Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pharisees, Sadducees, and Heresies…

From the dawn of time Man is incurably religious.  It is as if man were addicted to the concept of “God” and no matter how hard he tries he cannot shake it.  Reading of the history of the Jews there is never a finer example of this concept.  The religion of Judaism permeates everything that they are.  The majority of the world at the time that the Pharisees and Sadducees lived was stuck in a class system based around royalty, citizenship, slavery and freedmen.  It is interesting that in the midst of all that the Jews had developed a class system that at its center was God.  With the Scribes, Rabbis, remnants of the Hasidim, and the religious priestly aristocracy that loosely claimed a connection to Zadok the High Priest in David’s time.  It is also interesting that at this time the major political parties were inexorably linked to their faith.  There was no real separation of church and state in the mind of the first century Jew.  There were three primary political/religious parties of the day; they were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes.  There were others, such as the scribes and the Zealots, but they were not necessarily a recognized part of the ruling class.

One of the largest political parties of the day was the Pharisees.  The Pharisees have their root in the Hasidim.  The Hasidim might have been the ‘descendants’ Ezra and Nehemiah, not biologically but rather spiritually.[1]  Wherever they get their roots they were highly religious and desired to protect the Law against all threats, this included but was not limited to the Seleucid incursion, Hellenistic invasion of thought, and Roman hedonistic lifestyle.  The Pharisees literally means “the separate ones” and in many ways this was how they viewed the world.  Their guiding principles can be found in the Aboth, a collection of sayings from at least sixty-five Rabbis, and can be boiled down to three sayings: Be Deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples, and make a fence around the Law.[2]  It is interesting how these principles in many ways had been brought out more fully in the teachings of Jesus.  

The idea of building a fence around the law was taken to an extreme when the Pharisees added more laws to the Law in order to ‘protect’ the Law.  One can see the fruit of this in the some current conservative lines of thought on many subjects like, dancing, the drinking of alcohol, and being in debt.  The Pharisees would often set the ‘fence’ further out from the Law in order not to even come close to transgressing the Law.  In the book New Testament: Its background and Message the authors, Lea and Black, make a subjective statement about the Pharisees.  They say “Although many of the Pharisees deserved Jesus’ strong denunciations (see Matt. 23), many others were virtuous, as seen in the example of Nicodemus.”[3]  I do not think this is an accurate example.  If you look at the facts of the narrative, Nicodemus came to Jesus under the cover of darkness.  Jesus rebuked Nicodemus personally when he asked him “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:10b-12 NASB)  As seen in that passage not only was Jesus calling into question Nicodemus’ knowledge but he is questioning his ability to accurately teach the Law and he was commenting on Nicodemus’ very belief in the person of Jesus.  

Later in Nicodemus’ life he still seems to still struggle with his belief in that he did not speak up at the trial of Jesus.  In the end he did step forward to claim the body of Christ and announce by his actions that he was a follower.  I have to say that Nicodemus may be similar to many of us but I would not use his example to base the “righteousness” of any of the other Pharisees.  I would say, rather, that he was the exception not the rule.  The Pharisees, as a body, did acknowledge a belief in the afterlife, angles, and a spiritual realm.

The Essenes were a splinter of the Hasidim as well.  They were Monastics that practiced extreme separation as a matter of course.  They all made vows of chastity and they order grew by converts alone.  Some have linked this group to the one in Qumran.  The Essenes were very closely aligned to the Pharisees in their core doctrine of protecting the Law.  They did not accept the temple worship and felt that the current High Priests were not valid.  Although they were not mentioned by name in the New Testament their mind set toward the temple was mirrored by many of the day including Jesus and His disciples.[4] 

The Sadducees where the ruling religious aristocracy, they had the backing of Rome and held to the ideals of Hellenistic thought more so then the other two groups.  They did not have a belief in the eternality of the soul and anything in the spirit realm.  There is no doubt why they feared Jesus’ teaching on the Temple, as their main seat of power was completely wrapped up in the Temple itself.  For all their political machinations and stumbling blocks they put in the way of the early church it is interesting to note that in 70 A.D. when the Temple was destroyed they ceased to exist because their whole reason to be ended.

