Evil and the Holy Cross Research Paper

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Personal Theodicy Apologetics

The problem of evil is something everyone has to face sooner or later. As Schlesinger points out, philosophers want to understand “why there is any suffering in the world at all.”[footnoteRef:2] The problem with a philosophical approach to suffering is that it does not reveal the whole story or the whole picture of why suffering (evil) exists. Religion, on the other hand, does provide that whole story—and depending on the religion, the story will be a little different. Christianity teaches that evil is a result of sin—that it is not something that came of its own into the world or that God created but rather something that His creatures chose of their own free will. The choice to pursue evil (defined as an absence of the good) altered God’s world—or at least man’s perception of it. Prior to man’s fall, he lived in happiness in the Garden of Paradise. His sin led to his expulsion from this happy state into a world full of danger, suffering and death. He now had to face the repercussions of his actions—i.e., the evil of his sin, made apparent to him now in all of nature. Yet God did not abandon man to evil lest man despair of ever getting back to God, his origin and his end (if he should so choose to return). God even gave man the prescription for overcoming evil. This fact was demonstrated by Christ, Who took to the desert for a period of fasting to show to us that we need to strengthen and prepare our spirits for doing battle with evil. Even Christ was tempted by Satan—not once but three times. Ultimately, because He had conditioned Himself to do battle against the spirit of evil, Christ prevailed. However, today, Satan uses different tactics in trying to pull souls away from God. He argues that since he exists and evil reigns all over the earth, a good God must not exist—for if a good God did exist and was all-powerful, why would so much evil be allowed? That is the major question with regards to evil today. It is a question that can ultimately only be understood in the Christian context, for it is the Christian religion that gives the fullest, most meaningful expression of the problem of evil and how that problem is solved—for it was Christ who defeated death and Satan once and for all through Cross. [2: G. N. Schlesinger, “The Problem of Evil and the Problem of Injustice,” Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Thought, 13 no. 2 (1972), 42.]

The Cross is the perfect symbol and perfect entry point for a discussion of the problem of evil. The Cross is a reminder that in this world, one must be prepared to suffer in order to reach God. Suffering is often associated with evil—pain with unhappiness and misery. So why would the way to God be found in such a path? The Old Testament prepared us for this question.
Psalms and Isaiah 53—they show that the “suffering and death of the Servant himself”—i.e., the Son of God—occurs because he shoulders the punishment for sin: “He embodies the covenant faithfulness, the restorative justice, of the sovereign God; and with his stripes ‘we’ (presumably the ‘we’ of the remnant, looking on in wonder and fear) are healed.”[footnoteRef:3] However, it is not a matter of an end to suffering in the world—but rather the beginning of a way to God through suffering. It is like instead of seeing evil and running away from God because the evil is too overwhelming one sees the evil and…

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…and one that every living soul must make. The problem of evil in the world exists because every soul has to decide and determine which path it will take, whether it will choose to love God and live in accordance with God’s teachings, accepting suffering in the spirit of Christ and offering it all up to God that the sacrifice might benefit souls in a propitious manner, just as Christ’s sacrifice let loose a veritable flood of God’s grace into the world leading to the conversion and salvation of many; or whether it will choose like Pilate to ask “what is truth” and neglect to mind the answer when it is right in front of the face. [5: John S. Feinberg, The Many Faces of Evil (Crossway Books, 2004), 95.] [6: Marilyn McCord Adams and Robert Merrihew Adams, The Problem of Evil (Oxford UP, 1990), 6.] [7: C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (Quebec: Samizdat University Press, 2016), 16.]

In conclusion, explaining the existence of evil, whether natural or moral, is simple when one apprehends that God is the source of all life, that Christ came to redeem mankind and give man hope of reunion with God in Heaven. Without the promise given through the Holy Cross, man would live in despair and the problem of evil would indeed seem insurmountable. In such state, one could truly well argue that the existence of evil, of insurmountable evil, nullified the existence of a good, all-powerful God. Yet, because of Christ, evil is not insurmountable. Those who argue that the existence of evil negates the existence of God show a lack of faith or knowledge of God, of the Triune God of the Christian religion. Because of that lack, the existence of evil does seem insurmountable and problematic. It is a problem….....

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Bibliography

Adams, Marily McCord and Robert Merrihew Adams. The Problem of Evil. Oxford University Press, 1990.

Feinberg, John S. The Many Faces of Evil. Crossway Books, 2004.

Lewis, C. S. The Problem of Pain. Samizdat University Press, 2016.

Plantinga, Alvin. God, Freedom and Evil (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1974.

Schlesinger, G. N. \"The Problem of Evil and the Problem of Injustice.\" Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought 13, no. 2 (1972): 42-51.

Wright, N. T. Evil and the Justice of God. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006.

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