Bible verse used in podcast:
- Isaiah 28:9-10
- Hebrews 5:12-14, 1 corinthians 3:1-3
- 1 john 2:12-14
- Ephesians 4:11-16
Previously I mentioned this idea that you can take a list of rules or axioms and construct a logical system out of it. When you do this, you can see what happens as a result. Often when you have Truth, it can’t be completely explained in a single rule, you need multiple parts to really explain how it works. For instance, on my podcast, I brought up the question (or family of questions), If God is a loving God why is there evil in the world? In order to do this, I built up several axioms (bits of truth) and then explored what happens with this. The idea is to revisit it looking at this perspective of having a logical system. When I did so I used these axioms (some more explicitly than others):
- Freewill gives rise to love
- God’s nature is perfect love
- We are made in God’s image
- God gave man authority
- Evil exists regardless of our choices
- Consequences happen regardless of choices (or human interaction)
- God can’t violate his own nature (contradict himself)
I won’t try to prove all of these because either I have talked about these in a previous podcast, or I will plan to touch if not directly address these in future podcasts. But I will make a few comments on some of these. The issue of free will is something I plan on going over in its own right. I talked before how it relates to love, but the existence of free will independent of love will come later. However, often people have this Arminian and Calvinistic debate about whether or not we have free will from a biblical perspective (among other things), is not relevant. I plan on talking about why these views are inconsistent with the bible as presented, but unless you completely reject the notion of free will altogether, the rest that follows is unaffected.
Evil exists regardless of our choices comes out of the stuff I talked about before where defining good inherently creates evil. From that, evil doesn’t necessarily depend on our actions to exist (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil). You can show in the bible that consequences happen outside of interaction in a few places. God created everything at near the end of Genesis 1. If it is chronological to any degree, then man might have been one of the last things God created. Even if he wasn’t last, it isn’t reasonable to argue that man existed at least before the earth was formed, even if there are no plants or light and so on. You can also look at Job as an example. He is going about his life while God and Satan are doing things in the background. In one sense, all the bad things don’t happen because he did something to cause it, instead, they happen because of a “contest” God has with Satan. Job doesn’t have any say in what happens. Of course, you can also think of how Jesus died for your sins while you were a sin in our modern-day far removed from what happened. You can’t influence that event. God gave man authority in Genesis 1 when he gave man dominion over the earth and many passages focus on the concept of stewardship.
From those 7 axioms, we can see what consequences arise with regard to the nature of evil. Of course the question of if God is a loving God, why is there evil? It is just an umbrella of several other questions that are related to it.
- Why can we do evil?
-  even if people didn’t exist evil could still exist
-  we have the ability to choose
-  some things aren’t inherently evil but the way they are used can lead to evil things happening
- Why doesn’t God stop us from doing evil?
-  If we are made in his image, we have the capacity to love
-  if we can love, we can make our own choice
-  If God directly stops us, he takes away our ability to love
-  If God stops us from doing evil, we no longer have his image
- (side note) God needs to influence us in such a way that does not directly take away our ability to love but still directs us
- Why have free will if it lets us do evil?
-  if we can’t make choices, we can’t love
-  even if we didn’t choose, God clearly has the ability to choose what he does, if he is perfect, then free will doesn’t mean all being that exists will ultimately do evil (even given enough time)
- Why do we have temptation?
-  if we don’t have moments when we can do evil, we can’t express/choice love
-   in some cases we can do things that are bad to ourselves but we can choose not to do them. (gambling, addition, food choices…)
- Why do bad things happen to good people?
- This is looking more at pain and suffering not by other people
-  if you cut yourself your body feels pain
- This is good because it helps keep you safe, in some cases having pain keeps you from doing bad things because it trains you to avoid things that will hurt you
- Often we don’t see the bigger picture of what is happening beyond our suffering
Of course, you can keep doing and explore these questions even further. The axioms presented probably aren’t everything you need to explain the mystery of evil, but it helps provide a system of knowledge we can use to apply to different situations. But based on the axioms we use, we can see what conclusions we can draw.
We can expand what we know in two interesting ways. The first way is by asking questions (like above) and see how the axioms we have related to them. The second way is by finding more axioms and adding them to our list. When you do this, you can look at the axioms and see what happens when you combine them together (I plan on talking about this a bit more another time). But this is a powerful way to learn and expand what you know.
When you are a child, you understand the world differently than as an adult. Each day you learn more and more, whether it is something new or something you saw a hundred times before. There are always different techniques and different tools you can use to examine a situation differently. The Bible is the same way. Often when you have your first pass through a verse, you will miss out on things that you would pick up on your second, third, and so on. In fact, the bible anticipates that this will happen.
9 “To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast? 10 For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”Isaiah 28:9-10 ESV
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.Hebrews 5:12-14 ESV
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV
Often there are different levels of maturity as one reads the bible and grows in Christianity.
1 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,1 Corinthians 3:1-2 ESV
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.1 John 2:12-14 ESV
Is there only one Truth?
One reflection from this is important. Often Truth is not just a single answer. Often you need multiple answers as I mentioned before. There is always that issue of having different interpretations of passage during bible study. Unless they contradict, which can be hard to tell apart from a paradox, often different views can be true. One example of this is, why did the Pharisees reject Jesus? There are several reasons for doing so.
One reason is that he put himself as an authority above what they understood. They looked to Moses and the Torah (the first five books of the bible) as their source of authority and Jesus put himself above that authority several times.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’Matthew 5:43 ESV
Another reason is that Jesus didn’t follow their traditions. They add traditions that were passed down and Jesus saw the greater picture rather than the narrowness of just the tradition.
21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”John 7:21-24 ESV
The Pharisees also saw Jesus as a threat. They had a social status and an image that their profession was the idea of being a holy person. Jesus often confronted them showing that although they were teachers and leaders, there was a greater standard that God had. For many of them, this put into challenge their pride and image.
5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven….
6:5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.Matthew 5:20, 6:5 ESV
There might even be more reason for why they rejected Jesus. If someone came along and argued they knew the reason, you can’t argue that that is the only reason. Each of these reasons might all be true and correct at the same time. It’s like wanting to go to the mall with your friends. You go because you want to buy something, because you want to have fun, you want to be around friends, or maybe you just want to get out of the house. Not all of them are wrong and you can have all these as intentions. One might be a bigger factor than others, but that doesn’t mean the others are wrong.