The problem of God: part one

More than anything in the world, I want all people to understand God as I do. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, and an excellent seminary education, I have been blessed with excellent theology.

Just as a poor foundation dooms a building, poor theology dooms a person. Faulty premises result in faulty answers, result in false faith, and loss of faith, and no faith.

Since I believe the Holy Bible is the true Word of God, and since I am confident in my understanding of it, I do not speak in waffling language. A math teacher does not apologize for the difficult equations he writes on the board; he knows they are correct. Substitute religion for math and my point is made.

All that said, I long for everyone to keep reading. There is equal value for those who share my Lutheran faith, for those with different beliefs, and for those who are not Christian. I hope I have shown in my posts that I understand difficult things and capably explain them. So, here we go.

As a pastor, I was forced to grapple with hard questions. In the rural area of tiny Port Hope, we experienced the shockingly high number of seven tragedies in my thirteen years. I dubbed myself the Disaster Pastor.

The final tragedy left me muttering, “I never thought I would be the pastor of someone who was murdered.” How, at the funeral, was I going to proclaim the good news for this woman, that she was enjoying eternal life in the presence of her Savior, to her four school-aged children, who no longer could enjoy life in the presence of their mother?

We ask: if God is good, how can He allow so much evil? It was asked after this murder. It is constantly asked on a national scale (9/11) and a personal one (a senseless car accident). Tragedy and evil and misdeeds are all around, and Christians like me can still insist, “God is good”? Hmm.

When life is good, it is easy to say that God is good. When an athlete wins the championship, we often hear him extol God’s greatness. I’ve yet to see a batter strike out with the bases loaded and sing Hallelujahs.

If, as we sing, Jesus loves the little children, how can He let little children be abused, starve, die in the world and the womb? Why does He let the rich get richer and the poor be trampled by them? Why doesn’t He stop war, stop hurricanes, stop the madness?

I have the answers. I got them from the Word of God, the Holy Bible.

My solid foundation, built on good theology, is what got me through my own tragedies and, as pastor, gave me the ability to get my members through theirs. Properly understanding God’s attributes is the only reason I have not cursed Him as I have suffered my gender dysphoria but, even on my worst days, trust Him to love me, to hear and answer my prayers, to get me through the day.

I aim to address several questions, beginning with, “Why does God allow evil?”

If you once were a teenager, maybe you can recall how desperately you wished your parents would keep you at home, how you longed for them to protect you—“Don’t let me drive!”—because, once you were out there, you knew something bad could happen, or you could even be guilty of doing something to hurt another, even something downright evil.

You parents: when your kids became teenagers, because you loved them you locked them in the basement. You didn’t want them to go out into the world and get hurt or hurt anyone, so you did the only thing you could do: you imprisoned them. Right?

Wrong.

Whether we are the teenager or the parent, we know that many sad and hard and bad things will happen. We even know that we and our own kids will be guilty of doing wrong, even evil things.

Since we know these things, why on earth do we let our kids go free, and why do we long to stretch our wings in that freedom?

Love frees people. Love does not imprison them against their will. Love is able to take a chance. Love empowers. Love teaches and equips, then love sets us out to live freely.

God is love (1 John 4:8). Made from that love, we can understand why the Lord gave Adam and Eve the freedom to do right or do wrong, and why He continues to give that freedom to each generation, and why we do it for each generation we produce.

We complain that God allows evil, but no one begs Him to stop us from gossiping when we are in the midst of a juicy tale, or break our wrist when we are going to turn the key and drive drunk, or lock our zipper when we are about to commit adultery. We cry for Him to act justly, but we want it on OUR terms. “Stop the evil!”—but only if it is the other guy who is doing something wrong.

God is not a menu from which we get to choose what we want on a particular day.

If God stopped every form of evil, every bad move, every unkind word, where would we be? Nowhere. That’s where we would be. We would be His puppets, with the master’s hand making us move. And we would hate Him. If He made us with brains, yet gave us no freedom, He would be a liar to call Himself “Love.”

I would never love a devil like that.

We loved our parents for giving us freedom. Mine did their job: they taught me every essential thing, set me up to succeed, and let me go. They taught me to do right and I’ve done plenty of wrong. I have hurt others, too often. I lost a marriage.

I have experienced the good and the evil—I would not wish gender dysphoria on my worst enemy—and I am thankful for the freedom which brought both.

How much more should we love God, simply for this basic gift of life? He filled the world with good things, then He placed us in it to enjoy it. Despite us, He doesn’t take it away. More than that, He provided the cure for our evils and tragedies; He gave us His Son, who took all evil into His flesh and put it to death. By being resurrected, His sacrifice was proven successful. The gift is for all, so we have hope for a future free of evil.

The Holy Bible testifies that “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). That’s for me. That’s for you. That’s for all.

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One thought on “The problem of God: part one

  1. Reblogged this on Reflections of Faith and commented:
    For the foreseeable future, I will also be reblogging some posts Greg Eilers. Greg Eilers is a retired LCMS Pastor who suffers from gender dysphoria, a condition that makes him feel as though he should be a woman. Greg has done incredible work in keeping with sound doctrine and has even been helpful to me in my theology. In light of his condition and the fact that this is one of the big issues in society today AND his excellent sound doctrine, I would like to present you with posts of his as they pertain to both. My hope is that through scripture, we as a church appropriately deal with such issues and not be bumbling idiots about it all. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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