Monday, 26 February 2018

Why Does God Allow It?

This post follows on from a comment on Bruce Charlton's post on his blog about the transhumanist agenda and the demonic corruption of the world. See here. The commenter asked why God allowed the demons to manipulate our world to the extent they do. Why are we left defenceless against their onslaught? What chance do we have?

Well, it may sometimes seem as though God has turned his back on the world but that is not the case. However, I'm afraid the answer to the question as to why he allows what is happening today may not be palatable to everyone. For the fact is that the events of this time constitute a test to sort out the sheep from the goats. That is not the demons' intention, of course, but it is why God permits their action. Yet we are not left defenceless. We have outer support from the teachings of religion, especially Christianity, but also some of the supplements to it that came about in the 19th and 20th centuries. Note I say supplements not replacements. We also have our own inner knowledge. Yes, we do, every last one of us, if we will but hearken to it and accept the wisdom of that still, small voice within. We all have a connection to the divine inside our hearts and if we ignore that it is our own fault and responsibility. Though mainstream religion is like an ebbing tide these days, there is more access to spiritual teachings than probably ever before. Perhaps there is too much and the variety and variation in quality can be confusing. Nevertheless, we have the ability to discriminate true from false, high from low, superior from inferior if we are faithful to the best within us.

You see, we have to grow up, spiritually speaking. No longer can we rely on a Church or an outer authority to tell us what to do and show the way. All have been corrupted but even if that were not the case we still have to go beyond the need for outer authority. That does not mean we should reject legitimate authority, but we have to learn to become our own authority as well. We tell a child when it is growing up that, until it learns to discipline itself properly, it has to accept some outer discipline. The pattern repeats itself in spiritual terms. But we have gone beyond the stage where we should rely on full outer discipline. We are no longer children. How can we be really spiritual if we are not so from within ourselves and of our own accord? 

God has not abandoned us but he is allowing temptation so that we may learn to resist it. If he did not, we could not grow properly. We would remain stuck at the stage of children who never leave home. Intellectually, many of us may have grown up, in one sense anyway, but we are still at a fairly low level spiritually. And yet it is not so low that we cannot make some spiritual efforts. We do have the wherewithal to pass the test of today if we will exert ourselves and make the attempt to unshackle our minds from the indoctrination that currently postures as truth. But we have to do this on an individual basis. Each one of us must make the steps to free him or herself as an independent being. Certainly, we can be helped but if we are to be free then we must make the effort, intellectually, spiritually, ourselves. And we cannot just return to a religious attitude of the past where we are the sheep and the shepherd instructs us. That does not mean that we should reject the past and deny all shepherds. But we have to think for ourselves and not just follow where we are led.

 God allows evil so that greater good may come. That is not to say that God is the origin of evil. Ends do not justify means. But evil is there and so God uses it. The basic law of the universe, especially as regards human beings, is free will. God cannot prevent what is happening for, if he did, he would be removing the reason for the creation of humanity. But what he can do is turn it against itself and use it to make souls more aware of the true good. When it comes down to it if we don't do this it is nobody's fault but our own. We are responsible for ourselves. We don't have to go where we are pointed. It is a test of our moral integrity and courage, and if we are not equal to the test then the blame can only be ours. You might think this is heartless but it is not. If we show signs of turning away from the world then God will be there. He will guide us and direct us to people and places that can help and support us. But it won't be obvious or easy because that also would remove the effectiveness of the test.

At the end of the day, it is about two things. Honesty and courage. If we are honest to what is inside ourselves then we know that the world we see being remade before us is a lie. But then we need courage to stand against that and not allow ourselves to be browbeaten by 'good' opinion. We should not be frightened of seeming foolish in the eyes of the world. We should not worry about being branded naive or even mad or, a popular shaming tactic today, 'extremist'. That is not to say that the falseness of today's world will not bring about real extremists (individuals motivated by hatred) in reaction to it. That also is part of the dark forces' tactics. They justify one evil by opposing it to another. But if we are motivated by love of God and truth then we need have no fear. 

