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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « The “Active Obedience” of Jesus Christ In The Justification of Sinners | Main | The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Part 3 by Rev. C. R. Biggs »

    Letter from Visitor on Calvinism, Evil and God's Holiness

    Today I received an email to my to Monergism.com account from a visitor named Shawn. He asked some important questions on on Calvinism, Evil and God's Holiness. I have reproduced his email in full with my response (with a couple paragraphs on Job that quote liberally from John Piper)

    Dear Mr. Hendryx,

    I've been reading your website with interest and find it to be one of the very best Calvinistic resources I've seen on the net. I am not a Calvinist, though I can't say I'm decisively against Calvinism either. I still have lingering questions which I hope you might be able to answer, or point me to ressources that would help.

    Perhaps my main objection to accepting Calvinism involves the problem of evil. I've read several of the articles you have on the subject (by Piper, Bahnsen, [Cheung] and two others by authors whose names I can't recall), but none
    seemed to offer any new or helpful answers to my objections/doubts/questions.

    This is what I understand the Calvinistic claim to be: God is sovereign over everything, having decreed before the foundation of the world everything that will come to pass. This would include, I should think, all moral evil, whether realized in word, thought or deed, or merely imagined in man's heart. In other words, before there was a devil, man, or sin, God 'imagined' (for lack of a better word) all of the horrific, sinful and debased things that have ever and will ever come to pass, and then chose to actualize them. God was not coerced into allowing evil to exist as if it was outside of his power. Rather, God chose to actualize sin and evil where before there was none. Would that be an accurate conception so far?

    If it is, then my first thought is that whether or not God uses the Devil or humans as 'secondy' causes of these evils seems to be a moot point at best. I can't help but think that sin, death, and the Devil are nothing more than God in disguise. When I ask some Calvinist friends about this they usually answer in one of two way. Either to say (1) reconciling a holy God with an evil decree is a mystery we should not even talk about; or (2) God is unquestionably the author of evil, but since God is God, and by definition all that he does is good, he can do whatever he likes.
    And so we come to my two objection or concerns with Calvinism.

    My first problem is fairly straightforward: I have one life to live - why should I spend it serving a God who admittedly is the author of all evil in the world, especially when there are other equally plausible Christian accounts of God that claim he is not the author of evil? Wouldn't making God the first cause of all evil be a reason to think that account is false?

    Secondly, if God is the first cause/author of evil, it would seem that claims by Calvinists that God is good, just, or holy, are pretty hollow. At least I haven't read any that seem even remotely convincing. But I have a deep-seated conviction that God is holy, and could not be the inventer, creator or decree-er of evil, therefore its hard for me to accept that Calvinism is true. Rather than being holy or good, it seems to me that in Calvinism what is decisive is that God is all-powerful, where might makes right. He's holy because he says he's holy; He's good because he says he is good, even if he acts contrarily to what he has decreed to be good and holy. I'll leave what questions/comments/objections at that, and hope you might be able to point a way forward. Cheers, Shawn

    Response

    Shawn

    Thanks for your email. It appears from your email that most all of your objections are moral rather than exegetical. You are, therefore, basing your considerations and thus your theological future on shakey ground...

    The conclusions you eventually reach, I would contend, should be based on what the Scripture says. For the alternative is to draw your highest presuppositions from something other than an authoritative source, such as unaided human reason. It would likewise cause you to draw the erroneous conclusion that God can somehow be taken by surprise ... that there is actually something called "chance" in the universe, something over which God has no control, and thus it very well may be that, in the end, this thing called chance will get the upper hand. For if God had no control over evil entering the universe (i.e. if it was against his will but occured anyway), then it would appear He is not all-powerful and that there is some other entity in the universe which may even be more powerful than He. Such is what we must conclude from the position you seem to be toying with. My advice is to come up with exegetical grounds for your position, rather than base your theology on an emotional reaction against someone elses. Truth must be derived from looking at the whole counsel of Scripture, not just texts we like.

    Remember, regarding the death of Jesus the Biblical text says, "...both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done." (Acts 4:27-28)

    So the Bible itself testifies that God ordained evil men to crucify Jesus. Acts 2 says the same. So you need to be able to develop a theology which fits that into your view. While you may not understand it, you must yield to what the Scripture teaches regarding God's meticulous hand of providence in all things:

    God "works all things after the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11). This "all things" includes the fall of sparrows (Matthew 10:29), the rolling of dice (Proverbs 16:33), the slaughter of his people (Psalm 44:11), the decisions of kings (Proverbs 21:1), the failing of sight (Exodus 4:11), the sickness of children (2 Samuel 12:15), the loss and gain of money (1 Samuel 2:7), the suffering of saints (1 Peter 4:19), the completion of travel plans (James 4:15), the persecution of Christians (Hebrews 12:4-7), the repentance of souls (2 Timothy 2:25), the gift of faith (Philippians 1:29), the pursuit of holiness (Philippians 3:12-13), the growth of believers (Hebrews 6:3), the giving of life and the taking in death (1 Samuel 2:6), and the crucifixion of his Son (Acts 4:27-28).

    From the smallest thing to the greatest thing, good and evil, happy and sad, pagan and Christian, pain and pleasure - God governs them all for his wise and just and good purposes (Isaiah 46:10). Lest we miss the point, the Bible speaks most clearly to this in the most painful situations. Amos asks, in time of disaster, "If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?" (Amos 3:6). After losing all ten of his children in the collapse of his son's house, Job says, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). After being covered with boils he says, "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10).

    John Piper once wisely said, "Oh, yes, Satan is real and active and involved in this world of woe! In fact Job 2:7 says, "Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head." Satan struck him. But Job did not get comfort from looking at secondary causes. He got comfort from looking at the ultimate cause. "Shall we not accept adversity from God?" And the author of the book agrees with Job when he says that Job's brothers and sisters "consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the LORD had brought on him" (Job 42:11). Then James underlines God's purposeful goodness in Job's misery: "You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful" (James 5:11). Job himself concludes in prayer: "I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted" (Job 42:2). Yes, Satan is real, and he is terrible - and he is on a leash."

    As for the alternative views you are considering, they cannot consistently say that God foreknew who would be saved and then preach that God is trying to save every man. Surely if God knows whom He can save or who will be saved, then who would say that He is trying to save more? Certainly, it is foolish to assert that God is trying to do something which He knew never could be accomplished.

    Likewise other positions cannot consistently say that God foreknew which sinners would be lost and then say it is not within God's will to allow these sinners to be lost. Why did He create them? It is important that the synergist consider this question. God could have just as easily refrained from creating those that He knew would go to Hell. He knew where they were going before He created them, correct?. Since He went ahead and created them with full knowledge that they would be lost, it is evidently within God's providence that some sinners be lost, He evidently has some purpose in it which we human beings cannot fully discern. The Christian humanist can complain against the truth that God chose to allow some men a final destiny of Hell all they want, but it is as much a problem for them as for anyone. As a matter of fact, it is a problem which they must face like anyone else. If they face it, he will have to admit either the error of his theology or deny foreknowledge all together. But he might say that God had to create those that perish, even against His will. This would make God subject to Fate.

