In light of the profound evil being experienced by the people of Paris and countless other locations around the world, we thought we would raise again the question that many ask when things like this occur: Why? Of course, Greg has spent much of his writing and speaking energy addressing this. Here is a basic, introductory summary to the question:
The way in which classical-philosophical Christian theists have approached the problem of evil has generally been to frame evil as a problem of God’s providence and thus of God’s character. Assuming (rightly) that God is perfectly loving and good, and assuming (wrongly) that divine omnipotence entails meticulous control, the problem of evil has been formulated within this tradition as a problem of locating a loving and good purpose behind evil events.
This represents an impossible task, and hence the problem of evil becomes simply unsolvable within this framework.
By contrast the warfare worldview is predicated on the assumption that divine goodness does not completely control or in any sense will evil; rather, good and evil are at war with one another. This assumption obviously entails that God is not now exercising exhaustive, meticulous control over the world. In this worldview God must work with, and battle against, other created beings. While none of these beings can ever match God’s own power, each has some degree of genuine influence within the cosmos.
In other words, a warfare worldview is inherently pluralistic. There is no single, all-determinative divine will that coercively steers all things, and hence there is here no supposition that evil agents and events have a secret divine motive behind them. Hence too, one need not agonize over what ultimately good, transcendent divine purpose might be served by any particular event.
If this world is indeed caught up in the middle of a real war between good and evil forces, evil is expected—including evil that serves no higher end. For in any state of war, gratuitous evil is normative. Only when it is assumed that the world is meticulously controlled by an all-loving God does each particular evil even need a higher, all-loving explanation. For only then is evil not expected, hence only then is it intellectually problematic at a concrete level.
In other words, only when we reject the view that the cosmos is something like a society of free beings, most of whom are invisible, and all of whom have some small degree of influence on the whole—in short, only when we reject the warfare worldview in favor of a monistic one in which one sovereign will governs all—are we saddled with an understanding of God and his relationship with the world in which evil becomes impenetrably mysterious on a concrete level.
—Adapted from God at War, pages 20-21
Image via The Daily Times