Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Theodicy means God’s Justice. And the question is how can a just God allow the existence of physical and moral evil?

If God is truly Sovereign and not even a sparrow can fall to the ground without his knowledge and consent, why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

Forgiveness is a necessity. How to forgive others. How to get over the past.

Forgiveness – a Sermon

Anger, bitterness and Unforgiveness can lead to health problems:

Unforgiveness is classified in medical books as a disease. According to Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, refusing to forgive makes people sick and keeps them that way.
With that in mind, forgiveness therapy is now being used to help treat diseases, such as cancer.
“It’s important to treat emotional wounds or disorders because they really can hinder someone’s reactions to the treatments, even someone’s willingness to pursue treatment,” Standiford explained.
Of all cancer patients, 61 percent have forgiveness issues, and of those, more than half are severe…
“Harboring these negative emotions, this anger and hatred, creates a state of chronic anxiety,” he said.
“Chronic anxiety very predictably produces excess adrenaline and cortisol, which deplete the production of natural killer cells, which is your body’s foot soldier in the fight against cancer,” he explained.
Feeling bitter interferes with the body’s hormonal and immune systems. Studies have shown that bitter, angry people have higher blood pressure and heart rate and are more likely to die of heart disease and other illnesses.

One of the hardest things is trying to forgive when we carry the offense for others. Abused children, e.g.

Forgiveness is an act of the will
We may not feel like forgiving, but Forgiveness is an act of the will, not of the emotions. It is a decision. We decide to obey Jesus and forgive and our emotions get cleaned up afterwards. We will never feel like forgiving beforehand.

Matthew 18:21-35 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

The Word Translated as Jailer: Strong’s 991 βασανιστής (basanistēs), οῦ (ou), ὁ (ho): n.masc.; ≡ Str 930; TDNT 1.561—LN 37.126 prison guard, torturer, jailer who tortures (Mt 18:34+)

There is a difference between forgiving people and forgiving their sins (what they have done to you or to someone else).

My Story
Kicked out of church… forgave the people, but bitterness remained..
Forgive the sins against me. Caused release.

John 20:23 he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Dealing with Abuse: Excusing vs forgiving.

1. Recognize the offense as a sin against you
2. Anger is necessary and appropriate response to violation. Forgiveness should end in reconciliation, not just avoiding Agape Love is learning to love others with their faults.

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Eph 4:26-27

Forgiveness is NOT reconciliation.
Forgiveness does not mean trust is reestablished unless the behavior changes.
Forgiveness does not depend upon their apology or recognition of wrong. Forgiveness is for YOUR sake. Reconciliation requires the other party to recognize their wrong and ask for forgiveness.

Matthew 18:15-18 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Some Forgiveness requires a daily repetition and does not always end in reconciliation. It takes two to live in peace.

Romans 12:16-21 “Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

1 John 5:19 “We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one.”

Samson Agonistes – The Donald

“If I had my way, I would tear this whole building down.” – Samson and Delilah – Bob Weir, The Grateful Dead I don’t know if God has appointed Donald Trump to win the presidency. I know he is making a lot of people mad, but I see a lot of similarities to the Story of Samson from The Judges. Donald is impulsive, immature, self-centered, vengeful… He has a weakness for women… It is all about the hair… Everyone is afraid he is offending someone and the powers that be (media, the Republican Establishment, etc.), but he don’t care. We are being ruled by Philistines (Political parties that can’t do or fix anything, plus a judiciary that makes up rules as they go). And he may be being used to “tear this whole building down.” Judges 14:1-4 Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. Then he came up, and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of … Read more…

Times, They Are a’Changing

Having struggled with Drupal updates and security issues for many years, we have decided to move The Scholars Corner over to a WordPress installation.  Since the Forums have generated almost no activity, we are eliminating them.  However, since commenting is easier, we expect conversations to continue.  Please bear with us as we re-establish pages and links. Hopefully we will be able to clean the site up and make things easier to navigate. We expect this transition to be complete within a few weeks.   This post will update as we make progress. We have transferred over all approved members from the old site, but you will need to update your passwords to gain access.