    Likewise these cannot consistently say that God foreknew who would be saved and then preach that God the Holy Spirit does all He can do to save every man in the world. The Holy Spirit would be wasting time and effort to endeavor to convert a man who He knew from the beginning would go to Hell. You hear these other positions talk about how the Spirit tries to get men to be saved and if they don't yield to him they will "cross the line" and offend the Spirit so that He will never try to save them again. Bottom line, the synergist makes a finite creature out of the Divine Godhead.

    Listen, when disaster strikes, we should not sit around and presume that such persons must have done something worse than we did to have to deserved such a thing. Rather, we should wonder why it did not happen to us. When the tower of Siloam fell on some people, Jesus said, "Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:4,5) In other words, disaster should strike into our hearts the precarious position of mankind as a whole before God and His judgment, specificially it should make us consider that but for the grace of God, that would be me.

    Hope this helps clarify some things ...most of all, I would challenge you to let the conclusions you ultimately draw take into account all biblical evidence.

    John
    ---------------------

    His response.....

    Dear Mr. Hendryx,

    Thank you for your reasoned reply. You are right to point out that my objections and conclusions need to be shaped by exegesis rather than by reason. That is a lesson I find hard to accept, and yet it is one I must surely learn.

    Cheers,
    Shawn

    Posted by John on June 7, 2006 09:00 PM

    Comments

    Amen, I am glad to hear this response. It is a hard question to deal with. I am glad of your excellent response.

    The Mystery of God Ordaining But Not Doing Sin. That's the title of one of the sections in John Piper's sermon "The Suffering of Christ and the Sovereignty of God" (http://www.desiringgod.org/library/sermons/05/100905.html)

    Piper spoke at the Passion06 conference with a similar message and theme..that sin, and thus suffering has been ordained by God in order to ultimately display the GREATNESS of the GLORY of God's GRACE!

    How depraved would it be for us to think otherwise:S

    John,

    Thanks for the excellent points, especially the exhortation to be textual in our reasonings.

    Shawn,

    Thanks for your openness and honesty in dealing with these difficult questions. Let me add one more thought for you to ponder.

    The Bible clearly teaches that everything in history is done for the glory of God (Rev. 4:11, Is. 43:7, etc). This is true of the evil things that happen as well as the good (Proverbs 16:4, Romans 9:22-24, etc.). Those evil things which happen, according to scriptures, provide the opportunity for God to be glorified in regards to his justice, holiness, wrath against sin, and so on.

    This leads me to the point I want to make. God's holiness may be displayed more clearly than if he had ordained that sin never be by his ordaining that certain creatures, by their own corrupt wills, rebel against him; and then, by distributing the punishment commensurate with their actions. In other words, the extent of God's opposition to evil is more clearly seen when God ordains evil together with its just punishment (either in Christ on the cross or in sinners in hell), than if he never allowed evil to be manifested at all. And whenever any aspect of the nature of God is seen, God is glorified. This (the glory of God) is the over-arching reason for creation. And sin, redemption, and wrath display the manifold nature of God's glory more clearly than could have been done otherwise. This is the deepest scriptural reason we are given for the existence of evil (see especially Romans 9); and with it, we must be content, no matter what misgivings we may naturally bring to the table.

    Soli Deo Gloria

    Shawn:

    Here's a couple resources I found helpful:
    http://rmiweb.org/books/authorsin.pdf
    http://rmiweb.org/other/problemevil.pdf

    Removes the 'mystery' of the 'problem' of evil.

    A very interesting exchange! The problems of evil are certainly difficult. I can't imagine that anyone has ever lived who hasn't struggled with them. More than one atheist has tried to convince me of evolution based on chemistry or mathematics, but has inevitibly ended up down in the dregs of philosophy, pleading to know how a good God could let bad things happen.

    As with many other matters, my solutions to this problem used to be based almost entirely on my own speculations and reasoning. The world's greatest arguments can be 100% logically sound, and still be 100% wrong if we've begun with the wrong premises! That's what I spent many, many years doing...and surely still do.

    It's always great to have someone who can point out our wanderings to us, even when it hurts to hear it.

    There are some great articles on this topic in this month's Tabletalk, too.

    My brother and fellow laborer

    I wanted to write and thank you for posting the email exchange between yourself and "Shawn" regarding God's holiness and the question of evil. I have been a student of Reform Theology for about three years now and I have found a breath taking amount of understanding of our mighty God in studying on this path. (I discovered Monergism.com early on thankfully because it is of immeasurable worth to the budding Calvanist!) I jokingly refer to myself as a 12 point Calvanist, and God has brought me into a body where this understanding is nurtured exegetically by my pastor and several other great men of God. However, the matter of reconciling God's holiness with all of the evils that take place in the world, has been something of a sticking point in my own theology, though until now I have been resolved to accept it as beyond my understanding. I never realized truly how many areas of scripture come together to crystallize God's actions in a way that not only would humanists be able to consider Him to be evil (because of their blindness), but also in a way that His children can praise Him for His glory in seeing and knowing the end result of personal tragedy...something the world refuses to see. Thank you for pointing them out and above all for encouraging Shawn to pursue scripture for an explanation rather than the
    teachings of one or another person.

    I agree with Bill, interesting article indeed and Shawn is honest, may God help him. the comments here say much of and more than what I wanted to say. The problem of evil is something of a problem in our hearts, flesh unable to trust God for what He says and live by Him. To choose something else than God says, I love the way Van Til puts it, is like jumping overboard with the sharks. Pelagianism and all its derivatives are a cheap way out made by men and thank God, those who embrace Arminianism and are truly saved are inconsistent with that in their hearts, it will be a misery to live otherwise considering all the difficulties a "normal" christian has to face.

    Nathan, I read your article on dispensationalism here, I think it was good, can you write one on Progressive Dispensationalism like MacArthur's? Sorry for going off topic but just gave a suggestion for an article. Lord bless you all.

    San,
    I dont believe that MacArthur is a progressive dispy.
    Obviously he has a calvanistic soteriology but he is old school dispy on Isreal/church and biblical prophecy.

    I would however like more info on P.D.

    San,

    I will certainly keep your suggestion in mind. Right now I don't feel qualified to write on progressive Dispensationalism, but I'll do some more studying, and put that on my list of things to research and write about (although I can't make any guarantees right now about whether I'll write on the topic or not).

    God bless,
    nathan

    J.H.,

    Thank you for your response, for your pointing to Scriptures and our duty to submitting our reasonings to it, and for your citing that mìnumber of helpful verses.

    Pitchford,

    I think your comment hit the mark about what the deepest purpose for God allowing evil was.

    A. Wheatley,

    I think the resources you brought here are very helpful in understanding this matter, even if I can't agree in some details of Cheung explanations about HOW God makes evil occur according to His unconditional decrees ( reprobation included), because even if they sound philosophically right, they seem to me not so bblical in THE WAY they are said to occur, but perhaps it is only a problem of expression, and not of content. I am currently meditating about that, because I find myself being a supralapsarian, believing in unconditional reprobation (but not without decreeing that the reprobates are to be condemned without meritorious causes, that is, sin, even if even those are decreed by God), but I have problems with ACTIVE reprobation.

