Profound moral dillema

Discussion in 'Questions?' started by Mark Carrigher, Mar 3, 2020.

  1. Mark Carrigher

    Mark Carrigher New Member

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    Hi again, I want to raise a question that I often wrestle with. I'm deep in theological and philosophical thought of late after reading David Bentley Harts excellent The Experience of God. So I pose this question with no malice or smart arsery intended, I'm not looking to be fractious just genuinely troubled by an inability to reconcile the problem with any sort of consoling answer.

    So anyway, enough disclaimer, I want to ask how we can offer any sort of reason or rationale as to why terrible events occur causing death or traumatic abuse to Christians? Why would a church collapse on its congregation, or why would children seeking God be abused by clergy tasked with overseeing their spiritual growth. Its the audaciousness of the devoted Christian dying, being maimed or abused, whilst perhaps in the act of worshiping the Lord that I am struggling to provide any sort of response to in my own soul.

    Please let me know personal responses or any broader theological attempts to reconcile such events. I pray this query makes sense and I sincerely pose the issue with a solemn and humble heart.
     
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  2. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    The idea of Theodicy poses the question:

    If God is Omnipotent, Just and Loving, then how can he allow evil in the world? Surely it demonstrates that either God is not all powerful, or he is not just, or he simply cannot be loving?​

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodicy

    Part of the inexorable question is bound up in free will. Perhaps God does not micromanage every situation, and of course once we allow human decisions to have an impact, chaos enters creation. (the message of Genesis 3). As Christians we understand that God stands with us, to support us and strengthen us, and ultimate triumph is for good, however it is not an instant solution. The Wikipedia article probably raises more questions than it answers, and there are some good books in the bibliography.

    One book I found helpful was why bad things happen to good people which I memory serves me was written by a Rabbi and in a sense was trying to make sense of the Job story in the Old Testament.

    There are not really any quick answers to the question, though no doubt some will see that answer in John 3:16, though I might rather direct your attention to John 3:16-17.
     
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  3. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Why would a church collapse on its congregation?

    The obvious answer might be because the architect was incompetent, the builder failed to follow instructions, cost cutting and bad engineering rendered the building unsafe, the land it was built on was unstable, the foundations were defective. Any number of reasons that God would not be responsible for.

    The question we, as believers should ask ourselves when something bad happens to us is: "Who would I have preferred God had visited this disaster upon instead of me, and would that be a kind and loving thing for me to wish for?

    We live in a world where things just happen. We try to eliminate bad things happening by good design, forward thinking and ethical behaviour. What failings and disasters there are, are nearly always down to failures of one or all of those criteria.

    God has given us a world of order, of predictable physical laws, of precise mathematical design. It should not be beyond the wit of man to provide a relatively safe environment for everyone to live out fulfilled, productive, God fearing lives in.

    But do they?

    That question, is paradoxically the answer to your question.
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  4. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    This is the quintessential quandry for modern people, you hear it everywhere. I don't mean to diminish its significance to you @Mark Carrigher but we have to recognize that no one in the history of the Church has felt this to be an issue, until now suddenly it is.

    Here is why I think it became a modern issue. In the modern times, we started equating pain with evil. We've adopted the notion that pain itself is the evil that the world has to minimize. That's why we do "ethically raised chickens", that's why we no longer corporally punish our kids. That fish in your portrait, I bet you released it instead of eating it, or if you ate it, tried to make sure it didn't feel being killed.

    Any kind of pain is automatically seen by us as evil.

    However, note that there is absolutely no truth to that view, which is why pre-20th century Christians for thousands of years were quite tolerant of pain in the world, indeed they saw it as inescapable, and not equating it with evil, they saw no moral dilemma to the world. The only evil was what was caused by other people. And that they did seek to minimize.
     
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  5. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    In a perfect world there would be no sadness, no pain, no disasters, no diseases. But thanks to the original sin of Adam and Eve, we live in a fallen world where things go wrong and bad things happen to good people, a world in which "the rain falls upon the just and the unjust alike."

    Even so, when bad things happen to the Christian, his response should be to praise God for His love, and to trust Him to bring the person through the adversity and out to the other side in His good time. (Look at Job; a ton of badness happened to him, but in the end God blessed Job with far more than what he'd lost.)
     
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  6. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Isn't it possible that human beings tend towards demanding a world reality that matches their desires, rather than just accepting the reality of the world that God created and declared 'Good'.

    Do we imagine that the world before the fall was a world without earth quakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, weather, bacteria, viruses, decay, ageing, renewal, winter, spring, summer and autumn, infants, children, middle aged, elderly and those ready to meet their creator 'face to face'?

    What a strange world that would be compared to the one we have been given and have failed to look after, respect as a gift from God and therefore value and within which, "to live is Christ and to die is gain". Phil.1:19-26.

    Most of our complaints about the world, that we have actually been provided with, (and the way it works), seem to be about how it is considered by us, to be inconvenient to us.

