The Theodicy Question

The theodicy question is a question that every Christian asks himself in the course of his Christian existence. This question tries to understand how an almighty and good God can allow suffering. It is therefore a very difficult question that requires not only a rational but also an emotional answer. We recognize this through the different contexts in which this question is asked, sometimes in a philosophical context, sometimes in the context of a catastrophe of human or natural origin. In order to be able to explain the question better, we have to divide suffering into two categories. We differentiate between suffering, the origin of which is directly human, including wars, mass murders and the Holocaust; and secondly, suffering that does not originate directly from humans, including all types of natural disasters.

If we now turn to the first kind of suffering, the suffering that is caused by humans, we ask ourselves why God allows this, why does God not simply intervene? If God is almighty and good, he would prevent the Holocaust. But before we approach the question, we have to ask ourselves what God actually wants from us humans. The Bible shows us that God wants us to love. Jesus emphasizes this by saying, when asked what the greatest commandment is, that this is love for God. (See Luke 10:27, etc.)

But what is love without freedom? Love, by definition, cannot be forced, it is a choice. A decision that you have the freedom to decide against. This freedom of choice, which God leaves to us, results not only in the decision to love him, but also in the decision of our actions; you choose to do good or you choose to do bad. If God intervened, he would take away our freedom of choice. We would always be forced to do the good, from which true love could never arise. The Stockholm Syndrome is a good example of this. Someone is deprived of their agency, forced to love someone else. Even if people act as if they love, we classify this as a symptom of trauma rather than true love. Hence, true love can only be obtained through agency.

G. W. Leibniz takes a different approach, in which he claims that this world in which we live is already the best possible world. His reasoning is that God through his omniscience knows every possible world he could have created. But through his goodness he decided for the best possible world and through his omnipotence he created it. This is a very good approach, I think there are two missing points that are very important.

First, I would argue that this is the best possible world in which God gives man freedom of choice. Of course we can imagine a much better world, but we are always limited in our freedom of choice. The better the world is, the more limited we are in our freedom of choice.

Second, someone could claim to be able to imagine a better world in which one is not restricted in one's freedom of choice. So I believe that this is not only the best possible world in which we have free will, but it is also the best possible world in which most people would find God. Because of his omniscience, God not only knows which world is the best possible, but also which produces most of the people who would choose God through their freedom of choice.

The second kind of suffering, the one that is not directly caused by humans, is explained by a world as described in the Bible; fall into sin. By falling into sin, this world is no longer the world that was created by God. But if we do not start from deism, we must ask ourselves why does God allow natural disasters? But as argued above, this could be the best possible world in which people have freedom of choice and in which most people voluntarily choose God.

But God does not want a corrupt world, no evil people, that is why he also offers the solution in Jesus Christ, gives us a promise and thus a hope for a new world in which justice and love will rule, a world free from sin, a world free of evil.