It’s an ancient question that still lingers in the minds of many skeptics and probably more than a few Christians: Where did evil come from? Yes, a person can read in Scripture how the fall of humanity occurred (Genesis 3), but how is that moment even made possible? In other words, if God created everything to be good, then how does the possibility of pride exist BEFORE that tragic moment in the garden? In the following video, Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, tackles this thorny question.
Keller encourages us to be careful about adopting a dualistic approach to this theological dilemma, which is to assert that good and evil will always exist and creates a worldview that leads to hopelessness. Instead, we as Christians must humbly confess that the inception of evil is a mystery. This question is a “white spot” on the topography of Christian theology, which means there is no definitive and precise answer. Christianity is not alone in this, though, because every worldview, if its adherents are honest, has mysteries. No religion is able to answer every philosophical and theological tension.
Keller warns that saying evil is an illusion or that evil is unconquerable (as some would suggest) is not helpful because it ignores the real need for justice and hope that is ingrained in the human heart. Why advocate for the oppressed if evil doesn’t really exist? Why persevere in a broken world if evil is unconquerable? This is why the best answer to where evil comes from may be the most uncomfortable. It is simply a mystery. In conclusion, a quote from one of Keller’s seminary professors just might be the most helpful: “Where God has shut His mouth, I should be afraid to open mine.”