    Greetings and blessings.

    Francesco

    Hey Francesco:

    Good to hear from you again!

    Andrew

    John & Shawn,

    It may be a little late in the conversation, but there is one thing that must be noted before the discussion ends.

    It has been said numerous times that this is a "difficult issue." This is untrue, there is only one difficult question to answer.

    The evil that exists today, the sin committed today, and the horrific nastiness that characterizes the earth is all from and under the good providential hand of God. This is not hard to understand or figure out if we have one key...that's it...one key, a biblical doctrine of sin and its consequences.

    If God chose to inflict Job with boils and Job did nothing to warrant such an action from God, it would be problematic. But this is not the case! Yes, Job is referred to as "upright," but upright-ness does not imply perfect (Matthew 5:48)! If Job was not deserving he would have never experienced it.

    This is true of all incidents of calamity and infermity. There is no evil we are not deserving of! Death itself bears witness to this. Death tells us that we deserve volcanoes exploding, rapists, Hitlers, and every other evil that could come upon us. All of this can be providentially given us from the good and gracious Lord to testify to us the greater judgment. If God were not good we'd be in hell without the breath of fresh air between subsequent evil experiences. Rather, the goodness of God has only given us tastes of the judgment we deserve that we might repent! Tastes of hell, though evil, are gracious and kind callings of God to repentance and faith in Christ. There is no evil anywhere that is not provoked from the good and just hand of God.

    Therefore, we must understand that the question itself is flawed and not appropriate. But, there is one question that can be asked...a question that in my youth and lack of wisdom, and your attention that I will digress from attempting to give answer other than the fulfillment of God's glory and praise. That question is this: Why did God allow Genesis 3?

    John, that is one that is worth tackling. Shawn, that is the only question worth considering, for our sinful worthiness of evil covers the justice of God in sending it.

    I hope this is helpful!

    Blessings in Christ,

    Luke Snowden

    I disagree with Luke Snowden. Chapters 1 and 2 of the Book of Job clearly teach that Job’s suffering was unrelated to any particular sin(s) that Job had committed. Further, suffering (calamities, adversities, so forth) experienced in this temporal world are not punishment for sin. There is one punishment for sin: death. For believers, including Job, Christ on the Cross was punished in our place; unbelievers will receive their punishment at the Judgment.

    In this life our experiences are, for believers, for our sanctification; for unbelievers, to lead them to repentance.

    It is a great mistake to look at effects and think we can connect them to specific causes. This is the clear mistake of Job’s friends. They were absolutely sure that Job’s suffering was because he refused to repent of some great, specific sin. Yet in the end, it was Job’s friends that God charged with sinning and it was necessary that Job pray for them so that God would not charge them with their folly.

    There is nothing problematic about Job experiencing suffering (not punishment) that was unrelated to anything he had or had not done. God is sovereign. He’s the Creator; we are the creatures. “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?”

    "If God chose to inflict Job with boils and Job did nothing to warrant such an action from God, it would be problematic."

    Why?

    Genesis 3...tastes of hell...I cannot get my eye off the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Gen 2:9, put in the Garden from the beginning. Did the fruit contain all the evil imaginings that we have seen man dream up ever after? Was the eating of the fruit sin but the "fruit" of the fruit evil?

    Thank you for your comments/disagreements. These sort of responses are particularly helpful as they bring clarification and further qualification.

    To Gordon: You have made a category confusion in regard to my post. I was not speaking of sin in specific. I was speaking of what Romans 8 tells us about the world being subject to futility as a result of sin, sin in general. Those particular unsolicited evils that come upon us happen due to the fact that we are sinners, also as we all know there are temporal consequences for sin in specific. So, yes you are correct about one aspect of Job, but you have completely missed the point about what would justify any evil brought upon anyone especially one who has not committed a specific sin. Job was worthless as all of us are. His flesh, just like ours was doomed to death because he was a sinner. His flesh was subjected to futility on account of his black and twisted heart and thus any boils or calamity is perfectly within the framework of a good, loving, and just God. I have read Job several times and have learned the point that you have so aptly tried to re-teach me. Anyone who thinks all evil, unqualified, comes as a result of particular sins is simply ignorant and unread in the Scripture. I am sorry I did not qualify my statements in that regard, but assumed a certain level of maturity in Biblical understanding in a context such as this.

    To anonymous: "WHY?" Well, there is a good reason why. Maybe it is the phraseology I used that would have confused you, so let me put it another way. Genesis three is more difficult to handle than evil thereafter due to this reason. God knew that it would happen. Man was perfectly righteous and had done nothing, period, to deserve the fall prior to their sin. Yet, God created them and decreed for it to happen. Fitting that scinereo in with our good, just, and holy and loving God is a bit more challenging, but not impossible, than dealing with evil occurences afterward. I would never try to imply that it cannot be dealt with, but I would say that it is more difficult from a human standpoint than the subsequent evils that resulted from it.

    Linda, I trust your question is sincere...though it does sound much like one I would have posed in my more prideful days in order to heckle one who I thought to be a moron. A serious answer to that question is this "I don't have a clue!" I don't even really understand the question. I will only address this: the placement of the tree in the garden. God obviously intended for the tree to be there, he decreed that man would eat from it; and he decreed according to His most holy justice that he would subject all creation to futility, save some in that futility and slavery to sin in Christ, and damn the rest for eternity. All I am saying in all this foolish speculation, is that it appears that the evil after the fall is easier to account for than the fall itself.

    I don't know if I have accomplished anything edifying in this post...I'll leave that to the Spirit.

    Nathan, thanks for the acknowledgement. I think PD is still wrong because of preserving the old eschatology and Israel-Church distinction(sure God has a love for Jacob's children but that will be in Christ, after all which is more glorious of His Son of whom all Scripture testifies?)

    Luke, I very much agree with you and have the same question. We know all things are for His Glory and we have the conviction He is absolutely good that He has given us. I have no clue beyond that so no answer. Lord bless you all.

    Once again I disagree with Luke Snowden. For if, “Job was worthless as all of us are,” then the Father’s gift of believers to the Son was refuse; then the Son’s redeeming death on the Cross was pointless. It is one thing to know that man is radically depraved and that all his righteousness is as filthy rags, but it is quite another say that he is worthless. It is one thing to say that man intrinsically or by actions merits good from God, but it is another thing to say he’s worthless.

    “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” And the cosmic rebellion of Adam and his descendants did not and does not make man or any other part of creation worthless. None of this is to deny what Paul wrote in the first three chapters of Romans on the radical depravity of man, but Romans doesn’t end with Chapter 3. Rather Paul turns to what God in Christ has done to remedy such depravity, concluding with that last great section of Romans 8 (Romans 8:31—39).

    Luke:

    Per your question

    >>>>Why did God allow Genesis 3?

    First of all, in the essay I attempted to show that it was God who indeed ordained the fall, for it certainly did not take him by surprise. There was nothing that occurred by chance or outside of His pefect plan. For if chance existed, then God is not sovereign and it would mean there is a dualistic universe in which we have no way of knowing who will prevail in the end because if God had was unable to foresee evil entering the universe, taking Him by surprise, then it perhaps it has other tricks up its sleve that He does not know about.