[1] Julius Scott, Jr., Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament Kindle edition(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1995), 2667-94 (paragraph location)
[2] Ibid, 2611-14 (paragraph location)
[3] Thomas Lea and David Black, The New Testament: Its Background and Message, 2ed. (Nashville, Tenn.: B&H Academic, 2003), 58
[4] Julius Scott, Jr., Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament Kindle edition(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1995), 2387-2391 (paragraph location)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Essential Christian: A Critique on the Essential Activity of Christian Ministry

            What is the essential activity of the Christian?  By extension what is the essential activity of Christian Ministry?  It is important in the beginning of any discussion to define the terms that will be used.  It is not possible to divorce the activity of an individual from the corporate, therefore any look at any corporate endeavor one must look at those members that make up that group.  Here we are looking at Christian ministry so we must look at the Christian.  The Westminster Catechism says that the chief aim of a Christian is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  This is a rather broad statement that can be interpreted in a number of ways in any given context, but at its core it is a valid assertion of what a Christian should be doing if he or she is to call themselves a follower of Christ.  
            The focus of this discussion is to look into the idea that we as Christians are to develop disciples that will follow and worship Jesus Christ.  The question is whether or not this is to be the essential activity of a Christian or a ministry.  I think that the answer lies in the above statement.  We are to glorify God in all that we do and by doing that we are to enjoy Him here and then later in Glory.  The problem with this statement is that it can be perceived as a very selfish statement if not taken in context of the Bible as a whole.  We are not called to live on an island devoid of contact with the larger world.  We have the answers to the greatest questions that have plagued mankind since the dawn of time: chiefly, who am I and where do I fit into the grand scheme of life?  Hiding those answers boarders on the criminal.  So how do we do this and fulfill our chief aim?
            To find this answer we need to look no further then nature.  Every living thing on the earth is created with the ability to create life after its own kind.[1]  Furthermore all life on the earth seeks to reproduce itself. Only mankind has instituted the concept of birth control.  The reason for this God given imperative is that a species that does not reproduce itself will only live for a single generation.  All through the New Testament the church is represented as a living body, and the Bride of Christ.  As a living organism the church should seek to reproduce naturally, if it does not then there is something wrong. 
            In light of all that the answer to the question of should the church make discipleship its main focus I would have to say yes.  In saying yes it must be qualified with the understanding that one needs to fulfill the main objective of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.  Jesus commands the newly commissioned leaders of the first church to make disciples as they are going about their lives.  Jesus told them to baptize them and by doing so Jesus seems to be saying by inference that they will be replicating themselves. 
The call to follow Christ is not something to take lightly.  It was not taken lightly then, when the apostles walked the earth, nor should it be now.  To be a true follower we are called to forsake everything that we call our own; our pride, our reputation, our money, our time, and our talent.  This paradigm runs counter to most schools of thought.  Barna alludes to this in his book when he talks about creating zealots for Christ.[2]  Having the kind of zeal that would allow us to forsake even our own family for the cause of Christ is not an easy pill to swallow, never the less it is what we are called to do. 
In following Jesus we are to do His commandments and one of those is to make disciples.  I would hazard to guess that the reason that more churches are not engaging in this process fully is that making disciples is messy and time consuming.  Messy and time consuming, in the sense that people are strange and getting into another person’s life long enough to truly disciple them means that we have to engage them on a personal and intimate level that we are not comfortable with.  We live in a plastic and disposable age.  Nothing is real or permanent and everything should be disposable, including friends and acquaintances.  Making disciples just does not fit neatly into our prepackaged lives. 
After looking into the question of whether or not we as the church of Jesus Christ should be engaging in discipleship there still remains the question of why we should do it.  Every person at some point in his or her life has a God given desire to leave a lasting imprint of themselves on the world after they are gone.  Some never really are able to articulate this desire but the effects are still the same.  People have kids, write papers or books, build businesses, and carve out niches for themselves in their spheres of influence.  We want to feel like we are a part of something larger than ourselves.  John C. Maxwell points to John Wooden, longtime coach of the UCLA bruins and a quote that he said often; “The guy who puts the ball through the hoop has ten hands”.[3]  If we really want to change the world, or at least the world that we know then who are the other four pairs of hands? 

