Ravi Zacharias has spent the past 48 years commending the Christian faith and addressing life’s great existential questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny with eloquence and grace.
Apologist Ravi Zacharias died this morning, two months after he announced he had been diagnosed with cancer. He was 74. Deeply saddened, we honour his remarkable life and ministry by reliving this outstanding interview recorded with him a few short years ago.
He preached in more than 70 countries and authored more than 30 books in his 48-year career, teaching Christians to engage with skeptics and arguing that the Christian worldview has robust answers to humanity’s existential questions.
In his final video on100 Huntley Street, he talks with Carey Nieuwhof about suffering and evil and what the secular philosophers call a “trilemma”.
“God does not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquers through evil, suffering, and pain, making you the person He intended you to be through that.” -#RaviZacharias
The Christians believe God is all Powerful. The Christians believe God is all-loving. And yet the Christians also know that there is suffering. This is incongruous!
How can an all-powerful and all-loving God, sit back and watch evil and suffering go on in the world? Therefore, the secular philosophers call this a trilemma or “the evidential argument against the existence of God”.
Ravi Zacharias’ response to that will be “Why is it a trilemma? Why is that not a quad-lemma, or a quinte-lemma? Because it is also true that God is all-wise and God is eternal. If you bring those two elements into the equation, it changes the paradigm!” God has many more characteristics that need to be looked at when it comes to the issue of evil and suffering.
One simple example will be how the baby will need some shots for vaccination purposes. It will hurt, but the mom knows that it is for the good of the child and it is out of love.
Even to raise the question of evil and suffering assumes that it is good. If you assume that it is good, you assume a moral law. If you assume a moral law, then you must assume a moral law-giver. And that is what people are trying to disprove, which in the end breaks down the whole question.
If there is no moral law-giver, there’s no such thing as good. If there’s no such thing as good, then there’s no such thing as evil. If there’s no such thing as evil, then the question of evil will disappear.
In other words, the question of evil cannot stand on its own without the reality of God.
Can’t we have a moral law without a moral law-giver?
The answer Zacharias gave is: No.
Every time the question of suffering is raised, it is raised by a person or about another person. This means the question carries an intrinsic worth of personhood. And you cannot assume that without a theistic framework.
Yet, many people have a mindset that they do not need God to become a good person. If the world just goes according to the general idea of being good, it will be a better place. God does not have to come into the picture.
Theoretically, that is true, however, the answer of goodness then comes from self-referencing judgment – “I decide and determine what is good”. So then, are we willing to give that prerogative to our neighbor and everyone else too? How will we be able to arrive at an objective standard if we are doing it apart from a transcendent, objective worldview?
“In every other worldview, you find the way of being good and the way of not being bad. But in the Christian message, Jesus Christ didn’t come into this world to make bad people good. He came into this world to make dead people live. That’s the reality.”
We cannot attain salvation by lifting ourselves up by our own ethical standards. Every other worldview is good versus bad. The message of Jesus Christ is grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
Even if we set our own standards, there will be times where we fall short of our own subjective standards and need redemption.
Therefore, with regard to the question of suffering and evil, there is a logical problem, an existential problem, and a theological problem.
Pain and suffering are God’s megaphone. ~ C.S. Lewis
Physically, pain is an indicator in this world to indicate something is wrong. How much more in the infinite wisdom of God can pain be an indicator that there is something wrong with our relationship with Him?
Remember, there is a cross and a hill called Calvary. There is a suffering Savior and a relationship where He gives us comfort.
God does not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquers through evil, suffering, and pain, making you the person He intended you to be through that.
We might be looking for an answer, but what we need is a person – Jesus Christ.
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