The Invisible War and Practical Christian Theodicy
One of the Christian blogs that I try to read on a daily basis is Hebrew4Christians. Over the last five years I have become convinced that we Christians make a lot of mistakes in our interpretation of scripture because we do not understand the Jewish context of both the Old and New Testaments. John Parsons, who runs the site, believes the same thing so I often find the topics he writes about to be interesting.
Recently John posted an article that I found to be particularly interesting because it ties in with the topic of theodicy (theodicy is the question of: Why does God allow evil to exist in the world?). This question is what I have been trying to address with my series of posts on the Invisible War. The Invisible War (aka the Angelic Conflict) is the only Christian explanation of why evil is allowed to exist that I have found to be compelling.
The post that caught my attention really has two parts, one dealing with a woman who is angry with God and then a section that deals with many Jew’s loss of faith following the Holocaust. As far as the angry woman is concerned I don’t think that telling her that most of the suffering in the world is because of our (fallen mankind’s) bad decisions. Our suffering is always very personal and any abstract impersonal explanation of why God allows us to suffer is never very satisfying. The bible discusses why we as individuals suffer (see Patterns of Suffering) but this isn’t something that I would go into any depth with a person who is suffering.
On the other hand I believe that the Invisible war explains the world’s continuing and persistent antisemitism. Satan’s only hope is to frustrate God’s plans in the same way that God has frustrated Satan’s plans. One of the ways this can be done is for Satan to destroy all of the Children of Israel. This will make it impossible for God to fulfill His promises to Israel (I believe there still are promises to Israel that will be fulfilled). If Israel is destroyed then God’s promises are lies. Then Satan would be able to successfully claim that he and God are “morally equivalent.”
01.05.11 (Tevet 29, 5771) Is it ever appropriate to be angry at God? Recently I talked with a woman who had experienced various kinds of hardship in her life. Her father died when she was young and she was raised by an alcoholic and distant mother. She later married (and eventually divorced) a man who was abusive and emotionally unavailable to her. Her children suffered terribly from debilitating mental illness and insecurities. In light of all this, she defended her “right” to be angry at God and to question His goodness (to her). It was “safer” for her to consciously keep her distance from God, perhaps because she was afraid of being hurt once again…. Sadly, her ongoing sense victimization was more important to her than any promise of a future and hope (Jer. 29:11)… Today she remains “stuck” within the pain of her past and is offended by the idea that God personally loves her. Perhaps you know someone who has a similar struggle?
We live in a fallen world full of sinners and we often suffer the consequences of other people’s bad decisions as well as our own. Nowhere in the Bible can a promise that the world will treat us fairly be found. We are promised that we will be treated fairly in eternity (unbelievers are treated fairly in being condemned to the lake of fire even though none of them will agree) but that is in the future. The one thing that is promised is that God has provided us a way out of our desperate situation. Do you want your life to turn around? If so I encourage you to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as you savior and then start learning some Bible doctrine. This isn’t a quick fix and I wouldn’t think of claiming Christianity is a “quick fix.” However it is the path that God has provided for us to solve our problems in this life. To be angry with God while not taking advantage of His provisions for us is a path that is doomed to failure.
Then there is the part of John’s post that deals with the Jews:
Of course Jewish post-Holocaust theology (i.e., “theology after Auschwitz”) has wrestled with these sorts of harrowing and disturbing questions, though on a far larger and more traumatic scale. How could an all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful God allow (or permit) the horrors of the Shoah? For many Jews, the Holocaust marked the practical end of their faith, while for others it marked the start of a “theology of protest.” In either case, however, the horrific reality of the Holocaust requires an authentic response from all of us. Providing an intellectual theory about the “problem of evil” seems empty and even irreverent in the face of such unspeakable acts of cruelty. Beware of any theology that denies the reality and heartache of human suffering. Yeshua offered up “loud cries and tears” during the days of his flesh, and he wept over the pain others experienced (Heb. 5:7, John 11:35).
I suppose that what I am going to say will indeed sound like an “intellectual theory” but I am going to say it anyway. Like I wrote above, God has made promises to Israel so they are the object of great hatred by Satan. I believe that the prophesies in the Book of Revelation have yet to be fulfilled and that they involve Israel. If Satan can cause all of the Jews to be destroyed then the Messiah will not return and Satan can rest easy for his judgment day will never arrive.
I guess that begs the question “So what if Satan hates the Jews, God still didn’t have to allow the Holocaust!” While the killing in the Holocaust seemed indiscriminate it wasn’t, God protects His own. I believe that God protected many Jews without their even realizing it (that is not to say that they didn’t suffer greatly). I believe a parallel for this can be found in Ezekiel Chapter 9 which I find to be a bit unsettling (I recommend getting Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s study on the Book of Ezekiel). In that passage some residents of Jerusalem (the ones who “sigh and that cry over all the abominations”) were marked by an angel and spared from the Babylonians. Unfortunately many residents of Jerusalem at that time were not interested in YHVH (Jehovah). If a person rejects God they cannot expect indefinite protection from Satan and the world. None the less there will always be an Israel.
I will disagree with one thing that John says in his post. When discussing the parable of the “unrighteous judge” he says that Yeshua (Jesus) likens God to the unrighteous judge. I disagree, I don’t believe that the parable is a comparison as much as a contrast. I suspect John Parsons has studied this passage and his statement is no accident but I would like to provide a different view for any reader who is interested. Bob Deffinbaugh has a good article on this topic titled “Piety, Persistence, Penitence, and Prayer (Luke 18:1-14)” which is worth reading.
I believe that questions like these are important to ask and that Christians need to have good answers. I suppose my answers won’t be found to be of comfort to many people. Of course that doesn’t mean the answers I have given aren’t true. Does anyone have a better answer?