Solving the problem of evil

Henri Blocher says this of the problem of evil

God wills what is good directly, simply, for himself; he wills evil only in a different manner, while hating it at the same time. Whereas God himself works good by making it, evil is always the deed of one or of several created beings.

A young Augustine said

Evil is nothing but the removal of good until finally no good remains*

It’s no surprise that my study group was unable to solve the problem of evil today. But there were 2 things that we reflected on, however briefly, that I think are worth further thought.

First – when we are in the middle of evil or suffering, knowing that we have a God who has also been in the middle of great and real evil and suffering, actually does help

Second – the apparent tension of a sovereign God who is responsible and yet not culpable for evil is a logical and philosophical nightmare! And yet when we move from theory to experience, it’s often easier to grasp. We may not be able to articulate it, but when we look retrospectively at suffering we often can see both things, and understand them together, with greater clarity

It feels easier to have these discussion in the abstract, but it can be the experience that adds richness to our understanding.

*An older Augustine was slightly bemused at his younger self. In his early days he wrote a book called Beauty and Proportion which he later had all copies burned. His older self elaborated on this privation theory of evil, adding the personal element of our distorted desires

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