When the Rev. A. LeGrand announced as his subject...

Quincy (Ill.) Herald

When the Rev. A. LeGrand announced as his subject Sunday, "Why Does a Righteous God Allow Suffering?" we had hoped to have some satisfactory explanation of something that has worried the world ever since the world was. The good minister was rather clever in his presentation of the subject. He told how man was ennobled by suffering; how it was a benefit in checking too great complacency and self-sufficiency in prosperity; that suffering was the alchemy which refined out the coarseness and separated the good from the bad. "True greatness is the result of much hardship. Suffering may also remind us that we are on the path of error. When we turn from right and duty, suffering overtakes us, not for the purpose of punishment, that vengeance may be wreaked upon us, but to turn us to the path of right. Many a man has stopped abusing mind and body because of the warnings of pain."

All of which, while it sounds well and may give a very good explanation of the value of suffering, still does not answer the question of the text satisfactorily. Why does God permit it? Why does the great creator of everything that is good, create evil? With all power, all wisdom, all goodness, why does not God make man perfect and good, so that there is no need for him to suffer pain or do evil? That is the puzzle which most religious sects and theologies have tried to answer for ages in vain. Concede, as all Christians do, that God is absolute goodness, and that He made everything that was made, how can the idea of evil and suffering be reconciled with His infinite goodness? The Bible says, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." Where, then, does all this evil and pain that fills the world with never-ending anguish come from? If God created them, they cannot belong to the things that He saw were "very good." If He permits suffering, is that an attribute of goodness? If an earthly parent allows his children to suffer from disease and pain when he could prevent it, would any one say that he was a good father? Now, if God did not make evil, where did it come from? Did something else make it? If so, then there is more than one creator, and God is no longer the only power and "great First Cause." That takes away from divinity its infinity, and God is deprived of His absolute character as maker of everything that is made.

There may come a time when advanced metaphysical understanding may be able to explain to poor, weak mortals why an all-wise, good, and righteous God inflicts suffering and evil upon our helpless race. As yet theology, notwithstanding its philosophic and high-sounding speculations and explanation, has not been able to elucidate this mystery to the satisfaction of mankind. One sect, which is discredited somewhat by other churches, has a solution which possibly may possess advantages over the others in answering this question, if their doctrine could be understood and accepted. They maintain that since God created everything and it is conceded to be all good, the existence of evil is an unreality; that just as every one of the material senses deceives us at times, so we are deceived by our material belief in the reality of evil; that wrong thinking makes suffering and all the ills that beset frail humanity; and that there may come a time in the consciousness of every one when, looked at from a spiritual rather than a material standpoint, he may recognize evil and pain as a delusion or a dream, having no actuality. When this mental attitude is reached, these metaphysicians maintain that suffering and evil will disappear into their native nothingness.

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December 23, 1911

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