The Problem of Evil

The-problem-of-evil-1

As J. S. Feinberg explains, “The problem of evil is a problem of both theological and philosophical interest as well as a matter of religious import, [which] not only arises in Western religion and philosophy, but also in various other world religions.”[1] Millard Erickson asserts, “The most difficult challenge to the Christian faith is the problem of how there can be evil in the world, [because] if God is all-powerful and all-loving, how can evil be present in the world?”[2] David Hume takes the nature and presence of evil a step further when he wrote, “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing: whence then is evil?”[3] Erickson further explains, “[While] the problem of evil will never be fully resolved within this earthly life, there are biblical teachings that help alleviate it.”[4] Erickson then offers several themes that account for the sin and fall of the human race (Genesis 3) and the sinfulness of each human, but Erickson also includes the incarnation of the Second Person of the Triune God, who became a sacrificial atonement for human sin, and made a way for eternal life beyond death.[5] Upon this premise Erickson offers the following themes as helps in dealing with the problem of evil: (1) Evil as a Necessary Accompaniment of the Creation of Humanity, (2) A Reevaluation of What Constitutes Good and Evil, (3) Evil in General as the Result of Sin in General, (4) Specific Evil as the Result of Specific Sins, (5) God as the Victim of Evil, and (6) The Life Hereafter.[6]

Of these themes, this writer believes it is important to first understand, as Feinberg illustrates, “There is no such thing as the problem of evil, for there are many problems of evil including the religious problem, the philosophical/theological problem, and also the degrees, intensities, and gratuitousness of evil.”[7] Erickson then properly illustrates, “The problem of evil must be thought of as a conflict involving three concepts: God’s power, God’s goodness, and the presence of evil in the world.”[8] Of the various themes offered, evil as a necessary accompaniment of the creation of humanity establishes God cannot do anything that violates His divine nature or moral attributes, so it was and is human’s free will to choose that made and makes evil a necessary consequence to choices. A reevaluation of what constitutes good and evil stipulates one must consider the divine dimension to God’s superior knowledge and wisdom, the dimension of time or duration, and the question of the extent of the evil. Paul’s letter to the Romans said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Ultimately, an eternal glory outweighs any momentary troubles and each person will have a different perspective, based upon past experience and beliefs. Evil in general as the result of sin in general asserts the entire race has sinned and is now sinful. Erickson raises an important question in regards to this theodicy: “If humans were created good, or at least without any evil nature, made in the image of God, and if the creation God had made was ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31), then how could sin have occurred?”[9] This leads one to believe sin had to be caught or be infected by. However, Erickson clarifies, “For humans to be genuinely free, there has to be an option. The choice is to obey or to disobey God. In the case of Adam and Eve, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil symbolized that choice.” This affirms God did not create sin; He merely allowed humans the freedom to choose. Specific evil as the result of specific sin deals with reaping and sowing and violations of God’s law leading to consequences. The main focus of this theory revolves around the “why”. For example, why do bad things happen to good people and vice versa? Every action has a cause-and-effect relationship, and in some cases people get what is deserved, but in others like the blind man in John 9:2-3, no specific sin on his part or his family’s had caused his blindness.

The final two theories seem to provide the best explanation when dealing with the problem of evil. Erickson shows, God as the victim of evil demonstrates, “The Triune God knew that the Second Person would come to earth and be subject to numerous evils, [including His death, but] He did this in order to negate sin and thus its evil effects.”[10] This one act, by itself, shows the love of God, as Christ ultimately became the victim of all evils in the world. Lastly, the life hereafter establishes there will a great time of judgment when every sin will be recognized and the godly will also be revealed. Erickson further illustrates, “Punishment for evil will be justly administered, and the final dimension of eternal life will be granted to all who have responded to God’s loving offer.”[11] Sin, in essence is choosing to ignore God’s will and for anyone who chooses not to accept this gift of forgiveness and everlasting life, C.S. Lewis illustrates, “Throughout life, a person who says to God, in effect, ‘Leave me alone’ [in the end will get his or her wish.] Hell is the absence of God, and is God’s simply giving that person at last what he or she has always asked for. It is not God, but one’s own choice that sends a person to hell.”[12]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Elwell, Walter A. ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2001.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. 3rd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2013.

Frame, John M. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013.

[1] J.S. Feinberg, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd Edition, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2001), 413.

[2] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology. 3rd Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2013), 383.

[3] David Hume, Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, part 10.

