The problem of good

The problem of good July 26, 2014

Ann-VoskampThis article from Ann Voskamp is so helpful, and so important. I encourage you to read it all. Ann is a gift to the global Church and she is really onto something in her writings.

So after dinner, she picks coneflowers in the garden.

Cradles the long stems in her apron skirt, carries them up through the picket gate.

And she turns to me on the top step of the porch, holds her apron out to me, all those purple petals — art in an apron.

“Why is there all this loveliness?”

She wants to know . . .

The existence of loveliness everywhere, it begs explaining.

If I raise the problem of evil in this world — shouldn’t she raise higher the greater problem of good? If evil is seeming evidence to eradicate God from our mental landscape, then doesn’t goodness, even in this apron, testify to the gospel truth of God?

How can we behold loveliness — and say that this world looks like this if there were no God?

I don’t know if I have ever thought of this before — the great problem of good on this planet.

The philosopher Augustine had asked two questions of the world:

  • “If there is no God, why is there so much good?
  • If there is a God, why is there so much evil?”

I wonder if I have spent a lifetime murmuring under my breath only the second question?

But why don’t I first get hung up on the first question? The question my girl is bringing in with the flowers — why all this loveliness and where does it come from?

The great problem of good on this planet implies that there is a Great God in heaven.


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  • Galorgan

    The problem of evil points out the flaw in the idea of a totally benevolent god as posited by Christianity. “The problem of good” only makes it so god also isn’t totally malevolent. It doesn’t change the standing on total benevolence. Long story short, (assuming omnipotence or at least a very powerful being) we either land at a middle-of-the-road theistic god, a deistic god, or no god – none of which are posited by Christianity.

    The article linked is less of a fleshed out argument and more of a feel-good piece of how to put your mind at ease and stop thinking about the problem of evil.

    • Nick H

      The “god posited by Christianity”, as you put it, is not “totally benevolent”, certainly not in the way you take it. The God of the Bible is a God who has been offended by us, his creatures. We have willfully rejected his authority over us. We ALL deserve nothing from him but condemnation and punishment. Yet God in his mercy not only preserves our lives but also gives us many good things. Things none of us deserve! This is the problem of good!
      Indeed God does more than this, he offers us a permanently restored relationship with him and sins forgiven if we put our trust in Jesus Christ.
      It is only when we reject God’s verdict upon us, that we are condemned sinners, that the existence of evil is a problem. Why doesn’t Good put an end to evil now? It would require him to put an end to us! He will, but today is still a day of grace, when he calls us to trust in his son.