The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Why does Evil create such a roadblock to faith

From a purely logical point of view, it does not seem like Evil should be problematic if from a logical point of view, God transcends all human logic, therefore a transcendent wisdom for something we cannot grasp that can let evil exist. This reminds me of the two works on evil by C.S. Lewis “The Problem of Pain”, and “A Grief Observed”. The Problem of pain is much more intellectually based, in tackling the problem from a wholly philosophical premise, in demonstrating a good and all powerful God does not contradict the existence of evil. Yet in “A Grief Observed”, the problem of evil is very personal, where philosophical answers could not suffice, or make faith anymore easier.

In the Bible, the book of Job addresses this roadblock, where Job gets mad at God for the misfortunes that happened, and tells God off. It seems like we would think a more pious prayer may have been “Mighty God with surpassing wisdom, I trust you in the face of evil”.

In our nature, we typically respond to evil with acts that do not portray much faith. It still seems like our natural inclinations are to fight evil with violence, pride, self righteousness, and vengeance. Even within the Church systems, there still is the tendency to think that same way. Yet all these ways of handling evil are centered in earthly powers of domination, competition and knowledge without wisdom. I think even believers in Universal Salvation can fall into the same prideful attitude of looking down on those who do not believe in UR, and too easily judge them as sadistic, hateful, or uncaring. Yet the point is that humanity still has a tendency to fight evil through becoming the same monster they oppose

Quite a contrast to those in the early church who faced with joy martyrdom of death by being a lion’s lunch etc

Many or most of these were universalists.

Origen wanted to join them, but his mom hid his clothes.

This problem is precisely where I am having my own personal and deep struggles - to say “Lord, I trust you in the face of all that I see that is terrible with me and with the world.”

Corollary to that, I have stopped being a brain-dead Hellfire Club member and as such, have begun to actually think of the ramifications of some of the dogma that are out there, along with Scriptures and observations. The greatest thing that burns my brain, coming from a hellist perspective, is this:

If God is love, then why does He allow us to be deceived by demons and when we are deceived, then cast us into eternal torment? That is surely not, at least from a human perspective, a very loving way to treat people whom you desire to save. This brings up several considerations:

  1. God is not love and Apostle John was just a mushy old man blabbering away on Patmos.

  2. God is love - but only to the “elect,” which means that the Calvinists are correct.

  3. God only cares about getting glory (a Calvinist view of God and man) and therefore, only a select few are saved and that to be vassal servants forever. The rest can go to hell.

  4. If God really does wish to have everyone saved, then why does He allow us to be deceived, with the end of that deception being some form of punishment for listening to the deception?

  5. If we are blind and deaf, as Scripture states, why are we to be punished for not being able to see and hear? This is about as just as taking a man born blind and asking him to describe a tree in detail, then beating him to death for not being able to do that.

  6. If the Church is the “pillar and ground” of truth, why did She stray from the Universalist position of the Early Fathers? And if She has, and hellism is false, then where do I go for truth since the Church is then no longer the pillar and ground of truth?

Honestly, I find that I have days where I am sorely tempted in my heart to just chuck the whole thing (Christianity) as a massive cosmic joke, a bad punchline to a life poorly lived.

And now that I have opened my heart and let my feelings out, will this God of hellism beat my … for not being humble and glorifying Him?
The God of hellism and Catholic / Orthodox dogma is a really fearsome deity.


I think you’ve hit on a huge reason that people do have a problem with seeing God as good. They instinctively KNOW that the “god” of Calvinism is absolutely NOT good. Fortunately, THAT “god” does not exist. I’m not saying that all or most Calvinists are worshiping a false God. I expect that most of them also instinctively know that a literal god in the image of the Augustinian/Calvinism model could never be good–therefore, not having intellectualized as much as many of us do, they simply go on worshiping God and ignoring “god” as portrayed by Calvin.

As for the weak Arminian “god,” who cannot even save those he loves, how is this person a god at all? A big problem for the Arms imo is that we are taught God cannot (for some reason I’ve never heard coherently explained), save human beings after their fleshly bodies die. That’s the ultimate hard sell–“BUY NOW! Offer Ends Soon!!!” I think that’s exactly what it IS, too. An incentive for people to turn to God today rather than putting it off and off and off. All good intentioned, but you can NOT substantiate this “death deadline” from scripture. Without the death deadline, there is absolutely NO reason that God (who gets to do whatever He wants, so long as it’s in accord with the foundations of His character–which is love and light) can’t save ALL those He loves. And if He is truly good, then He must love ALL, as indeed scripture says He does.

