God are disappointed because God didn’t meet their expectations. Those who don’t believe in God use those expectations as proof that God doesn’t exist. But those things are proof only if that initial expectation/assumption is correct. Which it is not.

        • @Stuart it doesn’t take making the assumption that “God is primarily interested in our happiness” to reach the conclusion that a perfectly good being probably wouldn’t enact a scenario where infant mortality rates are high, or that freak storms wipe out entire families, etc. I would be interested to see the argumentation for why a world such as this could be the ONLY one an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being could create. But it’s an extremely strong claim and very counter-intuitive.

          However, I agree completely that things are only “proof” if the initial assumptions/expectations are correct. In the scientific world, these are referred to as “predictions”. If a hypothesis does not successfully make predictions, it is not considered a good one. Now, how far do you think we’d get in making predictions off the fact that “God is good”?

          If, on the other hand, we claim that we would not be able to predict what an omni-everything deity might or might not do, then that is actually a claim that I am very sympathetic with. But then, we’re still back to the question of why we would assign such attributes in the first place.

  23. Suppose for a second that there really were an all knowing, all powerful being that has demonstrated an ability to communicate in unquestionable ways with human beings. Should he be held to account for not stepping up to the plate and communicating to this person that what she is about to do will ruin her children?

    I mean, this is a being that can cause people to dream dreams and have visions. Heck, he blinded Paul for a while so he could get a message across to him. Is this being a respecter of persons or is he not?

    The more I see in life, the more sure I am that the best and most obvious answer to the god question is very simply that there isn’t one.

    If there is one, and he has the attributes mentioned in the bible, then he has some answering to do I would say.

    • I realize that the analogy isn’t perfect, but in the hypothetical scenario I proposed, God (in the guise of you, the mother/father of the daughter) did try to warn her. She didn’t want to listen because she was (pick one) defiant, too willing to be swayed by the wrong voices, only thinking in the short term (fun), determined to prove she was right, allowing her emotions to rule her, in denial of reality, selfish, afraid she would end up alone, didn’t like authority, the kind of person who just won’t listen and has to learn everything the hard way, hated her parents and would do anything to defy/hurt them…

      The list could go on, but hopefully this makes the point that, regardless of whether there is a God or not, a lot of the world’s ills stem from exactly those attitudes. I’ve seen it more than once.

      • You turned the hypothetical immature girl into a pretty ugly person!

        Many children may not listen to their parents, but that certainly doesn’t mean they hate them!

        Although, since this is a hypothetical, I won’t sit here and nit pick it.

        You have to agree, an all knowing, all powerful should have the ability to get his message across directly to any normal human being. I mean, think about what he did to Paul. Paul seems to have been handed a special opportunity that 99.9999999999% of humanity will never ever have.

        I would tend to agree with you, the unlearned/unwise not listening to the advice of the learned/wise does cause them a lot of troubles.

        • Well, yes, but the point wasn’t that she was necessarily ugly – remember, one of the choices was just that she was terrified of being alone (seen it happen). The point was that, for whatever reason she was determined to make the wrong choice, she was warned and she chose not to listen. Paul (and Peter, and all the rest of the apostles) did get the kind of direct communication that few people will. They were also going to die for their faith. I once said that you don’t want to hear an audible voice from God – the people who did hear one were usually asked to do some incredibly dangerous things. The sort of thing for which you need near-absolute certainty.

  24. C Michael Patton 2014-08-10 at 7:04 pm

    Jimmy,

    I’ve experienced my share of troubles. In fact, right now I’m going through what might be the worst trial that I have ever been through. At least it’s the hardest.

    I understand suffering and pain. In fact, I would say that it is the main reason or the most understandable reason for people to leave God.

    have had to learn how to deal with this. But I do understand when I read the Scriptures that the majority of its theme is suffering and pain and evil. It is something that the Scriptures attempt to prepare us for. The entire book of Job was written about the confusing nature of suffering. The Paalms show the up-and-down nature of our emotions due to the feelings of the absence of God and sometimes his presence. The New Testament continues the theme that suffering and pain and evil will be a part of our life. I think it shows how confusing suffering and evil and pain will always be.
    (“The suffering of this present world is not worthy to be compared to what follows…”)

    So I understand the emotional side of being surprised by suffering. But at the same time I have to look at the Scriptures and see that God has already spoken about this and it’s told us that this is the real part of our life. This does give me comfort in the fact that Christianity is true. I have much comfort in many areas of Christianity from a rational standpoint. But it’s the emotional things of suffering pain and evil that will get me down the quickest.

    I am hurt bruise broken and scarred and caring so much pain. I anticipate more of it. That’s why I look forward to the coming of Christ. But I encourage you to continue to see the Bible through this lens. It’s a different lens and it’s a hard One to look through. But I do believe that it is the lens but God has provided in the Scriptures for us to be able to see him. He is a confusing God and his ways are not our ways. But he has already told us such. In this I bear my cross and carry it with my Lord and continue to believe in Christ.

  25. Dave Van Lant 2014-08-10 at 9:55 pm

    Blog Rule: “You don’t want to get whipped up on.” You’re a good theologian, but not that good.”

  26. If we were only working with the assumption that God is good, you may have something. But if we are to be biblically accurate, we would have to add some other assumptions. Like, men are sinful, men have free will, the world is fallen, and God is not going to repair the world until the end.

    If this is the truth, and it is established by other factors, then we have a higher source telling us the facts of the case. It is only then we make conclusions and try to work within the worldview that this presents.

    The book of Job serves as our best example here. In it we have an example of the worst suffering, the worst evil, the hardest circumstances that we can possibly imagine. And in the end there’s no answer from God as to why he is done this. The only thing we can draw from this is that in the majority of cases we will not know the answers as to why God is allowing such tragedy. But this creates no logical difficulties with evil existing God being all powerful and being all love. It just creates emotional difficulties that, while understandable, can be overcome.

  27. Thank you, Michael, for your insight to understanding those things we cannot understand. While we are to “lean not to our own understanding” we are still curious by nature, as God would have it or we would not, in the least, be looking for Him. There are no simple answers to much of what we must endure.

    My life has been severely altered since the suicide of my son. I prayed for my children since before they were born. I would like to think I did all the “right things” as a Christian and have beaten myself up at times from the guilt that ensues when I think of all the wrong things I did as a Christian. I have had to look long and hard at the grace of God since my son’s death…for him and for me. Brandon was a Christian and accepted Christ at a very young age….at an age that would hardly allow him to understand all the suffering he would have to endure. throughout his young life.

    His death caused me to have a greater understanding of God’s grace. If that makes sense. His death had a message for me and others who are in the depths of hell while suffering the complicated grief of suicide. All to do with grace. A grace I could hardly understand until the worst thing that could happen…did.

    There is no pain like this pain…NONE. My heart is so sad for your mother. I know the prayers of a Christian mother. I know our expectations. I equated it with my faith. That my faith would keep my children well and alive. This was not to be.

    I imagined my own son, as you describe your conversation with your friend. He, too, had an atheist for a friend and that friend is now a Christian with a family and three children. He has told me in years past that he credits my family and my son with helping him to come to the conclusion about Christ. I think that your family has made this happen for your friend. His admission of acceptance to you is the only ‘proof’ you will need that he is a Christian. Your abiding faith in the face of your own loss is proof that faith wins over unbelief. I pray for God’s blessings for you and your family.

  28. I read your comment with great sadness Dale. I have two sons of my own. They’re fairly young (8). I can only remotely comprehend your suffering in a cerebral sort of way, but I can conceptualize it.

    I’ve heard a good many people of a good many faiths say that their faith and the grace of their deity gets them through the hard times. I believe this is one of the functions of belief. I don’t find it an evidence of the validity of belief however.

    But I have to ask, what are your options? You could end your own life, not something most people choose, no matter how much pain they’re in or you can keep moving along, which most people choose.

    I certainly do understand that you have suffered a loss and you will continue to do so, but I’m not sure where the grace part comes in. Externally, your words indicate that you have suffered miserably, are sufferings miserably, and will continue to do so for some length of time.

    If there were no “grace”, then what would you be doing differently? How would you be responding to this grief if you didn’t believe in this particular deity.

    Thanks,
    Jimmy

    • Grace is the unmerited favor of God. Romans 3:23-24 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” We have all sinned. We all deserve to be punished throughout all eternity for our sins, but Christ Jesus has already taken our punishment. God, by his grace, that is His unmerited favor toward us, can now be just in saving us, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Our redemption is in Christ Jesus, and not in ourselves.

      Depression is a disease…not a sin. But, the very idea of disease is because we are a fallen world. None of us will get out of here alive unless Jesus returns in our lifetime. My son died from the result of disease. His sin was by mere virtue of the fact that he was born a human.

      My love and belief in my Creator, Father, God, Emmanuel (God with us) is ever more increasing through the understanding of the very grace I always said I believed but was truly tested by the death of my son. I still have questions for God because I have to live a life without my precious son but I know it will all be well because one day I will see my son again…a promise made by God through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ…the forgiveness of sins and resurrection, His (our) victory over death. I hope that you will come to know my God…”my deity”…and that your sons will be able to know God’s grace and truths as is in the Bible because of your own acceptance.

      In answer to your question: I do not know what I would do without the grace of God. That is it in one complete sentence. I dread to think of any other options.

      • Dale,

        I appreciate your response.

        I will tell you, that even in my 30 years as a believer, I never thought suicide was anything but a disease. I was never of the school of thought that suicide was some sort of “ticket to hell”. Suicide is far more complex than that.

        That being said though, I’ve know many friends of many faiths that use the same words that you’re using when going through suffering, even the suffering as miserable as you’ve experienced. I’ve had a few atheist friends as well that have suffered, they get through it as well (“get through it” may not be the best terminology).

        I’ve never argued that belief didn’t have some good points, and I do believe that dealing with situations like yours is one of them. If your belief gets you through your days and lightens your burden, then who am I question it?

        • Thank you, Jimmy, for your understanding and compassion about the very delicate matter of suicide and my personal loss.

  29. The answer is no, a god will not protect your children.

    • I would be inclined to agree with your Json. If there is some sort of deity out there, he clearly isn’t protecting anyone’s children from suffering. If he is, then he is applying some very mysterious criteria that has no pattern at all and appears random in nature and isn’t affected by the belief of the parents, or the children in question.

      That sounds like what I would expect if there is no deity at all…

  30. One thing the church should admit is that by giving people expectations of God that God never promised to fulfill, we have forced people to make a lot of excuses for God. Which does have the effect of making Christianity look a little like a superstition.

    Part of the problem with all this is that we are trying to shoehorn God-as-good into our definition of good. A criminal judge may be a very good man but the criminal who is sentenced to jail because of a crime isn’t going to think so. And the criminal’s wife, mother, children, etc. may very will think of the judge as a bad person. But the scale with which they measure “good” is not accurate, nor is it the same as the rest of society (I’m assuming here that the criminal really is a criminal so this doesn’t devolve into a distraction about the quality or fairness of the justice system). At one time, our society thought slavery was “good”, thought eliminating DDT was “good” (even though that decision has cost millions of lives), some in Washington thought “rolling the dice a little more on subprime” was a good move for Fannie and Freddie (which gave us 2008). Sometimes we don’t see the big picture.

  31. Maybe human beings need a new word for “good” for use when discussing deities. The word “good” seems to be squishy and indeterminate when a god becomes involved in the discussion. It’s a very fluid term, I mean, I would NEVER consider slavery good, or the taking of virgins, or any of those things mentioned mostly in the old testament as good. Yet, by the nature of a deity commanding and or directing, then those things must be good. (Divine Command Theory) I’ve debated/discussed with many believers (not just of christ) and very nearly all of them will come to a place where they will flat out admit to me that if they really believed their deity were telling them to, they would slaughter their own children.

    Admittedly, when human beings from different cultures describe “good”, there can be some fluctuation, but when you have such an unknown factor as a deity, then it opens up a whole new can of worms. The unknowns become an excuse for just keeping on keeping believing.

    What about all of the places in the bible that speak of some extra benefit to being a christian? For example (a tiny sampling):

    Proverbs 14:26..I will be your security and a safe place for your children?
    John 14:14..If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

    1st John 5:14..This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

    James 1:15..“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

    Jams 5:14..”Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. ”

    “One thing the church should admit is that by giving people expectations of God that God never promised to fulfill, we have forced people to make a lot of excuses for God. Which does have the effect of making Christianity look a little like a superstition. ”

    Clearly, the bible might be to blame for giving people a false idea of the god of the bible.. I mean, it does make lots of promises it seems.

  32. I know this is too often used as an easy “out”, but nobody (including Christians) gets to take verses out of context – the context of the surrounding text or the context of the culture in which they were understood. If you look at the entire Bible, it is clear that any promise is contingent on being in God’s will, and that even Jesus didn’t heal every single person who came to him. If you pray for God to smite the rude driver in front of you, it isn’t God’s failure to keep promises that makes it not happen.

    I’ve used this illustration before: some years back, I read a book (don’t remember the title/author) where the author said that as a child, he remembers his father having his tonsils removed (or some similar surgery). They were supposed to pack ice around his throat if he started to hemorrhage. I have no idea why the doctor sent him home in that state. But he did start bleeding, but the family had no freezer to make ice. So the mom dropped to her knees in the kitchen and prayed for ice. In the middle of summer. It started to hail. She collected the hailstones and made an ice pack and all was well.