[1] McManus, Erwin, Unstoppable force, page 17
[2] George Barna Growing True Disciples chapter 2
[3] John C. Maxwell, Developing the Leaders Around You, page 1

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Simple Prayer

Ephesians 6:18-20, With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Matthew 21:22 And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

James 1:5-8 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

                Prayer is our life line to God.  I remember as a new father when my son started to learn to walk he chaffed at being in the stroller when we went to the mall or somewhere else that had a lot of neat things to see.  It soon became clear that I would lose track of him if I allowed him to wander as he wished.  So being a new dad and not having a clue how to deal with this I went to Walmart and looked for a solution.  I soon found a leash contraption that I could strap to my child and hold the other end.  This allowed him to have some freedom and for me to still have some control.  Even now I shudder a little bit when I think that I “leashed” my child; but for whatever reason it worked for us for that time.  It did not work well with my next three children. 

                Say what you want to about the “leashing” of children it has clear and obvious analogies to our own Christian lives.  That leash or tether that we have trough the Holy Spirit is the ability to be in constant contact with the creator of the universe.  That is a powerful concept!  Just a cursory reading in the New Testament on the subject of prayer brings this out in a clear and crazy way.  Most Christians have a poor and in some cases a distorted view of prayer.  Some think that there is some heavenly switchboard that is constantly receiving calls and that there is a hierarchy or a priority system.  For instance a little girl praying for ice cream after a dinner out with family is somehow a lower priority then the boy in Haiti that is starving and is praying that today will be the day that he eats.  We can easily prioritize these two prayers but the crazy part is that God does not.  He listens to both prayers and answers both in His way and according to His will.  Both prayers are important to Him and He takes both requests seriously.

                Now I may have used a simplistic example but you can see that when Jesus says; “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” (Mathew 16:19)  He means it!  He even repeated this later in the same gospel Matthew 18:18.  Prayer changes things because He has called us to be His image bearers here on earth.  We are chosen to be His agents of change in this dark and dying world.  We bear the words of life from His lips and when we pray for anything He listens.

                In light of this I began to look for examples of prayer in the Old and New Testaments and there are a lot of examples.  The funny thing is that aside from the prayers of Jesus, nearly every other prayer is short simple and to the point.  Look at some of them; (Some I have taken poetic license with)
  • ·         Adam – We were hiding because we were naked…
  • ·         Cain – I don’t know where my brother is…
  • ·         Noah – You want me to build what…
  • ·         Abraham – You want me to go where…
  • ·         Isaac – You want me to marry some woman I have never met…
  • ·         Jacob – How many kids…
  • ·         Moses – What name shall I use when I go to the people…
  • ·         Joshua – How do I take down the city of Jericho? – No really I need a battle plan…
  • ·         Elijah – Lord, deal this my enemies… (and the fire fell)
  • ·         Elisha – (to his servant in a moment of crisis) Lord, open this man’s eyes…
  • ·         Isaiah – Here am I send me…
  • ·         Jerimiah – I am too young they will not listen to me…
  • ·         Mary – How can this be since I am a virgin…
  • ·         Joseph – O.K. Lord I will Marry Mary no questions asked the child is yours…
  • ·         John the Baptist – Behold the Lamb of God…
  • ·         Peter – You are the Christ the son of the Living God…
  • ·         A desperate father with a son afflicted with a strange disease – Lord I believe, please help my unbelief…
  • ·         James and John – We want to be your right hand men in the coming kingdom…

And on and on the list can go.  Some of the names and “prayers” are paraphrased or comedic but the point is that God loves when we talk to Him and He loves short simple prayers.  Sometimes just a simple recognition that He is God and in control like what Thomas said when confronted with the risen Jesus: “My Lord and my God!” 

Paul teaches in Romans 8: 26-27; “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  In short even when we don’t know what to say He still hears our heart cry and is there for us.  So when thinking on prayer…KEEP IT SIMPLE!

