The sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man

November 6, 2007

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As an aside, this picture was taken just before band practice in the sanctuary of my church in March 2005.  Man, I miss band practice.

From the NYTimes: Suffering, Evil and the Existence of God

Bart D. Ehrman is a professor of religious studies and his book is titled “God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question – Why We Suffer.” A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, Ehrman trained to be a scholar of New Testament Studies and a minister. Born-again as a teenager, devoted to the scriptures (he memorized entire books of the New Testament), strenuously devout, he nevertheless lost his faith because, he reports, “I could no longer reconcile the claims of faith with the fact of life . . . I came to the point where I simply could not believe that there is a good and kindly disposed Ruler who is in charge.” “The problem of suffering,” he recalls, “became for me the problem of faith.”

Of all the issues that people have with Christian theology, the issue of suffering, evil and the existence of God is possibly chief and the argument can be in more or less words summarized by Ehrman’s quote above.

Admittedly, I come to this debate from a position of faith so I start with the assumption that God is good and knows what he is doing. I’m not even going to try to argue my way out of the theological debate. Anyway, people far smarter than I have been thinking about this for millennia.

I guess I’ve found the work of Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias helpful in this area. He speaks of the tension in the Christian life as one between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. Yes, God is in control and knows what He is doing but does that give us the right to be lazy bums? My question isn’t so much where is God when we suffer. We all know life can be shit. It’s a given and no matter what we believe in, it is a question we have to answer. (It’s just that theism gives us someone to blame.) My question is where are the Christians? Where am I when people suffer? Something is wrong when my belief in “a good and kindly disposed Ruler” does not motivate me in some way to make the world a better place. For me, the issue has moved from “why” to “how” – not how people suffer but more “how now?”.

*ponders somemore*

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