[4] Erickson, Christian Theology, 383.

[5] Erickson, Christian Theology, 394.

[6] Ibid., 394-401.

[7] Feinberg, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 414.

[8] Erickson, Christian Theology, 384.

[9] Erickson, Christian Theology, 398-399.

[10] Erickson, Christian Theology, 401.

[11] Erickson, Christian Theology, 401.

[12] C.S. Lewis, Problem of Pain, 119-120, 123, 128.

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Problem of Evil: Journal Review

The problem of evil in the world has been a topic many scholars have attempted to use to either prove or disprove the existence of God/god(s). It is also one of the few topics all worldviews and religions must deal with and as Norman Geisler reveals, “Of the three major worldviews, Atheism affirms the reality of evil and denies the reality of God. Pantheism affirms the reality of God but denies the reality of evil. And Theism affirms the reality of both God and evil. Herein lies the problem.”[1] From this paradox, Hanson sets out to show how evil can exist with a God that is both omnipotent and benevolent. By reviewing three ontological solutions, Hanson proposes the Neo-Ontological solution to define evil and suffering within a complex structure of being that is analyzed from the standpoints of experience and practice. The purpose of this critique is to assess Jim Hanson’s Neo-Ontological Solution to the problem of evil.

SUMMARY

            Hanson acknowledges and describes how evil takes many forms and recognizes, “the existence of evil and suffering presents the problem of believing in the existence of a God that is both able (omnipotent) and willing (benevolent) – namely the theistic God of Christianity.”[2] First, Hanson interacts with David Hume, who used an early argument proposed by Epicurus:

If God is willing to prevent evil but not able, then he is impotent.

If God is able but not willing, then he is malevolent.

If God is both able and willing, then whence come evil?

If he neither able nor willing, then why call him God?[3]

Hanson then raises an important question, “Why would a perfect God create, cause or design an imperfect product, a product that included or tolerated evil?”[4] The substance of this journal article approaches the challenge theists and deists face, which is acknowledging the existence of evil, while also explaining how God can still be omnipotent and benevolent. The first solution Hanson analyzes is the Traditionalist and Modernist Ontological Solution, which include the denial that evil exists or that evil originated from divine human agencies. The second solution Hanson explores is the Postmodernist Ontological Solution, which views humans as being made imperfect, finite, and denied the authenticity of their being. This view displays evil thriving at the heart of being. However, Douglas Groothuis illustrates, “The inconsistencies of postmodernism pose a direct challenge, since the irresolvable diversity of truth claims has no reliable criteria to test these claims against.”[5] The final solution Hanson favors is the Neo-Ontological Solution and Experience. Analogically, this means, “The God experienced through being as the ultimate referent becomes constructed experienced as essence.”[6]

CRITICAL INTERACTION

            Hanson presents three ontological solutions to the problem of evil and for each view, adequate pros and cons are presented and there does not appear to be any biasness or presuppositions in his approach. In fact, when discussing the traditional, the modernist, and postmodernist views, more information is provided than the Neo-Ontological Solution Hanson favors. For each field, Hanson used quality sources and cited leaders/pioneers behind each worldview. There is not a great deal of biblical content in this piece, except the mention of Adam’s test and the suggestion that, “This evil-originating, divine-human relationship suggests that God attends to the transgression, suffering, and evil of original sin from which arguably results the historical record of massive suffering and evil.”[7] Answering the question, “If God is good and powerful, why does He allow evil to exist?” would have strengthened Hanson’s article. Mankind is in desperate need to be reconciled with God, and this only happens through a relationship with Jesus Christ, who suffered substitutionary atonement for the sins of mankind. Köstenberger further illustrates, “The challenge is therefore not to explain evil but rather to accept its reality and to resist it whenever possible.”[8] Hanson rightly shows the problem of evil is better explained by being rather than by gods or humankind, so in a modern-day context, one can apply this principle when speaking with someone who has experienced evil, suffering or tragedy.

CONCLUSION

            Hanson adequately evaluates three solutions to the problem of evil, but he never mentions free will, the fallen state of man, or the redemption that happens when Christ becomes Lord and Savior of one’s life. Geisler best explains, “The ultimate goal of a perfect world with free creatures will have been achieved, but the way to get there requires that those who abuse their freedom be cast out.”[9] So to justify the existence of evil with an all-powerful and all-good God, one must not only understand the topics Hanson covered, but he or she must also have faith that:

  1. If God is all-good, He will defeat evil.
  2. If God is all-powerful, He can defeat evil.
  3. Evil is not yet defeated.
  4. Therefore, evil still serves a purpose and God can and will defeat evil.[10]

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Betenson, Toby. “Evaluative Claims within the Problem of Evil.” Religious Studies 51, no. 3 (09, 2015): 361-77, http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/docview/1703895888?accountid=12085 (accessed March 31, 2017).

