Here is an mp3 of the sermon I preached this Sunday at Crossroads Grace Community Church (what a great church!).

I will follow up with the lesson that I taught during the seminar “Orthodoxy and the Emerging Church.”

Hope you enjoy.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    11 replies to "The Problem of Evil, Suffering, and Pain"

    • Rick Goin

      Michael, I wanted to thank you for coming out to Manteca last weekend. I was at the Saturday session and also at the service on Sunday and I really enjoyed both meetings. The Saturday session was particularly relevant as I lead a small group of younger men and the subject of Emerging Church is a big topic right now. Thanks, Rick.

    • Edward T. Babinski

      Hi Mike,

      I listened to your presentation on the problem of evil, suffering, and pain. We agree neither of us has the answers. And like you and a lot of people I hope for a personal existence that never ends, though I admit I cannot prove it and do not evangelize others about it. An interesting book concerning the history of humanity’s search for scientific proof of the afterlife is SPOOK: SCIENCE TACKLES THE AFTERLIFE.

      Your own view of the afterlife is tied up with damnationistic Christian theology. But a for a lot of people such hopes are not tied up with such a theology. And of course there are also universalistic Christians.

      As for those who attempt to disprove the existence of a good God entirely via the problem of evil, that’s another question. I suspect that the thought or instinctual fear of death is so strong to most humans and other creatures that the idea or hope of living eternally holds tremendous attraction. And this if one can believe in eternal life regardless of all the evidence around us that living things die, and even die in massive extinctions events in the past and died for billions of years before humanity arose, if you can believe regardless of all the evidence to the contrary the we see daily around us, then “evil” will not be as big a problem to that person as someone who sees the evidence for all that death throughout geologic time and human history and simply finds the idea of an eternal life after this one difficult to believe.

      So if you are a person who definitely believes in eternal life, I wonder just how much pain and suffering and what type would it take to shake your faith? Probably no amounts of pain and suffering and not types of them would shake such a person’s faith. Not even the suffering of countless animals over geological time, not even massive extinction events in the past, not even the bashing of infant’s head against stones, not even the damnation of infants (that Catholics and Calvinists were content with for centuries), not even the eternal damnations and eternal sufferings of people you once knew and loved, including spouses and children (who dared to believe differently). None of that suffering means a whit for a true believer in the afterlife, even a damnationistic believer such as yourself.

      In fact for centuries many Catholics and Protestants agreed that could even stomach the sight of hell’s inhabitants suffering for eternity and rejoice over it as part of God’s perfect plan.

      So really, what suffering could call into question such “faith” as those Christians had?

      Or perhaps the fear of one’s own death is so great that people will grab at all manner of beliefs in order to try and ensure their own eternal preservation?

    • C Michael Patton

      Thanks Ed. One thing that we can agree upon is that the problem of pain, for those who believe in traditional Christianity and the wide “road to destruction” that Christ talked about, is much bigger than most imagine. I guess that is why, in my opinion, the Cross is such a big deal.

      Either way, personal feelings about such do not create reality. God, in theory, could have sent everyone to hell just for fun and we would have not vote in the reality of such.

      Animals’ pain and suffering, for me, is somewhat trivial due to the extreme temporal nature of such compared to issues of moral evil that extends into eternity.

      I do believe, however, that the doors of hell are locked from the inside.

    • Pat Gerling

      I just want to thank you for coming to Crossroads and sharing with us your message and teaching. My husband, George, and I attend both the seminar and Sunday services on August 17th and were truly blessed by both. We thank you for your willingness to share so openly and honestly with us your personal experiences and the faith that sustains you through these troubled times.

      We are both students of the Theoology Program given at Crossroads and cannot say enough about the blessings we have received from attending the first 3 classes. We will being Class 4, Humanity and Sin this fall and hope to complete all the classes this year. Thank you for all you have done through Reclaiming the Mind Ministries to bring this Theology Program to us.

      Having been a Christian for over 50 years, I have known the presence and blessings of God almost all my life. It is so wonderful to now have the opportunity to study His Word in greater depth. I know I believe and now I know even more why I believe. Praise God.!

      May God continue to bless you in all you do in service to Him and to us. We will keep you in our prayers and will tell others about this wonderful program. Our world needs the knowledge and tools the Theology Program is providing so we can better understand the Bible more now than ever. May God use it and all your efforts to His Glory.

    • […] The Problem of Evil, Suffering, and Pain | C. Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen […]

    • Dave


      That was honestly the best talk on the problem of evil I have ever heard (and I’ve been listening to quite a lot of them recently). You stressed all the relevant points regarding the logical argument, but gave plenty of time and personal experience towards understanding the emotional problem of evil. Bravo!

      Praises aside, my former roommate (went through TTP with me as a small group last summer) has started a blog where he addresses the problem of evil. He has recently posted on the intuitive/emotional problem of evil, which sparked discussion with atheist philosopher John Loftus (of the Debunking Christianity blog).

      Worth checking out if you’re into that sort of thing:

      Peace and God bless,

    • Al Klein

      Michael. I was asked for a reference today to work in Childrens’ ministry at Stonebriar. I had none. Where’s Michael when I need him. I think of you often as we both have suffered lose. I just finished listening to your sermon. I think you might be surprised when I say, “I’m in complete agreement”. I am only speechless like Job. Love ya. al

    • Jin Woo Chung

      Hello Michael,

      I love your blog and found this presentation very powerful and useful for the conundrum that is evil.

      My only problem with your presentation is you saying, “God doesn’t pray.” Jesus prays, especially in the ending chapters of the Gospel of John, and as far as I know, one of the main criticisms Muslims have against Christianity is the fact that God himself, that is Jesus, prays.

      Once again, I loved your presentation and totally agree that God is in control. But God does pray.

    • keith greenberg

      Shalom Michael,

      Thank you so much for posting this! It has to be one of the most concise, practical and nuanced presentation on the issue I have ever heard. I am actually going to be preaching on suffering this weekend and was helped immensely in my preparation by your hard work and presentaton. May God give us his grace to suffer well!?!

      Ps. Can you recommend a resource-book-DVD or other, that broaches this issue for the average lay person and New Christian?


    • Lisa DeLay

      Further reading for this topic, for anyone interested, should include “Evil and the Justice of God” (NT Wright) and “Can God Be Trusted” (John G. Stackhouse)

      I’ve penned some articles and papers (and blog posts) on suffering, and took a challenging grad class entitled, “Theology of Suffering”…

      still, the problems of evil and suffering didn’t resolve a lot for me too much. I don’t suppose they could. But, it was valuable to be there.

      It may be easiest to speak at arm’s length and come up with black and white answers, but for those of us who’ve suffered or seen other’s suffer, first hand, it’s not such a simple, or cut and dry matter. (unless you lack proper compassion)

      One point Wright makes is that evil has no part of reason. In other words, attempts to “make sense” of evil, or apprehend theodicy, are not satisfying b/c evil things are not in themselves reasonable or rational.

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