T Nation

The Problem With the Problem of Evil


#1

“That there exists in the human minds and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity, we hold to be beyond dispute, since God himself, to prevent any man from pretending ignorance, has endued all men with some idea of his Godhead, the memory of which he constantly renews and occasionally enlarges, that all to a man being aware that there is a God, and that he is their Maker, may be condemned by their own conscience when they neither worship him nor consecrate their lives to his service.” ~John Calvin

A bit of introductory backstory first please. This post is in response to an unbeliever, a rather nice fella calling himself simply Ron at the WordPress site of a former church goer, now “atheist” calling herself “Violetwisp.”

Violet’s crew and I have an extensive history together. Not all of them are as amiable as ol Ron here.
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The following is Ron’s response to a comment of mine at Violet’s site and now my responses to him which will constitute the driving thesis of this post. (I would link the backstory, but I’ve been notified I’m not allowed to link to other blogs)

Ron says: “Props for confronting the unpleasant aspects of your theology that other Christian apologists are wary to acknowledge, much less address.”

I’m not sure who he’s referring to, but the problem I see, is not that Christians won’t address the tough issues of our God and His scriptures. The problem I see, is that the answers they usually give, are themselves unbiblical and hence not only elevate man over God, but in so doing play right into the unbeliever’s hands. The trouble here, at least in the case of many with solid reformed theology overall, is the refusal to take the God (and man actually) of their theology with them into the arenas of philosophy and apologetics.

Please consider the following biblical points that no claimant upon historic orthodoxy should overtly question.
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Let’s start with the fact that God has no problems. Including ones with evil. Nobody who’s opinion anyone should care about is going to assert that anything is an actual “problem” for the God of the bible. (Isaiah 46:5, 8-11, Daniel 4:34-37 among endless other examples) Nothing is unknown or mysterious to Him. He has never learned anything because He’s always known everything. Actual and possible, past, present and future (To us past, present and future. God is not subject to time).

Neither does anything in all His creation escape His flawlessly wise power and providence. He has not only created all things from nothing, (Genesis 1, Hebrews 11:3) but He also sustains their existence every second. (Hebrews 1:3) All of history, to the minutest sub-atomic detail, past, present and future, is known to and owned by Him. Not because He has discovered it by observation, but because He has ordained it by immutable sovereign decree (Proverbs 16:33 Ephesians 1:11 Isaiah 10, among endless other examples).

God also is Himself the singularly perfect moral standard and supra-human Judge beyond which there is no appeal. That is moral, or right, which conforms to His being, nature and will as He has Himself revealed them in the ancient Christian scriptures and explicitly proclaimed in His law. That is immoral, or wrong, which evinces any imperfection of conformity to same. (Psalm 19:7-14, Genesis 22:6 as reiterated in Hebrews 6:13 among endless other examples.)

Unlike what we saw in a very unfortunate Christian movie a few years ago…

God is not on trial,. We are.
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Ron then asks: “However, it doesn’t explain why an all-powerful and all-knowing being would create sinful humans in need of saving to begin with. Is God a sadist?”

Now we come to the heart of the matter. Right here is where sub-biblical non-reformed apologists are simply operating consistently with their view of God, and many reformed ones are operating quite inconsistently with what is supposed to be theirs. They will proceed under the assumption that there exists somewhere an independent impersonal standard of good and evil that both man AND God are by definition subject to as they attempt to satisfy the sinner that His creator is indeed worthy of his worship (This is so biblically upside down, I can barely type the words).

Accordingly then, they ally themselves with the unbeliever by conceding to him that God requires justification in their eyes, when in fact, it is us who require justification in His. (which is like the whole point of the gospel :wink: ) Continuing down this path through a fictitious universe wherein man is the judge of God, our friends, the apologist and the unbeliever, begin to investigate together whether this universe provides enough, and the kind of evidence to make belief in this God credible. This despite the fact that God has proclaimed Himself inescapable no matter how hard men try, (girls too) and boy do they ever. (Romans 1:18ff)

The so called “problem of evil” has been a standard attack in this campaign of unbelief for centuries.