    Here’s where I’ve used that example: if mom had prayed for ice when there was a freezer full of it on the other side of the kitchen, it wouldn’t have been faith. It would have been presumption.

    Sometimes we presume a lot. That’s why I have a problem with people refusing to go (or take their kids) to a doctor to treat something that doctors know how to cure.

    • There are enough related versus, while some of them may be taken out of context, sometimes the context is EXACTLY what we think it is.

      I believe that believers (when I say “believers”, I don’t want to just target those of the christian variety here), use this out of context argument to try and get out of explaining why something isn’t working the way the scripture says it will work.

      I just find believers tend to go through a lot of mental gymnastics to get around arguments against their faith and/or their claims and/or the claims of their scriptures. There shouldn’t be such a need.

      The suffering I see (and experience on occasion) pretty well match up with my belief that there is no caring deity. While the bible may certainly indicate a deity that sometimes does harm to his own people, it certainly indicates a deity that also does good for the faithful. There should be some measureable benefit for the faithful. I’ve looked and completed a lot of study and had a lot of conversations with believers, I’m just not seeing the benefit I would expect to see when the claims are taken into consideration.

      Having said all of that though, I DO understand that having faith can give people something that they need, but my first hand experience has been that that tends to apply to believers of all type and no matter the deity (with some exceptions I’m sure).

      It’s one reason I want to be careful here and not target Christians when I say these things. I’ve studied comparative religion, not just by reading books, but by actually talking to the followers of many religions. There are great commonalities between them all, they all come up with “excuses” as to why it’s not allowable to test their particular deity, they all come up with excuses to reconcile the bad things in their lives, they all come up with reasons to never let go of belief even when someone on the outside would clearly think that their deity is abusing/punishing them.

      I just don’t find the arguments for belief compelling. I certainly don’t want to say that belief doesn’t offer some comfort, I think that’s provable. I just don’t see the need and I can’t force myself to believe something that I don’t believe in (does that statement make sense?).

      Peace to you..
      Jimmy

      • Many Believers have a simple faith, trusting God in all situations. You can quote scripture all day long and it means nothing to those who do not have faith. God’s Word is written for we who believe to know His character and to know how we are to live in Christ. It is His words to us. I do not think that unbelievers will get much out of it if they are only trying to use it to refute that there is a God. You are using the author’s own words to say that he does not exist.

        People like myself who have received what can only be understood as miracles from God don’t need the outside world’s opinions on whether or not God is real. To me, He is more real now than ever. This on the heels of my son’s death. I could be very bitter but what would that get me? Instead, it is God who has sent me His peace that passes all understanding. I cannot refute that. He sends me comfort in most unique ways and for that I am profoundly grateful.

        I would rather acknowledge a loving God than to acknowledge nothing at all.

  33. C Michael Patton 2014-08-11 at 1:55 pm

    I would suspect that if there were no deity at all, there would be no children. 🙂

    As well, if there were no deity, there would be nothing but a conventional definition of what suffering is.

  34. I wouldn’t suspect at all that there would be no children and we would see the suffering just like what we see now.

  35. “At all”? That definite? Not, That makes some sense especially sense naturalism has some difficulty answering the beginning of existence /life.

    That probably ought to be padded a bit tempering what seems to be an overstatement.

    • I know where children come from, I’ve got two of them.

      Christians may offer an explanation for the beginning/existence of life, but they in no way offer any proof for that explanation. In my mind, it might as well be a made up explanation. Every believer of almost every faith ever imagined by human beings throughout history has offered up an explanation for the existence of life.

      Offering up an explanation and offering up a non-presupposed proof are millions of miles apart.

      The only padding I can offer is that if you happen to be correct concerning your deity (of if the hindus, or the muslims, or the rastafarians, or the…) happen to be correct, then I will happen to be incorrect.

      For now though, myself, just like most non-believers and even most scientist am happy to say “I don’t know, and let’s wait and see.”

      • Jimmy, your last words brings to mind Jesus’ words to Thomas:
        “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed : blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

        These other words are from a known atheist:

        “I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live as if there isn’t and to die to find out that there is.”

        Albert Camus (French philosopher)

        • Pascals wager is the least convincing argument that was ever conceived.

          • I don’t know that I would say it’s the “least” convincing argument, but I agree that it isn’t convincing. It’s based on the assumption that there are two choices – the God of Christianity and atheism. But there is also the god of Islam, Zoroastrianism, and of course all the other religions (Greek, Roman, etc) that were discarded before Pascal’s time. So you have to choose which God you are going to take a chance on. And without something going on in the heart, I’m not sure that anyone could honestly believe in any of them.

