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April 22, 2011

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Weird. Suppose that's why I'm not a Calvinist.

Amy,

The Problem of Pain. Of Evil. Outright ripping down and destruction of, well, you and I. Those we love. CS Lewis warns his readers in the opening of his book, “The Problem of Pain” that he will not in that book address the question of “would it have been better not to create?” and the reason he gives is that he knows of no human scales in which such a question can rightly be weighed. We cannot know, from this vantage point, everything that lies over the horizon behind us or over the horizon in front of us.

I think we have to be careful about what we tell a hurting world here. And we have to be comfortable with our status of humility in that we cannot answer every question. We have hints in His word, but not full blown explanations as to Why Love Creates. The Why lies in that which is in front of us, and Corinthians tells us we cannot even imagine or think it. We have to settle here. You and I do not have children, and “intend that they should” suffer rape, or food poisoning, or isolation inside of the Alone, or whatever. We, being evil, do not “plan” such, and He, being Good, will not “give” His children a serpent. But it is here where our sight begins to fail:

I do not know if there is an analogy here where you and I have children “knowing they might” but “not intending” and how it is that God “knows” or “thinks” or “sees”. It is dangerous to limit His ability to “plan” to the way it is that you and I foresee having our children and “plan” on what “might be” and on what “we intend”. Clearly His innate capacity in these arenas FAR exceeds ours in these arenas. Answers guessing outside of this without enough information to close the intuitive loop run the risk of tasting somehow slightly hollow, perhaps.

We have to ask a few things. Inside of that which is Triune there is that which is fully known between Real Persons of Real Persons by Real Persons, and it is fully known without the benefit of having known sin. Ever. Is the Knowledge of Good AND Evil “necessary” for God to know as He knows? Not in the way we think, for He knows fully the reality of both, yet without ever being evil. That Tree of Good AND Evil is planted by God in our reality. Clearly He knows. Yet without Sin. We are told not to eat of that Tree: can Man “Know” in an appropriate sense without THAT? I don’t know. There is another Tree.

CS Lewis went into this area and stopped short with something like, “But the waters are deep here and we can only guess” or something like that. Both Trees are planted inside of Man’s reality, yet, I offer, that “intent to have man eat of the wrong tree” is not hinted at.

We have to ask if God “Intends” for Evil to become part of the plan. In other words, if Lucifer did not fall, or if Man did not fall, would God then have run into a problem with his plan? “I’ll fix THAT” and then he ups the temptation-load, or whatever (that is silly, but you know what I mean). I offer that the answer is No. He, nor We, “need” Evil to have the wonders of Full Love Fully Known and I offer this on the Concrete ground that inside of Love Himself all such Fullness is Fully Known from before forever and unto forever. Yet without sin.

This begs the question of can a Created Person Fully Know without sin, and I do not, I cannot, offer any answer here nor do I think anyone can. We just are not in the business of creating worlds and persons and universes. We have to settle. We, I feel, cannot answer the question in this piece of, “Without sin, would we have known?” Man will eat of the Tree called Life, eventually. That is the “plan”. The other Tree I can only guess at. But I know God told us not to go there, and if He leads us in such a way, before we are Fallen, I think He must have meant it. Otherwise He becomes a kind of two-faced trickster.

Choice, or Man-And-God, or Something we can only guess at, enters the stage here, and our guessing begins.

Love Himself knew full well of all contingencies. That does not bother me. A Lamb is slain from before the world is, and I find that bizarre, but I find it to be Truth, and what I do not know of Him and of His Why’s finds rest in That. I have come to discover that Love Himself has thoughts far higher than mine, that His Goodness is far more crisp than mine, that his Wisdom is far more expansive than mine, that His Might, His ability to “pull it off” is, simply, staggering. Love makes Love and so: Why Create? The answer lies over there somewhere. To those who are hurting: He knows. He Cares. He Rescues.

LoveHimselfResuedMe,

The difference is between us and God. Of course God fully knows Himself without needing anything else to reveal Him to Himself. The Trinity is in perfect communion and the Persons share all attributes.

However, since we are not God, we need Him to reveal Himself to us. I think we need only look at our own lives to see this is true. I know God’s grace because I’ve seen it in my life and others’ lives. And my understanding of who God is, along with my awe of and love for Him, increases as I learn to depend on Him, experience His mercy, and see Him triumph over sin. And as I get older and start to realize just how serious my sin is, God’s grace gets that much deeper to me. Just as an unbeliever thinks little of God’s grace when he doesn’t think he needs saving, just think of how puzzled we would be about the concept if we never saw sin at all. The knowledge would be purely academic (even more academic than it was in our youth).

Or if you’re not convinced from your own life, look at the example of the woman in Scripture with the perfume when Jesus tells the parable of the two debtors:

And Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he replied, "Say it, Teacher." "A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. "When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?" Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have judged correctly." Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. "You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. "You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. "For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little."