“How can an all powerful, all good God allow evil?. He is either unable to prevent it, limiting His power, or unwilling to do so, limiting His goodness”

The problem with the problem of evil lies in the very fact that it’s seen by the church as an actual serious problem in the first place. The alone true and living God before whom “all the nations are as nothing, and regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless, (Isaiah 40:17) is not the one with the problem. Therefore as His brother, bride and son, neither am I.

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”
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THE 38TH CHAPTER OF JOB
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Romans 11:33-36 (caps indicating a quotation from the old testament as per the NASB translation committee)

33-Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 – For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? 35 – OR WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36 – For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
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Colossians 1:15-20
15-He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16-For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17-He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18-He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19-For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20-and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
(among endless other examples.)

He is God and we are not. EveryTHING and everyONE belongs to HIM. The “problem of evil” rests, as I’ve said, on the fatally flawed assumption that finite fallen man’s definitions of “good” and “evil” simply must also be God’s.

God’s standard is Himself. All that He has ever thought, said or done is ultimately for Himself. To display His own perfect holiness, judgment and justice in damning His enemies on one hand, and His own perfect mercy, grace and love in redeeming a people for Himself from among them on the other.

EveryTHING and everyONE has been created by Himself, for Himself.

Someone will say, “But I thought the bible teaches that Love is all about giving to others for others, and also that God Himself IS love?”

That’s right, it does say that. In God’s case, even His sacrificial act of giving His only begotten Son for the sins of others is still ultimately for Himself. His glory and His honor and His pleasure. (Revelation 4:11, Ephesians 1)

Someone else then says: “Wow! Your God sure is stuck on Himself, isn’t He?”

Yes. He can do it and you can’t.
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God decrees what He forbids, and that without in any way being tainted by sin or evil. He renders evil certain without actively willing it. (Proverbs 16:4) How does He do this? I have no idea and it’s none of my business. (Romans 9:19-20) I wouldn’t understand if He explained it anyway. Is man free and accountable then? Yes. God’s sovereign decree and providence extend even to the temporal contingency and volitions of the wills of His moral agents bearing His moral image and likeness. It is God’s purposes, sufficient unto Himself that ultimately account for evil in His creation. Not any notion of the “freewill” of man that would construe it as freer than God’s.

The cross of Christ was not a fix in response to Adam’s sin. Adam’s sin was so there could be a cross of Christ.

When I tell unbelievers like Ron that God is all powerful and can do anything except violate His own being and nature, and yet spotlessly Holy because His own being and nature IS that standard, Ron is SUPPOSED to hate that. Unless the Holy Spirit is working life and repentance in Ron, he will find such a notion the most egregious bit of sophistry he’s ever heard.

My job is to tell him. Only God can save him. If he rolls his eyes and calls me an idiot, his problem is with his creator and king. Not me. If I have preached God’s truth to him from a heart that loves him and desperately wants him as my eternal brother in Christ, I will sleep well knowing that I have done what I was told.

We don’t like that today because it doesn’t sell books, bring speaking engagements and pack conferences. We get the credit for innovative trends and methods. If “all” we do is give sinners the pure simple Gospel truth, we decrease and HE increases. ANY Christian can do that and that’s the point.
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#2

What exactly is the conversation you’re looking to stem here?


#3

I read the guy’s blog that you posted originally and it was a bit disjointed and fragmented, and then you added some stuff of your own to the copy and paste which disjointed it a bit further…along with not having an actual question… “What is evil?” “Is evil a human construct and has no place in religion?” “Should we question god since he is all powerful and can do no wrong?”


#4

Oh Trib good to see you posting again my friend. As to your post, it will, like all the others, be lost on this mostly Godless generation…


#5

You are correct. I took the time to read the whole post. In it I did not find any compelling reasons to begin believing in this person’s God.

Do you believe that is a problem with me or, more broadly, my generation?

If so, can you explain what that problem is?


#6

I thought that evil exists so that we have a choice. We can turn to it and away from God, or to God and away from evil.

How far beyond that do you have to go before getting tangled up in the weeds?


#7

I’ll take Word Salad Normally Seen On A Sandwich Board Worn By Street Evangelist for a thousand, Alex.


