WordPress will probably delete this post because it’s talking about Kirk Cameron’s new Unstoppable movie. Also because it links to his site and includes the video, and the world is all about religious persecution. (Just kidding). The video:
Kirk Cameron says that he has an answer to the question of why God allows evil.
He came out the other end of this “meat grinder” with his faith stronger than ever before.
With all due respect, I don’t believe him.
When you encounter tragedy, really encounter it, not just examine it from a distance, you don’t come out the other side with more faith.
Scripture tells the story of a guy named Jacob who wrestled with God. Jacob and God fought all night long. Jacob didn’t come out the other side stronger.
He came out with a limp.
If you come out the other side stronger, you’ve been wrestling with people.
If you come out the other side stronger, I doubt that you’ve been wrestling with God.
Now maybe Kirk Cameron has some insights. Maybe he has some theodicies (theoretical explanations of how God works in the world). But I don’t see the limp, so I doubt that I will respect his “answers.” The fact that he has answers at all makes me suspicious that he has failed to engage with the content. You don’t come out of something like this with answers. You come out with uncertainty, and fear and trembling. You come out with a limp.
The psalmists never gave an answer to the problem of evil or the problem of pain. Jesus never gave an answer. I suspect that giving an answer may be a sin. If you come out the other side able to speak at all, let alone confidently, I have my doubts about the level of suffering that you have encountered.
If Kirk’s answer is anything other than silence, or lament, if he has an answer at all, there may be a problem.
C.S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain was nothing compared to the sheer beauty that is his A Grief Observed. The Problem of Pain dealt with grief on a theoretical level. A Grief Observed was personal. Theory will only get you so far, and when Lewis himself was faced with the reality of death, he lost his answers and had left only prayers.
Truth is found in the silence of Job’s friends; the lies begin when they open their mouths to explain God’s reasons.
The answer is that there is no answer.
The answer is God’s solidarity with our death in his own death on the cross.
The answer is God’s solidarity with our loss in his loss of his only son on the cross.
But that is not an answer. That does not answer our all-important question why.
It is not enough to say that evil is simply the absence of God. If that is true, then God is absent from a great many places where he aught to be, and that is no better, and that is no comfort.
Greg Boyd argues that evil is meaningless, and neither caused nor allowed by God. I think that’s the closest I would get to allowing an answer, but even that answer is not comforting. I long to worship a deity who can get me out of trouble every time. But the God described in scripture refuses to be that deity. He refuses to be an answer, a solution.
We are trapped, it seems – trapped between answers that feel disingenuous, and answers that do not comfort. We fear mystery, but know deep down in our hearts that the easy answers are lies.