A PHILOSOPHICAL ENQUIRY INTO THE SCANDAL OF EVIL AND SUFFERING


Authors
Edvard Kristian (called Doc) Foshaugen
University of the Orange Free State (PhD)
Abstract
In 1 Peter 1:3-7 we read that the Christians were facing persecution because of their faith and the author reminds them that every trial is a test of their faith. The trials and consequential suffering can be withstood because they are able to look forward to an inheritance – eternal life with God. Christians can endure all trials and suffering because of the hope of glory and ultimate joy. There is a grace afforded by God in the presence to match whatever trial or suffering they might face. Thus it appears that there is both a purpose – one being the testing, transforming and purifying of one’s faith and a great prize for those who endure suffering – the Lord himself rewarding us. It is with this thought I will end this essay - with this belief of an inheritance, a resurrection and the gift of immortality. However, I will not shun asking the difficult questions, nor will I avoid critical reflection and analysis of a number of the contradictory or unpleasant answers. I will not eschew the lack of answers relating to evil and suffering – the pains of the scourges of poverty, persecution and oppression, the ravages of war and natural disasters, and all the inequity and injustice that has fallen throughout history – often on the innocent. This wickedness and agony that has throughout history indiscriminately befallen Christians and non-believers alike, has initiated great dismay, depression and consternation for many and some have even rejected the concept of God and the Gospel because of the malevolence and affliction they have been subjected to. The horrendous profundity and extent of human suffering and the history of the inhumanity of people makes the idea of a loving Creator seem quite implausible and predisposes many to accept a naturalistic theory of religion. At the end of this essay I will attempt to show that the declarations that the writer of 1 Peter makes concerning the Christian’s inheritance and suffering proffers some expectation for those who are faced with the quandary of evil and offer some hope now to enable them to endure whatever life has thrown onto their journey. Whilst I will with candour endeavour to query the issues and questions relating to evil I am conscious of the fact that many books and essays have been written by vastly more erudite authors. Consequently I acknowledge that what I have to say is ultimately nothing more than the personal reflection birthed in my own life’s experiences and learning.
Keywords evil  free will  theodicy
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