Both the Pharisee and the woman had the academic knowledge that God forgives sins. But unlike the Pharisee, she loved Jesus much because she had experienced that forgiveness.

Before God created, God knew we would sin. God created anyway. This must mean God thought it was better to create than to not, even though we would sin. God wanted to gather us out of sin, to save us, to overcome the evil, and to give us the joy of Himself. This was why He says that our names are “written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” The cross was always part of the plan because God knew sin was coming in a world that would have the kind of beings He was about to create. You ask, What if we didn’t fall? But this wasn’t a “what if” to God, as He’s omniscient and knows the beginning from the end.

This comes out of my thinking through this question: If we will have a perfect world after we die—a world without sin—then that means such a thing is possible. This is within God’s power. So why not do this from the beginning? There must be a reason why God created a world where sin was not only possible, but where He knew it would happen. I think, based on passages like the one of the Pharisee and the woman, that this is the main part of the answer, though there are probably other aspects as well. And it’s important to note that I think that God thought we would ultimately be better off having gone through a world of sin than beginning and ending in a world of no sin, since He didn’t do the latter for us, though it’s in His power (see the new heavens and the new Earth).

Omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, outside of time.

If one molecule is outside of His control, then He can't be Sovereign.

You can take comfort in that because His plan is perfect and His love is steadfast.

Amy and Pax,

I think your answer is completely correct when you stated, “Before God created, God knew we would sin. God created anyway. This must mean God thought it was better to create than to not, even though we would sin. God wanted to gather us out of sin, to save us, to overcome the evil, and to give us the joy of Himself.”

I think any Groom or any Bride who has known genuine love will know what it is that is desired for one’s Beloved, and I think that comment captures that well.

I would change the word “better” to “just as easy to work from”, perhaps as implied here:

I offer that “the possibility of eating either Tree was wholly real and wholly open”. The focus of my description is on the word “Intent” as it applies to the inner thinking of God, as initially implied. Clearly His foreknowing of what a choice will be is not the same thing as intending us to make it. I think when we say He “intends” for us to be destroyed (or whatever) we mis-state, or over-state, or both. God “uses” Evil, but this is different that “wanting” Evil, or “permitting” Evil. He did not intend for us to Fall, but He did intend to use, well, either Tree, whichever we chose, to accomplish His end, which is the Joy and Fullness of His Beloved.

If we eat of the Tree of Knowing Good/Evil, well then, here we are, soon to eat of that other Tree and “in a blink” changed into Perfection/Full/Etc. If we eat of the Tree called Life, well then, there we are soon to be. The reason I strain at this point is that those who are actively hurting, right now, may take it to be that God “wants them to hurt”. That is my key issue here. Not on His use of ALL things to work towards our good. We ate of that other Tree, and here we are, one day to eat of the Tree called Life. Man will eat of that Tree called Life, eventually. God will not fail. (I’m not injecting any flavor of universalism here, merely that God’s intent is our ultimate Good, not our initial pain)

“Both Trees are planted inside of Man’s reality, yet, I offer, that “intent to have man eat of the wrong tree” is not hinted at” and added to this is, “We have to ask if God “Intends” for Evil to become part of the plan. In other words, if Lucifer did not fall, or if Man did not fall, would God then have run into a problem with his plan?” I offer that it is a mis-statement to say that “God’s plan was for us to fall”. The reason I offer this is for the items just mentioned, but also it is that at some point you and I are going to meet Him, and when we do we will be quite full of sin (brokenness, bad desires, etc) and yet “in the blink of an eye” He will bridge that chasm, and all that Un-Knowing-Of-Him we were full of will be eradicated. But can we say that the “event” that occurs in that “moment” of that “blink” actually depended on our sin-full-ness to “work”? Clearly God “could have” made it thus, as you mentioned, “He didn’t do the latter for us, though it’s in His power (see the new heavens and the new Earth).” He does not “need, really need” us to be so full of sin to work that work of “in a blink” getting us to a place of “Full”.

Love’s intent is to know His Beloved fully, and for Her to know Him fully. A Wedding has been announced! Friday is but a day, and as this website is so wonderfully leading us towards, Easter Sunday is soon to come!


Correction:

I wrote: "God “uses” Evil, but this is different that “wanting” Evil, or “permitting” Evil. He did not intend for us to Fall, but He did intend to use, well, either Tree, whichever we chose, to accomplish His end, which is the Joy and Fullness of His Beloved."

I meant to imply that God DOES "use evil" and He DOES "permit evil", but that He does not "want evil". "Intend" has all the implication of Want and so I offer that God did not intend for us to Fall. I meant to say something along that line with that paragraph.