#8

Just to see where it goes.

I am “this guy” and the content is exactly the same. The formatting is different. I just this minute saw that the new forum software here will render HTML. I wish I’d have noticed that before.

From the article:

God also is Himself the singularly perfect moral standard and supra-human Judge beyond which there is no appeal. That is moral, or right, which conforms to His being, nature and will as He has Himself revealed them in the ancient Christian scriptures and explicitly proclaimed in His law. That is immoral, or wrong, which evinces any imperfection of conformity to same. (Psalm 19:7-14, Genesis 22:6 as reiterated in Hebrews 6:13 among endless other examples.)

What’s happnin ZEB? :sunglasses:

That’s ok man. How anybody responds is not up to me. My job is to tell them.

That sir is a fabulous question indeed. The problem is that every human being who ever set foot on this planet save only for Jesus of Nazareth alone, has been born dead in sin as a child of father Adam. Cats produce kittens, dogs produce puppies and sinners produce sinners.

You are no better or worse than anyone else including me. The difference is that I have been born a second time into new and everlasting life in Jesus Christ. Left to myself, what is in my article would look just as stoopid to me as it does to you. HE came after ME. I did not save myself I assure you. I fancy myself no more holy or worthy than you.

The resurrection life of Christ was made mine as a free gift of grace for the taking. All I literally had to do was ask.

I deny that and addressed why in the article.

Aw man, I ain’t even been back here a half hour yet and yer already doggin me. I guess I’ll have to assume from this that your campaign of libertine bible butchering heresy is still in full swing here.


#9

Well that makes a little more sense. I’ll give it another read once I hear from Jesus.


#10

I suspended that campaign when we ran out of virgins’ blood. More than anything, the post was unmoored from anything - I have no idea what the point of it was or what conversation you’re trying to start.


#11

Then you have gotten tangled up way out in the weeds.


#12

Well, if you hear from Jesus, you’ll have more important things to read first.

You and I go back Thunderbolt. I KNOW you got in ya. Say something smart. Pick something in the article and tell me why it’s wrong.

How bout the part I quoted to the fella above?
God also is Himself the singularly perfect moral standard and supra-human Judge beyond which there is no appeal. That is moral, or right, which conforms to His being, nature and will as He has Himself revealed them in the ancient Christian scriptures and explicitly proclaimed in His law. That is immoral, or wrong, which evinces any imperfection of conformity to same. (Psalm 19:7-14, Genesis 22:6 as reiterated in Hebrews 6:13 among endless other examples.)

You’re a Christian right? Why is that wrong?


#13

What weeds and says who? I remember you too btw.


#14

Way out in the weeds is a figure of speech. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/in_the_weeds
Definition 1.

If I were to believe what you proposed, which is that free will does not exist- the why does salvation exist?

What is the use of salvation of it was predetermined whether or not it would occur, and for whom it would occur?

What is there to be saved from?


#15

The letter of the apostle Paul to the saints at Rome (early 60s AD) Caps indicate a quote from the old testament as per the NASB translation crew.

14-What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15-For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16-So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17-For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” 18-So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

19-You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20-On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21-Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22-What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23-And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24-even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

The answer is, as I said in the article, God does what he wants and we don’t get to have an opinion. Not only does that not bother me in the least, it is my greatest comfort and joy. I mean that with all my heart friend.


#16

Nah, it doesn’t appeal to me. This isn’t a discussion so much as an attempt at proselytization, and your responses are largely tautological (“the Bible is right because it is the Bible”, etc.). Thanks, but no thanks.


#17

Then even if someone wants to be saved, they can’t be, and it is not up to them to accept Jesus as their savior?


#18

And yet once again couldn’t help popping in here for a little sophomoric jab and then run away when challenged. Just like old times.


#19

Sounds very much like smug Calvinism to me. I’m one of the elect, you’re all pretty much fucked regardless what you do.

You could have comfortably written Inshallah at the end.


#20

Oh NO sir!!

God will never EVER turn any truly repentant heart away. The reason is because He’s the one who gave them the desire to repent.

There’s nobody who wants to be saved who can’t and nobody who can’t who cares. At least for now.

Only God knows which are which.