By Quin Hillyer at PJ Media;

Even if evil can somehow be explained away, random suffering still poses serious faith-based dilemmas.

This week I watched the movie The Shack (2017), based on the best-selling book of the same name (which I read several years ago). As literature so often does (and as I do in my soon-to-be-published Mad Jones trilogy), The Shack focuses on the question of why God allows evil to have free rein in our world. It is an age-old subject, one that scholars call “theodicy.” I’ve returned to this and related themes in these PJ Media columns several times, but have never been entirely happy with my own proffered theories. The answer remains elusive, to say the least.

In essence, the movie’s answer (I can’t remember if this precisely matches the namesake book’s answer) is that God suffers with us and finds ways to produce good, and love, out of evil even though He did not cause the evil — and, of course, that ultimately heaven awaits and makes everything okay. But, as always, I find that answer is a bit of a dodge (even when I’ve offered the same answer, or something similar) — and, when seen on screen, the dodge somehow shows up in starker relief. The direct question — “Why do you allow the evil to occur?” — is not directly answered.

Sure, there is the usual nod to free will being a necessary component of God’s love, and of course free will sometimes leads to bad choices. But even if that by-now-expected answer comes semi-close to explaining evil, it absolutely does not explain random suffering. A murder is an act of evil. But an excruciating death by cancer, for example, results from no evil, but from natural processes supposedly created (as all things are supposedly created) by God. But God as Creator surely could have produced a world, if He so desired, where even if deaths are a necessary part of life in order that the universe continue being regenerative, those deaths at least could be painless….

[As usual, the full column is here.]

By the way, a note, for those who wonder about this: There is a good reason I can’t publish the entire articles here at my site, even if I wrote them. Almost all of these pieces are written for other publications, which own the copyright to them. Via fair use, I can quote a reasonably extensive excerpt, as long as I provide a link back to the original — but I am not allowed, by law, to publish the whole thing here….