A5. Suffering (handout)

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The fifth session of a six-week series on apologetics at Above Bar Church, Southampton. May 2010.

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  • Explain children with terminal brain cancer. Your logic is horrible, and breaks down under minor modification. This is why apologetics as a field of theology is laughable.
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A5. Suffering (handout)

  1. 1. Above Bar Church Summer Bible School 2010# Apologetics Apologetics 5: Suffering 1. The problem i. A good, all-powerful God would not want people to suffer and would be able to prevent them from suffering. ii. Suffering exists. iii. Therefore, God lacks either goodness or power, or both. 2. Suffering and evil are not evidence against God a. God may have good reasons to allow suffering We make many assumptions about what God is or isnʼt like, and about what he should or shouldnʼt do. Human beings cannot tell what will be good in the long term; only God can do so. b. Suffering is a consequence of human freedom i. God has created human beings with free will, so that we can choose to do evil or to do good. Freedom is essential for a genuine relationship, which is what human beings were created for. ii. Human beings have chosen evil, resulting, whether directly or indirectly, in suffering. Some human actions directly cause suffering; some actions compound suffering; all suffering is a consequence of the Fall. iii. Therefore, God can only prevent suffering by over-riding free will or by destroying evil. God cannot give us freedom and withhold it (ʻnonsense is nonsense, even when you speak it about Godʼ – C.S. Lewis). The only option then is for God to judge evil and those who perpetrate it. © Tony Watkins# 1# www.tonywatkins.org
  2. 2. Above Bar Church Summer Bible School 2010# Apologetics c. God works through suffering The ultimate purpose of life is not to be happy but to know God. d. God will eventually put an end to suffering 3. Suffering and evil may be evidence for God a. The Judeo-Christian worldview provides the best explanation i. Atheism: suffering and evil are ultimately meaningles ii. Eastern worldviews: suffering is either bad karma (you deserve it) or an illusion iii. Judeo-Christian: Suffering and evil are the consequence of freely chosen rebellion against God (see above) b. Only the Christian worldview offers an answer to suffering i. God has experienced our suffering in the incarnation and crucifixion The crucifixion is the ultimate demonstration that there are higher things than suffering. ii. God will deal decisively with suffering and evil, as promised in the resurrection The new heavens and new earth will be free of suffering and evil, and will more than compensate for anything we have endured in this life. © Tony Watkins# 2# www.tonywatkins.org

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