Answering “Questions Christians Can’t Answer” #46 Permission for Evil?

Over the course of this fifty-article series, this column has examined a list of questions leveled by skeptic R. E. Puckett in his Yahoo Voices segment entitled “Top 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer.” Pucket’s article was eventually removed from Yahoo and re-published on bukisa under the name Thomas Neil. Once a believer himself, Puckett became convinced that Christianity does not hold up under the light of intellectual scrutiny, and that when the curtain is pulled back, the basis of Christianity is a naive optimism that blinds the believer to the harsh realities of the rational world. 

When examined, Puckett’s questions reveal a number of preconceptions about Christian beliefs that do not match up with what the majority of Evangelicals hold. Possibly most damaging among them, Puckett seems to believe that Christians must confess every sin they commit individually as they commit them, or risk being damned. The majority of Protestant Christians believe that, in fact, the repentant Christian falls under God’s grace, and that even when they sin, they are covered by the protection and forgiveness that Christ’s sacrifice affords them. 

It is with this in mind that a second assumption that Puckett holds is addressed: Puckett seems to believe that, if Christianity were true, Christians should be saintly humans, unaffected by temptation or error. In fact, Christians are as capable of error as anyone. However, a true Christian will recognize and repent of their missteps rather than justifying or defending them. 

In fact, Puckett’s persistent attacks on the actions and character of Christians is evidence that Puckett himself holds a conviction that humans are prone to bad behavior. If Puckett can recognize that bad behavior exists and should justly be condemned, he has already taken the first step toward a Christian understanding of the world. 

In this series of questions, Puckett attacks a wide variety of what he believes are Christian views. It is important to note that even if Christians can answer none of these questions; if they can show with evidence that Jesus actually rose from the dead, the second step of the Christian worldview has been taken.  

Puckett himself shows that humans need to be redeemed from their ill behavior, and evidence shows that just such a redeemer exists. 

Ultimately, the proof of Christ’s resurrection is the single point upon which Christianity stands or falls. Mountains of evidence to support this fact have been presented over a 2000-year span; and these facts require an answer of all who want to disenchant believers. Puckett, and anyone else who seeks to dismantle Christian beliefs need only show that Christ was not raised, and they have accomplished their purpose. No other question need be asked. 

Within this list Puckett has criticized drunken irresponsibility, tyranny, deception, divorce, murder, discrimination, condemnation of the innocent, intentional ignorance, and incest. Clearly Puckett has set up a standard from which it is possible to condemn these things, however Puckett makes no defense for his standard of right and wrong. If Christianity is “wrong,” it is incumbent upon the critic to show what is “right,” and by what standard right and wrong are determined. 

Without further commentary, here is the first of the final five question in the Puckett list: 

Why do Christians do bad things?

46 – Why does God allow things to happen among his followers that he has already deemed to be sinful, i.e. incest example above, “thou shall not kill” and so forth, and it is alright as long as it is done in his name? Remember, more deaths have occurred in history in God’s name. 

 

 

As the second portion of this question has already been addressed in the answer to Question 36, this answer will focus on the first.

A Christian is not perfect simply because they are a Christian:

1 John 1:8 English Standard Version (ESV)

8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Christians who choose to practice that which the scripture considers sinful are condemned rather than commended:

1 John 1:6 English Standard Version (ESV)

6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

Those Christians who do sinful things are often disciplined by God:

Hebrews 12:5-8 English Standard Version (ESV)

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

Christians, likewise, are told to disassociate with and attempt to correct fellow Christians who practice sin:

2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 English Standard Version (ESV)

14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

The writer has correctly identified that many people do despicable things in the name of the Christian God, but it is certain that those actions would be abhorrent to the majority of Christians, and that they would seek by all means to disassociate themselves from people who do such things. It is ridiculous to say that because a person invokes the name of God that their actions are certainly condoned by that same God.

Scripture explicitly states:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

This shows that these people are ultimately held accountable for their actions. They are not simply ignored or swept under the rug.

In summary, people who practice evil in God’s name are often directly disciplined by God; other Christians are instructed to disassociate with them; and they will ultimately be judged for their actions.

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