Archive for March 2011

Why do good people suffer? If God is so good, why does God allow the innocent to suffer?

The four of the most frequently made objections to Christianity part 4


        Jose de Carvalho

This is another common objection to faith in God. This issue also rocks the faith of Christian believers. How can an all-powerful, all-loving God allow evil to beset the world and His people. ‘Some believers have suffered so much I wonder how they remain Christian or still believe there is a God at all.’

My first contention is that the assumption in the question is faulty.

Good and innocent?

The starting point is to see the problem from God’s vantage point; (1) We are all sinners (Rom 3:23) (2) deserving nothing; therefore should expect nothing; (3) whatever we receive is by the grace of God alone. The ethical problem is to consolidate the three propositions mentioned above.  Accepting it is difficult, never mind accepting it as Christian Doctrine. Nevertheless I will provide the framework to deal with the topical objection that the Post is answering to – due to space constraints I will summarise only. God created the best possible world – a world that is good (Genesis 1:31), providing people with a free will, well able to choose to do good, obey and serve Him; this was His intention – a creation that was well able to live and function in the world He created. The current condition of the world was not intended; it is not His perfect will and the world is now under bondage to a rebellious human race  (Gen. 3:17). This ‘bondage’ with the “whole world groaning and travailing together in pain” (Romans 8:21-22) is universal, affecting all men and women and children everywhere. Thus suffering is a by-product of living among a depraved humanity, in a cursed world that is systematically being destroyed by greed. This is a real difficulty, but atheism is certainly not the answer, and neither is agnosticism.

Men’s free will

At this juncture I need to state that in making us this way, with a free will He allowed for the possibility of evil. The problem is that people choose to do evil, so evil is introduced, not by God, but by His disobedient rebellious creatures both human and angelic. Now, in order for God to change this, He would have to constrain humanity, but this will be incompatible to man’s free will. Evil cannot be destroyed without destroying freedom.  Even God could not create a free man, without at the same time creating a man who was free to rebel. Our anger regarding evil should be directed to rebellion and evil men, not to God.


At this point you may be contemplating what is the point of choosing to do good?

I concur with the writer of the Wisdom book Ecclesiastes, Solomon the Sage (wise man), could not find much value or justice on this earth.  He eventually contended that whatever we get we should receive it with thanks and joy (vs. 18-20); he also concluded that wisdom and money provide some protection and options (7:11-12,10:19), but since the only certainty is death, we should enjoy life while we can. Then, (9:11-12,11:7-10) the entire mood of the book changes in his summary.  He begins to conclude that since he had failed to find any value or justice in this life over and above enjoying life, value must then be found transcendent to this life, rooted in the justice of God (12: 9-14). The second summary states that although knowledge and wisdom yields value, it brings weariness and passes away (vs. 13).  In contrast reverence and obedience to God will stand on the Day of Judgment (vs. 14), therefore ones priorities should not lie in the things of this life, but in God.

But still, why do we have to wait until the afterlife to get justice for our suffering? Why doesn’t God do something about it here on earth?

Although God’s perfect love and  ‘pre-eminent grace’ for all is unconditional nevertheless there is the special gift of perseverance and comfort to those that have accepted this gift by faith in Jesus Christ and therefore inherited the seal of salvation, namely the Holy Sprit the comforter.

Quo Vadis

Perhaps you are thinking, ‘but what’s the point’ what does God accomplish by allowing us to suffer?

Very simple: He’s trying to tell us something. By allowing people to suffer, God is showing us that something is wrong. If everything were all right, then there would be no suffering or death – as it was in the beginning creation. God is showing us every day that man has been separated from Him, because of rebellion and that man is destined to an eternity of a worse faith, unless he comes to God for help. To those that seek Him in faith, He promises that one day He will set all things right again. In that day, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain” (Rev. 21:4)

For the Atheist these deliberations are all in vain ‘after all there is no God’

If any of this is interesting or enriches you, stay connected and travel with me to the next post “Does God exist?” as we migrate in this pilgrimage of life finding ‘what adds meaning to our lives’.


In this scientific age, how can any intelligent person believe in miracles?

The four of the most frequently made objections to Christianity part 3


        Jose de Carvalho

Before the modern era miracles were viewed as contributing to the proof that Jesus was God incarnate, now the objections have led to the reversal of their status. Now instead of citing miracles in defence of the Christian faith, they have to be defended. Before going further, what is a miracle? We may define it as follows according to Grudem (1994:355) “A miracle is a less common kind of God’s activity in which He arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to Himself.” I believe it defies science thus not very popular! 

I think the issue is not whether miracles are still possible today or whether the scientific and medical age has explained them away, or even how intelligent people can believe in miracles?  But the question should be are miracles possible? If yes, then is there historical evidence?

Scripture clearly provides evidence for miracles. I investigate the topic from the point of view “the case for Jesus’ miracles” and categorize the miracles into three groupings: healings, exorcisms and nature miracles. I not only argue from the point that Scripture is trustworthy and that it is reliable and historically documented but also that it is attested by witnesses in multiple sources – including hostile sources, the strongest kind of evidence. Mark 3:22 states that even His opponents did not challenge the claim that powers of healing flowed through Him…they just claimed that His powers came from the lord of evil spirits, thereby admitting to the supernatural nature of the events. I draw a preliminary conclusion here, “Jesus exorcisms (Mark 1: 25) and healings (Mark 2:10-12) are virtually indisputable”. The same support and conclusion applies to nature miracles. Jesus raised people from the dead (Mark 5:39) and His own resurrection being the supreme miracle (Matt 28:11-15). 

The case for the scientific age is that allegedly we don’t see the same miracles today. Is it science or lack of faith? Or are we just looking in the wrong places. Would medical science be able to explain His miracles away? The medical fraternity at large tries to explain miracles away by ‘faith healing’, in the New Age sense of the word. The problem is that in the gospels not all miracles were dependent on the person exercising faith; certainly not the nature miracles (raising the dead) or exorcisms (Garsenes demoniac – Luke 8:26) nor healings like when Jesus healed the servant of the centurion, without going near the centurion’s house (Matt 8:8). Jesus healed like no other, certainly not like modern faith healers from all fraternities; He healed all, instantly, because He is God. 

There is so much extra Biblical evidence clearly in favour of Jesus as Lord. Some people, however, reject this clear evidence because of the moral implications involved. They don’t want to face up to the responsibility or the implications of calling Him Lord”, it does not make it any less true thought!