    Do we imagine that we would have done a better job of 'Making the Heavens and the Earth', and so God obviously must have made one that fitted our idea of perfection much better than the one we now find ourselves in, (after the fall).

    Surely Jesus Christ implied that 'Sending rain on just and unjust' is a demonstration of God's impartiality that we should emulate, not an example of what is wrong with a fallen creation which no longer works according to our defective estimation of 'perfection'. Matt.5:45-48.

    The main point of the Book of Job was not how bad things got for Job or how good they got afterward but how wrong his 'comforters' were about their inept world views and their ignorant estimations of God's purposes.
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    Last edited: Mar 7, 2020
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  7. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Job:38
    1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:
    2 ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
    3 Gird up your loins like a man,
    I will question you, and you shall declare to me.


    4 ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.
    5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
    Or who stretched the line upon it?
    6 On what were its bases sunk,
    or who laid its cornerstone
    7 when the morning stars sang together
    and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?


    8 ‘Or who shut in the sea with doors
    when it burst out from the womb?—
    9 when I made the clouds its garment,
    and thick darkness its swaddling band,
    10 and prescribed bounds for it,
    and set bars and doors,
    11 and said, “Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
    and here shall your proud waves be stopped”?


    12 ‘Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
    and caused the dawn to know its place,
    13 so that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
    and the wicked be shaken out of it?
    14 It is changed like clay under the seal,
    and it is dyed like a garment.
    15 Light is withheld from the wicked,
    and their uplifted arm is broken.


    16 ‘Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
    or walked in the recesses of the deep?
    17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
    or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
    18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
    Declare, if you know all this.


    19 ‘Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
    and where is the place of darkness,
    20 that you may take it to its territory
    and that you may discern the paths to its home?
    21 Surely you know, for you were born then,
    and the number of your days is great!


    22 ‘Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
    or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
    23 which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
    for the day of battle and war?
    24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
    or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?


    25 ‘Who has cut a channel for the torrents of rain,
    and a way for the thunderbolt,
    26 to bring rain on a land where no one lives,
    on the desert, which is empty of human life,
    27 to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
    and to make the ground put forth grass?


    28 ‘Has the rain a father,
    or who has begotten the drops of dew?
    29 From whose womb did the ice come forth,
    and who has given birth to the hoar-frost of heaven?
    30 The waters become hard like stone,
    and the face of the deep is frozen.


    31 ‘Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades,
    or loose the cords of Orion?
    32 Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season,
    or can you guide the Bear with its children?
    33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
    Can you establish their rule on the earth?


    34 ‘Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
    so that a flood of waters may cover you?
    35 Can you send forth lightnings, so that they may go
    and say to you, “Here we are”?
    36 Who has put wisdom in the inward parts,
    or given understanding to the mind?
    37 Who has the wisdom to number the clouds?
    Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
    38 when the dust runs into a mass
    and the clods cling together?


    39 ‘Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
    or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
    40 when they crouch in their dens,
    or lie in wait in their covert?
    41 Who provides for the raven its prey,
    when its young ones cry to God,
    and wander about for lack of food?
     
  8. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Yep! And God does not seem to be put out by lions killing things to eat or lying in wait, nor neglect the carrion crow who feeds dead things to its young.

    There are many things that we declare bad, that God has declared good.

    And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the Lord commanded them: the Lord also accepted Job.42:7-9.
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  9. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I do imagine that Eden (which was 'the world' to Adam and Eve) was a place without viruses, decay, storms, and so on. It was a world made to be ideal for them. But the Bible says they were ejected from Eden. This place wherein we now live, with quakes and volcanoes and deadly storms, certainly is no Garden of Eden. Sin, disease, and death entered man's "world" simultaneously.
     
  10. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Genesis 2:8.

    עֵדֶן
    STRONG’S NUMBER: h5731 Eden
    Dictionary Definition h5731. עֵדֶן ‘êḏen; the same as 5730 (masculine); Eden, the region of Adam's home: — Eden.
    AV (17) - Eden 17; Eden = "pleasure" n pr m loc
    the first habitat of man after the creation; site unknown.

    Eden (meaning pleasure) in Hebrew, is quite possibly a way of referring to 'ancient or legendary time and place'. Not necessarily intending to be a description of a literal geographic location somewhere on earth, but more a state of blissful being before the hardships of reality existed.

    קֶדֶם
    STRONG’S NUMBER: h6924 Eastward.
    Dictionary Definition h6924. קֶדֶם qeḏem; or קֵדְמָה qedmah; from 6923; the front, of place (absolutely, the fore part, relatively the East) or time (antiquity); often used adverbially (before, anciently, eastward): — aforetime, ancient (time), before, east (end, part, side, -ward), eternal, x ever(-lasting), forward, old, past. Compare 6926.
    AV (87) - east 32, old 17, eastward 11, ancient 6, east side 5, before 3, east
    part 2, ancient time 2, aforetime 1, eternal 1, misc 7; n m
    east, antiquity, front, that which is before, aforetime front, from the front or east, in front, mount of the East ancient time, aforetime, ancient, from of old...