Jesus said to his disciples that if they followed him, the world would hate them. The same thing applies now. Don't make that a thing to be proud of though. There are many traps open to the soul when it turns away from the world and towards God, and pride is the main one. But if you submit yourself, heart and soul, to God then you are secure against all attack. You will not necessarily escape suffering or condemnation but why worry about your outer self, especially when this is the way that the soul earns its stripes?

One final thought. It is not actually God who allows the evil of today. It is us. We have opened the door to it and given it the hold over us it now has. God cannot be held responsible for our own sins. You might say, why should a child growing up in this corrupt world be held responsible for the corruption? I'm sure that this is taken into account when the reckoning is due. Passive followers will not pay so heavy a price as active enablers. Nevertheless, even a child has the spirit of truth within it and the opportunity to respond to that.

Note: What I didn't mention in the main body of the post is that this time has been widely predicted in many traditions from all over the world, and the reason that was possible is that evolution proceeds in cycles. Now is the time when matter is most 'materialised' so there is a certain inevitability to our spiritual alienation. It forms part of a pattern, not that that is a reason to succumb to it or a justification for so succumbing.


Wurmbrand said...

William, have you read Gregory Boyd's God at War? There is much to consider there for those Christians who are willing to consider a pre-modern underatanding of spiritual warfare.

William Wildblood said...

No I haven't read that book but from the way you describe it perhaps I should.

I'm reluctant to allow too much power to dark forces because next to the reality of God they are nothing but it really does seem as though they are pulling all the stops out at the moment and our ignorance of them makes it easier for them.

Anonymous said...

Dear William, It seems to me that any attempt to explain evil arises from the desire to acquit God of any responsibility, but this is to posit a duality and, in a sense, to allow creative power to something outside of God, whether we call it free will or dark forces. I am reminded of some lines from Archibald MacLeish's "Job": "If God is will and will is well, what is ill? God still? Do tell." the phrase "mystery of iniquity" appears to be the only resolution of the question, and it doesn't really resolve it so much as push it into a dark place where we can no longer see it.

William Wildblood said...

I'm not sure I see the problem. God might be considered ultimately responsible for the possibility of evil in that he gives his creation, or some of it, an independent self with free will. Free will can go wrong and make choices based on the supreme existence of its own self It tries to make itself God in the wrong way.Fundamentally there is no duality but God gives duality to creation to bring about something more than just himself. Thus he sacrifices his omnipotence out of love.

We have to consider too that evil only exists on the lower levels of the created world. When the angels fell they did so because their new consciousness could not exist in the heavenly worlds. In that sense they threw themselves out of heaven.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how God can "give duality" to the creation. One can only give what one has. If God in the non-dual reality, how can he give duality to anything, and how can God bring about something "more than just himself," which is to suggest some inadequacy in God and that which is beyond God. I have long been immersed in Vedanta, especially the teachings of Gaudapada, who insists that nothing is ever born or dies. To posit a purpose to a seeming duality rooted in ignorance is out of the question in such a teaching. I admit, this perplexes as one certainly experiences the world and it is difficult to dismiss it as meaningless. Reconciling the teachings of non-duality with Christianity seems to present great difficulties, if it is at all possible.

William Wildblood said...

What I mean is that creation is duality anyway. It must be. There is God and then there is creation. But creation is also dual in the sense that absolute oneness must be broken in two for anything to come about.

I don't think you have to reconcile the teachings of non-duality with Christianity. The former is a limited doctrine that reduces everything to the absolute but God cannot be limited in any way, even to the absolute. He is the absolute and the relative and the interplay between them, all together.

Advaita doesn't understand creation and cannot explain why anything is. Its mistake is to place the impersonal above the personal and not to see that what God creates is real. I've written about this quite a lot. See here.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - I have never been attracted by Hinduism; but for a while made a serious attempt at Zen Buddhism. When, some 20 years later, I became a Christian it was clear to me that - in terms of metaphysics and aims - it was pretty much the opposite of Zen Buddhism. I find it hard to understand how this is not more obvious - particularly among perrenial philosophy types of person.

