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By Mike Edwards

     It is more difficult to discuss why God doesn’t intervene more with natural disasters since nature doesn’t have a human soul. Why doesn’t God like any good parent intervene more in such evils, since human freedom isn’t involved? We can at least suggest human evil that accounts for a great deal of human suffering is because of bad choice made by cruel and lawless people.  Evil resulting from nature is much more complicated. It is important to at least begin the discussion.

     Freedom is necessary for authentic relationships. “Controlling love” is an oxymoron and not love at all. God, like parents, had a choice – to not create or to create knowing suffering was a possibility in the pursuit of intimacy. It is impossible for God to lovingly create and control. What God’s love can do is influence in all the appropriate ways, but divine love limits divine power. Yet, natural disasters don’t involve living beings where freedom is necessary for authentic love.

     I do not wish to suggest physical evils such as disasters of nature, diseases, or accidents can always be traced directly to a human’s freedom to inflict pain upon themselves or others. It does seem human accumulated mismanagement of the earth over thousands of years has brought some destruction through hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, and earthquakes. I read that the earth is constructed of tectonic plates and when they collide, what is atop them can be destroyed.  I doubt the shifting of these plates underground is related to the changing mood of God! When tectonic plates under the earth collide, atop them may be a particularly densely populated, poorly constructed city where authorities only sought to make money out of greed. Could money have been spent otherwise to put a better warning system in place?

     Human mismanagement hardly explains all the causes of natural disasters. Claiming natural disasters are always God’s judgment is nonsense. Furthermore, if God can but doesn’t intervene sometimes doesn’t that suggests God’s love is arbitrary and lead to guessing which disasters are God’s judgment. It is possible that it was necessary for God to set up freedom when creating humans and nature. Love requires freedom. The “butterfly effect” suggests that the flap of a butterfly wing in one part of the world can influence weather in another part of the world at some time in the future. Can God no more control butterfly wings than humans to be loving? Freedom may be necessary for a creation act to be loving. If God cannot take away your freedom, maybe it is not a stretch to say God can’t control cells, organisms, etc. (Please see: God Can’t: How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse, and Other Evils by Thomas Jay Oord)

     What we do know is that God never wants us to suffer undeservingly, but God has constraints because of freedom. When God doesn’t perform a miracle or when God’s doesn’t answer our prayers, we can’t know all the factors involved why God acts the way God does.  What I am convinced of is that God feels our pain and hurts as much as humans when they suffer. God is committed to bringing as much good as possible out of evil. Our demands for an all-powerful, invulnerable God comes at the expense of trusting God know best how to create a free universe and influence as many lives as possible through their own volition.

See HERE my Book God, Evil, And Suffering – Does God Really Care for further discussion.

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By Mike Edwards

Thomas Oord’s book GOD CAN’T is for those who have suffered and have trouble understanding why a supposedly good, all-powerful God did nothing. Maybe you have just questioned why such a God allows so much evil in this world or at least doesn’t intervene more. We know God doesn’t cause evil but why doesn’t a loving God, if truly powerful, at least stop certain evils? Oord offers the best solution I have read so far.

A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Are you dissatisfied with conventional answers such as: “It’s all part of God’s plan;” “God wants to make you stronger;” “God’s ways are not our ways;” “You didn’t have enough faith;” “Everything happens for a reason.” (P. 11) If evil is some grand scheme God can control, why then does the Bible says God hates evil so much?

Thankfully, GOD CAN’T doesn’t appeal to “God is a mystery” as an explanation. How we are supposed to know and love like God if God is mysterious? We are told to be perfect like God, but how can we know what this means if we can’t know what perfect love is.  God’s love surely is like perfect human love. Oord offers rational answers to the biggest questions of our lives.

Some say God doesn’t cause evil, but allows it, to bring about a greater good. Oord reminds us greater good doesn’t always come about. A surgeon may have to break open your chest to save your life, but what purpose is served from rape, torture, betrayal, murder, deception, corruption, incest, and genocide as if part of some good plan? From this twisted perspective, evil is good! (P.14)

Thomas Oord offers an alternative to the idea that God either causes or allows evil for some grand purpose. God can’t is actually in the Bible. God can’t lie (Titus 1:2), God can’t be tempted (Jm. 1:13), etc. (P.25) It is also logical that a good God can’t be unloving, God can’t change the past, God can’t deny freedom, God can’t be truly loving if controlling. See also Oord’s Book – THE UNCONTROLLING LOVE OF GOD.

GOD CAN’T suggests that God can’t prevent evil singlehandedly (Chapter 1). The book concludes that God needs our cooperation in intervening in evil (Chapter 5). Believing God can’t prevent evil moves us past thinking God causes or allows pain, tragedy, and abuse. We shouldn’t blame God for the evil God can’t prevent. If you accept this you can move on to believing God feels our pain (Chapter 2), God works to heal (Chapter 3), and God squeezes every bit of good from bad (Chapter 4).

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_2_8?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=god+cant+oord&sprefix=God+cant%2Caps%2C183&crid=1QGZX4WJB8XWR&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Agod+cant+oord&ajr=0

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(Romans 16:19 ….but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil)

The word innocent is described in the dictionary as free from moral wrong; without sin; pure.

Sometimes we read this verse and think we aren’t supposed to know much about evil. Obviously we aren’t to participate in evil, but to be able to be wise in what is good, we do need to know about evil.

Jeremiah 4:22 says “My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.”.

To me this says that it is more natural for us to do evil. We were born into a world of sin and our natural man will more times than not go for evil over good. Through Christ, we are new creatures in Him, but our old evil nature never disappears during this life on earth.

In the military, the enemy is studied so that proper plans can be made to overcome and defeat them. It’s the same in the spiritual world, we need to know how the enemy moves and works against us.

We need to remember that the evil nature is still within us and we need to be constantly aware of where that can lead. We need to understand our enemy and plan ahead on what we need to do to overcome the temptations when they come.

God’s words tell us in Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell (think) on these things.

I truly think our biggest battles and obstacles are fought in our mind. We need to be aware of evil and what it can do, but we need to focus our thoughts on the good.

Only through Christ can we overcome, only through Christ can we do good. By spending time in God’s presence, praying and reading His words can we learn what is good and have the power to overcome evil.

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1 Corinthians 15:33 NASB – Be not deceived, bad company corrupts good morals.

Have you noticed that you never read ‘good company produces good morals’? It’s always bad company corrupts good morals. Seems like in this world, evil easily wins over good. Why is that? Could it be because during the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, satan was given authority of this world? Now it’s more natural to do evil than to do good.

This isn’t saying that evil wins out over God, but over good morals. Morals are the distinction between right and wrong, or the rules of right conduct. Unfortunately in our world, evil is more easily done than good.

This also is not to say we should avoid bad company. Jesus was known as the friend of sinners. How will people see and feel the love of God if we stay away from them.

As Christians, we need to constantly be in close fellowship with our Father and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to work in us and produce good morals in our lives. Not that good morals save us or make us better than others, but they help us to live in a way that is more becoming as a representative of Christ.

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