Recently several people have asked our staff to recommend good material on theodicy. These inquiries may have arisen as the result of the September 11 tragedy in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. It is certainly natural and understandable that people would ask questions when events such as those occur.
We have been taught that God is wise, powerful, and good-that he rules his world completely. We have further been taught that God determines all things that come to pass. But the question surfaces: If God is good and all-powerful, why is there evil in his world? Is he really God? All-powerful? Good? Does he really rule his world? Where does he fit into the picture with all the bad things going on? And bottom line, we ask, How is it possible to reconcile the realities of life-sin, evil, and wickedness-with God’s all powerful and good rule? Theodicy is an attempt to justify and harmonize those things.
The problem is that we tend to approach this topic solely within the area of reason and logic. That is not all bad, but when we are talking about God, reason and logic have their limits because God transcends both. Even the notion of trying to justify God’s control puzzles us because if God is who he says he is, why do bad things continually happen to good people? And, we cannot cop out by saying there are no good people, true as that may be. It begs the real question that theodicy seeks to address. Historically people have tried to deal with this complex subject in many ways. The following four key explanations prevalent today will serve our purposes in this pr