Although perhaps it is obvious - in the sense that many of them are anything-but-Christianity in practice (if not in theory). I suppose Jesus is the divider. If he is reagarded as 'just another' great teacher or example, then Christianity can be assimilated to anything else. But if Jesus's resurrection and ascension, and his claims to be divine and uniquely-necessary are taken into consideration... well, then one just is A Christian; and other religion may be learned-from, but there would be no wish to try and combine them with Christianity at any serous level.

William Wildblood said...

I would say I have learnt a lot from both Hinduism and Buddhism but ultimately they both fall short as total descriptions of reality. I think they are incomplete rather than wrong but then any spiritual approach without Christ lacks something and something crucial not just supplementary.

If Christianity is to be expanded or deepened I believe it should be in the way we have both written about here and elsewhere not through assimilating it with Eastern religion which probably belongs to an earlier evolutionary cycle now.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - I know we both agree on this and it is a matter of how best to put things - I suppose, here, I am wanting to emphasise that If Pushed Into a Corner! - Christians need to be ready to say, that Hinduism and Buddhism are Wrong, in terms of their basic understanding of the set-up of reality and the ultimate aim of human beings.

But - as you have said, they are wrong in the sense of falling short of God's highest hopes for us, rather than actively working in opposition to the Plan of Creation. (ie They are Not demonic.).

If some individuals (whether Hindu, Buddhist or something else) sincerely, on reflection and in full knowledge of what Christ offers - noetheless prefer Nirvana to Heaven, then I am confident that our Loving Father will allow and enable that to happen for them.

So, for themselves, they would not have been 'wrong' after all!

Likewise, those Muslims who sincerely want Paradise, rather than Heaven, would presumably be given Paradise in fulfillment of that hope (although, like almost all of us, the actuality would not be *exactly* what we expect or think we know - given the incompleteness and biases of our information and understanding; and the fact that we will *then* be different from what we are *now*).

Anonymous said...

Dear William, Reading your reply and your discussion with Bruce, I am taken back to a period when I was deeply influenced by Rudolph Steiner. The idea that Christ represents a possibility in human evolution, that Christ is the future, so to say, and Vedanta and Buddhism represent the past, a pre-Christian period that is somehow retrogressive, made sense to me, but the practical implications were unclear. Also, Steiner's cosmology is immensely complicated and there is no way to verify his elaborately stratified "higher worlds." I think this can also be a problem in "Meeting the Masters," which I am reading now. So much depends on the reader trusting you, whom he hasn't met and whose experiences are not his own. But, as with Steiner, you communicate an honesty, an indubitable sincerity, that is very attractive and convincing. I was raised Catholic in the pre-Vatican II era. I find the Church today repulsive, with its new Protestantized liturgy and liberal ideology. It is a betrayal of all that was deep and beautiful and spiritual in the old Faith and its forms. Yet, I have never gotten away from the deep intuitive love of Christ. Yet, it is not Christ as an historical figure, but something else, something interior that is hard to describe. It is, perhaps, just a vague feeling at times, but it seems to me to be the seed of love and my, our, only hope. I appreciate all you write. I know I have to work all of this out for myself, but I will accept any help that comes my way.

Bruce Charlton said...

@"Anonymous" - Aside - I presume you are the same Anonymous who began at 27 February 2018 at 20:42 - but there is no way of knowing! In future could you please use a pseudonym? (I generally don't publish 'Anonymous' comments on my own blog.)

William Wildblood said...

I have to say that I find Steiner rather indigestible. I'm sure there are profound ideas in there but, as is regrettably common with so much esoteric writing, it's mixed up with ideas that are clearly wrong. Like all psychics Steiner was a mixture of right and wrong and we have to work out what's true using our intuition. Perhaps that's why this kind of thing is 'allowed'.

With regard to my book, I can only hope that the authority of the Masters attests to their reality. I thought the best thing to do when writing it was simply to put things down exactly as they were, using their words as I recorded them at the time, and then leave it at that. So it stands or falls by its own merits. There was no attempt to dress it up.

Your feelings about Christ echo my own. The Church made a mistake trying to adapt itself to modernity or it did so in the wrong way by adapting itself to the wrong sort of modernity so it lost its connection to the transcendent. Your words that you respond more to Christ as an interior reality than a historical figure sum up what I feel though it has to be said that the figure of Christ as recorded in the Gospels and also as depicted in Wester art give form and body to the inner feelings we may have. Without the outer Christ we could not know the inner one I think.

William Wildblood said...

Actually what Bruce says is true. Call yourself 123 or something so we can tell one anonymous from another!

Edwin said...

I will call myself Edwin, which is my name. I don't mean to impose upon your time, but I am at a critical phase at the moment, having invested years in not only contemplating and reading Vedanta texts but in producing some writing of my own which has influenced some people. I feel I now have a responsibility, not just to myself, but to others who may have been swayed by what I have written. I have long felt, and suppressed, the sense that advaita is missing something. Advaita creates a tension between its idea of non-duality and the created world, so that one is always, in some measure, pushing the world away. It is a constant and even exhausting activity of the mind and it has repercussions for one's personal relationships. In opening oneself to Christ, that tension melts away. It becomes all right to love the world, to love people as individuals. I don't know where I will end up in all this. I'll continue to read your book and, if you'll forgive me, to bother you from time to time. Apologies to Bruce for being "anonymous."

William Wildblood said...

Hello Edwin

First of all, you're not anonymous if you're Edwin! I think Bruce only means that he likes people to give some identification of who they are to tell them apart. Not literally who they are but just as a means telling one commenter from another. So any pseudonym would do.

Secondly, you're certainly not bothering me. A lot of the point of blogs is to engage in dialogue with like-minded people, I think.

I, too, have made a bit of a journey from Western and Eastern esotericism to a more Christ centred understanding. Even my book represents something of the non-dualistic way of looking at things though duality is also there, waiting to burst out when it can. What I mean by that is that I do believe, and always have actually ,in the reality of persons. I think that is why there is this whole world of manifested or created reality, and that the individual is not lost or absorbed or transcended in enlightenment/spiritual maturity, whatever you want to call it, but taken up out of exclusive identification with itself and re-aligned, with its centre now in God. But God doesn't create human souls just to reject them in the end. There is an ever onward path to higher and higher states, not possible in non-duality for which realisation, by definition, must be a state beyond which you cannot go.

This means that I see God as personal. I think he has an impersonal aspect of pure being but this is not his deepest level as advaita would say it was. Only a personal God can explain everything in life including the reality of love which would not be ultimately real in non-duality, just a foreshadowing of oneness in ignorance.

Anyway that's just a very brief run through of my thinking. This link connects to some posts on my own blog about non-duality. We're all on a journey towards better understanding.

David Balfour said...

@William - I really found this post quite wise William and it helpfully puts across a plausible imagined divine perspective on our human situation that is best arranged for our spiritual development.

On reflection though I am left with the insistent question of permitted evil (presumably the logical extension of permitted demonic influence in the world). I find myself imagining a young frightened child being sexually assaulted by a gang of evil men. It has happened. It continues to happen. It doesnt bare thinking about but yet there it is. A graphic example. There are many others. I struggle to imagine why, when our agency is transgressed by an evil person so viley, God does not strike them down then and there to prevent an innocent child suffering such a violation or death. I know this is by no means a new question. The question of the problem of evil. But maybe hearing your perspective on this will help. I find it hard to accept that God will allow this when he can clearly perform great miracles according to the bible. I know this is a tough question and I do not expect an entirely satisfactory answer but it clearly ties in directly to exposure to demonic temptation, which as you say, God does allow. I can see some spiritually educational value in resisting such temptations. But the potential lesson seems to backfire quite spectatularly for some individuals and the results are horrific. When I think of what an extremely powerful and perfectly loving parent would do in this situation, I cannot imagine them doing anything than stopping the scenarios I am refering to from being prevented forcefully short of the act. I dont expect you to know an answer to this of course but if we cant discuss the difficult questions it seems we are not learning and this question impresses itself on me repeatedly in response to the original post.

