Suffering and doubt often draw people away from their faith. It is so easy to think, “How could a merciful and loving God allow this to happen?”
If you have ever doubted God during hard seasons, you are not alone. From Job in the Old Testament to St. Thomas Aquinas, Christians throughout history have grappled with the problems of evil and suffering with a supposedly good God. Thankfully, early Church Fathers have shown us how to keep our faith in the midst of darkness.
In his book What To Say and How to Say It: Discuss Your Catholic Faith with Clarity and Confidence, bestselling author Brandon Vogt outlines “The Threefold Problem of Evil,” which consists of “The Logical Problem of Evil,” “The Evidential Problem of Evil,” and “The Emotional Problem of Evil.”
According to Vogt, the Logical Problem of Evil essentially asks, “Is there a logical contradiction between an all-good, all-powerful God and the existence of evil?” He explains that perhaps God is permitting evil and, by doing so, bringing about greater goods through suffering. Vogt explains:
But what kind of goods?… One answer is free will. It’s one of the most extraordinary gifts we’ve been given, the powerful to freely choose how to act. We know that free will means we can choose good or evil, and when faced with such a choice, we often choose poorly. Of course, God could simply prevent us from ever choosing evil, but think about what that would mean. If we could never really choose evil, then our freedom is not real freedom. True freedom requires saying yes or no, choosing good or evil, without constraint.
Evil is the absence of good, and it is the result of God’s gift of free will. God loves us enough that He allows us to choose to do good, rather than force us to do so. As a result, some will choose evil. Jesus Christ reminds us in the Beatitudes that those who choose God will have great rewards in eternal life.
To learn about the other components of the Threefold Problem of Evil, check out Brandon Vogt’s What to Say and How to Say It, sold here.