Book Review: The Jewish Gospel of John

Book Review: The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel  by Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg    Shows Samaritans as a primary audience for the the Evangelist’s outreach. Uncovering the political meaning of the word Judean (Jew) as representative of the ruling class, not of the entire Jewish people. 

Paul, Called to Be an Apostle – Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1: 1-14 Acts 9: 1-19 , August 10, 1986 Sermon no. 92, Jefferis Kent Peterson According to Plan Today, we are beginning a study of the grand and glorious letter of Paul to the Ephesians.  It is a  letter that is different from the other epistles of Paul.  Not written to deal with problems or disputes in a specific congregation, as is the case with most of his other letters, this letter is a theological treatise, and it has a theme that is broad in scope and wide in purpose.  The letter has to do with God’s eternal plan of salvation for the whole world.  And it brings the news that God has done something new for the benefit of heaven and earth in Jesus, the Anointed One.  In Jesus the Anointed, he has given the world peace.  This letter’s purpose is to announce this peace, which God has  planned  from the beginning of the world.  And to the wonder of it all, Paul proclaims the unbelievable good news that God is establishing this peace with us in spite of our resistance to his will! Paul begins to reveal this theme of God’s peace with the very first verse, when … Read more…

Replacing Scalia, the Politics of Justice and The Role of the Supreme Court

To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions would be very dangerous doctrine indeed and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy… The Constitution has erected no such tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with corruption of time and party, its members would become despots. – Thomas Jefferson Letter To William Charles Jarvis. Monticello, September 28, 1820.

When words no longer mean what they mean, the Constitution becomes a Rorschach splotch, where justices can read anything into it they want to see and read out of it anything they want to see changed. My point here, though, is not to argue for an originalist interpretation, which I clearly support, but to point out how the Court’s role has veered from that intended by the Founders.

Dante’s Inferno, Pedophilia, and the Catholic Church

Dante’s Inferno is a picture of hell with 9 levels, each with greater punishments for sins committed on the earth. Dante was not afraid to place in hell Cardinals, Bishops, and Popes. Dante’s point was that corruption in the Roman Catholic Church by its leaders was just as worthy of punishment, if not more so, as sinful deeds done by pagans and government leaders. His political activity was not admired by all, but his writing exposed the abuse of power by Popes and church leaders. We hear today that Pope Francis is engaged in a similar battle, facing much entrenched opposition to his attempts to cleanse the church of its sins. This week I met an artist, Butch Casanova, who invited me to his home. There I saw a work of art that reminded me of Dante’s Divine Comedy. He was disgusted by the corruption exposed in the pedophilia scandals that rocked the Roman Church. And putting brush to canvas, he created a great allegory of the cover up by  Bernard Cardinal Law of Boston. He tried to have this work displayed through the Boston media, but at that time, no one would touch it because Bernard Law was feared and so powerful. He has … Read more…

The Quartet: A Review

What if the Constitution Had Not Compromised on Slavery?

The Quartet: Orchestrating The Second American Revolution, 1783-1789, by Joseph J. Ellis. 

Slavery would have lasted much longer…. 

God, Time, and Foreknowledge – How Can God Know the Future?

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity measures time by the speed of light, but the experience of time changes relative to gravity and to the speed of light. In other words, time is not a constant .  For someone traveling at the speed of light, one day is thousands of years on earth. So for God, creating in One Day is not a problem. It is only a problem for the limited human who tries to measure God’s day from his miniature, finite frame of reference, and then insists that God has to do Creation in a way that he understands and which conforms to his human experience of time. Time is Finite, a Created and Limited Dimension God is infinite not finite. He has no beginning and no end. He is before Time and after it. Our Time is finite. Our Time began with the “Big Bang” and the creation of material light.  Anything that is finite must be a created thing. It has a beginning and an end, and it has limits. Science is the study of the created order, and as such, gives us insight into the glory of God clearly seen in the things that have been made. … Read more…