THEO 525 Reply to Anglea and Jedidiah

  
Replies
1. Directly addresses the classmates’ threads by providing thoughtful analysis and evaluation.
2. Must reflect a strong understanding of the subject material. You may provide additional thoughts from the text or other theological resources that would contribute to the subject being discussed.
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Reply to Anglea
Erickson discusses the various “Themes for Dealing with the Problem of Evil.”  Which of those given “themes” do you find most beneficial in answering those who are critical of the Christian faith? Why? 
Considering each of Erickson’s themes for dealing with the problem of evil, I find “Evil in General as the Result of Sin in General” to be the most beneficial in answering those critical of the Christian faith. 
In this theme, Erickson states that “the entire human race has sinned and is now sinful.” (Erickson, 398)  Non-believers will commonly ask, “If God is so great, all good and sovereign, why is there evil and sin in the world?” The answer to that question is simple and yet complex. God created man and wanted him to live free.  At the beginning of human existence, in Genesis, we see the good world and the introduction of sin and evil.  God created the garden and world of abundance.  However, in order for man to truly have free will, there had to be options to allow man the opportunity to make a choice, to obey or not to obey.  In Adam and Eve’s case it was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  If there was only one option, to obey, there would be no free will.  As Erickson states, “God, then, did not create sin. He merely provided the options necessary for human freedom, options that could result in sin.”  (Erickson, 399)    
I also agree with Erickson’s description of sin and feel he makes a valid point saying that “sin results when a person’s will and relationship to God are twisted the wrong way, when the wrong one of two possibilities is actualized.”   Before he became satan he was an angel who chose to go against God.  As Erickson explains, this occurrence led to an evil force to be present during the creation.  God’s creation was good, but was tarnished not by God himself rather by the fall of satan.  In Genesis chapter two Eve tells the serpent God told them not to eat, but she makes the choice to disobey.  It was her free will to choose, she did not choose wisely. 
I feel this theme of explaining evil may be easiest to non-believers to understand.  Our human limitations, our human choices, cause much of the evil in the world and it all began many, many years ago. There will be spiritual warfare until the Savior returns.  Since the angel fell and became satan he began to try to lead us away from God.  The enemy will tempt us, however it is our choice to give in to sin or to resist and remain true to God.  Galatians 5:13 states, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”  God created a good world, he provided guidance for us on how to live, yet our own sin is producing more sin. I feel this explanation can help show that we, in our own free will, have enabled sin and evil in the world.  God does not make us evil or sinners, he allows us the free will to make a choice.  In God’s perfect kingdom of heaven there is no evil.  We have allowed it, by our free will, to enter this material world.  In Elwell’s book, Gerstner states, “According to the Bible, natural evil is the consequence of moral evil.”  (Elwell, 412)  Our imperfections and limitations as humans have allowed our moral conscience to become skewed.  
There are many arguments and criticisms in regards to the problem of evil.  For those critical to the Christian Faith we must remain steadfast and try to the best of our ability to find the best theme and method for them to truly understand its origins.  I feel this is one of the most popular reason people questions God and the Bible, and feel it is a debate that will continue to be discussed for years to come.   
References
Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2001.
Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998.

 Reply to  Jedidiah 
Erickson discusses the various “Themes for Dealing with the Problem of Evil.” Which of those given “themes” do you find most beneficial in answering those who are critical of the Christian faith? Why?
The theme of the “The Life Hereafter” seems most beneficial in answering those who are critical of the Christian Faith. The other themes of dealing with the problem of evil seek to provide clarity of the issue but face an uphill battle. The difficulties that exist with other themes will be briefly discussed before supporting the “Life Hereafter” theme.
It is a difficult battle for the other themes because there are so many contingent factors in regards to defining the problem itself. To identify the problem properly and communicate it with others it requires deciding what constitutes good and evil. As Erickson states, “Some of what we term good and evil may not actually be that.” (Erickson, 396) As scholars seek to define It further, it creates more “problems of evil” that need to be justified. For example, Erickson in attempting to define evil lists three other major sub-categories of the dimensions of evils when defining it. (Erickson, 397) In those dimensions the Christian is willingly admitting God’s superior wisdom man can’t be comprehended to finite, that a God, incapable of being cruel or lying, launders his will through evil for a greater good in time, and that each individual may assess the same situation as good or bad depending on how it affects them personally. (Erickson, 397) By attempting to evaluate what evil really is, it opens up a necessary discussion of deeper dimensions that each need their own clarification. It would appear for the skeptic that in addition to their curiosity to the problem of evil, the Christian has admitted that there are few more statements that will need clarification. This does not mean that some critics may be interested in these, but wouldn’t it make sense to give them the solution to the problem first, then decide from there if further focus on the “problem” is even necessary?
The theme of “Life Hereafter” helps to change the focus of those critical from being problem focused, to solution focused. For example, if an employee of a business approaches their boss, and states, “Boss, we have a huge problem.” The boss can choose to hear all the details of the problem and how it effects the business or he could ask the employee if he has a solution to the problem. If there is a solution to the problem the boss would not need to spend time, energy, and money on revisiting the problem, but instead would benefit from allocating his resources towards the solution. The “Life Hereafter” theme gives a solution to the problem reinforcing the hope that is found in Christ. “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) This can be followed up by God’s promise for justice, that he will repay injustice with his vengeance, and grant relief to those serve him. (2 Thess. 1:6-8) In that judgement every evil will be recognized, and dealt with accordingly, while those who respond to God’s loving offer will be granted eternal life. (Erickson, 401)
It is obvious that there are instances of injustice and innocent suffering. Erickson tells us, “If this life were all that there is, then surely the problem of evil would be unresolvable.” (Erickson, 401) Thankfully, the Christian faith can proudly present a solution using the theme of “Life Hereafter” to those who are critical. Once a solution is explained, it lessens the burden to defend the other themes that focus solely on the problem.
Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013.

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