Please help me answer this!


#1

Hello Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

My best friend is very angry at the Church (Christianily in general). She has been deeply hurt, but she is open to conversations reagarding Christianity. We have talked about faith for many hours. She lashes out, in hurt and anger and asks questions that I just can’t answer. As my family in Christ, I ask you to help me reach out to her.
One of her main issues is God. She can not understand how a God who is suppost to be all loving and pure goodness (her words) lets people go to hell. While I have tried to explain that it is through our free will that can condem us- as God never forces us to do anything- she can’t see how God would allow this to happen. Also, she has expressed a almost cynical and sneering attitude toward God. She has trouble understanding how God can create evil and allow it to exsist. To add to this, she thinks God is “just cruel and sick” to allow this and then to say that if you don’t choose His way (God’s way- follow the Commandments, Jesus) then you are going to Hell. She wonders where the loving God is in that instance? It’s like (to use her wording) God is not presenting you with any freedom- it’s like He’s offering a road to Hell and a road to Heaven and saying that you are free to choose, but if you don’t choose the way I (God) wants, then oops! you’re going to hell.

I have tried to answer her, to guide her, to listen to her, but I just can’t answer these questions to the fullness that she needs.
I ask you for any advice and support that I can use and pass along to her.

Like I said before, she likes to enter into conversation about faith and God, and I do not hide my faith from her either- she nows how deeply I love God, and she has said that I am the only person she can talk to about this, b/c while she has other friends who are Christian, she says that I am the only person she knows who can ‘take’ her opinions and objections and not be fatially in danger of loosing one’s faith.
I thank God for the courage He has given me and the strength of faith He bestows upon me to be able to listen to her and minister to her, while not wavering on my beliefs and convictions.
I rely on Him totally! He is my Strength!

Thank you for your time and any comments.

God Bless!
Jade.


#2

Read & give to your friend the Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Kreeft & Tacelli to help her clear up her misapprehensions.

Here’s a small sample of Kreeft’s writings:
peterkreeft.com/featured-writing.htm

The book is better suited to your friends questions.


#3

Jade,

I am hearing a couple of things.

  1. Your friend WANTS to talk about this and therefore really wants an answer she can believe in.
  2. Your friend trusts you and appreciates your willing ear.

Stay with it!!! Let her know that you value HER and want HER to share the consolation in the understanding of suffering. Your attitude will convey way more than cerebral apologetics. You seem to already have a leg up on the non-Catholic influences in her life. Show her what a Catholic is made of !

In addition, however, you would do well to read the recommended readings yourself so as to be prepared to explain it (1 Peter 3:15). I can also recommend John Paul the Great’s writings on suffering. I just read Crossing the Threshold of Hope and remember some good/useful-to-you discussion on suffering.

catholic.net/RCC/POPE/HopeBook/chap10.html

God bless you in your work!


#4

One of her main issues is God. She can not understand how a God who is suppost to be all loving and pure goodness (her words) lets people go to hell. While I have tried to explain that it is through our free will that can condem us- as God never forces us to do anything- she can’t see how God would allow this to happen.

God is the creator not a destroyer of souls so he does not unmake them. He gave them existence and free will - two of the main aspects of being created in His image and likeness. Salvation is the process of becoming (ideally) Christ-like so that we are drawn to God at the end of our earthly lives… If however we choose to reject God, He honors the gift He gave us, the gift of free will (remember it is part of being made in his image & likeness). Since we reject God, it would be more painful to be eternally in His presence than to suffer the pain of hell which is eternal separation from God. So why did God give us free will? With out free will there is no LOVE and God is LOVE. God made us for love - is it right to blame Him because we screw it up?

Also, she has expressed a almost cynical and sneering attitude toward God. She has trouble understanding how God can create evil and allow it to exsist.

God does not create evil. We allow it to exist, get over it.

To add to this, she thinks God is “just cruel and sick” to allow this and then to say that if you don’t choose His way (God’s way- follow the Commandments, Jesus) then you are going to Hell. She wonders where the loving God is in that instance?

Rules? Commandments? freedom? License? No, God is telling us how to be like Him and with Him so that we can be with Him eternally. This is our natural end and goal. He can do that (make rules & commandments for us) because He made us and knows us better then we know ourselves. When we go our own way, we make ourselves into little Gods who choose right and wrong for ourselves (sound familiar?) Adam & Eve started it by wanting to choose for themselves what is right and wrong. The problem is they didn’t know themselves very well yet. God’s fault? No. remember the freewill-is-necessary-for-LOVE- thing? Apparently the cost is worth the reward.

It’s like (to use her wording) God is not presenting you with any freedom- it’s like He’s offering a road to Hell and a road to Heaven and saying that you are free to choose, but if you don’t choose the way I (God) wants, then oops! you’re going to hell.

Frankly, you make your friend sound like a spoiled brat, pouting because Daddy won’t give her her way. God gives us freedom to do the right thing not anything.

I have tried to answer her, to guide her, to listen to her, but I just can’t answer these questions to the fullness that she needs.
I ask you for any advice and support that I can use and pass along to her.

Like I said before, she likes to enter into conversation about faith and God, and I do not hide my faith from her either- she nows how deeply I love God, and she has said that I am the only person she can talk to about this, b/c while she has other friends who are Christian, she says that I am the only person she knows who can ‘take’ her opinions and objections and not be fatially in danger of loosing one’s faith.
I thank God for the courage He has given me and the strength of faith He bestows upon me to be able to listen to her and minister to her, while not wavering on my beliefs and convictions.
I rely on Him totally! He is my Strength!

Thank you for your time and any comments.

God Bless!
Jade.

Good luck


#5

As far as the evil in the world…it is always somehow connected to men (except of course natural disasters) God is good. Is dieing so horrible? God doesn’t think of dieing as horrible, only we do because of fear.

Bad things happen to good people. Whenever something bad happens to me, I always learn from it, and inevitably something good comes from it.

I think of this life as school…we are all in there learning, and striving to Obey G-d, and to love one another.

Mere Christianity would be a good book for her


#6

Anyone reading this thread ought to say a prayer for her to the Holy Spirit right now.

Peace.
John


#7

:slight_smile: Pehaps you can tell her that without free will to to say yes of no to God we would not have been free but we would have been Gods marionettes / puppets. A God who wanted dolls to play with instead of really human beings, could not be a loving God. By giving us free will, God risks something. He risks that some of those He loves will turn his back on their back on Him and chose to be Satans “children” instead.

About the the meaning of suffering, this book might help:

Making Sense out of Suffering by Peter Kreeft

catalog.americancatholic.org/product.aspx?prodid=T2193&pcat=111

aquinasandmore.com/index.cfm/FuseAction/store.ItemDetails/SKU/1907/

All my best wishes!

:blessyou:


#8

I can’t help wondering what kind of God she would want as an alternative.

A God who forces us to love? But then that wouldn’t truly be love, since love is always chosen, never forced.

A God who excuses whatever we do no matter what? But then God would not be fair and just. Does she want an unfair God?


#9

Dear Quasimodo,

Thank you for your post.

“God is LOVE” She doesn’t think so. She thinks it is impossiable for God to be Love.

“God does not create evil. We allow it to exist, get over it.”

To add to my point above, how can God be love when Satan exsists. If God was love and all knowing (is her thinking) then how can a God who is total love, create Satan, knowing that he would fall and bring thousands of people to eternal damnation? She argues that God did create evil b/c he created Satan. I replied that Satan had free choice as well, as all the angels do- and those who chose to side with Satan, had a* choice* to do it or not. But she returned with he still allowed it to happen- if he was so loving, why would he do that, knowing how many it would damn?

“Frankly, you make your friend sound like a spoiled brat, pouting because Daddy won’t give her her way.”

She just doesn’t understand. Please pray for her. And she is not a spoiled brat…she’s deeply hurt and questioning.

Again, thanks for your post and advice.
God Bless!

Jade.


#10

[quote=john ennis]Anyone reading this thread ought to say a prayer for her to the Holy Spirit right now.

Peace.
John
[/quote]

John,

Thank you!!!

And to everyone who has responded so far- many thanks!!

Jade.


#11

Sounds like my son just last year…

a couple of good books…short, sweet, to the point, interesting enough for a 16 year old young man to read cover-to-cover in 1-2 days…and come away feeling affirmed in the Catholic faith - mostly in his belief in a loving God as opposed to “the master gamer - as if humanity was one large SIMS game to Him”.

Lee Strobel’s:
A Case for Faith
A Case for Christ
We started with the Student’s version then went to the book store to get the real versions (those took a bit more to read). Keep in mind Lee is not Catholic, but except for one fine point about salvation, the rest of the books were pretty much on the money.

C.S. Lewis:
The Screwtape Letters
Mere Christianity
The Four Loves

We bought Kreft’s Apologetics book referenced by a previous poster but could not get past the first chapter - too philosophical for him. Still, we keep it on hand for reference when a question comes up, so it’s good to have next to the Catechism of Catholicism and the Bible.

Look into Father Corapi’s sermons (fathercorapi.com/ )…they are reasonable in price, and good to have on hand…buy them for yourself and loan them to her.

I’d recommend any DVDs or CDs of Jeff Cavins’ as well…
jeffcavins.com/

I recommend these because they were intriguing, interesting and so well presented they kept the full attention of my 16 year old ADHDer, so that’s rather remarkable.


#12

[quote=Jade]She has trouble understanding how God can create evil and allow it to exsist.
[/quote]

again the same old story… to blame on God evil men do…
it is hard to understand it, when the Son of God became flesh with only one purpose: to suffer for us to save us from, precisely, evil…
when men do evil, God is the victim…


#13

Freedom exists for the sake of love. We’re all meant to go to heaven to be exceedingly happy for ever, and so to choose good over evil. True happiness and joy is found in doing what is right, and pursuing holiness, and so really, it’s quite absurd to be even thinking of choosing evil over good - it’s only our because of our lack of knowledge and realization of the reality that evil would appear attractive in any way.

So God allows freedom, because love is not love when it is not freely chosen. It is because of the greatness of love itself, that freedom has to exist. Evil and suffering exist, yes, but God did not create them. He is in the people who suffer. He is in the victims and the helpless and the poor and the hungry. He is not a distant God observing us with detachment; he cries out from within us all, and is intimately involved in our daily struggles. In all this, God somehow manages to use evil and bring good out of it.

In the mean time, Jesus, God himself, pleads for mercy to the Father on our behalf, through his own Eucharistic sacrifice in the Mass that he has been offering for 2000 years. We, the Church, unite our own petitions with him to plead for mercy on sinners, and so we can have hope that God will be merciful. I think we can be hopeful, and definitely prayerful, about the salvation of sinners - and this is a great privilege for us Christians, and especially Catholics.

Jade, I used to think in exactly the same way as your friend. I’m a convert (since 2003) from plain agnosticism. I think this issue really is one of the greatest obstacles for non-believers. God bless you heaps, and may the Holy Spirit inspire you in your dialogue, and rest on your friend.


#14

Mere Christianity - my suggestion for the best starting point. Lewis gave a series of talks during the war, and these became this amazing book. Read it, and pass it on!


#15

[quote=Jade]Hello Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

My best friend is very angry at the Church (Christianily in general). She has been deeply hurt, but she is open to conversations reagarding Christianity. We have talked about faith for many hours. She lashes out, in hurt and anger and asks questions that I just can’t answer.
[/quote]

First, I would ask, where is all the anger comming from. She might have to overcome that before she is even able to accept the Truth.

God Bless.


#16

Did God create evil? Augustine, in his Confessions, describes evil not as any thing, but the lack of something. It did not need to be created, because it isn’t a substance at all.

Evil is the state of lacking God and God’s love, as a result of our own choice. In His love, he allows us to love Him or not–otherwise it wouldn’t be love at all but some automatic, instinctive act. So we can separate ourselves from Him, entering into a state which we call evil. He didn’t create it; He is its opposite, and its solution.

Peace.
John


#17

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