Clendenin, Daniel B. “God is Great, God is Good Questions About Evil.” Ashland Theological Journal 24, no. 0 (1992): 35-48.

Elwell, Walter A. ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2001.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. 3rd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2013.

Frame, John M. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013.

Geisler, Norman L. “The Problem of Evil,” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing, 1999.

Geisler, Norman L. and Ronald M. Brooks. When Skeptics Ask. Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1990.

Groothuis, Douglas. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011.

Hanson, Jim. “A Neo-ontological Solution to the Problem of Evil.” Theology Today 68, no. 4 (January 2012): 478-489. DOI: https://doi-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1177/0040573611424644 (accessed March 31, 2017).

Hume, David. Dialogues concerning Natural Religion. Edited by Henry D. Aiken. New York, NY: Hafner, 1948 [1779].

Köstenberger, Andreas. Encountering John: The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective, 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing, 2013.

Sehon, Scott. “The Problem of Evil: Skeptical Theism Leads to Moral Paralysis.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 67, no. 2 (2010): 67-80. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25652862 (accessed March 31, 2017).

Zacharias, Ravi and Norman Geisler. Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Questions of Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.

[1] Norman L. Geisler, “The Problem of Evil,” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing, 1999), 219.

[2] Jim Hanson, “A Neo-Ontological Solution to the Problem of Evil,” Theology Today 68, no. 4 (January 2012): 478.

[3] David Hume, Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, ed. Henry D. Aiken (New York, NY: Hafner, 1948 [1779]), Part X.

[4] Hanson, “A Neo-Ontological Solution to the Problem of Evil,” 479.

[5] Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011), 130.

[6] Hanson, “A Neo-Ontological Solution to the Problem of Evil,” 484.

[7] Hanson, “A Neo-Ontological Solution to the Problem of Evil,” 480.

[8] Andreas Köstenberger, Encountering John: The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective, 2nd Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing, 2013), 119.

[9] Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1990), 59-60.

[10] Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler, Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Questions of Faith. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 38.

 

An Apologetic Approach to Postmodernism

postmodernism

INTRODUCTION

This paper will demonstrate how postmodernism is a self-contradicting illusion of spiritual apathy, which attempts to eclipse the fundamental truth claims of God and Christianity, by claiming all roads lead to God and everyone’s version of truth is acceptable. By contrasting postmodernism’s attempts to erode religious certainty, in the formation of spirituality lacking certainty, or sustained convictions, with the biblical view of truth found only in Christianity, the end-goal will be to formulate a sound defense of the Christian faith against this worldview and the existence of evil, through the proof of God’s existence and sovereignty.

SUMMARY OF WORLDVIEW

Without absolute truth and objective reality, postmodernists believe everyone should equally embrace the beliefs and perception of others. Douglas Groothuis illustrates, “The inconsistencies of postmodernism pose a direct challenge, since the irresolvable diversity of truth claims has no reliable criteria to test these claims against.”[1] One plus one should equal two, but for a postmodernist, even this truth does not exist. Graham Johnston furthers explains, “Truth by definition will always be exclusive, so the most important questions and tests of truth any worldview must meet are: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.”[2] For modernists, the issue in promoting Christian faith was credibility, but in postmodernism, the key issue has become desirability. It is no wonder postmodernism is thriving as the default setting among the most prevalent alternative worldviews. Everyone just wants to get along, forming an abomination of syncretistic beliefs. All roads may have led to Rome, but all roads do not lead to God, as postmodernists contend, and only Christianity provides logical proof about humanity’s origin, meaning, morality, and eternal destiny, which are found in God.