    Another thing we know about God is that He is holy.

    So we know two things for certain. (1) God ordained all things that came to pass, including the fall and (2) that God is perfectly holy and good in His essence. He did nothing that violated His essence in ordaining evil to take place.

    In other words, He ordained sin, sinlesslessly, so to speak.

    As to why He did it ... that is perhaps not so difficult... to manifest His excellencies (justice, mercy) to all in sending His Son to show forth these qualities perfectly in action. In doing so He brings glory to Himself. Evil is but for a fleeting moment but God's glory is eternal. All we do not understand will be understood and perfectly dealt with when we enter HIs presence, and we will cover our mouths and that we even doubted or presumed by speaking back or attemting to counsel God. For from Him and to Him and through HIM are ALL THINGS. God is glorified in his Son perfectly and once the veil is removed we will glorify God for all He has done, though we see things now as through a dark glass.

    Shalom


    "Man was perfectly righteous..."

    This, I doubt. A perfectly righteous man has no ability to sin. Adam may have been very good, but he wasn't perfect.

    Besides, Christ was perfect but he still suffered. He suffered hunger, thrist and tiredness. So God can inflict 'harm' on people that don't deserve it. He can do this because his motive is always good.

    John,

    Thank you for your post. I could not agree with you more. Due to the Spirit within me helping me to understand the scripture and helping me to discern spiritual things such conclusion including the supremacy of the glory of God is natural in my mind. My more general concern and difficulty is in presenting that paradigm of thinking to the lost person or baby Christian.

    For example, we have a food pantry at our Church and deal with numerous homeless people on a continual basis. As the Pastor, it is one of my primary duties to see to it that every one that comes through is confronted with the gospel. There is a consonant ring of hatred toward God for all the "evil" that has come upon these folks. Hearing their stories does evoke a lot of empathy, but when they begin to express their disdain for and hatred toward God for allowing such things to happen to them we have to make a decision as to what to tell them.

    Al Mohler at the Together for the Gospel Conference put it well when he said (in summary)"people in our culture view sin as something that has happened to them as opposed to something that they are." These homeless and needy folks I regularly work with fall into this thinking, as most lost people do. I have found that the most effective way of handling this is to point out to them that they don't deserve anything good to happen to them, period. As sinners, they deserve hell, let alone a moment of pleasure or goodness in this life. God, however, has chosen to given them moments of quite between subsequent evil experiences that they might see his goodness and kindness in Christ and repent that they might not have an eternity of relentless and horrific judgment and upon them.

    I have found that this question is most effectively answered with the lost by using it as a segway to get to their sinfulness...they themselves are sinners deserving of all forms of calamity. It is a temporal sign of an eternal judgment. 100% of the time they get extremely angry with me, one time I missed a punch in the face by inches, then they for whatever reason settle down and begin asking what they must do to escape ultimate judgment. Then much like the Rich Young Ruler, most turn away sad unwilling in their unregenerate state to turn to Christ.

    I tell you this to say this, the answers given in your post make sense given in the context of a systematic theology. To preach to the lost the answer must come from the context of the gospel. To show how evil teaches us of the ultimate passion of God for his glory makes sense to the regenerate and Biblically knowledgeable Christian. However, in dealing with the lost it is most prudent to use this to teach them rudimentary truths of sin and the basics of God's character: holiness, justice, and mercy.

    Therefore, I would ardently assert that I would wholly agree with your assessment of the issue, but would challenge us to find ways of communicating the same truth in more effective ways. This can be done without compromising truth itself...as you well know. If I have compromised truth in doing so...please send the rebukes, my pride is in need of pain here.

    To Andrew: where might one find such a definition of perfect? "A perfectly righteous man has no ability to sin."

    Luke

    I think what Andrew is saying is the following. Adam was not created in a glorified state. He was created with the inclination for good but he was not sealed in righteouness. Adam had to do something more (obey the covenant/eat from the tree of life) in order for that to enter eternal blessedness. So now, after the fall, only Christ's passive and active righteousness made us right before God.

    Why did Jesus need to be baptised? He was no sinner. It was to fulfill all righteousness for us. He needed to fulfill the law on our behalf. He imputes his positive righteounsess to us .. we are counted righteouns as we are united to Him in his humanity and death. We could not obey God's law, so He did what we could not do for ourselves. Not only in his death but his life.

    As for being pastoral in our answers to people I couldn't agree with you more... But sometimes we can take the most comfort in knowing that God, who is good, is always ultimately in control. I cannot receive any comfort from inaccurate idea that secondary causes effected it and God was powerless in the process. Knowing that God has a perfect plan through it all is the greatest comfort to me. I would be distressed if it happened purposelessly.

    If someone asks you point blank if God ordained the fall, it would be less than truthful to say that it happened by mistake, no?

    John,

    I guess I have entered upon ground that I am lacking in knowledge regarding the "perfection" of Adam. I have a serious question that I can't figure out. Maybe you can help.

    I assume that the "seald righteousness" you speak of, or the inability to sin as Andrew spoke of has nothing to do with perfection in and of itself. Simply stated, perfection is simply the state in which one is acceptable before God. That state is completely spotless and totally righteous. I do believe we can agree that Adam and Eve met this standard in the Garden prefall. Whether or not they were able to sin or not has no moral value in regard of perfection or righteousness.

    That righteousness being sealed perfects their perfection, but they were nonetheless perfect. If they had not sinned they would have been no more righteous after eating of the tree of life (I THINK????)than the state of perfection they were in prior. Now, obviously the integrity of that perfection would be as ours is now through the imputed righteousness of Christ...completely impeccable! Praise God! But, my point from the beginning was this, which is in response to the last statement you made in your last post, there was neither good nor bad in Adam and Eve that ilicited God's sovereign plan to cause the fall in Genesis three. Was it the result of God's sovereign providential plan from the foundation of the Earth? Absolutely, positively, no doubt from Scripture! It is totally the sovereign plan of God. The reason why I still maintain my point is this: the answer given for that sovereign plan of God is less satisfying to the less mature or unregenerate than the answer given for subsequent calamities.

    Adam and Eve were righteous and without sin. The fall was not a punishment or warning/sign/evidence etc... of God's wrath from the Heavens or any such thing. It happened by God's predetermined plan and the sin of their own heart. The purpose behind all of it as we know is the ultimate glory of Christ and the work of God to save His elect through the propitiatory work of Christ on the cross.

    There was no mistake, chance, or anything but the Sovereign act and plan of God to move his saving plan forward, the fall was the necessary part of God's plan. My point from my first post till now, is simply that this is more difficult to communicate in a way that satisfy's those to whom I try and communicate it. But, trusting in the Word of God and His truth I yet proclaim it with boldness trusting Romans 10:17!

    So, please understand that I agree, 100%. So, I will state my question in question form and take it out of mere statement. Does impeccability of perfection have greater moral value before God than mere moral perfection apart from impeccability?

