Does God Allow Evil?

The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” –Genesis 15:1

Dear members and friends of the Swedenborgian Church,

One day, my seven-year-old daughter came to me with a very serious look on her face and asked, “Is everything done by the will of God?” As a father of two children, I did not jump right into answering the question. Instead, I asked her, “Why are you asking?” She frowned and took a few moments to think before explaining. It had suddenly occurred to her that there are many bad things happening in the world. And if everything is done by the will of God, those bad things are also done by God! Now she is deeply troubled why an all-loving God could will bad things in the world. This gave me a perfect opportunity to speak with her about loving God, freedom of choice, and the consequences of our choices and actions which influence and affect one another.

One way to understand divine providence can be that all things are done by the will of God. Yet, if follow this understanding, then we cannot escape the dilemma that the existence of evil and hell can also be done by the will of God. However, if you were to believe that evil and hell came into being against the will of God, this does not make the matter any easier; now you are facing another dilemma that God may not be omnipotent, and consequently God may not really be in control of the whole universe. The heart of the problem in this kind of logic is that we are trying to clarify these matters based on what is acceptable and comprehensible to the minds of humans. In other words, all things including who God is and God’s omnipotence have to be defined by minds of humans in order to be validated, which is quite self-centered and absurd. The omnipotence of God does not mean that God can do everything in the way God prefers, just like true freedom to a person does not mean s/he would do everything as one’s heart desires. Omnipotence of God means that God is the source of all power that provides for and nurtures all things that exist and are alive.

Love is indeed the essence of God Creator. What it means is that divine providence always works in the way of true love. And, the truest love is nothing but wanting to give all that is mine to others and to feel the joy of others as my own.

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee