Why Does God Permit Evil to Exist/Part 1

By: Dr. John Ankerberg; ©2001
Why do babies, who do not ask to be born, enter the world with the stain of original sin? Dr. Ankerberg and Dr. Geisler tackle this question in the first part of a series dealing with questions many have asked about the evil in our world.

Why Does God Permit Evil to Exist?—Part One

Have you ever really come in contact with what you call evil? Maybe you have hit evil in a big way. Maybe you have lost a job; maybe you are in a hospital bed and you have found out you have cancer, maybe you have lost a loved one. Some tragedy has come into your life, and you wonder how in the world we can cope with this thing called evil and how does it fit in with a good and all-loving God, a powerful God?

I have asked my friend, Dr. Norman Geisler to help us deal with this question. Norm, in doing some of the research for the program, I read an autobiography by Phil Donahue. And Donahue, in writing his own story, says some things that fit into what we are going to be talking about. And he writes that for some of these reasons he left the Church and possibly his faith. Now, I feel that there should be some kind of response to these kinds of questions because a lot of people will be feeling the same way.

Let’s just start with some of these questions. He starts off and he says, “For the first time in my life I was asking all those questions which had been so effectively repressed during all those high school theology classes, all those Christian family movement meet­ings.” Then he lists a question like, “Why do babies, who do not ask to be born, enter the world with the stain of original sin?” Now let’s just take this assumption. Norm, how would you reply to a question like that?

Dr. Norman Geisler: First of all I would suggest that he left the church for a very un­sound reasoning, because there is no logical reason why anyone would want to accept the conclusions that he has there. And secondly, he may very well have been asleep in class because, undoubtedly, there were a number of things said from St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas who answered these questions that he has long ago.

On the first question, I would point out that God didn’t create man with sin; the Bible says that God created man perfect and that sin entered the world because of disobedi­ence. And secondly, that God has provided a remedy for sin, what he calls original sin there. Christ came into the world and died. So it is certainly fair: even though that baby comes into the world with sin, there is a remedy for it. If there was no remedy, that would be unfair. And it is certainly in accord with God’s perfection because He didn’t create the baby with original sin. That came as a result of man’s sin.

Ankerberg: But you would say that something happened to that baby coming in?

Geisler: Because Adam sinned, “death passed upon all men for that all have sinned,” Romans 5:12 says. And that baby is born with a bend or a propensity or proclivity to sin. It is a reminder that we are part of this fallen Adamic race and that things are not “hunky-dory”, that things need a remedy and that the cross is the remedy.

Ankerberg: He would say, I think in return, “Is it fair, though, for a kid coming in to get the rap for somebody else?”

Geisler: Well, if he were getting the rap only for someone else, that would be wrong, because even Ezekiel says “The children shall not suffer for the father’s sin, nor the father for the children.” However, that child, if it lives long enough and is able to develop its own freedom, and come to an age where it is morally accountable, will sin itself, and it will get the rap for its own sin. And secondly, that child was, in some sense, the Bible says, “in Adam.” That is, it was potentially or seminally present there, as St. Augustine would say. And that Adam, as the representative of the human race, and that child being potentially present there, sinned in Adam in a potential way, which will be actualized by that child when it reaches the age of moral accountability and sins itself.

Ankerberg: Is he therefore able or not able to choose the right?

Geisler: The child is not able in its own power to choose the right. That is what sin and depravity means. But by the grace of God and by the provisions of salvation made for the child, he has enabled by God to choose the right.

Ankerberg: Okay, we have got another one here. How could an all-knowing, all-loving God allow his son to be murdered on a cross in order to redeem my sins?

Geisler: Well, it seems to me that that’s like saying, “how could a soldier fall on a hand grenade to save his whole company from destruction?” “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” And “Christ died for us while we were yet sin­ners.” So I would think that this is the highest act of love rather than, the implication of the question is, a very unloving thing to do. In the matter of fact that is the most loving thing that could be done.

Ankerberg: He follows it up with, “if God the father is so all-loving, why didn’t He come down and go to Calvary?” Then Jesus could have said, “this is my father in whom I am well pleased.”

Geisler: Well that one is more humorous than it is serious, I take it. He is confusing the roles of the members of the trinity. The father has a role of loving; the son has a role of giving. What the son did, He did voluntarily. He said, “Lo, in the volume of the book, it is written of me, ‘I come to do thy will, Oh God.’” Even though He humanly shrunk from the cross asking the father to take it from him, He said, “Nevertheless, thy will, not mine be done.” So it was done voluntarily, it was done freely. It was the father’s love that provided the means of salvation, and it was the son, in submitting to the will of the father, that pro­vided the salvation itself.

Ankerberg: Thanks, Norm. Next time I’m going to ask you this question from Phil Donahue’s book: “If sex is so beautiful, why did God circumvent it to bring his only begotten son into the world.

Read Part 2

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