Within the shadow of Easter, our nation has experienced yet another senseless shooting. Another act of a single person that sends shock waves through our country. The Christian community has celebrated the greatest event in history. An event where a man rose from the dead. This event reflects the power and authority of God over even the grave. If God is that powerful, where was He when the shooting started?
It has been called a theological trilemma. It poses the question; if God is all powerful, and all loving, then why do bad things happen? The question is strong and needs to be answered. The absence of an answer has turned many away from faith completely. The reality of evil is obvious. The presence of God’s love and power may not be so easily discerned.
While the question is reasonable, it is also insufficient. The divine attributes of God cannot be adequately summarized in two statements: God is all loving and God is all powerful. We are required to add to this short list; God is beyond time.
Humanity is restricted to stand in one place as the parade of life passes by. We are finite and as such can see only from a finite perspective. I see my life on this day with the emotions and trauma the day brings. We cannot possibly see beyond today, let alone into eternity.
God sees the beginning of the parade of life as easily as he sees the end. His view and power extend beyond the emotions of a single day or season. What we can’t see is from the perspective of eternity.
A God that is all powerful, all loving and beyond time, is also a God of infinite justice. With a full heart, I believe that we can lose nothing in this life that will not be repaid a thousand-fold in the next. I fully believe that one day, as I see a just and holy God in person, I will thank Him for every scar. I don’t have to understand it to believe it.
Ask a Marine if he wants to repeat his basic training. I’ve never found one who would. But then ask him if it was worth it. I’ve never found one who had any regret in undergoing the forced physical and mental discipline that come with boot camp. Ask a Navy SEAL if his training was worth that golden trident on his left chest. Ask an Army Ranger if that little black and gold tab was worth the trauma it took to earn it.
Another question has to be answered in the trilemma. If there is no God, then who is to say what is evil? We all work from some moral code of right and wrong. I see this very code as a reflection of the fingerprint of God.
However, if there is no giver of a moral code, can there really be one? To remove God from the equation is to leave man a product of biology and no different than the animals. Richard Dawkins insists there is no God and we are all merely “dancing to our own DNA.” That makes man like the animals and only the fittest survive.
I have worked disaster relief efforts and led a host of mission trips to third world countries. Not one time have I seen an organized effort of atheists working to relieve the suffering of the oppressed. Ask a volunteer at the hospital where he or she attends church and they will tell you. When a tornado rips your house and life apart you can expect the local churches to turn out and do the dirty work without thought of pay.
A final observation is obvious yet never addressed. How does the lack of faith in God reduce the impact of evil in any way? Faith offers hope to the victims and families. The insistence that there is no God removes all hope for justice and comfort.
I find faith the only thing I can offer in times of overwhelming grief. How does an atheist respond to a parent standing beside the coffin of their child, too soon taken from them? Nothing can remove their pain; no word, no gift, no science, no theology. Nothing. But at least I can offer hope.
In my theology, God’s infinite love allows us free moral choice. From Adam & Eve to today, He has given humanity the ability to choose good or evil. I have the freedom to choose faith. You have the freedom to refute faith. One could argue that His love gives us the choice to do evil as well as good. God was there.
One day He will show us how.
Aaron Johnson is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News. He is pastor of Christ Redeemer Church in Guntersville.