The Problem of Evil, Part 5 – Love Not Micromanagement

By | February 9, 2016

In my previous post, I explain why the “magical” view of God is ruled out by his unchanging nature which fixes reality within certain parameters. In this article, I share how one of God’s specific characteristics rules out him micromanaging the world.

One of if not the most primary characteristic of God is love. I believe that love is core to God’s being and his reason for creating. I believe love is therefore one of these fixed parameters so to speak. In line with what I’ve been discussing, I believe love has a specific meaning. It can’t be changed to anything and still be love.

Part of the nature of love is that it requires freedom on the part of each party. In other words, each person must have the ability to choose to act in love. If it is somehow forced, controlled, or coerced, then it is no longer love. This must be this way and cannot be any other way.

God created people with the intent of having a loving relationship with them. This required they have free will. Unfortunately, we have not always chosen to do good. When evil happens, it isn’t God’s ideal will for that specific instance even though it still falls under his overall will. I realize that this will likely be challenging for some people to believe. It’s not that God created evil or allows evil. He created a beautiful, good world, and part of the beauty and goodness was the creation of people. God wanted to make us partners in the world, with a loving rather than controlling or coerced relationship. But this good required the possibility of evil. God opened up a bubble of freedom within his overall will.

Greg Boyd has put it this way, “It’s not that everything happens as part of God’s plan, but the infinitely wise God has a plan for everything that happens.” (in “Trusting in God Knows What” 2/20/2011 at 25:30). God has a plan to address the evil which has come about. And he must understand that the end result is worth the pain in getting there. And don’t forget that God isn’t above it all. If you believe that Jesus was God and that he was crucified, then you’ll recognize that he has skin in the game so to speak.

The reality of love explains why God’s power can’t mean his micromanaging everything. God doesn’t need to micromanage everything in order to be in control. Because God is all powerful, he doesn’t need to micromanage every decision in the universe; no matter what someone may choose to do, God can handle it and work through it or even despite it.

This series ended up growing larger than I had expected it to. The idea at it’s core is reasonably simple. To summarize, we seem to have a choice of two of these three: the existence of evil, God’s goodness, or God’s power. People have tried arguing each of these: God isn’t good, God isn’t powerful (or doesn’t exist), or evil doesn’t really exist (everything is God’s will and therefore good). My argument is that we’ve misunderstood God’s power. We’ve incorrectly believed that God’s power is magical and/or necessitates micromanagement. If we let go of these misconceptions, we can understand how God can be both all powerful and all loving, and yet evil can still exist.

One final word: though evil exists now, that’s not to say that God will allow evil to continue forever. Rather, he is doing something about it in the only way which is possible to get to his ultimate goal. In other words, I believe that God knows the way to a beautiful reality where love is chosen freely and there is no more evil. But this plan takes time to unfold through a valley of potential and now realized evil. Take heart in knowing that the night won’t last forever because morning is coming.

photo credit: Boko Haram via photopin (license)

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