God and Evil — Part 5 (An Emotional Approach)

See part 4 or the introduction.

An Emotional Approach

The first section of this multi-part post discusses the mystery of God and the mystery of evil from an intellectual approach, via McCabe (and St. Thomas Aquinas). The conclusion is that evil is not logically inconsistent with an omnipotent and good God.

This is not very satisfying to a certain degree on an intellectual level because it does not explain why there is evil. It is especially unsatisfactory on an emotional level. But that is the problem with any mystery. There is no ultimate solution to it. It cannot be solved or understood to the complete satisfaction of our minds and hearts. But that should not stop us from exploring mystery, dwelling in mystery.

Evil and suffering are cold, hard facts. They exist, and there is no denying them if we are to be honest with ourselves. Jesus himself, the person who Christians call the Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, who is God, did not live and die without suffering. He does not give a reason or a solution to the mystery of evil. He just suffered, and still suffers, with us.

As Thomas Keating writes in The Kingdom of God is Like…,

Jesus states clearly [in Scripture] that those who suffer…belong to the kingdom that he is introducing into the world. God has identified with us just as we are.

…If the gospel needed to be vindicated by a show of power, his trial and execution would have been the moment to provide it. The fact that nobody came to Jesus’ rescue, even though he could have called upon legions of angels to defend him, is a good indication of the nature of his kingdom. It means that the kingdom is present without our being rescued from our difficulties and the consequences of our sinfulness.

God is present in our lives and deaths just as they are.

When someone suffers, no intellectual or philosophical reasons really help. The only thing that may help is the simple act of being there with them. And that is what God did and does for us. God came in the incarnation of Jesus to show that he is with us in our suffering.

In the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, the angel announces to Mary that her son will be known as Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” In the last verse of Matthew, the last words of Jesus are, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”


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