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As of late, I have experienced and encountered many evil doings in my youth ministry, namely death, student getting hit by a car, student getting cancer, student drug addictions, student sex parties, and many brutal broken family systems.

Does God, in a timeless fashion, interact and live among us?

As of late, I have experienced and encountered many evil doings in my youth ministry, namely death, student getting hit by a car, student getting cancer, student drug addictions, student sex parties, and many brutal broken family systems.
I have been living with these questions of: Can all of these evil doings be a part of God’s specific plan? What is my theological and pastoral response to these evil situations? How do I speak truth to these horrible situations?

It is my goal as a youth pastor to intersect theology and spirituality with reality. I do not want to communicate timeless Biblical truths that do not land and cannot be translated into a students’ everyday life. I want a theology that makes logical, practical, theological, and philosophical “sense.”

Here is what I believe the Holy Spirit is directing me in how to respond to these evil situations:

God moves in the temporal. God essentially lives and interacts with us. God in time acknowledges that He moves in the physical (time measured by planet rotation), and in the conventional (calendar time and clock time). The view of God as timelessly eternal was developed by Boethius and is still influential today among theologians and philosophers. God needs to experience life with us so He can relate to us and work through us in the midst of suffering.

For example, Augustine, the first real Calvinistic, forced himself not to experience large amounts of emotional affliction when his best friend and mother died. Augustine felt as though one, especially God, need to be detached, and not attached, from any feeling or emotional expression.

Essentially, I am rejecting the doctrine of Divine simplicity and suggesting the doctrine of Divine timelessness. I am arguing that God is not as simple as we think. Biblical writers illustrate and suggest God as living, interacting, and responding in and out of time. What do you think God was doing before He created the Heavens and Earth? Understanding God as timeless indicates God can and should be relational and comfort us in the act of evil.

The suggestion that God has a “higher reason” for allowing a student to get hit by a car is insulting to the student who experienced the horrible car accident as well as to the character of God.

Ivan in Dostoyevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov states: “I renounces that it’s not worth the tears of one person experiencing suffering. Any design that intentionally includes the suffering of innocent children for a “greater purpose” is intrinsically immoral, and therefore we are obligated to reject it.”

I would deeply encourage any feedback on what the Lord is telling me.

Bibliography
Baird. Forest & Daufmann, Walter. Philosophy Classics: From Plato to Nietzsche (2nd edition). Prentice Hall, 1997. Pp 307-09.

Boyd, Greg. Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy. Intervarsity Press, 2001.

Kaufmann, Walter. Religion from Tolstoy to Camus. New York: Harper & Row, 1961, pp. 137-44.

Pinnock et all. The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, Illinois, 1994.

Padgett, G. God, Eternity and the Nature of Time. New York: St. martin’s Press, 1992.

Scott, M. The Morality of Theodicies. RelS 32 (1996): 1-13.

Stump Eleonore & Kretzmann, Norman. The Cambridge Companion to Augustine. Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Surin, Kenneth. Theology and the Problem of Evil. Oxford; Blackwell, 1986.

Tilley, Terrence. The Evils of Theodicy. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1990.

Wolterstorff, Nicholas. “Suffering Love,” Philosophy and the Christian Faith. University of Notre Dame, 1988.

Zach, Jeremy. Holy Spirit Revealed. February, 24th, 2007.

About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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