I was reading a document recently about a man whose wife committed suicide. From all that he said, she was lovely, talented, intelligent and extraordinary in so many ways, but had a well-diagnosed illness that the best counseling couldn't cure.
It had been some time since her funeral and a well-meaning, I suppose, member of his church asked him if he had gotten over his anger at God. Another mentioned that evil, in all its forms, was the cause of her illness and eventually her death. The man said he hardly blamed God and couldn't understand how evil could be classified as a medical problem.
After reading all this, I felt like I was back in seminary staring at a typical test question that usually required five written pages to answer. Here's the way I would have begun. If I were raised in an Eastern philosophically religious world, I would have to say there is no solution for evil. If I lived a good life, awarded enough points, then at death, I would be reborn into another life. It would be better and easier than the last. This rebirth, or reincarnation, would continue for a plethora — or pot full — of lives until I arrived at godhood.
If I were an existentialist — I'm sure you can pick a better word — I would agree that the universe is meaningless, and I'd best have a good time while I am living.
Since I am a Christian, I believe biblically. God is good. God is omniscient. Evil fits in His plan somehow, and I can't figure that part out.
So, professor of theology, here's my humble answer.
I do not believe with any philosophy that holds to an idea that evil as inexistence before Genesis, or creation, in order to make sense of all the bad things that happen to people. When the Word says, "In the beginning....," it doesn't mean after some bad angel fell away from the flock. In fact, at the close of the first creation account we read, "God saw everything He had made and behold, it was very good." There is no footnote that tells us to read the fine print.
That said, whatever is going on in this present world of ours is not supposed to be this way! In the beginning, there was chaos, disorder. Use your imagination and try to visualize absolute pitch black nothingness. God never defined, never explained, never speculated, but always existed, takes chaos and creates cosmos. That means, for me, He created perfect order. God made sense out of the nonsense.
Why God gave humans the gift of free will doesn't make sense to me, but I don't blame some snake for my ancestors' lack of control, which, by the way, took place in the second creation account.
I thought Pastor Chip hit the nail on the head this past Sunday when he remembered one of his seminary professors who defined sin this way: it is an action contrary to the will of God. There are three types of sins: acts of commission, acts of omission and acts of permission. Let's just deal with the last. Evil exists because we allow it to happen, grow, multiply and become a part of our world. Pastor Chip, allow me to write in my limited way of explanation. God created cosmos, order and He drew the lines in the sand: do this, don't do that and live life accordingly. He gave us a very good textbook that is reader friendly. These lines in the sand are not just for us as individuals. These are lines for good living for all.
Why does evil exist? We move the lines! We grant a little permission here and a little permission there, and pretty soon, there are no lines and we wonder what happened. Chaos! That's what happened.
I am running out of space, but you know the answers. God is good! God is love! God is in control! Take a few moments, right now, to turn to Isaiah and read from chapter 53. I know God is love. Now turn to John 3:16-17. We really do know perfect love!
How do we combat evil? Surely not from giving it a name, a form, a substance or permission to continue. We stand our ground as Christians, draw the lines outlined by God and do not permit evil to step over those lines! God takes care of the rest.