Thursday, March 10, 2011

A few new pages

I've added a few pages with some different things.  The Letter to Bonnie Lu is a pastoral and to some degree philosophical treatment of the problem of evil and suffering.  The Problem of Evil page treats the same problem from a more pedagogical standpoint, a good bit more philosophical/ apologetic.  The How do we know what we know is true? page is a lecture on epistemology or theory of knowledge for theological students with no particular background in philosophy.  I can add up to ten pages so... I imagine I can fill that up pretty fast! ;-)


  1. I understand your view on the existence of evil, but does this mean there can't be salvation without suffering? If life is good too you and you encounter no mayor obstacles, does this mean you miss out on the chance of becoming worthy?

  2. Dear Anneke,

    I'm assuming you are referring to the Letter to Bonnie Lu. I believe the letter still has a lot to offer, though it was written long ago. It represents a pastoral approach to the problem of evil. It was written to someone whose brother had just died and whose husband was ill (and died not too long after that).

    I guess I felt then and still do that we all most likely will suffer, if in no other way then at least physically when we die. Unless, as some Christians believe, the Lord Jesus returns and takes us to himself before death (the Rapture) we will die. Paul calls death the last enemy. (1 Corinthians 15:26)

    For me once again death reared its ugly head and shattered my world when my father died. My father suffered with cancer for seven years. He was a good man. He wasn’t perfect, but he was a good man: a faithful husband, a loving son, a loving and supportive father, a faithful and active member in his church,… Yet his “goodness” did not preclude suffering a painful and debilitating death over a rather long period.

    Must we suffer to be saved? No. We aren’t saved BY our suffering. We are saved by faith in the price which Jesus paid by his death for our sins and his resurrection from the dead in which he showed his power over death.

    However, sanctification (the process of being made into the likeness of Christ, being made holy) is a long process and more often than not a painful one. Very few have been translated to heaven without facing death (Enoch, Elijah) and they suffered otherwise.

    The oldest biblical book is most likely the book of Job, which is a long meditation on why a good man suffers. He suffers the loss of all his worldly goods, his children and his health (though his wife was left alive to nag him!). There’s a reason why humankind has been asking these questions for aeons. Question like: Why does a good, all-powerful God allow evil? Why doesn’t he protect us from it?

    Suffering is not the only tool God can use to perfect us, but it is probably the one most of us are familiar with and the one we experience most extremely. If life is good, praise God and recognize his benevolence. If life becomes a living hell, a nightmare of pain, trust that he knows the pain and he is in control. Jesus suffered just as we do, yet he did not revile God or falter in his love for and faith in his heavenly Father. Many Bible commentators see Job as a prefiguring of Jesus who is later the perfect righteous sufferer.

    We don’t become worthy by suffering. We can never earn our salvation. Our salvation is a free gift of God through the death of Christ for our sins. When we accept Jesus into our lives as our rightful Lord (our Savior and the one who has earned the right to tell us what we should do, rather than doing what we like) only then will we gain salvation, not by our deeds.

    However, it seems still for most of us that suffering is the way to being made into the image of Christ, becoming like him in holiness and behavior. My father became more and more patient through his suffering. It wasn’t his strongest suit before that suffering, but through it he learned to be tender. But it hurt like hell. Thankfully Jesus has offered us salvation from eternal suffering!