Sunday, April 10, 2016

Batman vs. Superman and the Problem of Evil

So I saw Batman vs. Superman last night.

This not a review of the movie (although if you can handle some violence, a lot of things blowing up and can keep your eyes away at a few spots than you’ll be set), but it is one that addressed some very important philosophical and spiritual questions involving the character of God. In the movie Lex Luther equates Superman to God and addresses the age-old question “Is God all-powerful or is He all good?” Lex’s conclusion is that He can’t be both and so he’s on a mission to kill him.

So is God all-powerful or good? The conclusion for many like Lex Luther is that He cannot be both, therefore if He is all-powerful and not good we should hate Him, but if He’s good and not all-powerful than we don’t have reason to worship Him, can’t trust Him to help us, and can kill Him. What is the answer to this? Is God one or the other? The answer is fairly simple, but yet complex at the same time.  

God is both

God is all-powerful – if He was not, He would not be God. God is also good – infinitely, perfectly good. Meaning, He is perfect. The problem is that we don’t really understand what this means. God’s goodness means that He hates the opposite of good, but if that’s true we wonder why He allows all the evil in the world. The problem we don’t see is that evil is not just outside of us, it’s inside of us. Paul Washer explains that God’s goodness is actually most terrifying thing you will ever encounter, because we are not good (see clip below).

In Romans 3 Paul asks if God is unjust for inflicting His wrath. The answer of is “certainly not”, for “there is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God…” (Romans 3:10-11). If God in His perfect goodness were to wipe out evil He’d also have to wipe all us out too! Thankfully, God’s goodness also means that He is longsuffering AND that He has sought to rescue us from the evil within us – but He has to do this in a way that His perfection is not compromised. He did this by sending Jesus to die in our place, to conquer sin and death and defeat it in His resurrection. It has been said that at the cross love and justice kissed, that on Calvary God’s goodness (that is His holiness and mercy) was both demonstrated and satisfied. Thinking about this nearly makes me want to weep, because I have seen into my heart. I don’t know the depths of the evil that lingers there, but I know I don’t measure up to God’s perfect goodness and in His goodness He cannot have me in His presence. But having trusted in Christ and repented of sin I am placed into Christ, and now when God looks at me He sees Jesus in HIS perfect goodness.

God is all-powerful and we ought to worship Him, God is all-good and we ought to fear and tremble and cry out for mercy! In Christ we receive that mercy, but only if we are willing to humble ourselves and believe our need and His provision.

This is extremely important in counseling because often people are struggling with suffering of some kind and wonder why God isn’t doing anything. They need to see God as present in their suffering and that He has a purpose beyond what they can see. Even when bad things happen they have a God who laid down His life for them and who will redeem even the darkest moments. It’s interesting to note that even this movie has a redemptive theme. In a sense Superman (“God”) kills the monster (referred to at one point as the Devil) but in the process has to lay down his life for others. Also implied at the end of the movie is that Superman doesn’t stay dead – he’s going to come back! How interesting! A reminder for us that God will win even when it looks like all is lost! There is hope, sin and suffering will not have the last word.

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