    We know from Matthew 5:48 that enrance into God's gracious presence is predicated upon impeccable perfection, for that is how perfect the Father in Heaven is. I need a bigger brain than my own to work around it. Go for it John!

    Luke

    These are important issues to think though. I probably would not use "righteous" to characterize Adam. He had not done anything to merit any positive righteousness as the word implies.

    Jesus, when He became flesh for sinners, would not have been able to impute righteousness simply if Herod had murdered him with the other children in his infancy. Yes he was sinless in his very essence, but God made a covenant with mankind that they had to fulfil the Law of God perfectly in order to attain eternal life. Remember the rich young ruler. He asked Jesus what He must do to have eternal life. Jesus answered "obey the commandments and you will live" But Jesus did this to expose his sin, for he knew he was covetous and would never be able to obey the commands perfectly. When jesus told him he must sell everything and follow him he went away sad. Jesus said, it is more difficult for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. The disciples were astonished and said "who then can be saved". Their question is right on. They understood what Jesus to be saying as being too difficult for anyone, let alone this man. Jesus answered, what is impossible with man (repentance, faith, obedience) is possible with God."

    The point is that fulfilling the law is something Jesus had to do for us. Fulfil the covenant from our side. And speaking of covenants that is what this is all about. Merely being born a certain way does not entitle anyone to anything. God makes covenants with his creatures. The covenant he made with Adam was to obey or lose his life... Adam was in no position because of his mere existence to demand anything from God. God put demands on him to fulfil and thus He relates to us via covenants, not simply existence. In order to be righteous Adam would have had to have done otherwise, that is, obey.

    Likewise, the second Adam to win us back to God, while a passive death of a sinlessness is certainly necessary to our salvation, but we also need for Him to meet the demands God made for us (obey the law perfectly) and impute what we are lacking there as well. So Jesus not only takes care of our sin in passive righteouness imputed to us, but also from the active righteousness.

    I recommend the following essay that may be helpful in this regard
    A Defense of the “Active Obedience” of Jesus Christ In The Justification of Sinners
    by Brian Schwertly

    http://www.reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/Active%20Obedience.htm



    Hey guys try going down this line- God ordains evil so that believers will know His love and holiness in His redemption of them and truely appreciate it against the backdrop of His wrath towards the vessels of His wrath(ROM 9.23)
    2Co 4:15 -For all things are for your sakes,
    God does not have to prove anything for Himself-its all for the elect ISA 43.4 Regards Mark from OZ

    Brian,

    Thank you for your post. I don't know if anyone is still reading this, including yourself...but I have a response to your post.

    The premise of your point is centered on "covenant." As an NCT guy, trying to reason with you on this is a bit difficult, but I am trying my best to empathize. Even in doing so I have a hard time understanding your point. Christ's active obedience is, in my estimation, essential to the Gospel! I am glad we agree on this, but I have no clue whatsoever what Adam's innocence pre-fall has to do with Christ's active obedience. Furthermore, I have no clue how you connect the inability of an unregenerate post-fall Rich Man with Adam! I have no clue at all. From my understanding prior to the fall Adam willingly and joyfully submitted to the law of God, or covenant as you would put it.
    So, while I will digress on the whole debate over whether or not there is a covenant of works or not, I still cannot understand your argument. You argue as if I am to believe that Adam is less than sinless prior to the fall.

    In fact, I must make a statement. The clear teaching of Genesis would have us understand that Adam had not sinned but did live righteously before the presence of God and enjoyed and relished the presence of God, enjoying spiritual life and exchange with God prior to the Fall. What is so hard to understand about this? I really don't get it. My most pressing question is yet to be answered - is Adam's "righteousness" (if you don't like that designation choose another like innocence etc...) is lesser due to the fact that it is not impeccable?

    For example, the angels, their righteousness was not impeccable before the Lord and thus many fell with Lucifer, Lucifer himself is an example of this. Does this lack of impeccability make the Angels worthy of punishment...or does it simply fall under a category of mystery as to why God would further His glory through their demise (ours in the case of the fall.)

    To those who may read this...respond and help me here. Did Adam do anything to require God to ordain the fall, thus necessitating the active righteousness of Christ as opposed to the tree of life...or is this a mystery hidden in the counsel of God in pursuit of His own glory and praise? Or, should we assign Adam prefall and make some erronoeous connection between he and the Rich Young Ruler. I am sorry, but I find much difficulty here!

    The Biblical renderring of Justice is rendering one according to their works. Now Priase God! We rest upon the perfect and impeccable works of Christ imputed to us through Faith! That aside, where do we find Adam prefall? He had not sinned until Genesis 3. The reason for our unregenerate condition and the reason for our need of Christ is essentially due to that fall. Without which we would have the tree of life from which to eat (I wonder if the tree of life would possibly be a Christophony, or picture of the Gospel...but I don't want accusations of being like Origen). That has been cut off from us as a result of the Fall. Adams actions were sinful...the fall itself and curses that stem from that fall are man's fault...Adam sinned against God and broke God's one and only revealed command (if you want to call that a covenant go ahead..it really does not matter!). We know that Adam broke it and thus God's reaction was curses and kicking out of the Garden and out of His presence and love.

    Having a high view of God's sovereignty in all of this, we believe that this was God's plan. Though we use words like "reaction" in relationship to the fall, God is the mover and ordainer of all things. There is nothing, period, in all the universe that happens apart from His sovereign plan. All evil flowing from this ordained event perpetrated by human hands can be traced back to this and justified according to the heinousness of the crime and in accordance with subsequent curses. All forms of calamity both in direct response to sin and tower of siloam instances are deserved and wholly just within the framework of a just and holy God.

    My question still remains...yet none even one whom I respect...Brian, have been able to face this head on without being distracted by things that have nothing to do with the subject (imputation...yes, it is vital, but way way way off point!). We assign the pursuit of God in His greater glory for ordaining the fall, but ultimately there is no tangible answer this side of eternity, and maybe none on the other as well.

    Let me just ask this question: Did Adam perpetrate any commands of God thus deserving being given over for the destruction of humanity in the fall? Or, did God ordain this in the secret counsel of His will and sovereingly purpose it apart from a humanly contrived definition of justice? I think the latter is the case. This is why my first post is stated as such.

    Luke:

    If Adam was "righteous" before the fall as you claim, then why was he not like what we will be in glory, that is, sealed in righteounsess. Obviously Adam still lacked something or he, by nature, would have no inclination to sin ever.

    Are you claiming that Adam is just like the righteouss who Jesus will raise up in new bodies to everlasting righteousness? Because we all know that Adam and glorified man is two different states, then Adam lacked the full righteousness required to be sealed in perfection.

    In our glorified state we will have a nature that will not even be able to sin. This Adam did not have.


    John,

    This is precisely the question. Finally!!!! I don't know!

    We have no solid ground for declaring either way except through human speculation and implications that we assume exist.

    From our perspective a righteousness that is sealed seems more righteous than righteousness that is not.

    It would appear that Adam's righteousness being non-sealed probably is not the SAME righteousness as declared in Matthew 5:48 - but, scripture NEVER makes this connection for us.

