Is the Christian God bad or good?
the evil -
But what is this evil?
In the occidental tradition of Judaism and Christianity, evil is understood as a countervailing power to good and thus also to God himself. At first glance, it appears to be a competing, equal principle alongside the good. The famous formula of the "Mysterium tremendum et fascinans", which the religious scholar Rudolf Otto originally found for the experience of the sacred, certainly also applies to evil: It makes us tremble ("tremendum") and fearful, it captivates and fascinates ( "Fascinans") but also.
At second glance, however, the situation is different: Since God is the creator of all creation according to Judeo-Christian tradition, evil and the personification of evil, called Satan or the devil in the Bible, must also be subordinate to him as creatures. Although the devil appears in the Old and New Testament as an adversary and adversary of God - for example in the prologue of the Book of Job (Job 1,6-12) or in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Mt 4,1-11), it must also He as a creature of God (in Job 1,7 he is referred to as one of the "sons of God") submit to the divine plan of salvation. So God is the ruler over both evil and evil. If God is now good and omnipotent, the question arises why he allows evil in his world and gives it space and shape. This fundamental inquiry about the state of creation and the nature of its creator is called "theodicy" in theology (-> theodicy).
So why does God leave room for evil in his creation? A classic answer to this so-called theodicy question can already be found in the Bible (Gen 3): God wants to give people the freedom to act either according to or against God's instructions. The authors of the book of Genesis dress this truth in the myth of the Fall, in which God forbids Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. But they do it anyway because they want to know what is good and what is bad. By breaking the divine commandment, they recognize evil, but only because they themselves carry it into creation. From now on, good and evil compete for the allegiance of man, the struggle of God and the devil for man and his salvation is shown in creation. Nevertheless, God remains the sovereign in this struggle, because the possibility of evil through the temptation of personified evil is a work of God who wants to give people freedom of decision.
The Church Father Augustine (354-430), in his interpretation of the myth of the Fall of Man, which has shaped the Christian understanding to this day, transferred the structure of the 'original sin' of Adam and Eve to everyday human actions: Evil arises everywhere, says Augustine, where People do not orientate themselves towards God and the good, but rather “bend” towards themselves and their inclinations (“incurvatio in se ipsum”). Where people lose sight of God - for Augustine this is the real “sin” from which evil first arises - there is the danger that they will vote for evil in their freedom and thus give it space in the world.
But this only answers one aspect of the theodicy question, namely that of the origin and meaning of evil that arises from human freedom (the so-called “Malum morale” -> theodicy). But what about the evil that we obviously find and experience in creation (the so-called “Malum physicum” -> theodicy): Why does God allow evil in the form of natural disasters, epidemics and innocent accidents?
One explanation of this natural evil is the idea that this evil arises as an unavoidable consequence of the regularity of the laws of nature, the course of which is subject to creation and from which humans generally benefit in shaping their lives and reality. In this respect, this form of evil is actually not basically “bad” or “negative”, but in a context for certain people only “less good” than other “good” events or constellations. Since Augustine this model has been called “privatio” (Latin literally “robbery”), classically translated as lack. So the evil in creation is just a lack of good. Since Lessing, this deficiency has been referred to as “malum metaphysicum”, ie as an evil that acts over (Greek “meta-”) the whole of reality (Greek “physika”).
Anyone who experiences evil, be it as a result of the actions of other people, as physical suffering or through a constellation in their own life that is experienced as harmful and painful, however, theoretical models of a philosophical or theological nature will be of little consolation. Perhaps, however, exemplary figures in the texts of the Bible can give an idea and suggestion of what it means to endure evil without doubting the goodness of God. Just like Job in the dust and Jesus of Nazareth on the cross.
Author (s): Clauß Peter Sajak
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