Lent III

A number of years ago I got to teach a class on the Problem of Evil. If you are not familiar with this philosophical issue, you really should be. Here is a link to the Stanford encyclopedia of Philosophy article: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evil/. The preacher wants to know about this issue because it is gaining some traction, particularly among thoughtful young people who attend church. It is driving some of them out of the church.

The Bible has several instances in which it treats this question. It does so because the issue was also floating around in the times of the biblical authors. Our best articulation of it in the ancient world was the Greek philosopher Epicurus. It was in the culture then too. On the positive side, Epicurus probably helped the mission work of Paul. He broke the bonds many people had with the pagan gods of Greece and Rome, leaving them hungry for another message.

The Gospel reading this week is one of the places in which this idea comes up. Jesus is asked about the death of some on whom the tower of Siloam fell and then he brings up some whose blood had been mixed with their sacrifices. They had been killed in the very act of worship. Jesus’ response is that we should not be shocked or surprised that some have such misfortunes fall upon them. Rather, our shock should be that we do not all have such things happen to us. It is an occasion to proclaim the patience of God, which he does in a little parable about an unproductive fig tree and a gardener who gives it another year.

It preaches well.

Scroll to Top