Lastly, I think we really were really free to eat of either tree. He knew we would choose as we did. This did not stop Him as He is able to work His work either way. He can, and does, use ALL things. But, if we had eaten of the Tree of Life, He would ALSO have been able.

This MUST be true, otherwise, it all becomes a kind of two-faced con on us when He tells us not to eat of the wrong tree. I think He meant it when He told us that, and I think we "could have obeyed". Again, His foreseeing our choice is not the same thing as wanting it nor is it the same thing as forcing it. But "either way" He is able. Love will have His Bride. But the Bride is an actual agent in this actual transaction.

A JOYFULL EASTER!

On God's INTENT:

I wrote, "But, if we had eaten of the Tree of Life, He would ALSO have been able. This MUST be true, otherwise, it all becomes a kind of two-faced con on us when He tells us not to eat of the wrong tree."

If we reverse this 180 degrees maybe it will help. If, upon pondering (however it is that God "thinks") of the soon to be creation of Man, God foresaw that Man would in fact choose the Tree of Life, and not the Tree of Good/Evil, and if God NEEDED Man to Fall, then we must say either:

1) He would NOT have created us because He would NOT have been able to mature us fully with THAT route/Tree/Path of obeying His Word. (He did put the Tree of Life there, and I think for a reason).

2) God needed the Father of Lies. It "could not have been done otherwise".


3) To create, He would have had to Re-Wire us (from His initial pre-creation design) so that we WOULD choose the wrong Tree, because we needed, and He needed, Evil in order to complete His creation. Unfallen Man would not be permitted to Choose. God would MAKE him Fall. Unfallen Man would not be a free moral agent.


Does that fit theologically? I offer that God's plan was WELL in place there in Eden with either Tree.

Man was a free moral agent, there in Eden, and God had His plan in place with either Tree. If it had been that Man would have chosen the Tree of Life, He still would have created. God is not in debt to Satan for the completion of His Bride. In fact, Satan is a non-player. Man is Love's focus. Love Himself merely uses Satan, for Angels are not redeemed, whereas Man is. God's Wisdom was well in place before Man ever set foot in Eden.

The amazing part is that God foresaw that we would eat of the wrong Tree, and He did NOT rewire us.

Here we must ask, was this decision made out of His weakness, or out of His strength?

Out of His weakness in that He could not have matured us with only the tools found within Himself, as He needed, really needed, the father of lies to assist in our maturation process.

Or, out of His strength in that He is Mighty to Save to the uttermost, all by Himself, with only Himself as the Savior, with only Himself to Complete the Work He started in us?

Again, if God Meant / Wanted / Intended for us to Fall, and He needed evil in order to complete His Work, then we MUST offer one of the following three as Truth:

1) He foresaw that we would follow His Word, and so He would NOT have created us because He would NOT have been able to mature us fully if we chose the Tree of Life.

2) God needed the Father of Lies. It "could not have been done otherwise".


3) To create, He would have had to Re-Wire us (from His initial pre-creation design) so that we WOULD choose the wrong Tree, because we needed, and He needed, Evil in order to complete His creation. Unfallen Man would not be permitted to Choose. God would MAKE him Fall. Unfallen Man would not be a free moral agent.

On Easter, let us remember that He is Mighty to Save to the uttermost, all by Himself, with only Himself as the Savior, with only Himself to Complete the Work He started in us. He, Love Himself, is, simply, Enough.

LoveHimselfRescuedMe says: God DOES "use evil" and He DOES "permit evil", but that He does not "want evil"

>>poor god, getting himself stuck with something he didn't want. That nasty devil must have got one up on him and took away his sovereignty.

I'm not sure what you mean?

Pain and Evil exist, therefore God either does not exist, or He is indifferent to good and evil, or He is evil. That's fun to explore as CS Lewis did, if you care to.

Or, I am incorrect in stateing that God does not enjoy, like, want, or prefer Sin and Evil?

I'm not sure which direction you are coming from, as I think your statement can be an echo of either.

But, just for something in return:

I think Sovereign would be implied as He may foresee a Fall, and chooses to create anyway, though He could choose not to create. That would stop it. Or He can create and then Conquer Evil. That would stop it, although it would bring the transient reality of Evil.

Lucifer Falls. Man Falls. They (those that Fall) choose Self over Other, and so fall outside of Love's Thine and not Mine. Clearly events occur that He does not ENJOY or LIKE or WANT or etc. The "ability" to "stop" is where the business of sovereign etc comes in.

I suppose you would be correct if He lacked such an ability. He may. I do not think that He does though.

I suppose it is either nothing, or automatons, or robots, or immature children, or a fully mature bride. Or he can simply rape and force himself into Real Persons of Real Worth with Real Freedom, but I find that to be problematic on many fronts.

I do not think God enjoys, nor prefers, nor wants, sin.

I think my statements prior to this one make that clear.

