Fearfully and Woefully Fallen

Gnarly trees... Taking us into the amazing world of the human body, of cells, bones, skin, motion, blood, head…, Paul Brand and Philip Yancey point to the image of the Creator in human beings in their award winning book, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. 

Released in the 80’s and republished in 2004 as a tribute edition (In the Likeness of God : The Dr. Paul Brand Tribute Edition of Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and in His Image), this great book testifies to the amazing design that the Creator built into his work. Yet while the authors inspire hope and faith, there is another side to the story that must be equally emphasized.  

Perhaps another book is needed.

This one could be titled, Fearfully and Woefully Fallen. An explanation is needed for the all too obvious distortion of the design. The astounding and undeniably clear evidence of human dignity and heroism cries out for an intelligent and benevolent creator. But the chaotic and horrific distortion of design causes some to question the reality of such a creator.

  • Is this tension nothing more than the old line of good versus evil?
  • Is the biblical story of an Evil One who opposes the creator an adequate answer to the tension?
  • Is the event described by Christian theologians as the fall the cause for our twofold existence?
  • If there was such an event, does it offer the missing perspective on the human story?
  • Can we make sense of the world without such perspective?  

All reasonable people acknowledge the tension. Each day we discover examples of human love and frightening demonstrations of evil. A simple survey of headline news is sufficient evidence  

Every part of existence testifies to this tension.

  • The environment greets us with amazing beauty and convulses against us with violent force.
  • Relationships are sources of great joy and deep pain.
  • Our bodies and minds themselves are sources of strength and weakness.

Is there a worldview large enough to address the tension of both realities? How do words like sin, depravity, evil, reconciliation, redemption and regeneration apply? 

In Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, Cornelius Plantinga Jr. explores the depths of human evil with painful and profound insight. His discussion of the vandalism of shalom cuts to the heart of the problem. Human history offers endless proof that peace is the essential component needed to fix what is broken. We experience occasions of peace (which in itself testifies to our dignity) but disruption, disturbance and war are never far away. Whether relating to family, friends, neighbors or our own selves, peace doesn’t come easily and must be protected from a variety of corrupting forces. And peace with God is so far out reach that God had to come to earth to make it possible.

Why is the absence of peace a universal human reality? Crossing boudaries of time and culture, the elusive quality of peace is part of the human story. 

  • What does this say about us?
  • What is the solution?
  • Do the themes of forgiveness and salvation resonate with this deepest human need?  

This dark side of the human story, all the suffering and evil that seems so unexplainable, and the unending violence in the world, cause many to suspend belief in God.

“How,” it is asked, “could there be a God who does nothing to intervene and put an end to the suffering?” In other words, we expect things to be different than they are. And, we find it hard to believe that a God, if he is loving and powerful, would create a world like this one.

Even if we accept the view that God created free-willed creatures and that they destroyed the world, we find it hard to believe God would tolerate things as they are.

 

But this line of reasoning begs a question: Where did we get such a strong notion of what ought to be? Why do we long for something more or better? What is the source of our sense of justice and propriety?  If the universe is ultimately reduced to blind physical causes, why should we expect order, meaning and benevolence?

As an atheist, C. S. Lewis was troubled by such questions. “How had I got this idea of just and unjust?” he wondered. “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it?…Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist-in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless-I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality-namely my idea of justice-was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning we should never have found out that it has no meaning” (Mere Christianity). 

Steve Cornell

 

This entry was posted in Main problem, New book coming, Suffering, Trials. Bookmark the permalink.

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