    From human speculation I would agree with you that Adam's righteousness was not sealed and therefore not the standard of Matthew 5:48. But, somehow Adam was righteous enough to walk with God and be sinless for a time. I can only assume that the tree of life would have sealed that righteousness, but again...we'll never ever know!

    What we know was that Adam was sinless and did nothing to provoke God's ordaining the fall. Whether or not the unsealed-ness of Adam's sinlessness was justification for God's ordaining the fall seems dubious at best. Ultimately, we must rely upon the fact of God's ultimate passion for His own Glory above our sense of justice and goodness. We should allow Him define justice and goodness...this is unsatisfying to the unregenerate and even difficult for the most seasoned of saints.

    John,

    Did Augustine write on this? I know of his famous latin phraseology that helped forge the 3rd Council at Carthedge in getting rid of Pelagiansim (for that time anyway). But, did he deal with the qaultity of the sinlessness of Adam in those works?

    Luke:

    God did not ordain the fall because of something Adam did. The fall was in God's mind well prior to the creation of man. He knows all things perfectly past, present and future. He ordains all things past present and future. All things that come to pass (Eph 1:11). We cannot say that ordaining the fall was a response to anything, as if God someohow was ignorant of what would happen. If you go back to my essay, God cannot be taken by surprise. There is no such thing as chance .. if there were there there would be something even over which God himself was not sovereign over and it may very well in the end have victory. For if God could not stop evil from entering the universe who is to say he can keep it from overcoming in the end. We must rest in the fact that God works ALL THINGS out after the counsel of this will.

    John,

    Per your post at 6:31 on 6/22, I could not agree with you more. The only reason why I even brought the issue of God's ordination of the fall as something that is provoked is to show that there is not a connection between the fall and sin as we can see between evil and sin post fall.

    The fall did not happen as a result of Adam provoking the Anger of God...as we see in Genesis 6. Rather we see an eternal decree that is apart from creation. My whole more general point from my first post was to show that something like Genesis 6 has a tangible explanation...our sin. The fall on the other hand is left in a transendent concept in the glory of God being seen through the fall. There are immanent reasons for evil post fall...they can all be traced to it. But, prior to the fall and the fall itself any calamity in anything is unprovoked. My whole more general point is that this is the difficulty...not that it is problematic to point to the transcendent plan of God, but that it is much more difficult to grasp and get the mind around, if not impossible to do so.

    If you remember my first post was stated as such (in summary). The problem of evil is not so much a problem. Rather, there is greater difficulty in explaining the fall. The fall is not difficult, but explaining it is difficult.

    This is all in response to the one who came upon this subject as a semi pelagian. Try exlpaining God's ordaining the fall to a semi pelagian...they'll have nothing to do with it. They leave it all to the work of Man. While man is wholly to blame, it came to pass because God ordained it to be so. This is difficult to get across to them, evil after genesis 3 is simple...in my experience anyway...we simply deserve it, even hell itself, thank God for Christ that we have no such despair.

    The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
    (Proverbs 16:4)KJV

    Just wanted to add this verse if it helps.

    How do you reconcile James 1: 13-16 with this approach to sin and evil? I have never received a clear answer on this issue. Thank you!

    Hi Jenny

    That is a really good question and it comes from sincerity. I guess one way to put it is that since God is God, He can ordain sin, sinlessly.

    In James 1:13–18 James turns to the other side of trials, namely, when testing becomes temptation God tests his people (e.g., Abraham, Genesis 22; Israel, Ex. 16:4;) so that their character is strengthened, but he never tempts (i.e., lures people into sin). Since God cannot be tempted with evil, and he is good in his very essence, he would never bring human beings to sin or seek to harm their faith. Tempted (Gk. peirazō) is the verb form of the noun translated “trial” (Gk. peirasmos) in James 1:12, but the context shows that different senses of the word are intended. God brings trials in order to strengthen the Christian's faith. He never tempts, however, because he never desires his people to sin. We may make God's trials for us into temptations but this comes from the wickedness of our own heart. So Christians should never blame God when they do wrong.

    Dear Mr. Hendryx,

    You insist that the relationship between God's holiness and evil must be established by the scriptures instead of human reasoning. I agree, while I might add that there is no exegesis without moral human reasoning they must go hand in hand. When it comes to the question of God's responsibility of evil, surely the bible must speak and it does so in clarity: All evils are the direct or indirect results of moral evil, which is sin -- and God has nothing to do with sin. Now you are citing a long list of scripures, in which God is the author of all kinds of calamities, sorrows and disasters or what we might call it. Your list is really elaborately and remarkable. But there is a term that is intrinsically connected to evil, namely the word guilt. But note, nowhere do we find anything that even remotely says that God is culpable for sin or even the origin of sin. The question of guilt and what guilt and culpability even means remains untouched in your writing.

    Surely God causes "calamtiy" and "darkness" and all that you rightly mention. But never do we find a bible verses suggesting something like "God is the origin of sin". Sin is intrinsically linked to guilt. Whoever sins is guilty. Now, is God guilty? Is he the author of sin ? The scriptures abundantly cleary claim the negative:


    Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).

    God does not even tempt people to sin, but they are led astray by their own evil desires (James 1:13-15).

    God made man upright, but man pursued sin (Eccl 7:29).

    Everything God created is good (Gen 1; 1 Tim 4:4), so He could not possibly have created sin.

    "For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world" (1 John 2:16, NKJV).

    God is entirely free of sin (1 John 1:5).

    Where does culpability (guilt) come from? This is what Calvinism must respond to. How did guilt come about? And while God does cause calamities, is he the author of sin itself? What is guilt? I have not seen an answer to this form Calvinists and I guess this was actually the core of Shawn's criticism.

    You say:
    Likewise other positions cannot consistently say that God foreknew which sinners would be lost and then say it is not within God's will to allow these sinners to be lost. Why did He create them? It is important that the synergist consider this question. God could have just as easily refrained from creating those that He knew would go to Hell. He knew where they were going before He created them, correct?

    I think you are bowing rather far out of the window. I mean, to look from a presumed, nebulous end to the present and even past is much like putting the cart before the horse. I think considerations in the direction of "foreknew which sinners would be lost..." as well as "why should God create those sinners..." an the like, are as much dangerous because of their speculative nature as the remarks that Shawn made, aren't they? I do not think such reasoning is any more properly founded on exegesis than so-called humanistic wisdom.
    Note, prophecy is tricky and we do not have a single prophecy that indisputably claims that "some will go to Hell" as you say, for God is able to save even those who have failed. When Adam fell, he was already "eternally damned". But God can save. When Jesus was crucified he was likewise irrevocably cursed. Think of that! But God saved Him! Honestly, who can say where anybody "will end up"? I do not think reading a story from a fancy end back to the presence might cause one to go astray as much as any other rejection of plain affirmations in the scriputures. God has nothing -- nothing -- to do with sin!

    God's role in acting in the world which includes bad things, is not in question. But Calvinism must account for the question of guilt and the origin of sin.
    The bible nowhere even begins to promote the idea that God is the inventor of sin! And being the "author" of an earthquake is a completely different issue than being the author of sin! Sin is the cause of all physical evils. And God is not guilty of sin! Calvinism must account for the origin of guilt.

