You have probably seen by now one of the ads for Bill Maher’s new documentary “Religulous.” If you haven’t seen it, it’s a movie that was produced for the expressed purpose of denigrating religion. The fundamental point seems to be that having faith in any religion is ridiculousâ€”thus “Religulous.” In the trailer for the movie, the following exchange takes place between Maher and a person dressed up like Jesus.
Maher: Why doesn’t [God] just obliterate the devil and therefore get rid of evil in the world?
Jesus Impersonator: He will.
Maher: He will?
Jesus Impersonator: That’s correct.
Maher: What’s he waiting for?
The whole point of the exchange is to show how ridiculous it is that the Christian God will not do anything about evil in the world even though He’s supposed to be both good and all-powerful. Even though it’s delivered with sarcastic humor, Maher is asking a serious question. At bottom the exchange is really about the classical question of theodicy, and the whole thing is framed in a way to discredit the Christian faith.
In a recent blog post, John Piper answers Maher’s question, though he doesn’t mention Maher’s name. Nevertheless, the title of Piper’s essay reads like an allusion to “Religulous”: “Why not destroy the devil now?” Piper gives an answer that is (as you might expect) grounded in God’s passion for His own glory. God is most glorified by allowing Satan to remain for a time. He writes:
“The glory of Christ is seen in his absolute right and power to annihilate or incapacitate Satan and all demons. But the reason he refrains from destroying and disabling them altogether is to manifest more clearly his superior beauty and worth. If Christ obliterated all devils and demons now (which he could do), his sheer power would be seen as glorious, but his superior beauty and worth would not shine as brightly as when humans renounce the promises of Satan and take pleasure in the greater glory of Christ.”
Maher’s question deserved a serious answer, and I am grateful that Piper took the time to write one. You should read the rest.