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Problem of Evil Part 3

            Defining good is not as easy as it first seems.  We want to define good as anything that happens to me that is pleasing and brings me joy or happiness.  In that sense a cold soft drink on a hot day could be defined as good.  A warm puppy snuggling down into your arms can be thought of as good.  Now while these things are interesting and may be pleasant but to ascribe the title of good to it might be a bit of a stretch.  When we look at the life of Jesus, who as the Son of the Living God, the very incarnation of God Himself when He was confronted with a young man who called him good he replied, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18b NASB)  Even Jesus was hesitant to label Himself good (of course we know that He was making a point and at the same time exhibiting humility).  This points the fact that our definition of good is skewed.  We cannot help but explain things in an anthropomorphic sense.  We have to constantly put our own thoughts, ideas, commentaries and wants into the words and actions of God.  As Job found out when he went through his ordeal, God is God and He does what He pleases to His creation. 
            As His creation we have no right to complain when the creator chooses, for whatever reason, to cause a vessel He has created to die or become broken.  We cannot throw around the idea of good and evil like we understand them.  These titles have eternal and divine meaning that we have yet to comprehend.  Good is not nice things that happen to me.  Good is God.  Another theologian says, “God is by definition beyond moral evaluation.”[1]  We, like Job, have not the right to question the fundamental nature of God. 
            A theologian had this to say;
“Christian orthodoxy has always dealt with this problem by trying to explain evil and suffering in a way that resolves the inconsistency without eliminating any of the divine attributes.  Some have argued that evil is only apparent and not ultimately real. Things may appear evil to us but that is to perceive things from our limited perspective; it is to view things in light of what we like or do not like. If we could see things from God's eternal perspective, we would see them very differently.”[2]
Another theologian says, “God is by definition beyond moral evaluation.”[3] 
These two men seem to have the best combined answer to how we are to look at the question.  There are problems with both of these approaches. 
The first one suggests that there is really no evil that all things will eventually work out into some future hidden good.  The problem with this is that if we go down this road then it is likely that we will become rather callus or immune to the evils that do happen in the world.  Evils like famine, plague, murder, rape, war, and others.  It seems clear that these things are hated by God.  Jesus taught that we are to love and show love to all men regardless of whether or not they are our enemies.  We are to give cold water in His name and to help the widows and orphans in their distress.  An Anglican Preacher by the name of Eric Delve delivered a sermon in the International Baptist Church of Jurbise, Belgium in the winter of 2010 and in that sermon he told of an encounter that he had.  He shared that after he finished a service an older woman came up to him and told him that God had sent her to him to have him pray over her dying son.  The preacher was tired and did not really feel like doing it but he reluctantly agreed to follow the woman home.  When he got there he met the young man dying of a rare form of cancer that had affected the bones of his back, neck and legs.  It was spreading into his brain and the doctors only gave the boy days to live.  The moment that Eric Delve walked into the room he was overcome with an intense and righteous fury that did not come from him.  He claims that it came from God.  The anger was at the cancer that had hurt this poor boy so badly.  He prayed long, loud and hard for the boy and after he said good-bye and left.  He did not see the boy or the mother again for a long time, so long in-fact that he was certain that the boy was dead.  He received a call from the mother a few years later thanking him for his prayers.  The child recovered and the doctors did not know why, the child was alive and well.  In the mind of Eric Delve God hates evil and has commanded us to hate it as well. 
Looking at this story and the quotes from the two theologians from the beginning of these sections this makes the argument that we can become immune to evil as a very real possibility.  I would have to say that yes we have become immune to a degree to the evil that exists in the world.  While God may not be judged by our moral standards we still will be by His.  How do we deal with the apparent evil that is rampant in our world?  We hate it just as God does.  We struggle against it, just as Jesus did while He walked the earth.  We seek to have our heart break for the things that breaks God’s heart.  We are His hands and feet, we are His free-agents of change in this wicked, rebellious, and evil world.  There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that believes in the revealed Sovereign God that He hates evil.  The problem that we are confronted with every day is what are we individually doing about the evil that we face?  To take a step back away from evil that we face is to tacitly allow it to go on.  It is easy to do nothing when we see bad things happen, and as God’s free-agents we can choose to do nothing, but for whatever reason He has chosen us to fight these battles.  We are called to confront evil to face the consequences of that conrontation. 
All that being said the answer to the problem of evil is that we need to adjust our perspective and look at it from the perspective of a Holy all-powerful, all-knowing God.  The same God who looked at the totality of creation from the garden through the cross to the end of time and said it is very good.  God as we have described Him is not trapped in time with us.  He is outside of time.  It is though He is looking at a finished painting that is our time line hanging in His gallery.  The macroscopic point of all creation is to glorify God the microscopic point of creation is to create a bride that loves and chooses Him. He is glorified in the bad that happens and the good.  Even though we may not see it now we can be assured that even in the evil that is so pervasive in the world God is able to be glorified.  There will come a day when we will look back on this and see the truth to the verse, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NASB)  Paul confirms this in 1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (NASB) 
It is sure that this answer will not sit well with many theologians but the truth is, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4 NASB)  “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place?” (Job 38:12 NASB)  “The ostriches’ wings flap joyously with the pinion and plumage of love, for she abandons her eggs to the earth and warms them in the dust, and she forgets that a foot may crush them, or that a wild beast may trample them. She treats her young cruelly, as if they were not hers; though her labor be in vain, she is unconcerned; because God has made her forget wisdom, and has not given her a share of understanding.”  (Job 39:13-18 NASB)  We are no better than the ostrich in reality.  We flap our wings to try to make ourselves feel important and we walk through this world unaware of what the creator God gives us.  We are totally without a clue.  God is the definition of Good and He is opposed to Evil.  We are to live like Him in that we are to attempt to be good and eschew evil.  We are to live for him and him alone.