David Balfour said...

I suddenly feel quite mean for asking you this kind of question again, William. Forgive me, but since you have assumed the mantle of spiritual teacher, you are burdened with wearisome questions from the students. Goodness knows I must have asked several permutations of this question to you, myself and others on these blogs. I think that sometimes it is 'the' question on which many people reluctantly reject a faith in God (and often times it feels on quite genuine grounds) because to admit that a wholey good and loving God would allow young children to suffer the way they sometimes do at the hands of premeditated evil, defiles the character of God or somehow shatters the possibility of his integrity or so it seems. Certainly I have met many atheists tell me they just cannot believe in a loving personal God because of the horrors that are permitted or allowed by God. And so they reason this means he cannot exist because if did, they feel, quite powerfully that the demands of justice would not allow it. A compelling arguement that I have found hard to respond to adequately except to imagine that the heart of God beats in deep sympathy with our earthly sorrows and that he grieves but cannot for some reason intervene without compromising what he has gifted us in his creation. At that point I cross over into a state of humbling myself to mysteries I cannot fully comprehend. But still the voice of growing marurity gently insists to me that even such a God as that wants me to strive to know even his own deepesr regrets about the constraints of his creation and perils and woes that were inevitably entailed including great injustices that may only be addressed beyond mortality.

William Wildblood said...

Your example is a truly terrible one, David, by which, of course, I mean an example of a terrible thing. But really it's just an extreme version of anything bad. You could say, why does God allow a child to cut his finger? In a way it's the same thing, callous as that may sound on the face of it.

Whatever I say with reference to your example will sound complacent and unfeeling but the fact is there is suffering in the world because it is a fallen world. We don't know how those that suffer here are recompensed in the hereafter nor do we know if there is a spiritual lesson even in suffering of this magnitude. It's the old, question, where was God in Auschwitz? There are quite clearly no easy answers that tick all the boxes. However it seems that free will can only be exercised in world like this one where suffering is part of the mix. I have been assured that in the higher worlds all tears are wiped clean away and the joys that are known there render the suffering in this world, even those like that you mention, almost insignificant hard as that might be to believe. I believe that.

Evil is real but so is good. There is warfare between them in this world and in certain parts of the supernatural worlds. Warfare, I'm afraid, means casualties but Jesus took horrific suffering upon himself to show us, I think, that it can be conquered. Death and suffering came into the world after the Fall when we turned our back on God. They are now part of the fabric of this material world but Christ conquered them and showed us the way to do so too.

Bruce Charlton said...

My interpretation is more developmental-evolutionary; that because God is not omnipotent, this world is, overall, the only and therefore necessary way that men can become more like God.

However, nothing is random nor meaningless; so there is indeed some explanation for everything that happens.

What is that explanation? Well, I feel I know the overall explanation - and I know that God is real, Good, loves us individually - but from this set of assumptions I can see that I personally cannot understand or explain *why* everything happens. In particular, I personally cannot understand why every specific thing happens to every person in the world or in human history - because of my own limitations and constraints.

There are reasons for everything, and all reasons are compatible with God's goodness and love - but there are a staggering number of such things, and I don't have access to the necessary knowledge.

This did not used to be considered a problem - and certainly not the kind of problem which would challenge faith. Yet people in the past, and modern people who are Not in The West do not seem to regard this as a problem. For example, the Christians who are being actively killed etc in the Middle East and parts of Africa - who experience this personally and directly - apparently have a quite incredible faith and optimism.

My belief is that this is a demonically-induced pseudo-problem - implemented mainly via the mass media.

The mass media floods us with reports (all dishonest in some way, some invented, all distorted) of innumerable specific sufferings (past, present and possible future) with which we have no direct involvement or experience. We don't know the people, who don't know what actually happened, we don't know the background of what actually happened...

Therefore (unsurprisingly) we cannot understand them - and then we are led (by that same media) to assume that our inability to understand everything they choose to throw at us means that this is proof againt the reality of God, or God's goodness.

Yet the actual people who suffer these actual things frequently have their faith strengthened, not destroyed! The specific sufferers and those around them often seem to understand why these events happened in light of God's love for all of us, his children.

