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Evil and God’s Will

God is good; God is all-powerful; Evil Exists. Do we really have to pick only two?
Dec. 29, 2012

On Dec. 14th, 2012 the United States was visited with yet another massacre at the hands of a deranged man who had easy, convenient access to lethal firearms. After fatally shooting his mother at home, the gunman (whom I refuse to validate by naming him, as the media seems bent on doing) went to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and shot 28 other people, killing 26 and wounding 2 before taking his own life. He was armed with a .223-caliber Bushmaster XM-15 rifle, and 10mm Glock 20 SF and 9mm SIG Sauer semi-automatic handguns with high-capacity magazines and fragmentation rounds. For those who are unfamiliar with them, fragmentation rounds are designed to break apart on impact and “tumble” through the body like grenade shrapnel inflicting as much tissue damage as possible. They were developed for military use in combat theaters, where severely wounding an enemy (thereby draining battlefield medical resources) is often more “useful” than killing him/her immediately. They serve no purpose whatsoever in hunting, target shooting, or anything other than killing large numbers of human beings with as much pain and suffering as possible. Of the 27 Sandy Hook victims, 20 were children ages 6-7 and the adult victims were all women who lost their lives attempting to protect the little lives in their care. All were shot multiple times. The event was so horrific that even the NRA was silent for a few days before responding in the usual manner. A few leaders among their ranks even went so far as to admit (!) that perhaps the time had come for thoughtful dialog regarding gun laws.

Naturally, tragedies like this raise many questions about our national appetite for lethal military weaponry, and our penchant for relying on violence rather than dialog for conflict resolution. But being as we are (at least according to our national anthem and money) a “nation under God” they raise many other questions as well. According to the Bible, the Quran, and most other major world religions, God is;

  1. The omnipotent, all-powerful creator of the universe and all that is, including us—the one before who even death must ultimately submit.
  2. Good and just, and a God who loves and cares for us.

The Bible goes so far as to say Jesus loves us so much that,

"...though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross." (Phil. 2:6-8)

But if this is really true, why does God allow events like the Sandy Hook massacre to happen? There are those who believe He is good and loving but not powerful enough to prevent them, and we can certainly sympathize with this view. But if we take most world religions seriously this cannot work. It just isn’t reasonable to believe that God is powerful enough to create the entire universe, fill it with galaxies, black holes, planets exploding with life and more, and raise His Son from the dead as Christians believe… yet utterly helpless to prevent a skinny, deranged 20-year-old from gaining access to firearms and killing women and children.

Then there are those like Job’s friends (Job 15:1-9). You know… the people who never lack easy, sanctimonious platitudes that explain everything away. Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, for instance, even went so far as to claim that the Sandy Hook massacre was God’s judgment on America for being tolerant of abortion and gay marriage (Huffington Post, 2012)… as though elementary school children and their teachers have anything at all to do with either, and their violent deaths are actually just! Remarks like these require no further comment –they speak for themselves and are beyond contempt.

Which brings us back to the original question: Why would God allow such things to happen? A friend of mine and former street ministry partner summarized the dilemma well at his blog;

"If God is in control of EVERYTHING (and people are always saying that God accomplishes His will), then the things that happen are the things he wants to happen… or at least the things He’s OK with. And if he 'allows' (or as Calvinistic Christians would say, actually ordains) children to be slaughtered and people to starve to death or women to be raped and murdered and more, then he’s not good or loving... If we try to disguise this with a lame 'people have free will' argument, that basically says that God is not in control... it makes no sense to me to say that God has the power to stop these things, but chooses not to." – (


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