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Millard Erickson

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What are the three common solutions to the problem of evil? Evaluate Erickson's response to these solutions.

This will come from the book "Christian Theology" by Millard Erickson

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Evil is defined by Reynolds (2011) in a tripartite concept as: (a) evil of [contrariety]--by destructive efficiency (e.g., water over fire) which one has upon the other, (b) an evil of privation, which is a defect and absence of good, and (c) evil of contradiction-in the "not being" [drawing from Aristotelian philosophy] for any creature, because being and immortality are principles of love. Therefore "not being" is the evil that is abhorred by nature (p. 112).

Theological/philosophical explanations such as this led to several controversies and debates on the concept of evil. One argument stemmed from the concept of Dualism, in which there was held the belief in two supreme powers, one evil and the other good. Dualists had argued that the two supreme opposing powers were in perpetual conflict with one another. According to Cairns (198) the formation of dualism was due to, or at least aided by, the increasing worldliness and moral laxity of the Church. Thus, ...

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This solution examines the concept of evil from the perspective of Millard Erickson

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The Theological Problem of Evil

Having a couple debates with two classmates, can you tell me what your scholarly response would be to this:

Millard Erickson posits three possible solutions to the problem of evil. The first of these is "Finitism" which concludes that God is not omnipotent. Brightman's version of this asserts that there are factors beyond God's control and inherently part of His nature. The important distinction is that God cannot cross these limitations by virtue of giving free will to humanity versus choosing not to cross them, which would be a theist's view. Erickson's summation of this view is that God is actually still uncertain that He can or will overcome evil. I agree with Erickson, that finitism makes God something less than He claims. If God can promises to have ultimate victory over evil, yet unable to have that knowledge or power for certain, how can he be trusted?

The second solution to evil in the world is espoused by Gordon C. Clark. This is a "modification of the concept of God's goodness." This idea does not view God as the author of sin, but as the ultimate cause of it. It is difficult to perceive God would be acting in accordance with His own character if He authored sin, yet difficult passages beg the question. For example, Lamentations 3:38 states, "Is it not from the mouth of the most high that both good and bad come?" This view that God is still sovereign yet not held guilty for sin or "edualistic" in nature is where Erickson finds problems with God's goodness. This is a very Reformed view of sovereignty and while it helps explain the issue of evil, it diminishes the goodness of God.

The third solution is a denial of evil. This view explains that what we perceive as evil is simply an illusion. There is a dichotomy between anything material and anything spiritual, and only spiritual realities exist. All material things are created in the mind, including evil, sickness, and death. Erickson explains the Christian science position as a failure because those who believe it still die. This is the weakest of all three explanations. Scripture clearly refers to both spirit and body as realities, calling humanity to account for actions done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Cor. 5:10) The repeated promises of God to judge evil in the world indicate that it is very real and will be judged. (Hebrews 9:27)

Erickson's view that evil is necessary to the creation of humans is closer to reality. I believe that by God giving freedom to humanity, as exercised in Gen. 3, evil is an available choice, otherwise we would be less than human. Thwarting God's master plan is not in our power, yet clearly we have the freedom to choose sin, and God is not guilty for our choice.

Erickson, Milliard. Christian Theology. 2nd edition. MI: Baker Academic, 1998.

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