History of Worldview

From the ashes of modernity during the Enlightenment, postmodernism was conceived as the illegitimate offspring. It came out of a time of scientific certainty, where reason trumped faith, ultimately leading to an abandonment of God in the pursuit of knowledge. Some scholars date the modern age beginning in 1789, while others prefer an earlier date starting with René Descartes’ famous incorrigible truth statement of cogito ergo sum (“I think, therefore I am”). In essence, postmodernism is simply a reversal of modernism. Johnston reveals, “Reason supplanted the role of faith and where modernity revealed in reason, science, and the human ability to overcome, postmodernity wallows in mysticism, relativism, and the incapacity to know with any certainty both what is true or the answers to life’s great questions.”[3]

Basic Tenants of Modernism

Modernity was based upon true knowledge, which was good and the world existed in a cause and effect relationship. Progress was ultimately used to produce a better world, through technology and scientific discovery. Additionally, as Johnston explains, “The world was perceived on two levels: the objective, physical, and scientific realm, (which was open to public debate,) and the subjective, spiritual, and moral realm, (which was a matter of personal conviction).”[4] This is a radical departure from the present postmodern worldview, which no longer believes knowledge to be inherently good. Instead, postmodernists reject objective truth, are skeptics, blur the lines of morality, and search for the transcendent in a material world.

Categories of Postmodern Belief

Worldviews are made up of a comprehensive system of beliefs that shape every area of life. However, a statement or belief cannot be true and false, at the same time, so there are multiple contradictions found within postmodernism. First, ultimate reality fails, as Groothuis demonstrates, “No one “metanarrative” (or worldview) can rightly claim to be a true and rational account of reality. That would be arrogant and impossible.”[5] Despite this, postmodernists still assert there is no knowable objective reality. Secondly, postmodernist’s source of morality is skewed due to the absence of objective judgment and objective moral facts. Groothuis adds, “Sociology of knowledge is not about knowledge in the philosophical sense, but merely about how beliefs gain plausibility in various cultural settings.”[6] Thirdly, absolute truth becomes a matter of perspective only; it is something that individuals and communities construct through language.[7] Groothuis further develops this point, by showing, “Postmodernism holds that truth is not determined by its connection to objective reality, but by various social constructions devised for different purposes.”[8]

 Additional categories of belief, which contradict a biblical worldview, are postmodernists’ views on the authority of Scripture, mankind’s creation, original sin, redemption, the nature of God, the nature and purpose of man, and religion in general. Postmodernists claim perfect agreement with fact is no longer an issue, maintaining the Bible is only used to provide great stories and to motivate spiritually. On some level, everyone has a worldview or take on how the world is and how it works. These views may or may not be oppressive toward those who do not hold the same worldview. When dealing with the nature of God, Groothuis explains, “There is no “God’s-eye view” of anything; therefore, there is no objective truth. This is a direct contradiction to God being a God of truth, whose word is also truth.[9] Postmodernists’ faith and beliefs are not comparable, since everyone is entitled to his or her own views. God is the source of objective truth and for truth to be objective; it simply means the truth is fact, independent of a person’s say-so. This self-contradicting characteristic of postmodernism claims, one need not worry about intellectual consistency, spiritual fidelity to an ancient tradition, or revealed authority by the combining of different faiths together in a syncretistic way.[10] However, even this approach lacks intellectual integrity because it makes religious belief into something to use instead of something to discover and live by. Truth is the property of propositions and knowing is having reasonable justification or confidence about said truth. While knowing is a human enterprise, truth is an extra-human exercise.

If there is no such thing as truth, or truth is open to interpretation, postmodernism fails the law of self-contradiction, because agreement to the law is necessary to deny it. The nature of man then becomes individualistic, as Groothuis illustrates how, “The ancient philosopher Protagoras said, ‘Man is the measure of all things,’ instead of being measured by them. [Protagoras meant] each man is his own measure and there is no measurement apart from each person’s measuring.”[11] This concept ties right back into the distorted concept of man’s purpose and why postmodernists view religion as being too structured. Groothuis further demonstrates the shift from religion to spirituality is rooted in religion being, “Too authoritative, exclusive, and rigid. Spirituality on the other hand, is more customized, subjective, inclusive, and open to pragmatic experimentation.”[12] David Clark suggests several strategies to address these beliefs:

First, we must learn both to distinguish and to connect knowledge and truth. Apologists   must then reaffirm the reality of absolute truth while recognizing their limitations in knowing that truth. Second, we should recognize that we live in a pluralistic culture, not a monolithically postmodern culture. Third, we can use vivid analogies to express the unliveability of postmodernism in its deconstructive mode. Fourth, it may be helpful to retrieve elements of tradition without attempting to recreate the past. Fifth, who we are counts most. The life of covenant relationships in Christian community is potentially postmodernism’s total liberation from tradition.[13]