This seems to be what I would expect. Those directly involved can understand why; if they seek such understanding. But those who merely read about things in the newspapers or history books do Not understand everything they read. Why should they?

This line of reasoning is a trap. The mass media pose an impossible question (indeed literally millions of impossible questions) - questions which could not possibly be answered - and then claim that the failure to answer each and all of them (from our situation of near-toal ignorance) is conclusive evidence of the non-existence (or non-goodness) of God!

It is nonsense - evil nonsense.

(On the other side, I strongly feel that the common dogmatic insistence of an omnipotent omniscient God, is indeed common-sense-incompatible with Good's absolute goodness and love - so in our hearts we are then compelled to choose-between God's love and God's omni-power-qualities as primary - and clearly more than a billion Muslims agree. For me, this is the single strongest argument for the superiority of the Mormon metaphysics of Christianity.)

William Wildblood said...

I replied to your first post, David, before seeing your second one but I would just add that extreme evil comes from the demons and men often possessed by demons. There is evil and suffering in the world but there is also good and we all know good is good and evil is evil. We praise good and are appalled by evil. Is that not in a way a recognition of God?

I hadn't thought of Bruce's point that our reaction to suffering as a reason for atheism is actually a product of atheism to begin with and that believers can accept it as part of earthly existence without having their faith disturbed. That makes a lot of sense.

I do think that ultimately God is all powerful but I also think that he has surrendered some of that power to us in the form of free will so that creation may be more wonderful than it would be if he alone held the power. So i would say he is all good and all powerful but cannot exercise that power if his universe is to fulfil its evolutionary purpose.

By the way, don't tar me with the spiritual teacher brush! I'm just sharing what I have learnt and learning myself in the process of so doing.

David Balfour said...

Hmm...I imagined you might both say something along those lines. You both make good points that go someway to answering my questions but not entirely. I suspect I will just have to accept that some of these things are beyond my understanding and live with it as best I can. Perhaps we cannot know until the great unveiling when we arrive at the other side of mortality and perhaps some of these questions or difficulties will become clear then. I don't know. There are certain deep mysteries that seem impenetrable to me and the "Where was God at Auschwitz?" Is one of them. Interestingly, it was an Auschwitz survivor, Dr Viktor Frankl, who developed his existentialist Logotherapy on the basis of his incarceration at Auschwitz. What he observed was that broadly those who endured the experience and survived where often only able to do so by plumbing the depth of spiritual resources and finding meaning in the horror of their precaments. Often, those who could not do this were lost to madness and perished or else committed suicide by hurling themselves at electrified fences, etc. It is truely astonishing what was endured by these people at Auschwitz. And yet, I can also see that Frankl and many others as mature men and women, were somehow able to grow enormously spiritually despite of (or arguably precisely because of) their outwardly harrowing physical and psychological predicaments.

What is a lot harder to imagine is a young child, not equipped with the maturity or resources of an adult, being able to gain anything at all from child abuse or being murdered by a paedophile ring. At this point clearly something else is going on that cannot be right at any level I can comprehend and we are faced with cases of pure evil without a silver lining to be found.

David Balfour said...

Wrt to the 'spiritual teacher' comment it was meant as tongue-in-cheek, perhaps slightly playfully of me to see how you would react. Well done, you passed the humility test! All the more reason to listen to what you have to say William. It is certainly interesting to have these discussions. After all, where else would I have them?

William Wildblood said...

We’re just not meant to know everything in this world. If we did it would be heaven. But I return to the point that any suffering, great or small, needs to be understood in spiritual terms. Auschwitz is no different to anything else in that repect, shocking as that may seem at first. We all suffer, to a greater or lesser extent, and we all die. Perhaps if we knew our true self existed beyond suffering that would put things in perspective.

It’s very difficult. If you take the long view, it can seem heartless but there is no other way to understand human or, indeed, animal suffering. It’s part of a learning process. You can either use it to deny God but then you also have to ignore everything that points to God, and everything else does I would say, or else you have to try to come to terms with it in the context of God’s purpose for us and maybe, dare I say it, our own shortcomings.
To look at it emotionally is certainly not the answer.

ajb said...


