Old Testament responses to evil and suffering

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  • Responses to evil and suffering in the Old Testament
    • The Old Testament does not produce a consistent answer to the question of whether or not God is to be blamed for natural evil. Sometimes, for example in Genesis, God is suggested to have created everything good but the world has been perverted by misuse of free will. At other times, God appears fully in control, e.g changing the rules of nature by parting the Red Sea and sending plagues and floods, suggesting natural evil may be a result of God.
    • Other passages express human emotions at the way the world is. In Jeremiah, God is asked why the world seems so unjust and why wicked people get away with wrongdoing. 'Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease' The writer of Pslam also felt the same, 'How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?'
    • The book of Job addresses the problem of evil in a way which for some creates more difficulties. Job is present as a wholly innocent man, who is tested by Satan to see if he remains faithful in the face of suffering. Disasters began to occur to Job, his servants are lost, his children die, his cattle die, he has sores, but 'in all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.' Job finally meets God and calls him to account for this, but realises he is wrong as God's omnipotence and omniscience are far beyond his understanding and he is too small and limited to understand the greater context of what has happened. 'I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.' Idea that it's all part of God's plan and we will never understand.
      • Many dislike this theory as it suggests God uses people as his playthings and thus it is not an adequate explanation.
  • A problem with this response is how the snake had the capacity and inclination to do evil. If God created the serprent crafty and made humans with the inclination to o evil, then God can still be blamed for evil
    • If humanity is an inevitable result of disobeying God, then humanity could be blamed for natural evil, but if God chose the punishment then God can be blamed still as he could have forgiven us or chosen another punishment


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