God, evil, and OK city


question:
What do you say to someone (non-Christian) who asks "Why did God allow so many innocent people to die in the Oklahoma City Federal Building?"

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But to your question...

The question below falls into the general problem of evil and suffering in the world.

The OK City tragedy is another example of innocent suffering and malicious action, on a smaller scale than the Holocaust, but nonetheless heart-ripping and emotionally challenging. And, like other tragedies, can be seen to be illustrative of some of the principles involved with this complex issue.

  1. God is much more of a judge (expecting the citizens to act responsibly and morally) than a policeman (trying to PREVENT all breaches of law)

  2. God built us to be ever-seeking to externalize our internal characters. As such, we are ALWAYS exhibiting behavior that is 'mixed' in its moral character...

  3. God created us as a communal unit, with each action affecting others in the community--our families, friends, selves, environment, etc--for GOOD or ILL...whereas this affords us an incredible leverage to do good to very large numbers of people (and be like Jesus in the process!), it also affords us the opportunity for wholesale destruction as well...

    These factors, when taken together, predict that we would have both sweetness and atrocities in human experience, and that we should not expect God to step in and interrupt us each time we do start to do moral evil...He will indeed hold us accountable for this moral action, but the gap between doing and judgment will ALWAYS exist (however short--milliseconds or millennia--the theological problem 'still exists').


Three other points:

  1. Why do we always ask "why did GOD allow...?" as opposed to "how did WE do that?"...I always wonder about our race's tendency to 'blame shift'...

  2. God DOES step in at times, mostly in the life of his children, to protect us, but this 'protection' is not from the catastrophes, sickness, death, malicious treatment by others, or unjust suffering...There is not an evil under the sun that some Christian, somewhere, sometime has not experienced--even while in the most pure relationships/walks with God...No, this protection is simply this: God guarantees that He will not allow anything to enter our lives that is 1) more than we can handle (I Cor 10:13) and 2) destructive of our true character that is being developed in the image of Christ...(or counter-productive to our growth in character).

    It may seem to make us "bitter rather than better", but God the Father knows our education/development process/progress better than we ever could. (We also have to keep in mind the important ingredient of time in this--'soreness' may occur at first, but strength will eventually follow)

  3. Finally, we must always remember that in some way God experiences this loss as well...both through His 100% experience of the sufferings of the families (REAL empathy) and because of the destruction of things he deemed 'good' back in Creation...but most of all---those acts of evil sent Him to the Cross, where the sufferings of an eternity of eternities was experienced by the Son of God...God experienced suffering (the ultimate UNJUST suffering!) beyond our deepest of emotional imaginations...So in a real sense, we can also ask "why would God allow Himself to suffer so horribly?"...

So, the short answer is that God built us as a morally responsible community, and treats us that way--allowing us to live morally significant lives (for good or ill) and judging us at the END of those lives.

But...He has also provided a way to escape that judgment--His Son Jesus Christ, the Beloved of the Father...'because He loved us...'

Hope this helps...glenn



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