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Relevant Biblical Passages: Zech. 3:1-5; Matt. 4:8-11; John 8:42-46; 14:9-11; Rev. 12:17

Theodicy. Technically defined, the term “theodicy” means “justification or vindication of God.” It addresses the dilemma of how a God who claims to be both all-powerful and all-good could produce a world like the one in which we live where innocent people suffer. On the one hand, if God could do something about evil, but chooses not to, his goodness is suspect. On the other hand, if God wishes to do something about evil, but cannot, his power is shown to be deficient. First coined by the German philosopher Leibniz (d. 1716), the term “theodicy” is probably the best “technical” description for what Adventists have called “the great controversy between good and evil.”

In the Adventist understanding of this great cosmic conflict, God temporarily limits his power in order to demonstrate his goodness. But not all Adventists are equally enthusiastic about the topic. Typically, the theodicy question is more likely to be raised by those who are concerned to defend God’s goodness, rather than by those who simply wish to affirm God’s power.

Crucial Questions:

  1. In the experience of the author of this guide, Job has proven to be a book which sharply divides classmates from each other: some really like the book, some really don’t. To what extent does the book of Job provide the framework for the cosmic conflict?
  2. If God knew the chaos Satan would cause, why did he not destroy him immediately?
  3. Is the law of God a “natural” law or an “arbitrary” one? In other words, is sin “naturally” self-destructive? Or must external punishments and judgments be brought about by God?
  4. On what basis can one declare “selfishness” to be in fundamental opposition to “love”?
  5. What role do the following play in the great conflict?
    1. Freedom of choice
    2. Love
    3. Law
    4. Cross
    5. Final judgment
    6. Final destruction of the wicked.
    7. Jesus’ perfect life

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