Category: Apologetics

Why Mary Is Not The Mother Of God

Why Mary Is Not The Mother Of God

Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians frequently refer to Mary as the “Mother of God,” which Protestants object to. Considering the claim of the Catholic Church may even find the name to be a stumbling block. Why? Because to them “Mother of God” implies that God somehow has His origin in Mary. But how could the Creator of all things possibly have a mother?

In our Facebook group, we once had a discussion with a Catholic Catechist about the proper use of the term “Mother of God.” According to him, the term is not meant to exalt Mary but to give her the honor and respect that is rightfully hers for having been chosen to conceive and give birth to Jesus.

Since it is one of the group’s objectives to refute unbiblical doctrines, we tried explaining to him that although Mary is the mother of Jesus, she cannot be the mother of God. This is because God being the Creator of all things in heaven and on earth had no mother and did not need to have one.

Mother of God

Should we call Mary “Mother of God?”

In his book “Mary: Another Redeemer,” Dr. James R. White says that this is the single most misused theological term around. The logic seems inescapable: Jesus is God, come in human flesh. Mary is Jesus’ mother. Hence, Mary is the mother of God. What could be simpler?

Below is a chapter of the book where Dr. White explains more extensively why Mary is not the mother of God. He said that if everyone would just use the term “mother of God” to communicate just that – that Jesus Christ was truly and completely God – there would be no reason for him to include this brief chapter.

But most of the time when the phrase is used, the person using it is not in any way commenting on the fact that Jesus Christ was God and Man on the earth. They are not speaking about Christ at all, but about Mary, and they are using the title to give her a position of honor and power.

If you want to know more about the controversial movement to name Mary as Co-Redeemer with Christ, get the eBook here.

The Origin of the Term

What did the term mean in the ancient church? How is it being misused today? Anyone who reads the writing of the ancient church knows that the word translated “Mother of God” is the Greek term theotokos. Literally, the word means “God-bearer.” It became a title for Mary so that you often find her simply being called theotokos in devotional and theological writings. But where did the term come from?

Around the beginning of the fourth century, Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, first used this term when speaking of Mary. It is no coincidence that it was the teaching of Alexander that prompted the most famous “heretic” of all time – Arius, the great denier of the deity of Christ – to begin propagating his heresy.

Evidently, at that time, even in its earliest uses, the term was meant to say something about Jesus, not Mary. That is, the term was Christological in force. It was focused on Christ and was meant to safeguard the truth about His absolute deity.

The term really entered into the “orthodox” vocabulary through its usage at the Councils of Ephesus in AD 431) and more importantly, Chalcedon in AD 325. We can learn the most about how this term was originally understood by taking a moment to understand why it appears in the creed produced at Chalcedon.

The debate over the complete deity of Christ had lasted for many decades, continuing on well after the Council of Nicea had finished its work in AD 325, not coming to completion until the Council of Constantinople in AD 381. But once this great truth was properly safeguarded, other questions began to arise.

One of the questions went like this: Granted that Jesus Christ was truly God and inhuman flesh, how then are we to understand the relationship between the divine and the human in Christ? Was He really a man at all? Did His deity swallow up His humanity? Was there some mixture of the two? Or was Jesus two people: one divine and one human, merely sharing one body?

Sadly, the debate was undertaken in anything but a calm and respectful climate. More time was spent on political maneuvering than upon meaningful exegesis. But despite the rancor of the debate, the resulting understanding was very important, especially for our understanding of the term theotokos.

Debate Over the Nature of Christ

One of the principal participants in the debate over the nature of Christ was a man named Nestorius. But since he was eventually condemned as a heretic, we have some doubts as to whether we a completely accurate (or fair) view of his beliefs, as they have come down to us primarily through the writings of his enemies.

Basically, Nestorius objected to the use of the word theotokos. He quite rightly expressed concern that the word could be easily misunderstood. But most importantly, his denial of the propriety of theotokos led him to insist that Mary was the mother of the human “element” of Christ, which resulted in a functional separation of the divine from the human in Christ. The basic danger of Nestorius’ position, then, was that it led to a Jesus who was two “persons,” with no real connection between the divine and the human.