  36. Yup – that’s the crunch. I totally understand being ‘scared’ of God. It does seem an oxymoron to think that God will protect…because we simply don’t know his plan for us and ours. More simply (and dramatically) put, it’s like ‘Sophie’s Choice’, where she was faced with a choice of which of her children would die in order to save the other; the alternative being both would die. In the end, they both died anyway.
    People like us are blinded by the future (the only future I can think of is the next life, where I put my trust in the Lord). Maybe for me, it’s a matter of ‘stop scrutinizing the suffering of pro-active Christians’ and remember that suffering is universal. Being in the light of people that shine with the Lord’s passion can be simply too bright at times; for us ‘more fragile’ faithful, it always seems to come back to that question in times of angst and bereavement. So I guess ‘we’ have to remember (and you rightly said), that the answer to the question of God protecting our children is ‘I don’t know’. Best advise?Plant the seed and keep on sowing – they’re really no viable alternative anyway.

  37. Yikes. I don’t have the intellectual acumen to discuss this issue in depth along with all the brilliant minds above, but I just feel the need to say… I am eternally grateful to God for his gift of free will to me, and for the fact that I do not hold this theology. I have to admit, if I really believed that God was directly responsible for all of the evil in the world (ie, dead children), I would stop worshiping. I cannot see this as the God who was infinitely and perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ; light, in whom there is no darkness. The God you describe sounds to me like the author sin and evil. I have no place in my faith for God to so much as tolerate even a little human suffering, much less for God to torture and murder a child (or to allow a child to be tortured and murdered, as if there’s any actual relevant moral difference) while a parent still lives. This God seems to my small mind to be immoral and I think that’s unacceptable. But perhaps I am a step behind biblical orthodoxy in this regard.

  38. C Michael Parton 2014-11-18 at 2:26 pm

    No you’re not. What you describe and your belief is perfectly orthodox. But I do think you misunderstood my post. I do not believe God is the author of sin. I do not believe that he is the first cause of sin in any sense. But I do believe that he uses sin to accomplish his purpose.

    Think about it this way: if God does not use sin to accomplish his purpose, He is not involved in this world at all.

    I think the Westminster confession of faith gets it right here:

    I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;[1] yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,[2] nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.[3]

  39. I think the problem comes when we try to put all pain and suffering in to one bucket called evil. Not all pain and suffering is evil, some is good an necessary. To use a simplistic example: stabbing someone with a knife to steal from them is evil, cutting someone to remove a bullet on a battlefield is good and saving, but the suffering from the cut persons perspective is the same. I don’t think God starves children to death on purpose, but if he jumped in every time to rescue us from the consequences of our sin we would become more evil not less. This would mean God is committing a sin and He can’t do that. In that sense God can only do what it is possible for God to do within the confines of His Holy nature – God can’t do just anything one can imagine. Just look at kids with parents that save them from everything – know one of those to become anything but a selfish jerk? Children starve to death because humans commit evil and then other humans perpetuate that evil by cooperating or failing to act. The only answer I can come up with is that God doesn’t intervene because that MUST BE a SIN and God can’t sin. Since we don’t have all the info we can’t judge. Extreme arrogance is the root of most atheism: these people actually think their tiny, time-enslaved brains can hold enough info to make huge judgements about the whole of the universe. A truly humble person has to at least stop at “I don’t know enough to figure this out”.

  40. RE,

    You put forth a lot of speculation and even some very unfounded accusations. The “I don’t see the big picture so I’m just gonna ignore this.” isn’t an answer as to if the deity will allow the children of Christians to suffer. Clearly the only reasonable answer to the question is “Yep, the deity will allow children to suffer without intervening in any way”.

    I’m atheist, I don’t think I’m very arrogant at all and I know a lot of atheist that aren’t very arrogant and I know LOTS of believers that are terribly arrogant (I’m sure some atheist are arrogant of course). I don’t know a single atheist (and I know hundreds) that would fit this quote “these people actually think their tiny, time-enslaved brains can hold enough info to make huge judgements about the whole of the universe. ” We don’t need tiny brains to call a spade a spade..when the followers of the all mighty all powerful all loving deity seem to experience the same life, same troubles, and same rewards as the non-believers, then it makes us question your claims. You claim to have a personal relationship with the all powerful being..yet, you don’t demonstrate any real evidence of that claim. Is that arrogance?

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