Mark Dever on the Problem of Evil

How did a sinless angel in heaven fall? What is the origin of evil? How can God still be considered good if he has allowed so many terrible things to happen? etc….

These are just a few of the questions I have heard people ask Mark Dever over the past few years during some kind of Q&A at church or another event. And every time a question like this gets asked here has been Mark Dever’s response:

1. I do not know!

Every time I have heard Mark answer the question he begins by not answering the question. He simply affirms the difficulty and says that he has thought long and hard about this question for over 30 years and still has not found an answer that adequately answers all of his questions. In fact, Mark said the problem of evil was a major issue that kept him from becoming a Christian in his youth. Which leads to his next point.

2. I did not become a Christian because I had ALL my questions answered.

Dever explains that nobody becomes a Christian because they solved the problem of evil. People become Christians because they heard and received the gospel. There are a lot of things that we do NOT know, but everyday we live our lives according to the things that we DO know.

We DO know that there was a man named Jesus who lived on the earth. We DO know that he was crucified on a Roman cross. We DO know that he died and rose again. We DO know that he claimed that he was God. We DO know that the religious leaders of his day accused him of blasphemy for these claims. And on we could go, but there is a lot that we DO know. These truths are objective and historical.  These truths are the ones that are necessary for salvation.

But how does Dever trust this God if evil exists? How does he live as a Christian without an adequate answers to these questions?

3. It is the very nature of sin to not make sense.

The first thing Dever points out is that part of the reason this question is so difficult is because we are trying to make sense of sin. We are trying to make sense of why a morally perfect angel rebelled against a good and holy God, but sin does not make sense. And if we cannot make any rational sense of sin, then why would we expect to answer these questions about the problem of evil?

4. The Christian faith alone teaches that God came down and suffered evil.

The problem of evil is a problem for any worldview or religion. It is not just a Christian problem. However, the most important and central truth of Christianity is that our God humbled himself.  He became a man. He perfectly obeyed God’s laws and remained obedient to the will of the Father even to the point of death. Christians do not have a God who looks down on them and cannot sympathize with their sufferings. He has been tempted and suffered in every way that we have. In fact, many Christian theologians have argued that Jesus suffered the greatest of all suffering and worst of all temptations.

Does this mean I can trust this God? YES!!!

5. I can trust God like a little child trusts his father. 

There are plenty of times when children do not and cannot understand all the reasons why  parents do some of the things they do. Almost daily children are asked to trust their parents with a decision they have made that is truly for their good even when it does not seem good to them at the time. When children do decide to trust their parents they do so based on the good and loving character that they have seen time and time again.

Dever concludes with a word picture. Imagine a father and son walking in the dark. The child is afraid, confused, and cannot see where he is going. He does not understand why they are in such a scary place, but he does know that his dad is good and loves him. He does know that he can trust his daddy to protect him and look after him. So he reaches up his hand and holds the hand of his father. Daddy knows where he is going and even though the child doesn’t where he is going, he feels safe and secure in the hands of his Father.

Dever concludes:

I cannot answer all your questions about evil and suffering and unfortunately the reality of a sinful world is that all of us are going to be in dark valleys that we do not understand. In those moments, look to what you do know about the character of our good God. In those moments, look to the cross and see our God suffering for YOU! He is worthy of your trust. You can feel safe and secure by holding the Father’s hand.

Would you, by faith, reach out your hand and put your trust in him?

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