EVALUATION OF WORLDVIEW

Rachel Fischer demonstrates how, “Postmodernism’s precursors include linguistic theory, semiology, phenomenology, and modernism, and were closely associated with German philosophers like Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger.”[14] Postmodernism seeks to blend beliefs together in a syncretistic way producing internal logical inconsistencies. There are also no clear ways to test any truth claims and due to the wide array of beliefs maintained, not everyone can be accurate. In terms of practicality, postmodernism is not a viable worldview, since just because a person claims a certain worldview works for them does not mean it is existentially viable. This is clearly seen in the shift from religion to spirituality, by mixing and matching elements of various religions to form what works for the individual. Additionally, a collection of non-contradictory ideas is not sufficient to form a coherent worldview. This is apparent in the conflict between science and religion. However, as Ravi Zacharias illustrates, “Only Christianity puts truth on the line, which affords it the possibility of verification of any theological truth claims.”[15] In terms of intellectual and cultural fecundity, postmodernism fails to inspire cultural and intellectual discovery, creativity, and productivity, and it is difficult to embrace and master, since truth is only relative. It also fails to motivate others due to internal inconsistencies. By asserting there is no knowable objective reality apart from our languages and concepts, Groothuis further shows, “To say we know the objective truth about ultimate issues is to set up a metanarrative that is intrinsically oppressive and exploitative.”[16] Because each person’s view of truth alters the postmodern worldview, radical ad hoc readjustment is continually present, in an attempt to modify the essential principles to coincide with others. This creates a perpetual self-contradictory wheel. As a result, postmodernism is faced with a multiplicity of self-defeating counter-evidence and deep philosophical issues. If all things are equal, simpler explanations are preferable to unnecessarily complex ones; yet postmodernism continually appeals to extraneous entities more complex than what are required. Ernest Gellner believes, “On questions of faith, three ideological options are available to us today. One is the return to a genuine and firm faith in a religious tradition. The other is a form of relativism, which abandons the notion of unique truth all together… The third upholds the idea that there is a unique truth, but denies that any society can ever possess it.”[17] A genuine return to firm faith seems unlikely and relativism is too much of a middle-ground position, leaving only rediscovering truth found only in Christianity.

Further evaluation of postmodernism will center on coherence, pragmatism, and cosmic impiety. Coherence theories of truth create what Groothuis defines as a “web of truth,” because what makes a statement or belief true is its coherence or consistency with other beliefs.”[18] The problem Groothuis identifies is two worldviews can be internally consistent logically, but still contradict one another, especially in postmodernism’s view of relative truth claims. Pragmatism proves not to be a useful theory of truth, since this belief is only true if it produces a positive outcome. Groothuis reveals, “The pragmatic view of truth is a metaphysical claim, [which] maintains that truth is what works.”[19] Postmodernism also contradicts the correspondence theory of truth, which establishes truth is what coincides with reality. Lastly, cosmic impiety ignores reality, much like pragmatism does, but then adds the concept of truth being dependent upon human will and something, which can be created and controlled.[20]

Chris Altrock offers seven faces of postmodernism, which are vital to understanding the individual qualities behind this worldview. He suggests: “Postmoderns are uninformed about the basics of Christianity, [making] them the first generation with little to no Christians memory; they are interested in spiritual matters, they are anti-institutional, they are pluralistic, they are pragmatic, they are relational, and they are experiential.”[21] Knowing these traits helps explain how to reach them on a deep and personal level. As Altrock demonstrates, most postmoderns are more concerned with life before death, rather than life after death and trust must be earned through experience and relationships. The cultural shift that has taken place in postmodernism is evidence of the need to repackage how the gospel message is communicated and lived out.

CHRISTIAN ALTERNATIVE

 Maintaining a biblical worldview is something George Barna cites only nine percent of “born again Christians” possess. Barna then explains what a biblical worldview looks like:

 A biblical worldview is defined as believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views are Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He still rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.[22]

In addition to these fundamental truths, a biblical worldview also explains the creation of the world, which points to a supreme God and Creator. This general revelation is crucial to understanding the nature and character of God. God’s nature is further revealed through the reading of Scripture. This is where believers discover God is a relational God and He is eternal, infinite, absolute, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Only a God with all these traits is worthy of devotion, service, and faith. Christianity is also the only religion where God reaches out to mankind in the form of a relationship. All other religions, the roles are either reversed, or there is no relationship to be had. The love and compassion of God for His children cannot be put in mere words and His sending of the only Son to die for humanity’s sins is proof. Absolute truth only exists in Christianity. However, the postmodernist says there is no truth, which is self-contradicting, since each person’s version of truth is supposed to be valid. Perception may be reality, but absolute truth can only be found in God. Christianity is also based on absolute moral truths laid out in the inerrant and infallible Bible. All Scripture is God-breathed. Unfortunately, the world has come to know more what the church is against, leading people to seek out more tolerance, which is the highest virtue of postmodernism.

