A friend of mine was recently telling me about some discussions taking place in a small group that he leads. This summer his inquisitive small group participants have been asking questions related to how a good God could allow evil and suffering. The amazing thing is that my friend, Brian Cole, is a youth pastor! These questions are being asked by students living in the world of twerking, social media, and the iPad. Children, teenagers, and adults who follow Jesus will all face this issue, regardless of what church they are a part of or what denomination that church is affiliated with. It’s part of living in a fallen world. How can we believe God is good when 227,898 people die a day after Christmas in 2004’s deadly tsunami? How can we reconcile our belief in a loving God when there are upwards to 27 million human slaves? What do we say when we are faced with the reality of child sex trafficking? How is God sovereign over creation and human choice?
If we’re honest, theologians have offered a number of solutions to God’s sovereignty and the “problem” of evil. Before I make a proposal concerning how we should understand this antinomy, I want to remind our readers that Christians do not differ on this issue in the same way that we differ with atheists and agnostics. It is a common argument amongst skeptics to point to the existence of evil as one of the reasons to deny the existence of the good and loving God that Christians worship (cf. J. L. Mackie’s The Miracle of Theism). Able, Kenny, and myself all agree that God exists and that he is holy, good, and loving. We also all agree that God is sovereign. Therefore, what follows is simply how I reconcile what I read in Scripture in relation to the question, how is God sovereign over human choices, especially when people do stupid, evil acts?