I cannot look a woman just raped in the eye and tell her, "Now now, don't you know God wants, prefers, likes this?"

Can you?

I meant to ask, but:

I assumed you were speaking as one who feels God must have preferred, needed, wanted, liked the Fall as the only way possible to bring us to maturity etc.

If, however, your question/statement is more along the lines of, "Pain and Evil exist, therefore God either does not exist, or He is indifferent to good and evil, or He is evil" then that is an entirely different discussion.

One dealing with Ultimate Reality being "Indifferent" to good and evil (as in atheism) or with Ultimate Reality being Non-Indifferent to good and evil (as in Ultimate Reality aka God "differentiating" aka judging between good and evil).

But those are long and tedious discussions for a site NOT celebrating Easter.

On this Easter Sunday, let us remember that He is Mighty to Save to the uttermost, all by Himself, with only Himself as the Savior, with only Himself to Complete the Work He started in us. He, Love Himself, is, simply, Enough.

LHRM, I suppose having a godling who cannot control what he creates and has things turn out contrary to his wishes, is better than no god at all.

Happy Easter Dave,

I suppose if I believed in such a God you would have a point. But I don't. In the end, Love conquers all. Of course, for the atheist, there is no solid ground for even saying anything is evil. I see your dilemma.

On this Easter Sunday, let us remember that Love Himself is Mighty to Save to the uttermost, all by Himself, with only Himself as the Savior, with only Himself to Complete the Work He started in us. He, Love Himself, is, simply, Enough.

Amy,

I'm just curious about your take on my exploration on these three points etc from our previous posts:

If God Needed for us to Fall, and He needed evil in order to complete His Work in us, then we MUST offer one of the following three as Truth (in my mind)

1) If he foresaw that we would follow His Word, He would NOT have created us because He would NOT have been able to mature us fully if we chose the Tree of Life.

2) God needed the Father of Lies. It "could not have been done otherwise".


3) To create, He would have had to Re-Wire us (from His initial pre-creation design) so that we WOULD choose the wrong Tree, because we needed, and He needed, Evil in order to complete His creation. Unfallen Man would not be permitted to Choose. God would MAKE him Fall. Unfallen Man would not be a free moral agent.

On Easter, let us remember that He is Mighty to Save to the uttermost, all by Himself, with only Himself as the Savior, with only Himself to Complete the Work He started in us. He, Love Himself, is, simply, Enough.

Guys, there is a lot of good stuff here to chew on. A "lot" being the operative word. We may start to be loosing an audience here, so its good to remember that words have great power if you just don't string too many together. (Though, I know LoveHimselfRescuedMe and I are both long winded ... and "sometimes the quickest way home is the longest way 'round")

I'm not sure, Amy, if you are saying that the Fall was necessary. I don't think you are, but I have to admit, that is the way it tends to read. Let's be careful. That is a very bad road to go down and a particularly dangerous one - one the Mormons have long tread. It bears deep consideration on how to share the wonderful message of God's grace and our sin without going into those deep waters that Lewis talks about. We just don't know and very likely will get carried away on currents stronger than we. That is why we must trust Him. He is good. He is the King.

James,

I think the short-fall of my own post is that I really do not offer my own answer or fully fleshed out "Why" description of Creating a reality that has a transient period of permitted evil, not on God's part, but on our part. I think that is intellectually dis-satisfying, to me and I'm sure to others.

But I find myself having to Trust at that point, as I think Amy is correct in that He uses evil, I just don't feel I can tell a hurting world (for theological reasons) that "God needs evil" to create a fully functioning adult, both for existential/felt reasons but also for what I think are sound theological reasons as stated above.

We have several hints and echos in His word, but the full loop (in this area) isn't fully closed for us. Somewhere in there Man actually becomes an active participant, chooser, etc. Greg has a post somewhere on this site where he quotes something to the effect of "We have to settle, but what I know of Him allows me to to trust in what I do not know of Him" or something like that. I think we may not FULLY know a "Why" as to permitting evil (not "needing" evil).

"Not knowing" what lies over the horizon BEHIND us is bothersome, but not crucial to coherence, just as, not knowing, fully, what lies over the horizon IN FRONT of us is bothersome, but not crucial to coherence, for we know He is Good, and Wise, and Strong enough. And, of course, He loves us and both started, and finishes, this whole thing with His Beloved in mind. I find rest in that.

Thanks for that. Yes, it is dis-satisfying intellectually, indeed. I WANT to know. In fact, I feel for some reason that I NEED to know - for He has made us hungry creatures. We hunger for the whole truth, and He is truth. We are hungry for Him and as we know that He is only good, the antinomy of evil disturbs us. We cannot fathom "why" but, as Tim Keller once said, "we are under-qualified for the job."

Under-qualified for the job. That is GREAT. That's going into my "save for future discussion" file =)

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