Jesus knew all about suffering of the young and innocent. Remember his talk about it being better to have a millstone tied around one's neck and thrown into the sea?

Christianity *starts* with the fact of suffering, and offers a practical response. In a nutshell, love God and your neighbours, and love those who hate you and pray for those who persecute you. I.e., break the cycle of violence and seek to make the world better through the guidance of God.

We can speculate about what God could do, but Christianity is primarily about how he *does* act. It is an error to put theological speculation about the nature of God front and centre (an error perpetuated by many prominent Christians!). What we see is Him acting through secondary causes, through time. I.e., through *us*. The whole point of Christianity is that we do His will, and in so doing become better ourselves, and help to create (even if in just small ways) a better world.

All Christians agree that God is limited in some radical way, although the explanation differs (free will is the usual explanation). Yet, this doesn't matter. Practically speaking, we can see how God does act (miracles of providence abound - ask most any Christian), and how He wants us to act. That's what matters!

William Wildblood said...

Great comment. Thanks ajb.

David Balfour said...

@ajb - Yes, great comment indeed and quite inspiring as well I might add.

@William - I suppose, as with much of these intellectual or theological discussions they end up being rather 'off-piste' and technical, whereas the broad-stroke picture is clearer and bolder and simpler to understand. I think perhaps now, as a Christian, the only reason I pay so much attention to some of these harder questions such as, "where was God in Auschwitz?" is not so much to convince myself that the question does not pose a personal treat to my faith (although I often feel it is only fair to consider other perspectives and I do wrestle with my doubts, like many others do also I suspect), rather I somehow feel that playing 'devils advocate' as it were may allow me to be fore-armed to better respond to your everyday militant atheists and anyone else who might trot out an arguement along the lines we have covered in order to discredit the Christian faith. I suppose this is probably a trap, after all, the clue is in the name, but I often feel that I need to brace myself in daily life for these kinds of attack or conversation. In some way I feel like a lawyer who needs to keep his case ready to appear in court at any moment and to play the role of effective apologist for my deeper beliefs that are often so intuitive they are hard to explain or justify. Of course, this is probably quite silly and instead I should probably just love my opponents and the dismissive "committed atheists" (one of whom I had in mind when I wrote my earlier comments, an experienced midwife, who apparently - as far as I can tell - rejects Christianity because she has seen too much incomprehensible, seemingly random human suffering, too many infants suffer in ways she only vaguely alluded to) but I feel the need to have 'just the right or best thing to say' to disarm these people and soften their hearts to the possibilities of a spiritual perspective as best I can.

William Wildblood said...

Yes, I understand what you say, David. One has an intuition about God but sometimes finds it necessary to argue the point from an intellectual position, which, however, is always secondary in that it can elaborate but can’t be used to determine the reality or otherwise of God.

You could ask your midwife where she thinks the compassion for the suffering infants comes from. After all, from a strictly materialistic point of view why should I care if someone else suffers? I mean really care rather than just take the theoretical position that pleasure is better than pain for someone else as it is for me. If there is nothing uniting us from a higher perspective someone else’s suffering is irrelevant as far as I am concerned. And words like compassion, empathy, sympathy and so on are meaningless.

Anonymous said...

Let there be light
9 1 8
7 2 6
5 3 4

David Balfour said, "where was God in Auschwitz?"

Wurmbrand said, "William, have you read Gregory Boyd's God at War?"

Boyd provides an answer to the Auschwitz question, which is very convincing.

His whole book is based on the idea that God is at war with evil - that evil has true agency. He even argues that the creation story in Genesis, is, in fact, not the beginning, but, instead it is a recreation out of the chaos of a celestial battle between Himself and evil beings that had previously rebelled against Him. He creates man as a co-creator and preserver to "subdue" the earth, and bring it back from chaos. Because why would it need to be subdued, unless there was something to be subdued?

