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An unfree world where all evil is excluded would not be as good as the actual world in which freedom is permitted to fall into evil, called to struggle against evil, and offered redemption from evil. “If evil were completely excluded from things, much good would be rendered impossible. Consequently it is the concern of divine providence, not to safeguard all beings from evil, but to see to it that the evil which arises is ordained to some good” (St. Thomas Aquinas). . . .

Many creaturely goods are enabled in this world that could not occur unless there were evils against which to struggle. Patience, for example, could not be nurtured in a perfect world. Thomas’s example: There could not be s new generation of a species unless there were also death in that species. . . .

We learn by experience, by moving through stages of growth, and by struggling toward good through evil. It is often only when we are forced to face adversity that we learn and grown strong by meeting challenges and overcoming obstacles. So faith learns gradually to affirm that what at one point appears to be unmitigated evil or suffering may at a different point appear to serve our well-being of improvement, increasing patience and compassion. . . .

The abuse if freedom points toward repentance. Penitent faith reclaims freedom of the will by grace. In this way even the abuse if freedom is a stage that may lead closer toward redemption. God permits freedom to fall in order that we may arrive at a deeper consciousness of our own finitude and our own inability to attain righteousness on our own. Hence temptation, sin, and suffering are paradoxically linked closely with providence. By our failures to follow the law we are trained to rely not upon our own righteousness, but grace. . . .

In the last judgement the dilemma of evil will be resolved.

Thomas Oden, Classic Christianity, pages 155-157

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