Jesus Christ is also the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and He came as the suffering servant and the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. Christ then passed on the Great Commission to mankind in order to restore unity and fellowship between God and His children. Christianity is based on the ministry and supernatural life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All other religions lack one thing: an empty grave and a risen Lord. The sacrifice Jesus made, as a substitutionary atonement for sin was the final one, as He became the temple. Internal and external evidence further supports biblical claims and are historically accurate and trustworthy. There is no other religion or worldview that has the historical roots of Judaism and Christianity. In fact, the earliest recorded words were God’s to mankind. Through Scripture, it is proven, man was created in the image of God and the Lord’s love for mankind is unconditional. Additionally, the truth of the law of non-contradiction corresponds to the very nature of God and the working of His mind. Groothuis reinforces this notion, adding, “God is a God of truth and not of falsehood and God does not contradict Himself and He cannot deny Himself.”[23]

However, mankind is fallen through the sin of Adam, and Jesus Christ, the second Adam was humanity’s only hope for redemption. Now, only a relationship with Christ will restore fellowship with God. As Christians become saved, he or she is invited into the Godhead. Groothuis illustrates how, “God is a personal being who created humans in His image. The metaphysics of God and humans are closely related on this account. Humans fell into sin against God, but God provided atonement through His own actions in Christ.”[24] Christianity is the only religion in which death is truly conquered. Only the risen Christ has control and authority over death. A fact many fail to believe or recognize is every human has everlasting life, but only a relationship with Jesus Christ will ensure it is spent in heaven and not in eternal separation from the Father. This new view and mindset should change the way Christians interact with the people in their lives. Whether non-believers know it or not, each of them is a prisoner of war, and the spoils of victory are his or her eternal soul.

In an effort to reach the postmoderns, Rick Warren provides an effective tool using the five basic purposes of the church to meet the five basic human needs:

1. A purpose to live for (outreach)

2. A power to live on (worship)

3. A people to live with (fellowship)

4. Principles to live by (discipleship)

5. A profession to live out (service)

Warren then adapts the above needs to target important things in the postmodernist’s life:

1. A focus for living (outreach)

2. A force for living (worship)

3. A family for living (fellowship)

4. A foundation for living (discipleship)

5. A function for living (service)

Lastly, Warren offers how the church can meet the fundamental needs of postmodernists:

1. Significance (outreach)

2. Stimulation (worship)

3. Support (fellowship)

4. Stability (discipleship)

5. Self-expression (service)[25] [26]

 A new creative and biblical approach, like the one above, is needed if the church is going to be able to reach postmodernists. The gospel message has not changed; instead, what must change is how it is communicated.

DEFENSE OF CHRISTIANITY

The Problem of Evil

Some contend the existence of evil in the world counters the existence of an all powerful God and creator. The question, “If God is good and powerful, why does He allow evil to exist?” must be answered. Despite any level of sophistication or technological breakthroughs, the basic moral problems with humanity still exist. Mankind is in desperate need to be reconciled with God, and this only happens through a relationship with Jesus Christ, who suffered substitutionary atonement for the sins of mankind. Köstenberger further illustrates, “The challenge is therefore not to explain evil but rather to accept its reality and to resist it whenever possible.”[27]

Logical Problem of Evil

Why God allows evil in the world can be traced back to Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden, which led to the fallen state of humanity. Evil is inherent in a fallen world where free will allows choices, which are contradictory to God’s nature. Norman Geisler explains, “The ultimate goal of a perfect world with free creatures will have been achieved, but the way to get there requires that those who abuse their freedom be cast out.”[28] Evil will not last forever and one day soon; God will make all things new. To justify the existence of evil with an all-powerful and all-good God seems on the surface like a paradox, but when properly analyzed can be summarized as:

1. If God is all-good, He will defeat evil.

2. If God is all-powerful, He can defeat evil.

3. Evil is not yet defeated.

4. Therefore, evil still serves a purpose and God can and will defeat evil.[29]

The Greater Good Defense

Strengths

In an effort to address the presence of evil in the world, some theists offer the Greater Good Defense, to suggest there exists a morally sufficient reason why God allows evil in the world. The defense proposes two premises: (1) Any instance of evil will result in a greater good; and (2) Eliminating evil would result in some worse evil. Proponents of this view often demonstrate the presence of human virtues, which would not be possible without the presence of evil and often refer to Genesis 50:20, “What you meant to harm me, God meant for good.” If this theory holds true, there would be no pointless instances of evil, which would mean God only allows evil to bring about a greater purpose.

Weaknesses

Upon further investigation, it becomes apparent the Greater Good Defense is susceptible to the evidential problem of evil, which undercuts social justice, and implies God would cause evil. The major breakdown occurs by simply proving any instance of evil was pointless, which would be evidence there is no God. Despite atrocities and genocide, this defense maintains God permits evil to bring a greater good, making the evil necessary. A further breakdown in this defense occurs when analyzing what happens if the required evil does not occur through random chance or by human means, essentially making God, out of necessity commit the evil Himself. No where in Scripture is this defense supported and there are a multiplicity of philosophical, theological and biblical reasons, which counter any strengths this defense has to offer.

Christianity’s Answer

Free will defense

This defense argues God has determined a world containing free creatures is better than one not containing freedom. Sadly, humans used their freedom to rebel against God, which allowed moral evil to enter into the world. Ultimately, human responsibility implies and leads to human freedom.

Sin and the Fall

Adam and Eve used the free will given to them by God to rebel and sin against God. This act would have permanent consequences for all who would ever live. The Fall in the Garden of Eden explains both: moral evil, which comes from the moral choices humans make, and natural evil, which is evidenced in natural disasters and pain and suffering.

Redemption

While free will and the Fall explain the existence of evil in the world, the question of why God allows evil to exist still must be addressed. Ultimately, it is the divine judgment of sin and the clearest expression of God’s goodness was found in His provision of redemption and restoration for mankind, through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. The shedding of blood was required for the remission of sin.

Pastoral care

Christians are called by God to share His love and grace with others. The existence of evil is a stumbling block for many, especially when it seems like bad things are continually happening to good people. Here, it is important to know God’s creation was initially good, until Adam and Eve sinned, and despite mankind’s rebellion, God provided redemption through Jesus Christ and He continually provides grace and comfort through His Holy Spirit.

Proof of God’s Existence

The existence of the world requires an explanation and the most plausible explanation is the existence of God. Theistic arguments provide many opportunities to persuade people towards a biblical worldview and the use of an abductive moral argument for God’s existence best explains many moral facts: duties, obligations, values, intrinsic human worth, dignity, human rights, and freedom. It is interesting to note only things that have a beginning need a maker and God has always existed. Thus, God is the cause of everything, as Andreas Köstenberger explains, “It seems ironic that postmodernism denies the very possibility of access to ultimate reality and the existence of God. Postmodernists believe only in what can be seen and anything that is invisible or intangible can only be comprehended by religious instincts, not by human reason. Because all human knowledge is subjective and objective, absolute knowledge is impossible.”[30] Instead, postmodernists believe in only what makes sense and works for the individual. Fortunately, as Köstenberger clarifies, “The preexistent Word became flesh in the form of Jesus, who made His dwelling among humans, and has revealed God, [through both general and special revelation].”[31]

Defense of Objective Truth and Moral Values

Christianity is based on absolute moral truths laid out in the inerrant and infallible Bible. All Scripture is God-breathed and Christians are called to be Christ-like. When there is no absolute truth, it can be twisted and distorted to suit those who are in control. Morality, like belief then becomes a matter not of principle, but of what works for the individual. The search for morality can incur profound pragmatism, dismissing what is right and true, and simply settling for what works. As Johnston demonstrates, “We do not live in an immoral society – one in which right and wrong behavior is chosen; we live in an amoral society – one is which right and wrong are categories with no universal meaning, and everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes.”[32]

Biblical Basis

  The Great Commission clearly identifies mankind’s purpose, but as Johnston explains, “One reason the Christian worldview is so highly criticized in a postmodern context lies in the apparent Christian unwillingness to coexist with any other viewpoint… [Thus] the privilege of speaking God’s truth into someone else’s life will not be granted; it must be earned.”[33]