Boyd also says that we must not think of evil in the abstract. It is real, and concrete - angels and devils exist, and they are at work now. It is a war, and it is easy to see in the bible in both the OT and the NT. He blames Augustine for a misreading of the nature of evil, and God's relation to it. He claims that theologians have had to jump through improbable hoops, and with certain very difficult mental leaps and bounds, they have arrived at a strained (and entirely wrong) explanation of evil.

I don't wish to go on, it is better to read the book I think. I recommend it most strongly.

William Wildblood said...

I'll definitely have to add it to my list now!

But yes, I do believe that evil is a very real thing. Not ultimately real in a dualistic sense of course but existing as a concrete anti-God reality that seeks to corrupt humanity and at the moment is doing a pretty good job. Bruce Charlton's post today is very good at explaining its current modus operandi.

Anonymous said...

No - not dualistic - and Boyd makes that clear - but created beings that rebelled against God, and chose freely to do so. God created Man as co-creator and preserver of the Good, but the serpent/Leviathan/Behemoth/Satan - name it how you will, tempted Man and Man fell too. The rest of the story is too familiar to write about here. But the war pre-dated Man, and it goes on still. God could end it all, but chooses to allow His creations to exercise their free will to side with Him and His angels, or the others.

Behind every organisational structure in modern society, Satan and his hordes are at work, as are those who oppose Him. Boyd's quest is to make plain that we (humans) are players in a state of war between heaven and hell, and that we are not meant to leave it to the angels to fight it out alone. He is most convincing.

Bruce Charlton said...

I have read Boyd's books - and while I appreciated it at the time, it did not convincingly answer the really tough question about why God allows extreme evil - why God allows Satan and demons to operate.

I believe this problem cannot be answered coherently and simply-enough-to-grasp by the kind of 'Classical' or mainstream Christian metaphysics to which Boyd subscribes - it is, and always has been, an 'Achilles heel' of Christian understanding - which I suspect led to the rise of Islam (which solves the problem, but not in a Christian way).

This question is a vital importance to be; and for me this is one of the supriorities of Mormon Christian metaphysics with its pluralistic/ developmental-evolutionary quality; (supplemented by the understanding I derived from William Arkle, and bits of Rudolf Steiner).

Anonymous said...

I always thought that the demons/angels as beings created by God were given the right to choose God, or not, and that humans were given a similar choice. So we have a war that presumably God could end, but that would mean He had decided that free will for his creations was a bad idea because they kept choosing evil. If He wants humans and angels to talk to, and with whom he can co-create, he needs beings with free will, or else he is stuck with automata. Perhaps the developmental-evolutionary aspect is working within Man, and his real mind, to enable him to really think his way to knowing the spiritual realities? If/when that happens in the masses, then every human being will have to knowingly choose a side. You may laugh, but sometimes I think that Hollywood has a better grasp of reality than the modern Church. Hollywood makes blockbuster films that deal with darkness and light, the spiritual, good and evil, and they make sense to me. Even when I think that they are inaccurate, they are, at least, attempts to present the spiritual realm in the context of how we live today. And people watch them in their millions. Such films, and the mass appeal that they have, may even be signs of a mass awakening. If so, it must be counted as a good thing, because, I am sure that Satan would prefer us all never to think about things spiritual at all. His aims are best served if none of us thinks he exists.

William Wildblood said...

I see your point except from my limited knowledge doesn't Hollywood rather glamorise evil?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes evil is glamourised by Hollywood, but I think that is perhaps how Satan recruits. A sort of, 'here I am, not such a bad chap after all, and look at all the toys I can give you' approach. But the formula is usually that good wins in the end, or, the battle goes on. Evil is finally seen as tawdry at best, and thoroughly nasty at worst. Those who leave such a film admiring the evil are making a choice, as are those who are glad that the good guys won. But they have both come into contact with a representation of the spiritual realm, and thought about it however superficially. I think that is better than nothing. It is a beginning of awareness. I do think that Satan would much prefer it if such films did not exist, just as he would prefer it if 'The Lord of the Rings' had never been written. Such fictional works collectively have a similar effect - they draw attention to his existence.