Part four of McMurrins book addresses Mormon theology and the problem of evil. McMurrin contends that the explanation of moral and natural evil is the most persistent problem that any theistic philosophy must contend. He rightly suggests that this is an area of chief theoretical strength for Mormonism. Here the free will of the uncreated self joins with the non-absolutistic conception of divine power to absolve God of complicity of moral evil. Also, the uncreated impersonal environment provides the explanation of natural evil.

In Mormon thought evil is seen as a potentially positive factor in the area of human experience, and much of the purpose of existence is found in the struggle to overcome it. In this struggle, the moral decisions of mankind make a genuine difference in their own destinies, and in the history of the world. Evil is seen as a given element in the world. Moral evil is the inevitable consequence of genuine moral freedom. Natural evil is the result of a morally neutral material universe. God is not seen as responsible for either that freedom or that neutrality. These are uncreated facts of existence.

For Mormons, the vocation of man is found in this experience of moral struggle against evil. And the God whom they worship participates in that struggle with them. He suffers when they suffer, and grieves for their sins, and rejoices in their triumphs. Mormons believe that they are laborers together with God in their efforts to subdue evil.

With this theology, God is not held as the author of evil. Yet evil is genuine and real, not just relative to man’s limited experience and perspective, but real from any standpoint. With this view God is set against evil and is committed to its destruction, which destruction is in process. Thus the absolute goodness of God can be declared, and the dignity and moral responsibility of man is upheld.

This of course does not answer every possible question associated with evil. Understanding when God intervenes seems at times to be a mystery - to provide one example. But the non-absolute concept of God, and the genuine moral freedom of man, provide a foundation for a reasoned explanation for the problem of evil. To further attempt explanations of evil is the task of theology. The task of Mormonism is to achieve in man the noble character to live through the severest adversity, and to transmute loss and sorrow into some moral good for the universe.

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