Editorial: Reflections On Living In Light Of Sin And Evil -- By: Stephen J. Wellum

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 17:4 (Winter 2013)
Article: Editorial: Reflections On Living In Light Of Sin And Evil
Author: Stephen J. Wellum

Editorial: Reflections On Living In Light Of Sin And Evil

Stephen J. Wellum

Stephen J. Wellum is a Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and editor of Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.

He received his Ph.D. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and he is the author of numerous essays and articles and the co-author of Kingdom through Covenant (Crossway, 2012).

Living in this fallen world, we all face suffering and evil. One of the most common questions asked by non-Christians is how we, as Christians, explain the existence of evil and cope with it. Christians also are not immune to these questions and it is for this reason we have devoted an entire issue of SBJT to the topic. Our goal is to think through what Scripture says on the subject and how we, as God’s people, are to live in this fallen world between the comings of Christ. In this expanded editorial I offer five reflections on what we call the problem of evil which will serve as an entrée into the other articles and forum pieces.

First, as an important apologetic point, it is not only Christian theology which must wrestle with the problem of evil; every worldview, Christian and non-Christian alike, must also wrestled with it, albeit for different reasons depending upon the specific view in question. For example, naturalistic/atheistic viewpoints must first explain, given their overall view, how they can even account for the distinction between good and evil. What is the basis for objective, universal moral standards if, for sake of argument, naturalism is true? Naturalists will often raise the problem of evil against Christians, but in so doing, they assume a clear distinction between good and evil and that objective evil exists, which their own view cannot explain. Thus, in order to get their argument off the ground, naturalists, ironically, have to borrow parasitically from Christianity which can account for the distinction between good and evil tied to God as the standard. In this way, as a number of Christian thinkers have pointed out, many non-Christian worldviews, including naturalism, have a “problem of the good” since without the God of the Bible there is neither good nor evil in an objective and universal sense. The same could be said about other non-Christian views but my point is simply this: everyone must wrestle with the problem of evil in light of their own worldview claims. For Christians, our problem is not accounting for the

distinction between good and evil. We can make sense of our moral revulsion and condemnation of wicked actions. Our challenge is to make sense of why God plans and all...

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