Wed. Online Class with Rubel Shelly: November 18, 2020

Lesson 3 of 7: The Problem of Evil


Key Scriptures for this Study: Romans 8:18-25; Matthew 13:24-30,36-43*

1. What is the problem of evil? State it in your own words.

2. Distinguish between moral evil and natural evil? Why is this distinction important for addressing the problem of evil? (Is every instance of pain “evil”? Is pain sometimes “good”? What is true evil?)

3. The world God created was “very good” (Gen 1:31). What happened that spoiled its peace, open fellowship with God, and ideal physical circumstances? Is free will a good or bad thing? Is God responsible for our misuse of freedom?

4. We sometimes use the story of redemption and salvation in a very narrow sense to refer to human rescue from sin. Yes, it is that! But what does Romans 8:18-25 say about the larger redemption of the cosmos? What hints are in Scripture about life in a New Heaven and New Earth? See Isa 65:17ff.

5. How does the Book of Job address the problem of evil? What other Bible stories surface the same issue? What does this say about the realism of the Judeo-Christian message in dealing with sickness and pain, poverty and want, persecution of saints and martyrdom?

6. People are tempted to see all suffering as punishment from God (e.g., Job’s friends). Did you follow the point in the video about the blind man in John 9? It is important! If you have a copy of The Message, read these verses to see a punctuation process that parallels what is suggested in the video.

7. How does the Parable of the Weeds summarize some of the key points in this study? Pay particular attention to Jesus own interpretation of it at Matt 13:36ff. Note that the “field” in the story is “the world” and how life is playing out in it. Does this story help you with the challenging problem of evil?

*Suggestion: If you use this video for personal, class, or small-group study, please view the video in its entirety, then read and reflect on the “Key Scriptures” as they relate to the video, and then work through the questions above. This process is likely to generate the greatest value for your study.

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