Defending Your Faith 101: The Question of Evil…

Most of our troubles are due to the fact that we are guilty of a double failure; we fail on the one hand to realize the depth of sin, and on the other hand we fail to realize the greatness and height and the glory of our salvation.”

-D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Last week we looked at two choices we can make when we have doubts and fears: 1) We can walk through them with God, or 2) we can turn away from God and face them on our own. We contrasted these choices as they were made by Charles Templeton and Billy Graham and found that if we go the distance with God like Graham did, He will be faithful to sustain us. Templeton on the other hand, walked away from God and in the end “missed Jesus.”

One of Templeton’s main objections to God’s existence was the presence of evil in the world. Former atheist C.S. Lewis became one of the greatest Christian Apologists and authors of the twentieth century, he too cited the problem of evil as his main objection against the existence of God until he realized that he could only distinguish evil if there was a standard of good to measure it by. He realized that the only standard possible would have to be an all-perfect, all-loving, and all-powerful creator—God.

Many of our top Christian Apologists today have come from similar journeys: Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel and J. Warner Wallace to name a few. They all were Atheists at one time, but the difference for them was their willingness to search for truth by following the evidence to wherever it led. The evidence for God’s existence is overwhelming, but even as believers we still struggle with the question of evil.

As an atheist my argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crocked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?

-C.S. Lewis

Evil, why does it exist?

Many people believe that there is no good answer for this question, others blame God, and even worse some deny a loving creator God exists because of evil. However, it is only Christianity that can offer a solution to the problem of evil, and Christianity is the only worldview that can give concrete historical and spiritual reasons for the presence of evil. All of the other worldviews fall short, and in the end can only complain, or pretend that evil doesn’t exist.

According to Webster’s dictionary evil is defined as: “The fact of suffering, misfortune, and wrongdoing; something that brings sorrow, distress, or calamity.”

In Christian thought evil is looked at as the absence of good, or the privation of good, just as dark is defined in regards to the absence of light. We often look at our world and exclaim, “Things are not the way they are suppose to be!”  Evil is a corruption of the good, and evil arises from the misuse of the will. Evil is not a thing even though we often attribute it to a person, or an object, or an act of nature.

Dr. Clay Jones, Professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, has spent a good portion of his career researching and writing on the problem of evil. His recent book, “Why Does God Allow Evil?” is a culmination of some twenty-three years of observation and research on his part and is well worth the read. In his book Jones identifies nine reasons people tend to struggle with understanding the concept of the existence of evil:

  1. Many people are spiritually unreflective—they do not spend time meditating on Scripture.
  2. Most people fail to understand the depth of human depravity—even Christians fall into the, “I’m a good person” mentality, but this is the opposite of Biblical teaching.
  3. Some people are simply arrogant—they hold their own opinions higher than Scripture.
  4. Many people are ignorant of Christian doctrine—they don’t understand that the problem of evil encompasses most of Christianity’s history and teachings.
  5. Many people misunderstand Job (the Biblical book and character)—there are many clues and answers in that book to the problem of evil.
  6. Some people really don’t want the problem of evil answered—they hold a grudge against God, and this is especially true in the atheist’s worldview.
  7. Some people hold to “determinism”—that God has determined every creature’s every thought and deed so that they could never do otherwise, but that would nullify God’s gift of freewill.
  8. Most people fail to understand the nature and value of freewill—without freewill real love, relationship, and intimacy is not possible.
  9. Most people fail to understand the glory that awaits Christians forever in Heaven—we tend to live life shortsighted, but for those with a healthy excitement about the afterlife, the problem of evil is not so much of a problem.

Watch Dr. Jones’ presentation on this topic at a recent Apologetics’ conference:

Evil does exist in our world for several reasons: 1) The value of freewill; 2) The significance of the “Fall” and its effects; 3) Satan and his minions cause significant harm (spiritual warfare).

Join us next week as we will look a little further at these reasons for evil.

Going Deeper:

Get the book:  “Why Does God Allow Evil?” by Dr. Clay Jones


  1. Define evil in your own words.
  2. From the list of nine thoughts on why people don’t understand the concept of evil, reflect on one or more by giving examples from your own experience, or that expressed by another.
  3. Prayer focus: God’s goodness, mercy, grace, and justice


You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in!  Join us as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.

Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.

Please let me know what you think: Give feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.

Teri Dugan

1 Peter 3:15

2 Responses to Defending Your Faith 101: The Question of Evil…

  1. When I tell Christians that I believe that it is it is wrong and foolish to believe any truth claim “by faith”, they complain. “You obviously don’t understand the word ‘faith’,” they retort. “We all use faith in many areas of our lives.”

    A typical evangelical Christian’s definition of “faith”: ” Faith is trust based on past performance. It is faith in a person, not so much the claims about that person. It is based on personal knowledge of that person gained by personal experience.”

    Same evangelical Christian’s response to this question: Is faith a gift from God as the Apostle Paul claims in his Epistle to the Ephesians?

    “Yes. The faith that leads us to personally grasp hold of the promises God made to us in Christ Jesus is something that is given to us.”

    Gary: So if we combine these two statements we have this: “Faith is trust based on personal knowledge about someone (or some thing); a personal knowledge that is given to us as a gift from God.”

    Isn’t this statement saying that it is impossible to believe in Jesus as one’s god unless Jesus has gifted you the knowledge (about him) to believe? If that is true, what is the point of Christian apologetics? If only God can flip the switch in the human heart (brain) to believe, why do Christian apologists go to such lengths to debate evidence in an effort to convert skeptical non-believers? Why do Christian apologists accuse skeptics of being biased against “good” evidence, when what they really believe is that no amount of good evidence will ever convince the skeptic to believe in Jesus as his or her Savior? If faith is truly a gift from God, debating evidence is pointless.

    So why do Christian apologists persist in doing it?

    • Hi Gary,
      You have taken liberty in this comment by creating your own scenario with Christians and incorrectly tapping into a “Calvinist” view. Christian Apologetics is important, not only for evangelism, but for pre-evangelism. Christian Apologetics strengthens one’s own beliefs and confidence in that what we believe to be true matches reality. Christian Apologetics is also important in today’s culture where one must clear the “weeds” of the various philosophies presented in secular education. Christians “persist” in practicing Apologetics because we are called to. There are at least eight places in the New Testament where the word is used (from the Greek: Apologia). 1 Peter 3:15 is the call for all Christians to give an answer for the hope that we have in Christ Jesus. Finally, Apologetics was practiced by Jesus Himself (He gave proof/evidence through His miracles for who He was and what He came to do); and it was practiced by His disciples and martyrs of the faith then as it is still today. This is why we do it!