Does the presence of evil in the world mean that God wills it? This and several other very important questions will be tackled by C.S. Lewis in today’s episode. Jack looks at humanity’s attempt to be happy with “something other than God”, as well as God’s initiatives to call mankind back to Himself.
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Episode 10: “The Shocking Alternative” (Download)
— Show Notes —
• This episode we were finishing off our bottles of Shock Top.
• How is it that evil is present in the world? Surely either God wills it or he is not all-powerful? Well, Jack says that anyone who has held a position of authority over others will see the resolution of this dilemma. As soon as you make something optional, you open the door to the possibility that nobody will do that optional task.
• Lewis says he can’t imagine a creature which had free will but who also had no possibility of going wrong. Both Matt and I agree.
• Free will is the only thing which makes love possible. Was this trade-off worth it? Jack thinks so and, more importantly, so did God!
• “Every Christian wants to serve God, it’s just that most only want to serve Him in an advisory capacity”
• Did God mess up making us, given our tremendous capacity for evil? Lewis makes the point that the greater something is, the greater its capacity for good and evil.
• What caused Satan to go wrong? Jack suggests that he tried to put himself ahead of God. This is what he taught humanity to do as well and it has been the source of much of the suffering in the world.
• I mentioned Jennifer Fulweiler‘s book, Something other than God, which details her conversion from atheism to Catholicism. Matt casually said that he hung out with her at a Notre Dame football game a few weeks ago…but then abandoned her to go tailgating! #BadMatt He is clearly trying to one-up me after I (very humbly) mentioned in our episodes on the Preface that I had met the Preacher to the Papal Household, Raniero Cantalamessa.
• The happiness God intends for us is inseparable from God Himself. It is like trying to get a car to run on something other than gas/petrol. St. Augustine of Hippo wrote in his Confessions: “You made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts will wander restless until we rest in You”. This is also the sign-off used in my other podcast, The Restless Heart.
• What has been God’s response to our attempts to alienate ourselves from Him?
1. He gave us conscience
2. He sent us “good dreams”, stories scattered throughout other religions which speak of a god dying and coming back to life in some way, preparing us for and pointing us towards Jesus.
3. He chose and formed Israel, who was called to point the other nations towards God and to welcome the Messiah when He came.
• It’s popular to say that Jesus never claimed divinity. Lewis shows that this isn’t reasonable, particularly given what Jesus said and did within the framework of monotheistic Judaism. Jack notes one often-overlooked aspect of Jesus’ ministry – He claimed to forgive sins as though He was the one chiefly offended by the sin. I compared this to Psalm 50/51 where David speaks of his sin against Bathsheba and her husband:
“Against thee [God], thee only, have I sinned,
and done that which is evil in thy sight,
so that thou art justified in thy sentence
and blameless in thy judgment” – Psalm 51:4
• Matt reminded us that when someone sins against us, we should really desire their reconciliation with God even more than reconciliation with ourselves.
• It’s also popular these days to reduce Jesus to a just a great moral teacher. However, Lewis points out that this is not a viable option. He then presents one of his most famous arguments, the trilemma. Jesus is either liar, lunatic or Lord.