(Developing my recent post on the parousia and divine crucifomity.)
(1) If, in the beginning, the character of God compels God to allow the existence of evil (i.e. out of respect for the free agency of his creation, or whatever), then this implies that, in the end, God is compelled by God’s character to allow evil to persist (i.e. God cannot put a forceful end to evil, since God couldn’t forcefully prevent evil in the first place).
(2) If, however, the character of God does not compel God to allow the existence of evil, if God simply chooses to allow evil to come into being, then God could forcefully overthrow evil in the end. However, this alternative is equally problematic because it means God could have chosen to prevent evil in the beginning but chose not to.
(3) The final(?) alternative is that evil is somehow an eternal force or being that has existed alongside of God, and exists apart from what God chooses or what God is compelled to allow based upon God’s character. Naturally, from a Christian perspective which affirms God’s uniqueness and sovereignty, this is even more problematical than the first two positions I’ve outlined.
Thus, we are left with three equally troubling options: either God’s character prevents him from stopping evil (and so evil will endure ad infinitum) or God simply chooses to allow evil (thereby making God appear to be fairly evil) or God and evil are like competing deities (thereby leading to an Eastern sort of philosophy or polytheism).
Consequently, I continue to think that the problem of evil (and suffering) is the great challenge to faith. I have not yet read any satisfactory response to this challenge.