The citizens of Virginia were horrified recently by the murder of Eric Van Nederynen. The 15-year-old-Boy Scout was shot to death while walking to a neighborhood store. The killing puzzled those who knew Eric. Why would anyone want to kill a popular boy who volunteered at soup kitchens and took part in church mission trips?
As his family mourns the loss this promising teen, his friends- including some Christians -are no doubt asking: Why did God allow this evil thing to happen?
Suffering and evil in the world are among the most troublesome issues we face. Albert Einstein, for example, believed that there had to be a God who created our incredibly complex universe, but he couldn't believe in the God of the Bible. He argued that God could not be all-good and all-powerful at the same time.
Some people have tried to resolve this dilemma by arguing that God tolerates evil because He is not all-good. Others, like Rabbi Kushner who wrote the famous book Why Bad Things Happen To Good People, have concluded that God can't prevent evil-even though He would like to -because He is not all-powerful.
But the Bible is very clear: God is all-powerful, and He created a good universe. He created human beings in His image, but He also gave us a free will. So, we make our own moral choices.
The first man, Adam, responded to Satan's temptation and chose not to obey God. That is, he did the opposite of what a good God chose for us. At that moment, the opposite of good-or sin- was introduced into the world, and human nature was thereafter bent towards evil. We call this the doctrine of "original sin."
And like a plague, evil has spread throughout history-the result of free moral choices. But God is not responsible for this evil. We are. Ultimately, evil exists because humans refuse to accept the good that God offers. This is an important concept for people to understand because so many today are prone to deny the reality of the Fall.
Recently a young convert asked me, "Aren't Adam and Eve just symbols for all humanity, and the Fall a symbol of the sin that traps us?" The answer is that the Fall is an actual historical event. It really happened. Through an act of will, man rejected God's way.
Yes, God could have made us incapable of sin. But then we'd be less than human. We would be like robots, or puppets, incapable of making free moral choices. We can choose to love God, or we choose to defy him; this is the basis of our human dignity.
When evil things happen in your neighborhood, or in the world, do your children wonder what to think? To help parents deal with issues like these, I recently wrote a book entitled Answers to your Kids' Questions. It's a book that parents asked me to write. They wanted some practical information on apologetics in a format they could use to teach their kids the basic truths of the biblical worldview.
It's my prayer that this book will help parents bring up a new generation of believers who understand the truths of the biblical worldview-who understand why evil exists, and therefore, how to counter it. Our kids need to wrestle with these hard questions so they can become responsible Christian disciples.