    Eastward is as much an indication of 'ancientness' as it is a direction or location. So when we think of Eden as being a geograpical place to the exclusion of it being 'in the dim mists of ancient time and legend' we fail to understand the nature of the story, mistakenly concentrating on the literal location rather than the mystic, spiritual remoteness of it in time and in space.

    The Hebrews viewed Egypt, (irrigated by The Nile) as a Garden, (the same word as Garden of Eden). The Promised Land however was regarded as more like The World, subject to the vagaries of climate and seasons.

    For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables. But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land that the Lord your God cares for. The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Deut.11:10-12.

    The Human Race certainly came from somewhere, back in the mists of time. It certainly longs for spiritual peace of mind and security, and 'God is in a Garden like nowhere else on Earth', but I think this world operates along principles that God has ordained but we, in our rebellious spiritual ignorance mostly object to. Objecting to what God has ordained is sinful.
    .
     
  11. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Yikes, seems like there's a sin behind every tree and under every rock.

    But thanks be to God for setting us free from sin's dominion over us! (Rom. 6)
     
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  12. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Amen to that!
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  13. Doctrine Matters

    Doctrine Matters New Member

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    I've thought about this a lot because I've had a lot of tragedies occur to believing members of my family. My conclusion is this:God rarely intervenes in the unfolding of events (which He knows beforehand). He could, for He is omnipotent, He is Sovereign over all, but I believe that after the Fall of man and his turning away from his Creator, God allowed humanity to endure everything the Fall incurred, including terrible forms of death - or what appears to be from our perspective. Christians are still beheaded, and the Book of Revelation states this. Christians are persecuted in many parts of the earth. Paul, himself was beheaded, and many early Saints died in the worst of circumstances. Yet, Christianity grew and prevailed. In the death of His Saints the Lord is somehow magnified, for in the end,

    35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written,

    “For your sake we are being killed all day long;

    we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”

    37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8.

    Note how Paul quotes the OT Psalm, "for your sakes we are being killed all day long." That is, in the end, the ultimate goal of the Christian - to die to self, to live to God. But as Christians we also trust this: 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8.

    Satan is said to be the "god of this world," for the world has fallen into his hands, and the world worships him and what he offers, as god. We, however, are not of this world. We are in another kingdom, one we cannot see, and one ruled by another God.
     
  14. Thomas Didymus

    Thomas Didymus New Member

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    Here's another way to look at it; something someone shared with me.

    The dilemma you describe really illustrates the following:

    "No good deed goes unpunished."

    The phrase 'No good deed goes unpunished' is a sardonic commentary on the frequency with which acts of kindness backfire on those who offer them. In other words, those who help others are doomed to suffer as a result of their being helpful.

    Have you ever helped someone upon their request, only to later have them turn on you for no reason at all? The fact that there is a popular phrase for this phenomenon indicates it must be common. What is wrong with people?

    Do you find this to be true?

    No more often than when it isn't. It's just that the times it is the irony stands out, those are the ones we remember and the sentiment resonates as some kind of factual truth.

    Hope this helps.
     
  15. Annie Grace

    Annie Grace New Member

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    God is probably more concerned with our spirits than our physical bodies. No matter what happens, the spirit is eternal, so how we respond to any event is much more important than the event itself. Disasters and tragedies just seem to have more of an impact on us than living peaceful, ordinary lives - sort of remedial classes for how to be human beings. Our responses to our own experiences, and to others shows our true characters. I know in some situations I have gotten very angry at God and had deep and meaningful conversationswith him (including shouting at Him). But rather than separate me from God, these communications have helped me to deepen my confidence in Him and my own spiritual life. All tragedy is sad, but our response to it can be one of pain and sorrow, but if we can leave aside bitterness we often find that we come out of it with more strength and compassion. Just my two cents.
     
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  16. Thomas Didymus

    Thomas Didymus New Member

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    :thumbsup:

    In the Judeo-Christian view, not all pain and suffering, in and of itself, is evil. The idea of all pain being evil seems to reflect beliefs in Jainism. In a book I've been reading by Philip Yancey and Dr. Paul Brand called Tearfully and Wonderfully Made, he mentions that, without pain, those afflicted with Leprosy (Hansen's Disease) would not be able to know when their degenerative condition is worsening in order to properly respond to it with appropriate medical treatment.

    In another example (this one my own), not everything painless is necessarily good. Those who experience dangerous long-term starvation, despite having intense hunger, will not be able to register pain signals in their body to their brain in an attempt to ensure survival upon near death. At that point, only the most vital body functions will work sufficiently.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021 at 7:42 PM
  17. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Yancey? I hope that book you're reading is better than his, "The Jesus I Never Knew".... yuck! :loopy: