I asked Kreeft to move on to the next divine quality-God's omniscience. He pushed back his chair to get more comfortable, then looked off to the side as he collected his thoughts once more.
"Let's begin this way," he said. "God, if he is all-wise, knows not only the present but the future. And he knows not only present good and evil but future good and evil. If his wisdom vastly exceeds ours, as the hunter's exceeds the bear's, it is at least possible-contrary to Templeton's analysis-that a loving God could deliberately tolerate horrible things like starvation because he foresees that in the long run that more people will be better and happier than if he miraculously intervened. That's at least intellectually possible."
I shook my head. "That's still hard to accept," I said. "It sounds like a cop-out to me."
"Okay, then, let's put it to the test," Kreeft replied. "You see, God has specifically shown us very clearly how this can work. He has demonstrated how the very worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the world ended up resulting in the very best thing that has ever happened in the history of the world."
"What do you mean?
"I'm referring to dei-tide," he replied. "The death of God himself on the cross. At the time, nobody saw how anything good could ever result from this tragedy. And yet God foresaw that the result would be the opening of heaven to human beings. So the worst tragedy in history brought about the most glorious event in history. And if it happened there-if the ultimate evil can result in the ultimate good-it can happen elsewhere, even in our own individual lives. Here, God lifts the curtain and lets us see it. Elsewhere he simply says, 'Trust me.'
"All of which would mean that human life is incredibly dramatic, like a story for which you don't know the ending rather than a scientific formula. In fact, let's follow this dramatic story line for a minute.
"Suppose you're the devil. You're the enemy of God and you want to kill him, but you can't. However, he has this ridiculous weakness of creating and loving human beings, whom you can get at. Aha! Now you've got hostages! So you simply come down into the world, corrupt humankind, and drag some of them to hell. When God sends prophets to enlighten them, you kill the prophets.
"Then God does the most foolish thing of all-he sends his own Son and he plays by the rules of the world. You say to yourself, 'I can't believe he's that stupid! Love has addled his brains! All I have to do is inspire some of my agents-Herod, Pilate, Caiaphas, the Roman soldiers-and get him crucified.' And that's what you do.
"So there he hangs on the cross-forsaken by man and seemingly by God, bleeding to death and crying, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' What do you feel now as the devil? You feel triumph and vindication! But of course you couldn't be more wrong. This is his supreme triumph and your supreme defeat. He stuck his heel into your mouth and you bit it and that blood destroyed you.
"Now, if that is not a freak occurrence, but it's a paradigm of the human situation, then when we bleed and when we suffer, as Christ did, maybe the same thing is happening. Maybe this is God's way of defeating the devil.
"At the time of the crucifixion, the disciples couldn't see how anything good could result; similarly, as we face struggles and trials and suffering, we sometimes can't imagine good emerging. But we've seen how it did in the case of Jesus, and we can trust it will in our case too. For instance, the greatest Christians in history seem to say that their sufferings ended up bringing them the closest to God-so this is the best thing that could happen, not the worst."
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