    Dear Helmut

    Thank you for your post. You say, "Calvinism must account for the origin of guilt."

    No actually it does not. We are responsible only to account for as much as the Bible reveals and are not constrained by anyone elses rules.

    And what the Bible reveals is this: 1) That humanity is guilty of all sins committed and 2) that God ordains all things that come to pass, including such events as the crucifixion of his own Son (acts 2, 4) -- any yet God is not the author of sin. Notice in those Acts passages that evil is reckoned ONLY to the wicked men who crucified Jesus even though it clearly says God ordained the entire event to take place. Both are Biblical.

    Secondly, You say, >>>>as well as "why should God create those sinners..." an the like, are as much dangerous because of their speculative nature as the remarks that Shawn made, aren't they? I do not think such reasoning is any more properly founded on exegesis than so-called humanistic wisdom.

    Exactly my point. You obviously did not take the time to read what was said very carefully. This is not my personal logic. It is turning around the same logic used by Arminian theologians on themselves. When they assert that the Calvinist understanding of God is wrong because it would logically lead to such and such .... then I am merely using their own logic to confute their own beliefs. IN other words, if the Calvinist God is evil according to Arminian logic then you it is easy to show, using the same logic that they are guilty of the same --- UNDERSTAND?

    Logic is defined by Scripture since it establishes our highest presupposition.

    a helmet

    Since no man has observed every instance of the law of non-contradiction, no man
    can justify an a priori knowledge of the universal, invariant nature of the law of
    non-contradiction; we need special revelation from the Divine Mind that the law of
    non-contradiction applies in all circumstances. Accordingly, if a universal is not
    revealed by an ominiscient God who knows with certainty the universality of all
    universals, man - unaided by special revelation - cannot deduce that the law of
    non-contradiction is indeed a law. The justification of all tools of reason reduce to
    rational inferences if God has not revealed them to man through special revelation;
    yet rational inferences are unjustifiable apart from a true doctrine of creation and
    providence, which too must be grounded in special revelation. Moreover, the law of
    non-contradiction presupposes truth, which too cannot be justified apart from special
    revelation. This is not to say that man being made in the image of God does not know
    the law of non-contradiction a priori. He does (and because of that he can be found
    guilty of bearing false witness to the truth). Yet notwithstanding, man cannot ground
    even that essential and basic transcendental apart from special revelation, which
    today is found in Scripture alone.

    Dear John,

    thanks for your reply.

    No actually it does not. We are responsible only to account for as much as the Bible reveals and are not constrained by anyone elses rules.

    I had Shawn's post in mind, when I said they must explain the origin of guilt:
    Rather, God chose to actualize sin and evil where before there was none. Would that be an accurate conception so far?

    That's the text I was referring to. It has much to do with guilt and what that is.
    I agree that we should not vainly speculate about things not revealed (Dt. 50:50). But I think the real issue raised by Shawn was not really met. The core of the question was the authorship of evil. And this is closely related to the origin of sin, isn't it? For as a matter of fact all evil is based directly or indirectly on sin and God does not approve of sin:
    Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished (Num. 14:18);

    If I sinned, you would be watching me and would not let my offence go unpunished. (Job 10:14);

    I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins Isa. 13:14)

    The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. (1. Thes. 4:6)

    So perhaps now it becomes apparent why I introduced the "origin of guilt" here and that it must be addressed if an answer to the problem of evil should carry any significant meaning.

    Note as well this piece of the original post:
    Secondly, if God is the first cause/author of evil, it would seem that claims by Calvinists that God is good, just, or holy, are pretty hollow. At least I haven't read any that seem even remotely convincing.

    I assent to this.
    Unless we have an idea about what we mean with the concept of "guilt" and stop being contend with a mere, empty vocabulary, how can we fill the word "good" with meaning either? Suppose we define "God is good". Then what? It is indeed hollow and meaningless, because if God's understanding of goodness doesn't need to comprise anything of the "goodness" that we, as human beings, would normally ascribe to that term -- then this "goodness" is an empty word. If two parties use the same vocabularies, these vocabularies should have the same content of meaning. So if God uses the word "good" and humans use the word "good" then the contents, the meanings, must match. Else we are playing Babel.

    So again, you say that the bible reveals That humanity is guilty of all sins committed

    Of course, but the question about the relationship between the authorsip of evil and God's holiness cannot simply dismiss the question of what guilt is, in the same way as it cannot dismiss the question of what "good" is, as mentioned above. Because we'd be left with meaningless, void terms.

    This is not my personal logic. It is turning around the same logic used by Arminian theologians on themselves

    I am not sure what you mean here. However, if mankind is guilty of all sins commited, (which I agree), what does that mean? Guilty by definition? If I understand Shawn's post correctly, this is the core of the problem.

    a helmut

    Thanks again for your interaction. The Bible is plain that God ordains all that comes to pass (eph 1:11), is in no way culpable for evil (Jam 1:13), and that humans are all morally responsible for their actions (Ezek 18:4).

    The Bible, being the ground and authority of all logic and truth, means that we embrace this tension as the truth. Many, who are uncomfortable with this, would only embrace one side of this but the Bible teaches them all. It imputes all guilt for sin to human beings, even while also teaching that God ordains all that comes to pass. This I accept as true because the Bible teaches it. There is not better reason to believe something. Can you think of a better reason than God said it? To cast one of these truths aside because you don't like it or it does not make sense to you is making yourself the ultimate authority in these matters and that is presumptious.

    You say it makes our claim hallow,and agains this is because your logic (and ultimate authority) is grounded, not in scripture, but elsewhere. You have not refuted the fact that the texts plainly impute guilt to man and simultaneously affirm God's meticulous providence in them. Your final analysis is just your own naked extrabiblical logic. You have shown me no Scripture to contradict any asserion I have made, only your feeling that we are wrong.

    Something you may have missed in the above post is that, in the end, Shawn appeared to understand this truth as is noted in his response.

    As for your other related point, Aminians will often use arguments like -- salvation by grace alone was never taught in the early church until Augustine so it can't be true - this logic however, confutes their own position because neither was justification by faith alone taught clearly in the early church. Likewise, when you logically conclude that the Calvinist God must be evil because he ordains all things that come to pass, we turn your own logic on yourself by saying that the Arminian God does not escape the same fate (with this logic) so you shoot your own foot. Taking the Arminian position to its logical end, if God foreknew all that comes to pass prior to creating it and did so anyway knowing these persons could not be helped then He, in a very real sense, willed it. To know that someone would perish prior to creating them, and that it could not be otherwise, means that, in the Arminian system this case for making God culpable for evil is just as strong. So your human logic confutes your own system.

    What we do, rather, is reject this unbiblical logic altogether and rather believe the whole counsel of Scripture. What does it teach? That God ordains all things, that hs is not culpable for evil AND that all guilt for evil is impted to man.

    Are you denying that the Bible teaches all (or any) of these things?