[1] Bruce Ballard, The Problem of Evil: A Review Essay (McMaster Journal of Theology & Ministry; 2007, Vol. 9) pg. 40
[2] James Danaher, The Problem of Evil from a Gospel Perspective (Evangelical Review of Theology, April 2012 Volume 36 Issue 2) p 137
[3] Bruce Ballard, The Problem of Evil: A Review Essay (McMaster Journal of Theology & Ministry; 2007, Vol. 9) pg. 40

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Problem of Evil Part 2

Sovereignty of God
            The concept of a sovereign God is one that has been challenged over the intervening years from the days of creation till now.  All it takes is for one innocent child to die early in a horrible fashion for us to begin to question the goodness and all-powerful and all-knowing nature of God.  There are a number of permutations of the question of why God would allow this bad thing to happen to this person at this time.  The sovereignty of God though a separate concept from the problem of evil is intrinsic to the discussion.  If we accept that God is all the things that we say that He is then we have to follow the line of reasoning that as the creator of all things at some point in creation He created a creature that was capable of rebellion and evil thus God created evil.  This as you can imagine has never sat well with any theologian.  Of course we can take the Zoroastrinistic approach and say that there were two creators one good and one evil and they have been at war every day since the day they co-created the earth.  But then we would no longer be talking about Christianity.[1]
            Many people try at this point to limit in some way the power of God.  The problem in that approach is that any limiting of the God that we have revealed to us in the pages of scripture is to nullify the concept of God all together.  The arguments for and against the limiting the scope and ability of God are vast and in some ways far beyond the limited understanding of this writer.  The one thing that most of the problem solvers try to do is define God, Evil, and Good without using the Bible.  There needs to be a base line established for us to move on.  There needs to be somewhere a reference that we can turn to that contains truth that is not relative to our understanding.  If we do not have such a document then we cannot ever resolve this issue.  If we are a creature and He is the creator and He has not revealed Himself to us then we cannot begin to comprehend Him.  This is where we have to turn to the only document that has ever made the claim of being the Revelation of God to men, the bible. 
            “The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand.” (Isaiah 14:24 NASB)
            “Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-12 NASB)
            “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1”1-3 NASB)
            “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17 NASB)
            There are more verses then can be fit into this blog, suffice it to say that the bible teaches that God not only created everything but He also sustains everything.  This pretty much tears apart every argument that begins with the premise that God is not all-powerful or all-knowing.  If we attempt still to argue the prospect that God has limited Himself or is somehow constrained this ultimately undermines the concept of God.  Either He is sovereign or He is not.  If He is then He either He allowed Evil to exist and at the very least tacitly allowed it to come into being or He did not.  If God did  not allow evil to come into existence then there is a power out there that is at the very least equal to God or greater as it would have been able to “sneak one past” the big guy Himself. 
            What is left is that He is either an absent creator in the lives of His creation, or he is just evil.   Either He loves us or He is playing a cruel joke on all of humanity.  Either He is trustworthy or He is not.  That last statement speaks to heart of the sovereignty of God.  If we cannot trust His word even in a small part how can we trust Him or His word in the big parts?  The fact is the only document on earth that purports to be the very word of the living God is the bible and the bible says that He is all-knowing and all-powerful. 

