"We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28 NIV).

Christian celebrities who appear on shows such as Larry King Live are commonly asked why bad things happen to good people. At first blush, it may seem as though there are as many responses as there are religions. In reality, however, there are only three, namely, pantheism, philosophical naturalism, and theism. Pantheism denies the ultimate existence of good and evil because in this view god is all and all is god. Philosophical naturalism (the worldview undergirding evolutionism) supposes that everything is a function of random material processes, and thus there can be no such thing as good and evil in an ultimate sense. Theism alone has a relevant response — and onlyChristian theism can answer the question satisfactorily.

First, Christian theism acknowledges that God created the potential for evil when he created humans with freedom of choice. We choose to love or hate, to do good or evil. The record of history bears eloquent testimony to the fact that humans of their own free will have actualized the reality of evil through their ungodly choices.

Furthermore, without choice, love is meaningless. God is neither a cosmic rapist who forces His love on people nor a cosmic puppeteer who forces people to love Him. Instead, God, the personification of love, grants us freedom of choice. Without such freedom, we would be little more than preprogrammed robots.

Finally, the fact that God created the potential for evil by granting us freedom of choice will ultimately lead to the best of all possible worlds — a world in which "there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain" (Rev. 21:4 NIV). Those who choose Christ will be redeemed from evil by His goodness and will forever be free from sin. —Hank Hanegraaff

For further study, see Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes, When God Weeps (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997).