But this thread is about evil as a roadblock to faith. I agree that seeing God as redeeming all, by whatever means, goes a long way toward mitigating the problem of evil. In fact, I don’t think the POE can be mitigated without putting forth a God who is truly good. That said, many people will still have serious misgivings. I’ve thought about this a lot, and I think that in the end it comes down to this:

  1. God wants REAL individuals as children, not puppets or robots–not even Artificial Intelligence that’s gotten away. He wants authentic creatures as His children.
  2. In order to achieve #1, there needs to be a genuine separation between the will of God and the will of humankind. Humans must have REAL free will, not make-believe free will.
  3. In order to achieve #2, God must not interfere with the will of humankind except when absolutely necessary–or at the very least, He must do so with extreme judiciousness and possibly only at the request of humans (and not always then).
  4. In order to achieve # 3, God must not even directly create humankind (or perhaps anything in His creation). Otherwise, wouldn’t we simply be mechanical/biological machines, doing that which we were designed to do?
  5. Because of 1-4, I think God probably created in the way the scientists think the world was created–a singularity (prepared by but not predetermined by God) exploded into, basically, the world. Granted, that’s monstrously over-simplified, but this isn’t a science forum.

This is, to me, the best apologetic for the POE. God HAS to step back and allow the world to be what it will be. That involves, unfortunately, a lot of messiness and pain and evil. God has to allow the world to develop as it will. That means stronger things eating weaker things. I kind of think He knew that–yet hitting a nail with a hammer involves a lot of violence, and yet the result is worth it. True a nail is an inanimate object and cannot (so far as we know) suffer. It’s NOT the same thing. That said, I think God foresaw the results of this project and like the master builder He is, He decided it would be worth the interim suffering. I agree. Why?


  1. The suffering is temporal but the reward is everlasting.
  2. Temporal things are so insignificant in the face of eternity that, mathematically speaking, they DO NOT EVEN EXIST. Really. When a thing has a designation too far on the low end between zero and negative whatever, it simply doesn’t exist for any practical purpose.
  3. The suffering is terrible while the sufferer is suffering, but once the suffering is relieved and healed, it no longer exists. We do not have a race of beings scarred by suffering. We have a race made wise by suffering, but it is a race completely HEALED of the pain of the suffering–a race which will exist forever in absolute bliss–bliss which COULD NOT HAVE BEEN ATTAINED without the suffering.
  4. Therefore, allowing this suffering is not only moral, it would be IMMORAL not to allow it considering the gain to be attained by the sufferers.

Finally, the evolutionary phase of creation can only go so far. Once it has produced beings capable of being communicated with by God, this dog-eat-dog phenomenon becomes an impediment to the further development of that species. In order for us to step up to the next level of development, Someone had to intervene. That Someone was God Himself in the person of Jesus the Christ. We do still choose to take that step, imo, but in order to actually take the step, Jesus has to lift us up. The Father conforms us to the image of His Son via the mentorship of the Holy Spirit. Those of us who have put our trust in Christ have entered the stage of training for true sonship. We could never have attained this without Jesus’s work to ransom and free us from slavery to the tyranny of the flesh.

Sadly, this isn’t something you can fit into a typical religious tract, even if your average passerby cared enough to take the trouble to understand it. God is good, though, and eventually we ALL will understand–including me. And yeah, my understanding is doubtless so very simplistic that it’s essentially wrong. But it’s the best I can do. :wink:

That’s a defensible Theodicy, Cindy. :smiley:

Thanks, Dave. Just feeling around to see if perhaps I might find Him. :wink:

One of the best books I have ever read about Theodicy is ironically one of the shortest books I have ever read. It’s “The Doors of the Sea,” by David Bentley Hart, an Eastern Orthodox Christian. One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from that book. I will include it here, because it is beautiful.

“For if indeed there were a God whose true nature – whose justice or sovereignty – were revealed in the death of a child or the dereliction of a soul or a predestined hell, then it would be no great transgression to think of him as a contemptible and malevolent demiurge, and to hate him, and to deny him worship, and to seek a better God than he.”

Thanks for sharing that, GB. :slight_smile: I’ve read the quote before but didn’t know where it came from. I might have to look that book up.