[1] Zoroastrianism claims to be the world's oldest supposed monotheistic religion. It was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster in ancient Iran about 3500 years ago and as its main tenet there is a duality of good and evil deities.  While there is a supreme god that is all good there seems to be warring lesser deities that represent good and evil.  There are some that claim that Zoroastrianism influenced Judaism and all other Monotheistic religions but a closer look at the actual tenets of that faith will reveal that it is in fact a polytheistic faith.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Problem of Evil and the Sovereignty of God, Part 1

The problem of evil in light of the sovereignty of God is one that has plagued the mind of sinful man for thousands of years.  Theologians have been debating this very question for a long time.  It is very likely that Adam had the very same thoughts as he and Eve were leaving the Garden of Eden.  If a question could be asked of God it would be; “Was He setting Adam up for failure?”  The idea that preachers of old have been teaching that when God said “it is very good” in reference to creation on the sixth day that meant that there was no sin and everything was great.  This raises the natural question; if God is sovereign and is omniscient and all powerful then why did He allow Satan in the garden knowing what he was going to do?  Did He not know that Satan was going to fall?  Did He hope that Adam would choose differently?  These questions speak to the heart of the human experience.  We need answer that makes sense, not pleasant platitudes that whitewash the problem but real answers. 
            James Danaher has this to say, “What theologians refer to as 'the problem of evil results from the fact that if God is all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful, and the sole creator of the universe, how should we explain the existence of evil? This creates what logicians call inconsistency. We can resolve the inconsistency by removing any one of the above-mentioned attributes of God.  If God were not all-good there would obviously be evil in the world because of the evil in the creator. Likewise, if God were not all-knowing he could have created a world, which he thought would be free of evil without knowing that evil would result from his creation. Equally, we could understand God to be less than all-powerful.”[1]
            Ron Highfield has this to say, “In theology old problems never die, and, unlike old soldiers, they rarely fade away for long. Instead, they return in fresh formulations accompanied by ingenious solutions written by a new-sprung generation of young theologians. The perennial problem of evil—between wars, episodes of genocide, plagues, battles with cancer, and that periodic migraine headache—recedes into the back of our consciousness. But when trouble crashes through the gates, we ask, "Why?" "Why me?" "Why anyone?" Suddenly, the old problem has become my problem, present, vivid, urgent, and anything but faded.”[2]
The voluminous amounts of answers that people have tried to give still have never really dealt with the problem of the existence of evil in the world today.  There are two issues with this problem of evil that needs to be defined.  The first one is the understanding of the term “Sovereignty of God.”  The second is the definition of good and evil.  To attempt to get a hold of this problem we need to break down the parts and look at it the right way.  When the word sovereignty is used in this blog it is will always be in the context and understanding of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving creator that not only created all things but also sustains all things. 
In relation the understanding of the definition of evil, there needs to be a clear line drawn.  Evil is the things that God hates.  There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19 NASB)  What this passage is saying is that what God hates is the very definition of evil.  From the beginning of evil in mankind it was a selfish rebellion from the law of God and a desire to be a god ourselves.  This character flaw has remained with mankind to this day.  John puts it this way, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16 NASB)  He is intimating that all sin has a root in one or more of these things.  We, mankind, have for too long looked at the problem of evil from a man centered creaturely perspective and not from a divine perspective, when you shift the focus from man to God then you can see it the right way.  In the need to really define what evil is we can look at what it is not.  Evil is not bad things that happen to me.  Evil is not people that do things that we think is not right.  Evil can only be defined from the perspective of the divine.  Evil is the opposite of good and good is defined as a characteristic of God, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (Psalm 137:1 NASB) 

[1] James Danaher, The Problem of Evil from a Gospel Perspective (Evangelical Review of Theology, April 2012 Volume 36 Issue 2) p 137
[2] Ron Highfield, The Problem with “The Problem of Evil”: A Response to Gregory Boyd’s Open Theist Solution (Restoration Quarterly 45 no 3 2003) p. 165