The Mystery of Evil

This section of Christopher Wright’s fine book, The God I Don’t Understand has cause me to think (which is part of the reason I like it!).  In fact, I’m still thinking about it.  Here it is:

“…God has revealed to us vast amounts of truth in the Bible – about God himself, about creation, about ourselves, our sin, God’s plan of salvation, the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the future destiny of the world, and so on.  Thus, in light of all this abundant revelation, the Bible’s silence at this point on the ultimate origin of evil seems all the more significant, and not merely accidental.  It’s not as if God were now saying, ‘Oops, I forgot to mention that point, but never mind, they can figure it out for themselves.’  No, the truth is that God has chosen in his wisdom not to give us an answer to our questions about the ultimate origin of evil within creation.  It is simply not for us to know – and that is God’s sovereign decision, the prerogative of the one who is the source of all truth and revelation in the universe.”

Later in this chapter (chapter 1) Wright continues:

“God, with his infinite perspective, and for reasons known only to himself, knows that we finite human beings cannot, indeed must not ‘make sense’ of evil.  For the final truth is that evil does not make sense.  ‘Sense’ is part of our rationality that in itself is part of God’s good creation and God’s image in us.  So evil can have no sense, since sense itself is a good thing.”

“Evil has no proper place within creation.  It has no validity, no truth, no integrity.  It does not intrinsically belong to the creation as God originally made it nor will it belong to creation as God will ultimately redeem it.  It cannot and must not be integrated into the universe as a rational, legitimated, justified part of reality.  Evil is not there to be understood, but to be resisted and ultimately expelled.  Evil was and remains an intruder, an alien presence that has made itself almost (but not finally) inextricably ‘at home.’  Evil is beyond our understanding because it is not part of the ultimate reality that God in his perfect wisdom and utter truthfulness intends us to understand.  So God has withheld its secrets from his own revelation and our research.”

“Personally, I have come to accept this as a providentially good thing.  Indeed, as I have wrestled with this thought about evil, it brings a certain degree of relief.  And I think it carries the implication that whenever we are confronted with something utterly and dreadfully evil, appallingly wicked, or just plain tragic, we should resist the temptation that is wrapped up in the cry, ‘Where’s the sense in that?’  It’s not that we get no answer.  We get silence.  And that silence is the answer to our question.  There is no sense.  And that is a good thing too.”

“Can I understand that?  No.  Do I want to understand that?  Probably not, if God has decided it is better that I don’t.  So I am willing to live with the understanding that the God I don’t understand has chosen not to explain the origin of evil, but rather wants to concentrate my attention on what he has done to defeat and destroy it.”

If this brief discussion has piqued your interest, I recommend getting this book so you can read the rest of the chapter and other such discussions.  Here’s the full title: The God I Don’t Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith by Christopher Wright.  I appreciate how Wright approaches these tough areas of the Christian faith with humility and a solid grounding in Scripture.  The book is a good one to have when considering answers for the real, tough, and deep questions we ask about the Christian faith.

shane lems

sunnyside wa

1 thought on “The Mystery of Evil”

  1. “Can I understand that? No. Do I want to understand that? Probably not, if God has decided it is better that I don’t.”

    Very well put. Yet if I’m really honest with myself I’m not very content not understanding. Like Adam & Eve, I often don’t like being limited to an ectypal position.

    Thankfully He has me well contained, and when I wander out too far He gives me the same answer He gave to all those who shake their fist at Him in scripture: Be still and know that I am God.

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