    Solus Christus

    JWH


    In the end, I guess "shame on you" is what is left for a moral person to say. If you have interpreted the Bible to mean that God is the author of evil -- and I can certainly understand why the very passages you cite would lead you and any other thinking person to that conclusion -- and if you are willing to go ahead and worship and serve such a master anyway, then that is surely something to be ashamed of.

    I know that fear of punishment can be a powerful motivator for men and women to do things they ought not to do, but I respect those who stand up for what is right and just even in the face of threats to their own person.

    But to those who set aside their own conscience, and submit to Scripture for other reasons, shame.

    Am I mistaken?

    CE

    P.S. I didn't intend to evade an important point. I think the catalog listed above is a good one:

    God "works all things after the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11). This "all things" includes the fall of sparrows (Matthew 10:29), the rolling of dice (Proverbs 16:33), the slaughter of his people (Psalm 44:11), the decisions of kings (Proverbs 21:1), the failing of sight (Exodus 4:11), the sickness of children (2 Samuel 12:15), the loss and gain of money (1 Samuel 2:7), the suffering of saints (1 Peter 4:19), the completion of travel plans (James 4:15), the persecution of Christians (Hebrews 12:4-7), the repentance of souls (2 Timothy 2:25), the gift of faith (Philippians 1:29), the pursuit of holiness (Philippians 3:12-13), the growth of believers (Hebrews 6:3), the giving of life and the taking in death (1 Samuel 2:6), and the crucifixion of his Son (Acts 4:27-28).

    From the smallest thing to the greatest thing, good and evil, happy and sad, pagan and Christian, pain and pleasure - God governs them all for his wise and just and good purposes (Isaiah 46:10). Lest we miss the point, the Bible speaks most clearly to this in the most painful situations. Amos asks, in time of disaster, "If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?" (Amos 3:6). After losing all ten of his children in the collapse of his son's house, Job says, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). After being covered with boils he says, "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10).

    There are passages we could add. For instance the action in Jericho (Num 31:13ff).

    And just because someone, whether a Biblical author or anyone else, says "No, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that the LORD is in no wise the author of evil" -- well, as the expression goes "just saying it doesn't make it so."

    Either these scriptures portray God as unjust and/or cruel and/or unrighteous, or they don't. I'm inclined to believe that they in fact *do*, but if someone can "defend" them and explain why the acts are not unjust or cruel, etc., or alternatively why God is not the author of them, then I am not only willing to hear the explanation, I'm eager to hear it. I'm certain many people, believers and non-believers both, around the world would be interested as well. It's an area that trouble many people, I know.

    The argument that it's not our place to question this, and that we should submit to Scripture without an explanation, as I wrote above, has a moral problem of its own, and I think it's an even greater one.

    CE

    CES

    As Christians we all affirm that, without exception, we are fallen human beings who deserve hell ... and, as such, God has already begun judgment on this world. Wasn't death and thorns part of God's punishment for Adam's disobedience as well as his descendants? So how can any of us oppose the very biblical idea of seeing God's hand even in the worst of atrocities on this earth, when they are, from all accounts, a part of God's just judgment? This seems so basic to Christianity that I truly fail to understand a position which thinks otherwise and yet remain Christian. Anything that happens to us on this earth is better than we deserve. If someone does not grasp this, then I fear they have not even grasped one of the most fundamental truths of the gospel.

    For more on this, see my short essay which answers a visitors question, "Why Does the Bible Condone Genocide?" http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/skeptics/02genocide.html

    I would be interested to see John give what he thinks is the biblical meaning/definition of the word "author" in the passages that refer to "author of sin."

    It seems to me that what people miss is that God's planning - ordaining - sin as a part of his plan is not the same as God actually authoring - committing - that sin.

    Humans in our pride and pure arrogance (I think on purpose to excuse ourselves!) think the two - ordaining and authorship - are the same, when they are not.

    If we play spin games and hockey with meanings, we can get whatever we want.

    AMEN, Mr Hendryx, on pointing us back to scripture as the grounds and source of our reasoning and the premises used to reason with.

    I found this article very helpful on the topic:
    http://www.leaderu.com/theology/theodicy.html

    Here is Jonathan Edwards' stunning answer:

    It is a proper and excellent thing for infinite glory to shine forth; and for the same reason, it is proper that the shining forth of God's glory should be complete; that is, that all parts of his glory should shine forth, that every beauty should be proportionably effulgent, that the beholder may have a proper notion of God. It is not proper that one glory should be exceedingly manifested, and another not at all. . . .

    Thus it is necessary, that God's awful majesty, his authority and dreadful greatness, justice, and holiness, should be manifested. But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God's glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.

    If it were not right that God should decree and permit and punish sin, there could be no manifestation of God's holiness in hatred of sin, or in showing any preference, in his providence, of godliness before it. There would be no manifestation of God's grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from. How much happiness soever he bestowed, his goodness would not be so much prized and admired. . . .

    So evil is necessary, in order to the highest happiness of the creature, and the completeness of that communication of God, for which he made the world; because the creature's happiness consists in the knowledge of God, and the sense of his love. And if the knowledge of him be imperfect, the happiness of the creature must be proportionably imperfect.

    We are all deserving of death.

    Why do bad things happen to good people? For one there are no good people in the world. We all deserve Hell. Bad things happen because of sin not our individual sin but because of sin in general.

    Why did Job suffer. Is this not a story we all go to in reference when we have bad things happen in our life? The sufferings job went though the devil meant it for bad but what happened in the end was God got all the glory for bringing Job through it. So much focus is on Job and it really should be on God who sustained Job in his sufferings. Just like Paul being beaten and thrown into Prison. Did God cause this? By no means. Man caused this. God just used this to get his Gospel out. In Pauls sufferings the word was spread throughout the world.

    I was saved an Armenian but by the Grace of God he made me a Calvinist!

    1 Corinthians 1:18 For the Word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

    For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
    Isaiah 55:8-11

    God’s Word always accomplishes God’s purpose, including His purpose of election. For those in whom the Spirit dwells, His Word is health and life; for others, it is hardening and death – all according to the good pleasure of a sovereign God, who will be glorified in either. This God has the right to do whatever He pleases with His Word and His creation. The wonder is not that “bad” things happen to “good” people, but rather that good things happen to ANY of us!

    How appropriate are Paul’s words here from Romans 11:33-36, echoing the Isaiah passage!
    “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

    Thanks everyone (John, Douglas, Troy, Shelly) for taking time to respond.

    I should tell you that they don't even begin to persuade me. More than that... to be truthful, I'm repelled by these teachings.

    Best Regards,

    CES

    Not sure if anyone is still reading this but I found it very helpful and enlightening. I still think the question was not really answered although many topics related were helpful.

    So the question, Did God create evil yes or no? He created Lucifer that much is clear from scripture but did He create him good or evil?

    A possible solution to the problem maybe that evil is simply the opposite of good as in darkness is the lack of light. If there is light and you block it then you have darkness. Darkness in and of itself is not a substance it's the lack of a substance. Cold is the opposite of heat but we know that cold is not something, it's the lack of something. Heat is energy. It's moving particles. Cold is nothing or the lack of something. Is it possible that evil is the same as these? Maybe evil is the lack of good.

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