The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil


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Hundreds of books, broadsides, and novels were written about the problem of evil in the wake of the Lisbon event.

As might be expected, the Book of Job became the focus of many when commenting on the problem of evil. God is in charge, testing Job. In contrast to traditional religious explanations of the cause of the Great Lisbon Earthquake, a new form of explanation for natural disasters arose. It was the child of the newly minted intellectual stance we know as the Enlightenment. Conditions in nature were said to explain natural disasters.

The nature of evil: Reflections on an age-old question

The philosopher Leibniz seemed to suggest that we see disasters [evil] as part of a larger picture, that this is the best of all possible worlds and evil is simply part of it. Surely scientific explanations—tectonic shifts and the like—are sound and most helpful. But, seismology has not yet reached a stage where accurate predictability is routine. While seismological explanations are satisfying in many ways, they do not preclude even the most ardent naturalistic scientist from wondering, at another level, why these events are allowed to occur.

Thus, he joins the rest of humanity—educated and primitive—who still wonder why a loving God allows such evil to exist. Surely this question turns some who think about it into atheists. Yet, others reaffirm their belief, like Job, that it is ultimately their duty to trust God under any and all circumstances. Who, after all, can know the mind of the Creator of the universe?

Yet, the devastation in Lisbon was so great that age-old questions again came to the fore: Why would God allow suffering and evil in this world? About the Author Latest Posts. About L. John Van Til Dr. Truman - June 10, Is it in the Genes? Jason Edwards and Dr.


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He means that Adam, before the fall, has free will libertarian. In On Free Choice Augustine emphasizes,. If it cannot happen that when we will we do not will, then the will is present in the one who wills. And nothing else is in our power except what is present to us when we will. Our will, therefore, is not a will unless it is in our power.

Augustine's free will is a kind of self-determinist free will. Mozley comments,. The doctrine of freewill is that the cause of this decision is the will itself, and that the will has a power of self-determination inherent in it. He reminds us, "In the book De Libero Arbitrio , a freewill is indeed described which comes up to the above definition of it as original and self-determining.

Concerning the second use of "will" Augustine also talks about "good will" and "bad will" in his works.

The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil by John S. Feinberg

Here "will" means the moral disposition of the person and it can be judged ethically. In On Free Choice Augustine calls "a will by which we seek to live rightly and honorably and to come to the highest wisdom" as "a good will. Augustine emphasizes,. It would indeed be a strange thing so as to be neither good nor bad; for we either love righteousness, and then our will is a good one and if our love for it be greater or less, then our will is more or less good ; or else we do not love it at all, and in that case our will is not a good one.

Since therefore the will is either good or bad, and since of course we have not the bad will from God, it remains that we have of God a good will; ". O'Daly claims,. In the Confessions, begun some two years later, Augustine has already moved away from the notion of the will as an indifferent instrument, used for good or ill, to the concept of will as good or evil, depending upon the value of what is willed. This latter concept of a will that is morally determined represents Augustine's mature thought on the subject.

Augustine says,. It is clear that Augustine here is talking the decision-faculty of will. It is not the moral disposition of man. Based On Grace and Free Will , one of his latest works, O'Daly argues that the middle power of will is only its capacity for change.

The Problem of Evil: A Christian Response

He says,. The quoted verse in Throughout the same book Augustine uses Scripture to emphasize the existence of the faculty of free will:. Now He has revealed to us, through His Holy Scriptures, that there is in a man a free choice of will.

by Feinberg, John S

But how He has revealed this I do not recount in human language, but in divine. There is, to begin with, the fact that God's percepts themselves would be of no use to a man unless he had free choice of will, so that by performing them he might obtain the promised rewards.

The faculty of will is free but the disposition of man is dominated by evil and this disposition is needed to be transformed from evil to good. Throughout his life he upholds that the faculty of free will exists for all man. Freedom before and after the Fall. Next, we come to the meaning of "free. The other, for fallen man, is free because one will willingly. Man keeps the self-determining faculty of free-will but loses the freedom of choice of good. Berthold reminds us, "For Augustine voluntas is free by definition. For man before or after the fall, the free will is self-determining and thus free.

But fallen man is only free to sin.

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Mary Clark reminds us, "Without the distinction that Augustine made between human choice and human freedom arbitrium voluntatis and libertas , his doctrine of freedom would be incomprehensible. It is true that he would say that Adam was free and that we ourselves are free, but there is no reason to assume that we are free in the same sense as Adam before the Fall.

Indeed we are free in a quite different sense. In The Enchiridion Augustine emphasizes that "when man by his own free-will sinned, then sin being victorious over him, the freedom of his will was lost. Describing the fall, Augustine emphasizes that the will, for Adam, which is an intermediate good, can cling to immutable good or private good. If the will clings to immutable good, Adam can lead a happy life without evil.

It turns to its own private good when it desires to be its own master. This turning away [ aversio ] and turning toward [ conversio ] result to the just punishment of unhappiness, because they are committed, not under compulsion, but voluntarily. Adam falls voluntarily, by his self-determining free will libertarian , without contingently sufficiently non-subsequent conditions. Augustine also emphasizes that the first sin is Adam's evil will.

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Also in On Free Choice after he quotes 1 Tim. Therefore, a wicked will is the cause of all evil. Can they do anything by the free determination of their own will? Again I say, God forbid. For it was by the evil use of his free-will that man destroyed both it and himself. For, as a man who kills himself must, of course, be alive when he kills himself, but after he has killed himself ceases to live, and cannot restore himself to life; so, when man by his own free-will sinned, then sin being victorious over him, the freedom of his will was lost.

The true freedom to choose good is lost because of the fall. Fallen man can only free to sin. Berthold reminds us,. The quotation. Usually he insists that fallen men still possess free will. Whatever we choose, we choose freely.

The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil
The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil
The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil
The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil
The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil
The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil
The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil
The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil
The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil

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