Tag Archive: evil

It is not uncommon for people to ponder the question of whether there can be good without bad or evil. Considering the fact that both good and bad obviously exist, it is almost begging the question. Theoretically though, if bad and difficult times did not exist, there would be no perception of good because good would have no qualification. There would simply be existence.

With that said, I do not think “would there be good without bad?” is the correct question. It certainly has no discernible answer. I think the proper question would be: without bad, would we have any appreciation for what we received or the life we lived? If there were no pain, would we know when we felt good?

The plumbing backed up in our home a few weeks ago. We have a home warranty, but the plumber could not come out until the next day. We soaked up water with towels, ringing them out as best we could. We were not sure we could run the washing machine without acerbating the situation. We lit scented candles and sprayed air freshener in an attempt to override the stench of sewage. The attempt was only partially successfully.

A couple of weeks ago the heater went out and we were without heat from sometime in the early morning on Monday until Tuesday evening. We had two space heaters, but in a two- story home they were not all that effective. Naturally, the temperature dropped to freezing overnight. Cyndy and I both work at home so there was no choice for us but to bear the uncomfortable situation. However, while we were forced to bear the situation, there was no grinning to speak of.

When the plumber left weeks ago, with everything flushing or draining, we felt relief, even though the stench took a little longer to get rid of. We relaxed as the tenseness of waiting for the plumber to arrive dissipated and the problem was rectified. The feeling returned when the heater technician left a week or so later. With the addition of the anticipation of warmth.

As Joni Mitchell said, “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.” But what about when it comes back? When the power goes out, the plumbing backs up, or the heater or air conditioner stops working, one begins to appreciate things working when the switch is flipped, the toilet flushes, and the A/C cycles on. Knowing that at any given moment, something may stop working – causing inconvenience and added expense. The principle does not only apply to utilities, of course.

Whether I had a toothache, fractured jaw, gash in my knee, broken heel, or even an end of a relationship (of any kind), I embraced – in a manner of speaking – the pain or inconvenience. Not the misery, but the situation as it is presented. With a toothache, if the tooth is not abscessed, I put off going to the dentist. Not only because I am not fond of dentist’s offices, but also because by living with the pain for a time helps me to appreciate the times I do not hurt – and I know how much better I will feel when the situation is remedied. It did not help when the injuries coincided with times of financial deficit and conflicting schedules.

To put it another way, I am an optimistic realist. I hope for the best, but am prepared for the worst. Difficult or painful times are part of life. There is no reason to get worked up about it – it is no one person’s fault and getting upset will not change the outcome. I did not enjoy the toothache. But I had the comfort of knowing the dentist was there to ease the pain at some point.

Then there are painful times when relief cannot be seen on the horizon. A family member or close friend dies or is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Or one any of a number of calamities occurs. In those moments it is hard not to get worked up about the situation or be upset. The answers are not as clear. The problem cannot be fixed with a single visit when you are tired of the pain. The pain – physical or emotional – seems endless.

Whether or not good could exist without bad, the fact remains that both do exist. Evil can be seen rearing its head in daily life. It affects us in many ways. Fortunately, God also exists and is stronger than the worst evil. We are human, with free will. There will still be illness, death, and other forms of serious pain. But God, with his grace, will help us get through any circumstance and quiet the fear within us. When God helps us through a time of pain, we have a greater appreciation for his grace and the times when life is good.

Peace be with you.

Beyond Opinion,” edited by Ravi Zacharias and published by Thomas Nelson, is a book for anyone who writes apologetics, enjoys reading apologetics, wants to know what apologetics are all about, or someone who would like to have answers when asked about their faith in everyday life. It is not a book that will be read in one setting. It took me longer to read than most books I review. Fortunately, I found I was not alone, according to reviews by fellow reviewers, Angie Boy and Christian Salafia.

“Beyond Opinion” is a book to be read, re-read, and savored, mentally devouring each delectable morsel – made up of theology and reason. Each of a number of today’s leading apologists, including Zacharias himself, takes on a different aspect or topic of apologetics. Though each chapter stands on it own, it is also a unique part of the cohesive whole.

As is noted in the marketing copy, “Beyond Opinion” is Zacharias’ response to the question posed to him by a Hindu friend. “If this conversion is truly supernatural, why is it not more evident in the lives of so many Christians that I know?” To achieve his objective – an apologetic to enable Christians to be theologically informed enough to answer the tough questions in such a way as to persuade rather than argue – he asked the leading apologists, working with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), to write on the different challenges to the Christian faith.

“Beyond Opinion” is not only a relevant and useful apologetic compendium, it may also be used as a topical apologetic in particular situations. Beginning with the postmodern challenges to the Bible, part one also addresses the other most common challenges such as atheism, youth, Islam, eastern religions, and science. For those wanting to delve further into apologetics and theology in order to be equipped to ” simultaneously defend the faith and be transformed into a person of compassion,” section two of part one digs deeper by addressing conversational apologetics, broader cultural and philosophical challenges, the existential challenges of evil and suffering, and cross-cultural challenges.

Part two seeks to internalize the questions and answers acquired by venturing into the Trinity as a paradigm for Spiritual Transformation, the role of doubt and persecution in spiritual transformation, and idolatry, denial, and self-deception – hearts on pilgrimage. Zacharias rounds out the tome expounding on the church’s role in apologetics and the development of the mind.

Unfortunately, space does not permit in a short review a discussion of the theological points so eloquently stated in the book. And where would one begin? Or end, for that matter. It is better that you read it for yourself in its entirety (albeit not all at once). Your faith will become stronger and you will become spiritually assured. More importantly, the next time you find yourself in a conversation about your faith in a public setting, you will be able to respond knowledgeably and in a manner aimed more toward “winning people rather than arguments.”

Peace be with you.

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