Why does God allow people to do evil?

This article was printed in the Winter edition of New Wine magazine, and is reproduced here by permission.

We are confronted almost daily with the reality of evil people at large in our world. Robert Mugabe is the latest in the long line of villainous leaders to dominate headlines. President of Zimbabwe since 1980, he has inflicted untold misery on his people—so why has he been allowed to continue? It is striking that Western policy in recent years has often appeared to be shaped by response to individuals, evil leaders who need to be toppled. So the second Gulf War in Iraq was directed specifically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. And it was seen to be a triumph of Western action that Gaddafi was deposed as leader of Libya. However evil certain systems or cultures appear to be, it is evil people that we feel the need to focus on.

Questions in Scripture

Scripture appears similarly to be concerned with evil individuals, and the challenge they offer to our understanding of God’s love and power. What will God’s response be to evil and obstinate Pharoah, oppressing and enslaving God’s people? asks the writer of Exodus. What will God do about a succession of kings of Israel and Judah who ‘do evil in the sight of the Lord’? asks the writer of 1 and 2 Kings. How can God not only allow the foreign leader Cyrus to flourish, but actually make use of him in liberating his people? asks Isaiah. What sense can we make of the tyrannical kings Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar and Darius as we face tyranny in our own day? asks Daniel. The questions continue to haunt us.

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Summary: the Bible on women and authority

I have just finished writing a Grove Biblical booklet on ‘Women and authority: key biblical texts’ which aims to explore all the key texts in 32 pages, due out in the next week or so. I am aiming to cover Gen 1, 2 and 3, Luke 24, John 20, Acts 18, Romans 161 Cor 111 Cor  14Eph 5 and 1 Tim 2.

Having wrestled with these texts for the last two years, this is my considered summary:

1. The creation accounts offer no evidence of hierarchy in male-female relationships as part of the original created

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How should we vote about women bishops?

On Monday I attended a really helpful meeting in anticipation of the Diocesan Synod vote on the motion from General Synod proposing a way forward on women bishops. This essentially proposes a ‘middle way’ between simply going ahead, and making a legally structured provision for those disagreeing. It proposes to put in place delegated (rather than transferred) episcopal oversight, accessed by a Letter of Request from a PCC, with a Code of Practice ensuring that the provision is adequate. (Having just written this, I realise how complex the whole thing is, and baffling to those who have not been following closely.)

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2 Corinthians: Strength in weakness

I am working with Celia Kellett at BBC Radio Nottingham on an idea to present most of the books of the Bible, one a week, during 2011 as part of the celebrations of the King James Bible.The plan is to read some verses from the book, to give a one-and-a-half minute summary, to hear a human interest story which relates, and then include a short discussion making the connections.

Here are the key verses and summary for Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians to be broadcast this Sunday 3rd April from around 7.45 am:

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Can women be pioneering church planters?

I am in the process of writing a Grove Biblical booklet with the title ‘Women and authority: key biblical texts’ which aims to explore all the key texts in 28 pages! Due out later this month. I am aiming to cover Gen 1, 2, 3, Luke 24, John 20, Acts 18, Romans 16, 1 Cor 111 Cor  14, Eph 5 and 1 Tim 2.

Here is the section on Acts 18.

This passage relates Paul’s first visit to Corinth and the establishment of a congregation there, followed by his first visit to Ephesus. His partners in ministry are named as Priscilla and Aquila, believing Jews with Latin names who have come from Rome following the Emperor Claudius’ edict expelling the Jews. There are some uncertainties around the dating of this edict, and whether Acts matches other contemporary accounts. But the most likely dating for the edict is 49 AD, so Paul’s visit should be dated to around 50, since Priscilla and Aquila had arrived in Corinth ‘recently’.[1] The passage is rather compressed, giving a briefer account of Paul’s 18-

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Finding our way

Footprints in the snowIt was the end of a really good week. The snow had been great, the sun had been out, and we had had a lot of fun as a family. The bags were packed, the skis returned, and all we needed to do now was find the car.

Alas, it was parked at the bottom of the hill, quite a long distance below us vertically, and an even longer way by the typically winding Swiss mountain roads. How were we going to get there? Was there a quicker way, a sure route down?

At last, we saw it. Others had had the same challenge as us, and we could see their

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What is the meaning of ‘head’?

I am in the process of writing a Grove Biblical booklet with the title ‘Women and authority: key biblical texts’ which aims to explore all the key texts in 28 pages! Due out in March. I cover Gen 1, 2, 3, Luke 24, John 20, Acts 18, Romans 16, 1 Cor 11 and 14, Eph 5, 1 Tim 2.

Here is the section on 1 Cor 11. Any comments welcomed.

This passage is often seen as a key one in the discussion about gender relations because of Paul’s use of the idea of ‘head’, and applying this to relations within the Godhead as well as human relations. We

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Should women keep silent in church?

I am in the process of writing a Grove Biblical booklet with the title ‘Women and authority: key biblical texts’ which aims to explore all the key texts in 28 pages! Due out in March. I cover Gen 1, 2, 3, Luke 24, John 20, Acts 18, Romans 16, 1 Cor 11 and 14, Eph 5, 1 Tim 2.

Here is the section on 1 Cor 14.34–35. Any comments welcomed.

These verses are problematic mainly because they appear to contradict not only what Paul has said in chapters 11 and 12 but also what has been said in the immediately preceding verses. If women are

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