While Scripture emphasizes God’s ultimate authority over the world, it also emphasizes that agents, whom God has created, can and do resist his will. Humans and fallen angels are able to grieve his Spirit and to some extent frustrate his purposes (e.g. Gen. 6:6; Isa. 63:10; Luke 7:30; Acts 7:51; Eph. 4:30; Heb. 3:8, 15; 4:7). Scripture refers to this myriad of other angels and humans who refuse to submit to God’s rule as a rebel kingdom (Matt. 12:26; Col. 1:13; Rev. 11:15), and identifies the head of this rebellion as a powerful fallen angel named Satan. It is clear that God shall someday vanquish this rebel kingdom, but it is equally clear that in the meantime, he genuinely wars against it.
This prominent biblical motif expresses what I call the “warfare worldview.” The world is caught up in a spiritual war between God and Satan. Unlike the blueprint worldview, the warfare worldview does not assume that there is a specific divine reason for what Satan and other evil agents do. To the contrary, God fights these opponents precisely because their purposes are working against his purposes.
Suffering takes on a different meaning when it is considered in the context of a cosmic war as opposed to a context in which everything is part of God’s meticulous plan and mysterious higher good. In the warfare worldview we would not wonder about what specific divine reason God might have had in allowing little children to be buried alive in mud or a little girl to be kidnapped. Instead, we would view these individuals as “victims of war” and assign the blame to human or demonic beings who oppose God’s will. Following Scripture, we would of course look to God for comfort in the midst of our suffering, trust that he is working to bring good out of the evil, and find consolation in our confidence that the war will someday come to a glorious end. But we would not look to God’s purposes for the explanation of why any particular evil occurred in the first place. In the warfare worldview, this is understood to be the result of the evil intentions and activity of human and angelic agents.