Those who defended the use of theotokos did so by insisting that the Messiah was fully human and fully divine from the moment of conception, hence, the Child who was born was not only a human Child with deity dwelling in him but was the God-Man, the Incarnate One.

Chalcedon insisted that Jesus was one Person with two distinct natures, the divine and the human. The divine did not “swallow up” the human, nor was it “mixed” with the human to create something that was neither fully God nor fully man. Nor was Jesus schizophrenic – a human person, Jesus, and a divine Person, separate from Him. He was one person with two natures.

What is vitally important today is that the term “God-bearer” as it was used in the creed and as it was applied to Mary in these controversies said something about the nature of Christ, not the nature of Mary. “Mother of God” is a phrase that has proper theological meaning only in reference to Christ.

Hence, any use of the term that is not simply saying, “Jesus is fully God, one divine Person with two natures,” is using the term anachronistically, and cannot claim the authority of the early church for such a usage.

*Get Dr. James White’s book “Mary, Another Redeemer” here.

The Misuse of the Term Today

Outside of the seminary classes and theological debates about the Trinity, you will not hear the term “Mother of God” used in a historically proper and theologically accurate way. That is, every time you hear the title used outside those contexts it was being used to say something about Mary rather than something about Christ.

Obviously, Nestorius was right about one thing: the term is liable to serious misuse and misunderstanding.


Mary is not the mother of God in the sense that she gave rise to the being of God. We normally use the word “mother” to refer to the one who gave rise to us as individuals, and from whom we derived our human nature. Yet the divine Person who became Jesus, the eternal Son of God (Colossians 1:13-17), the Logos (John 1:1-14), has existed eternally and is the Creator of Mary.

Mary was used to bring the Incarnate One into the world, but she did not add to or give rise to the Eternal son who came into the world through her. Her Child was fully divine (hence she is theotokos) but she herself did not give rise to the divinity of her Son. For this reason, there can be nothing about the term theotokos that in any way exalts Mary, but only Christ.

Of course, if this is true, then the vast majority of the use of the phrase “Mother of God” in our world today is simply in error. Prayers addressed to “Mother of God” that seek her intercession and ascribe to her power and glory and honor are using the title in a way completely foreign to the biblical truths that gave rise to it in the first place.

And the fact that, in general, the term is avoided as improper outside the narrow spectrum in which it speaks to the important truth of the uni-personality of Christ, as well as His full deity, is a testimony to the spiritual sensitivity of believing Christians.

We cannot help but conclude that the use of “Mother of God” as a title for Mary that leads to her being seen in quasi-divine categories is nothing but a gross misunderstanding of the true relationship between the Blessed Virgin of Nazareth and the eternal God who sent the eternal Son to be born of her.

*Reference: Mary-Another Redeemer? – eBook  By James R. White 

Mary, Another Redeemer? explores Roman Catholic teachings about Mary from a biblical and historical perspective. Skilled and knowledgeable author James White traces how the Mary of the Bible – esteemed mother of the Lord, obedient servant and chosen vessel of God–has become the Immaculately Conceived, Bodily Assumed Queen of Heaven, viewed as Co-Mediator with Christ, and now widely recognized as Co-Redeemer by many in the Catholic Church.

A calm, even-handed look at the woman the Bible calls “blessed among women” – and an invitation to single-minded devotion to God’s truth.

About the author: 

James R. White is the author of several acclaimed books, including The God Who Justifies, Scripture Alone, The King James Only Controversy and The Forgotten Trinity. The director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, he is an accomplished debater of Muslim apologists and an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church. He and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Arguments Against the Deity of Christ

Arguments Against the Deity of Christ

Belief in the deity of Jesus Christ is essential to salvation (Romans 10:9; John 8:24). Yet, this precious doctrine is attacked mercilessly not only in the west but even within the “Christian world.” In this article, I will be presenting the arguments and Scriptures used by these opponents against the deity of Christ.

Jesus Christ is not God …

Because He had flesh and bones, and God being a spirit, has neither flesh nor bones – John 4:24; Luke 24:39

Answer: Jesus Christ as man had both flesh and bones but as God, He was spirit.

This objection arises from the problem of the dual nature of the Savior. In order for the invisible God to become visible, He must become flesh and bones. Jesus assumed flesh and bones merely for the incarnation. As God He is eternal but to be our Redeemer it was necessary that He become a partaker of humanity.

Jesus is fully God and fully man

a) Jesus is a dual personality.

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2:5

b) God was manifest in the flesh.

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in
the flesh, 
justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.” – 1 Timothy 3:16

Because Christ had a beginning and God had no beginning – John 8:42; Psalm 90:2

Answer: Jesus as a man had a beginning when He was conceived of the Holy Spirit but Jesus as God is without beginning and without end.

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” – John 8:58

The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from beginning, before there was even an earth.” – Proverbs 8:22-23

Because He has been created, and God isn’t; God is the creator – Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14

Answer: The correct translation of Revelation 3:14 is something like this, “He was the witness of the beginning of the creation of God.” Jesus is not a creation but a witness of the creation.

We find no evidence in the Bible that the Father created Jesus or that Jesus is a “lesser God” than the Father. The Bible reveals that from eternity Jesus has the same substance, glory, power, and authority as the Father and the Holy Spirit.

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” – Colossians 1:17

When Jesus is called the “first born of all creation,” it does not mean that Jesus was created. Rather, it speaks of the preexistence of Christ. He is not a creature but the eternal Creator.

And every creature which is in heaven and on earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I hear saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever.” – Revelation 5:13

A created being cannot and will not receive worship due only to God.

Because God is not a man (Hosea 11:9) and man is not God (Ezekiel 28:2), but Jesus was called man – John 8:40; 1 Timothy 2:5

Answer: Hosea does not say God could not assume human form of the body and flesh. Nothing is too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:17-18). Since God is all powerful He can be manifest in the flesh.

Here’s a video of Nabeel Qureshi answering a Muslim’s question on the Trinity.

Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which is translated, “God with us.” – Matthew 1:23

Jesus was both true God and true man in one person without an intermingling of the two natures. Emmanuel means “God with us.”

Because He called God His Father – Matthew 27:46; John 20:17

Answer: The relationship between Jesus and God the Father has always been that of a “father and son.” So it’s not surprising that even as the human person, Jesus called God His Father. In Hebrews 1:8, God calls Jesus “God” but that does not lessen the Father’s position of deity.

But to the son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” – Hebrews 1:8

The relationship between God and Jesus Christ

Because the Father sent Jesus to earth – John 8:42

Answer:  Jesus volunteered to come. But even so, the Father sending the Son to earth does not lessen His position as the Almighty God.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” – John 10:11

The co-equal, co-eternal persons of the Trinity are one in divine nature. However, each divine person has a distinct role in salvation and a voluntary submission of roles in the work of redemption. The Son took on human flesh and submitted to the Father by giving His life on the cross.

Because God is His head – 1 Corinthians 11:3

Answer: God the Father and Jesus have the same exact nature; they’re both divine but their relationship is different. God the Father is the head of Christ because Christ was eternally begotten of the Father. But this does not mean that the Father is greater or higher than the Son.

“And now, O Father, glorify me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” – John 17:5

In a triumvirate, it is necessary that one be the chairman but that does not mean that he is greater than the other two. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal but for administrative purposes, the Father acts as the executive administrator.

Christ is not God, but He is the Son of God, just as we may become sons of God – John 3:16

Answer:  When we call Jesus the Son of God we mean that He is of the same nature as God. Fathers create things unlike themselves, but they beget sons like them.

C.S. Lewis explained it this way:

When you make (or create), you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, and man makes a computer. But when you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a bird begets eggs which will turn into little birds, and a beaver begets little beavers.

So when we say, “Jesus is the Son of God,” we simply mean that Jesus is God.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

By conversion, we become a “son of God” (John 1:12), but Jesus Christ is the “only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16), a unique and special position. God’s Son is equal to the Father (Philippians 2:6), and the saints become an heir with Christ.

Because the Father gave Him power – Matthew 28:18

Answer:  Jesus was, always has been, and always will be God. As God, Jesus has the same power as the Father and the Spirit. When Jesus said that all power and authority has been given to Him, that would include the power that brought the universe into existence.

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” – Colossians 1:16

In Philippians 2:5-8, the Son surrenders this power and God restores or returns it to Him after the resurrection. It was always His but He voluntarily yielded it.

Because He was made Lord by God – Acts 2:36

Answer:  How could Jesus be made Lord if He was already the Lord? Jesus was not made Lord by God in the sense that He was made into something He was not already. He was not made Lord in the sense of a promotion.

“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” – Colossians 2:9

Acts 2:36 is dealing with Jesus’ status as a man-made under the law and in a lower position. It is in that sense that He was made Lord and Christ by God the Father.

Because He is subject to God and He says that the Father is greater than Him – 1 Corinthians 15:28; John 14:28

Answer:  John 14:28 has often been thought to mean that Jesus is something less than the Father. However, this statement is not referring to Christ’s nature but rather His position. When Jesus came to earth, He came in the form of a servant. He voluntarily chose subjection; it was not imposed on Him against His will.

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death of the cross.” – Philippians 2:8

Because Christ died and God being immortal cannot die – 1 Timothy 1:17

Answer:  People say that Jesus can’t be God because He died and God cannot die. We have to understand that Jesus has two natures: God and man. It was the human nature that died on the cross, not the divine nature.

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” – Hebrews 2:9

Jesus as man died but Jesus as God could not and did not die (Hebrews 2:9, 14). In the person of Jesus Christ, who is a man with the divine nature, we see a biological death, not the death of the divine being who is God.

Because He prayed to the Father and addressed Him as the only true God – John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6

Answer:  This objection ignores the fact that the Son co-exists with the Father; they are one. We need to understand that the Father and the Son had an eternal relationship before Jesus took upon Himself the form of a man.

Jesus prays to the Father - John 17:3

Being fully equal with the Father in nature, Jesus’ manner must be seen more as a supplication and conversation rather than a lesser being who is praying to a greater being.

*Related Article: Death Penalty for Sin, Eternal Life in Christ 


Nothing has changed after 2,000 years. The attack against the deity of Jesus Christ persisted up until today. While the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is God, there are still many groups that deny His deity. From Muslims who teach that Jesus was just a prophet, to the Jehovah Witnesses who reduce Him into a messenger sent by the Father.

The doctrine of Christ’s deity is important to the Christian faith as it not only authenticates the authority and inspiration of Scripture; it also the basis for a believer’s eternal salvation. In other words, if Jesus is not fully God, we have no salvation and ultimately no Christianity.

*Recommended Resource: Forgotten Trinity, The – eBook By James R. White

The Trinity is a basic teaching of the Christian faith. It defines God’s essence and describes how He relates to us. The Forgotten Trinity is a concise, understandable explanation of what the Trinity is and why it matters. It refutes cultic distortions of God. It shows how a grasp of this significant teaching leads to renewed worship and deeper understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

And amid today’s emphasis on the renewing work of the Holy Spirit, The Forgotten Trinity is a balanced look at all three persons of the Trinity.

Reference Materials:

100 Bible Lessons by Alban Douglas
Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem




What if Jesus did not Rise from the Dead?

What if Jesus did not Rise from the Dead?

The resurrection of Jesus ChristThe resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of Christianity. Everything in the Christian faith rests on the historical truth that Jesus was raised from the dead. But what if this was all a lie? What if Jesus did not rise from the dead?

When the apostle Paul came to Corinth, an integral part of the gospel message that he preached was the fact of Christ’s resurrection. After all, a dead Savior cannot save anybody. The believers at Corinth received the Word, trusted Christ, been saved, and their faith had transformed their lives.

But then again, what if Jesus did not really rise from the dead? What if this was just a myth that the apostle Paul made up to gain a number of followers? It is interesting to note that Islam, one of the three major world religions, has held on to this theory up until today.

Evidences for the Resurrection

Before laying out the evidences of the resurrection, it must first be established that Jesus really died. After all, a resurrection can only be authentic if the person really died. In other words, only a dead person can actually come back to life.

The gospel authors record that Jesus was beaten and scourged terribly by the Roman soldiers before finally nailing him to the cross. Killing was an expertise of the Roman soldiers, their job was to kill and to make sure that the victim was really dead or they themselves will lose their lives.

It’s also inconceivable to believe that Jesus survived the crucifixion, considering that the physicians who studied closely the historical events of the crucifixion unanimously concluded that Christ died from this process. Furthermore, the Roman historian Tacitus and Jewish historian Josephus confirmed in their writings that Jesus indeed, died from the crucifixion.

A. The empty tomb

1) The Bible tells us that Jesus’ tomb was found to be empty by the women who first visited it very early on the first day of the week (John 20:1-2; Matthew 28:1-2; Mark 16:1-4 & Luke 24:1-3).

Did you know that the testimony of women in the first century Jewish culture was regarded as so worthless that they were not even permitted to serve as legal witnesses in a court of law? Yet, the gospel authors unanimously recorded that women, whose testimony was worthless, rather than men, are the chief witnesses to the empty tomb.

2) The historical reliability of the burial story because of the inclusion of Joseph of Arimathea as the one who buried Christ in his own tomb (Mark 15:43; John 19:38), strongly supports the empty tomb.

Joseph was a prominent member of the Jewish Council, which means that the burial site was well-known to both the Jews and Gentiles. This means that no one would have believed that Jesus had risen, neither the disciples, nor the thousands of others who did believe, unless that tomb was really empty.

Jesus’ resurrection was preached by His disciples in the same city where Jesus had died and been buried. They could not have done this if Jesus was still in His tomb because no one would be foolish enough to believe that a man had raised from the dead when his body lay dead in the tomb for all to see.

3) In Matthew 28:11-15, the Jews made an attempt to refute the fact of Jesus’ resurrection by saying that the disciples stole the body. Why is this significant? Because this shows that the Jews did not deny the empty tomb. By making up a story about the stolen body of Jesus, they were admitting that the tomb was in fact empty.

“He is not here; for He is risen!”

B. The post-mortem appearances of Jesus

There is enough evidence that the disciples and followers of Jesus had real encounters with the one whom they believed was the risen Christ. In the table below is a chronology of the appearances of the resurrected Christ.

1) Mary Magdalene          John 20:11-18
2) The women returning from the tomb Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1 & Luke 24:10
3) Simon Peter Luke 24:34 & 1 Corinthians 15:5
4) The two disciples on the road to Emmaus Luke 24:13-16
5) To the eleven disciples with Thomas absent Luke 24:36-43
6) To the eleven disciples with Thomas present John 20:26-29
7) To the seven disciples at Lake Tiberius John 21: 1-23
8) To the disciples and a large gathering on a mountain in Galilee Matthew 28:16-17
9) James 1 Corinthians 15:7
10) To the disciples at the ascension Luke 24:49-53 & Acts 1:3-11


1 Corinthians 15:3-8 is a record of an ancient creed concerning Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection appearances that is much earlier than the letter in which the apostle Paul is recording it. Critical scholars generally agree that Paul received this creed from Peter (Cephas) and James (the Lord’s brother) between 3-5 years after the crucifixion.

Peter and James are listed in this creed as having seen the risen Christ. Paul also appealed to his audience’s knowledge of the fact that more than five hundred people had seen the resurrected Christ at one time; the majority of which were still alive and could be questioned.

C. The transformation of Jesus’ disciples, skeptics and enemies

1) Jesus’ disciples and followers

When Jesus was crucified, His disciples were devastated and defeated. Most of them even ran away because they thought that was the end of their glorious years with Jesus. But after seeing the resurrected Christ, they were transformed from being discouraged, despondent and frightened to being bold, courageous and outspoken.

Peter, who denied Jesus three times, stood up a few weeks later in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost to deliver probably the most powerful Gospel sermon that resulted in the 3,000 souls that were saved and added to the church (Acts 2:14-39).

Peter’s Sermon on Pentecost Day

Thomas who was a doubter and a skeptic did not believe that Jesus has risen from the dead until he saw for himself the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and had put his fingers in them (John 20:24-29).

2) James and Jesus’ other brothers

Jesus’ brothers did not believe Jesus was the Lord during His lifetime (John 7:5). But they later believed. And James not only believed, but became the leader of the Jerusalem Church (Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13). According to tradition, James was martyred for his faith in Christ by being thrown off the pinnacle of the temple and was beaten to death by a club.

3) Saul of Tarsus

Before he became the apostle Paul, Saul of Tarsus was the chief persecutor of the early Christians. But after encountering the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he was totally transformed from Saul, the number one persecutor of Christianity, to Paul, the number one propagator of Christianity.

Paul gave up the prestige and comforts of being a respected rabbi and took on the life of a traveling missionary who has gone through incredible hardships and persecutions, all for the sake of the gospel.

Saul encounters the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus

*** The transformation of Jesus’ disciples, brothers and Saul of Tarsus are inexplicable apart from a real resurrection. The only sufficient explanation for the dramatic change in these people’s lives is the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead.

D. The origin of the Christian faith

The fact that the Christian Church remained strong and continued to flourish despite suffering intense persecution at the hands of both Jews and Romans during its early years is strong proof of the resurrection.

Many of the first missionaries of the Christian faith died as martyrs. They were willing to die for their belief in Jesus Christ because they were convinced of the historical facts of the resurrection. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, Christianity could have never come into existence.


What if Jesus did not rise from the dead? Then we are still in our sins and our faith is futile. It means we are not forgiven of our sins and are bound to suffer eternally in hell. And not only us but also those who have fallen asleep (died) in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:17-18). There is no salvation without the resurrection!

But Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20). The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical fact, not just a theological myth or some philosophical idea which began circulating 30 years later among the followers of Jesus Christ.

Josh McDowell in his book “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” wrote:

“The resurrection of Christ is therefore emphatically a test question upon which depends the truth or falsehood of the Christian religion. It is either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion which history records.”

Recommended Resource:

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus

By Gary R. Habermas & Michael R. Licona

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, along with an interactive CD, will prepare you to make a compelling argument for the historicity of Christ’s resurrection, even to those who do not accept the Bible as divinely inspired. The authors first develop principles by which a historical event can be accepted as true, then apply them to belief in Christ’s rising from the dead, and finally offer sample scenarios illustrating the use of these principles.

The Problem of Evil in the World

The Problem of Evil in the World

The problem of evil in the world has always been the reason why many people doubt the existence of God. Whenever tragedy strikes, people through the ages have asked why something like this or that have to happen.

Just think about the pain the friends and relatives of the almost three thousand people who were killed in the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, have wrestled with.

The problem of evil in the world

If God exists, why did He allow this tragedy to happen? Why do good people suffer? And what does it say about God that such things occur?

The Problem of Evil

Before answering the question, it’s important that we first lay out a few preliminary thoughts about evil. Please note that evil is not something that has existed all on its own; rather, it is a corruption of that which already exists.“Evil is the absence of something good.”

For example, tooth decay can exist only as long as the tooth exists. Rot can exist only as long as the tree exists. Evil exists as a corruption of something good; it does not have essence by itself. Norman Geisler says, “Evil is like a wound in an arm or moth-holes in a garment. It exists only in another but not in itself.”

This is not to say that evil is unreal. Evil may not be an actual substance or entity but it is a real corruption in an actual entity. Tooth decay, rotting trees, brain cancer, the death of a loved one, are all examples of how evil is a corruption of something good. Yes, evil is real; it’s not just an illusion.

The problem of evil in the world

The infinite reference point for distinguishing good from evil can be found only in the person of God, for God alone can exhaust the definition of absolutely good. God is good, God is all powerful, yet evil exists. How can evil exist in a world created by God?

Today we face the reality of both moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil is evil committed by free moral agents, involving such things as war, cruelty, crime, slavery, discrimination, suicide bombings and various injustices. Natural evil involve such things as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and the like.

The Origin of Evil

The original creation was “very good (Genesis 1:31).” There was no evil, no sin, no pain and no death. Yet today the world is permeated with evil, sin, pain and death. What brought these things about? The Bible tells us that it all started the moment Adam and Eve used their God-given free will to choose to disobey God (Genesis 3).

The problem of evil in the world

Couldn’t have God created humans in such a way that we would never sin, thus avoiding evil together? The fact is, such a scenario would mean that we were not truly human because we would not have the capacity to make choices and to freely love.

Love is voluntary. God could have made us like robots who would act only in programmed ways – like a chatty doll whose string you pull and it says, “I love you.” God apparently thought it worth the risk of creating us as we are.

The problem of evil in the world
Matthew 22:37

God wanted Adam and all humanity to show love by freely choosing obedience which is why God gave Adam and all other humans a free will. A free choice, however, leaves the possibility of a wrong choice. J.B. Phillips said, “Evil is inherent in the risky gift of free will.”

God’s plan had the potential for evil when He bestowed on humans the freedom of choice, but the actual origin of evil came as a result of a man who directed his will away from God and toward his own selfish desires.

Norman Geisler and Jeff Amanu note, “Whereas God created the fact of freedom, humans perform the acts of freedom. God made evil possible; creatures make it actual.”

And ever since Adam and Eve made evil actual on that first occasion in the Garden of Eden, a sin nature has been passed on to every man and human (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:22), and it is out of the sin nature that we continue today to use our free will to make evil actual (Mark 7:20-23).

What is God’s Purpose in Allowing Evil?

If God is so good and all-powerful why does He allow evil to happen? Made in God’s image, man was given the freedom to decide how he will act and the ability to make moral choices. Every one of us is capable of making selfish, self-centered and even evil choices.

God could have eliminated all evil from our world by simply removing our ability to choose. But if God is to both preserve freedom and defeat evil, the best way to do it is to allow each person to make his own free choice to determine his destiny. And evil is overcome in that, once those who reject God are separated from others, the decisions of all are made permanent.

It did not take God by surprise when man used his God-given free choice to disobey God. C.S. Lewis suggests that God in His omniscience “saw that from a world of free creatures, even though they fell, He could work out . . . a deeper happiness and fuller splendor than any world of automata would admit.”

Man sinned against God but God has not left us alone in this fallen world. God allowed evil and suffering in the world to bring His Son to the cross so that we might have the opportunity to obtain eternal life. God is working within the fallen world today to effect change and He uses fallen people to accomplish His will.

The problem of evil in the world

It’s also possible that God is letting evil occur so that on the day of judgment, the condemned will have no right to say that their sentence is unjust. God is not stopping people from exercising their free will.

God may have other reasons for allowing evil to exist that we simply cannot understand. But as Christians, we must have confidence in God knowing that His ways are above our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).


Too often people fall into the trap of thinking that because God hasn’t dealt with evil yet, He is not dealing with it at all. The late Dr. Walter Martin used to say, “I’ve read the last chapter in the book and we win!”

The problem of evil in the world

Yes, evil will one day be done away with. Just because evil is not destroyed right now does not mean it will never be. One day in the future, Christ will return, strip away power from the wicked and hold all men and women accountable for the things they did during their time on earth (Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 20:11-15).

Justice will ultimately prevail and those who enter eternity without having trusted in Christ for salvation will understand just how effectively God has dealt with the problem of evil in the world.

Reference Material: Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith Edited by Ravi Zacharias & Normal Geisler

Recommended Resource:

If God, Why Evil?: A New Way to Think about the Question
By Norman L. Geisler

Why does God allow evil to exist? Good question, says Geisler. Addressing metaphysical, moral, and physical complexities, he surveys evil’s nature, origin, persistence, and purpose; offers a biblical discussion of why a loving God allows some people to experience hell; and shares personal stories of believers who found real-life solutions to the conundrum of pain and suffering. 176 pages, softcover from Bethany.