Jesus is the Truth

 When Pilate stood before Jesus and asked, “What is truth,”[34] he had no idea he was talking to the very embodiment of truth and the only person truly qualified to answer this profound question. Christians are called to be Christlike and this is portrayed as Jesus instructed His disciples it would be by their love the world would know they were His disciples. Köstenberger makes it clear, “In our highly pluralistic, postmodern culture, it will be increasingly unpopular to proclaim the biblical message that ‘there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved’ but Jesus. [The real question becomes] are we willing to suffer socially, economically, or otherwise for our faith?”[35]

All Roads Do Not Lead to God

Groothuis explains, “There has been a drastic shift from religion to spirituality because religion is deemed too structured, authoritative, exclusive, and rigid. Spirituality, on the other hand, is more customized, subjective, inclusive, and open to pragmatic experimentation.”[36] However, the Bible is clear that Jesus the only road that leads to God: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”[37]

Atheism

The logical problem of evil is a challenge many atheists use to form his or her worldview. Despite this version of evil not enjoying overwhelming success, it still must be addressed:

            1. An omnipotent God would be able to eliminate all evil, so is God really all-powerful?

            2. An omnibenevolent God would want to eliminate all evil, so is God really all-good?

            3. Evil exists, therefore God is either not omnipotent or not omnibenevolent.

            4. Because Christianity requires both, the Christian God does not exist.

If this argument were true, then there is no God, but as long as it is possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing the evil in the world, then the logical argument fails.

Polytheism

The claim that all roads lead to God is not a new philosophy. However, Christianity states there is no other name by which mankind is saved. The way, the truth, and the life are found only in Christ Jesus. Good works are not enough to earn salvation and the worship of anyone and anything above God is idolatry. Monotheism is then left as the only viable option and worldview.

CONCLUSION

This paper has demonstrated how postmodernism is a self-contradicting illusion of spiritual apathy, by revealing how individuals create multiple versions of truth. These beliefs are façades, which attempt to eclipse the fundamental truth claims of God and Christianity. Additionally, the theory of all roads leading to God and everyone’s version of truth being acceptable has been debunked. Upon analyzing and contrasting postmodernism’s attempts to erode religious certainty, and sustained convictions, the biblical view of truth was found to be the only sound hypothesis. Lastly, Christianity and the belief God is all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful were proven and the existence of evil was explained, using a biblical worldview.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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[1] Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011), 130.

[2] Graham Johnston, Preaching to a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2001), 99.

[3] Johnston, Preaching to a Postmodern World, 27.

[4] Ibid., 25.

[5] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 119.

[6] Ibid., 121.

[7] Ibid., 119.

[8] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 128.

[9] Hebrews 6:18 and John 17:17

[10] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 131.

[11] Ibid., 128.

[12] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 131.

            [13] David Clark, “Periodical Reviews,” – Bibliotheca Sacra 154, no. 614 (April), WORDsearch CROSS e-book: 225.

            [14] Rachel K. Fischer, “Postmodernism.” Reference & User Services Quarterly, (Fall 2014), 29. General OneFile. GALE|A408784915 (accessed September 15, 2016).

[15] Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler, Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Questions of Faith. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 52.

[16] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 128.

            [17] Ernest Gellner, Postmodernism, Reason and Religion (London: Routledge, 1992), 12. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed September 26, 2016).

[18] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 132.

[19] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 133.

[20] Ibid., 137.

            [21] Chris Altrock, Preaching to Pluralists: How to Proclaim Christ in a Postmodern Age (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2004), 9-10.

[22] George Barna, “A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person’s Life,” Barna Group, December 1, 2003. https://www.barna.com/research/a-biblical-worldview-has-a-radical-effect-on-a-persons-life/ (accessed October 20, 2016).

[23] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 125.

[24] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 54.

[25] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1995), 119.

[26] As cited in: Altrock, Preaching to Pluralists, 81.

[27] Köstenberger, Encountering John, 119.

[28] Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1990), 59-60.

            [29] Zacharias and Geisler, Who Made God?, 38.

[30] Andreas Köstenberger, Encountering John: The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective, 2nd Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing, 2013), 86-87.

[31] Ibid., 87.

[32] Johnston, Preaching to a Postmodern World, 40-41.

[33] Ibid., 78-79.

[34] John 18:38

[35] Köstenberger, Encountering John, 153.

[36] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 131.

[37] John 14:6 (ESV)