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February 24, 2006


This may seem off the topic, but I think it relates to the statement, "God could theoretically have used other means to accomplish Jesus' sacrifice. God foresaw the circumstances that could lead to Jesus' death on the cross and chose to use them for His good purposes. Judas owns his own choices."

John Piper recently wrote a piece called "Don't Waste Your Cancer." In it, he explains: "You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.
It will not do to say that God only uses our cancer but does not design it. What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design. If God foresees molecular developments becoming cancer, he can stop it or not. If he does not, he has a purpose. Since he is infinitely wise, it is right to call this purpose a design. Satan is real and causes many pleasures and pains. But he is not ultimate. So when he strikes Job with boils (Job 2:7), Job attributes it ultimately to God (2:10) and the inspired writer agrees: “They . . . comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). If you don’t believe your cancer is designed for you by God, you will waste it."

For me, Piper's idea about God's design, when applied to the Judas issue,doesn't seem to quite square with the idea that it wasn't God's design to use Judas, he just accommodated Judas's choice to make it work for good.

Or maybe I'm just reading it the wrong way.

No, he's right in a certain sense, God used Judas, He had to betray Christ for the events to work out the way they did. You can argue about how much God is in control over different events of life, but there's no wiggle room when it comes to the life and crucifiction of Jesus Christ, not only was God in person in question, but it is stated repeatedly by the Apostles that this happened exactly as God had planned. God does make people do things that they shouldn't: consider Pharaoh whose heart God hardened so he'd refuse Moses.

The only reason this seems horrible or wrong is because we want so desperately to be the final say, to be the one in charge. We're not.

Just to clarify: Piper wrote about cancer, not Judas. I was just thinking about Melinda's statement about Judas in light of Piper's statement about cancer.

Judas' betrayal of Jesus for thirty silver coins was a fulfillment of a prophecy in Zechariah (see Matthew 27:9-10 and Zechariah 11:13). God designs the means as well as the ends. But Judas does not escape guilt--despite the fact that what he did was part of God's plan, he was in no way coerced; rather, he himself gladly willed it.

That Judas acted out of his own nature and will, and that God designed for it to happen that way in the sense that he knew it would happen and chose to create this world in part because His purposes are accomplished only makes sense to me if God has Middle Knowledge (if Molinism is true -- http://williamlanecraig.com).

Did you notice that in the Time article, Robinson's decades-old agenda of promoting Gnosticism is not mentioned. Also, in typical "Time" fashion, the eye-catching remarks subside once they think the average dolt has stopped paying attention, and they post something true (Yet by 150 AD, most experts agree, a "Gospel" said more about the group that produced it than about the facts of Jesus' life and death or even the understandings of his earliest followers.)

I have a question. Weren't the Gnostics keen on the idea that Christ didn't really suffer on the cross so that they didn't have to suffer for their faith either?

Here is some background on James Robinson, the early-Christianity "expert". http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=1785

Red Loser,

I have a question that really is an honest question and not just an argument in the form of a question. When you say that God designs the means as well as the ends, do you mean absolutely every action that a person makes?(i.e. God ordains/causes every action) The question of evil is of course a thorny one, but if your mother was raped and murdered, would you say God "caused" it to happen. Of course there is the element of human freedom, which it sounds like you don't deny, but I'm wondering if you'd say that God, by his divine decree, ultimately caused the rape and murder of your mother, rather than merely "allowed" this to happen. And if so (that God caused the rape and murder), how are we to understand that in light of Scripture's testimony about God's hatred of evil.

This is probably a question you've wrestled with before, as I too wrestle with it, and there may not be enough time and space for you to respond, but I figured I'd ask to get your thoughts.

If you are able to listen to Greg's broadcast from 10-16-05, he gives an excellant explanation of compatibilism. This has been the most comprehensive position I have found in understanding the texts that Justin mentioned above. Greg starts his definition of compatibilism early in the 2nd hour of the show.

Tom, the Bible makes it clear that no purpose of God's can be thwarted (Job 42:2) and that even evil things can be intended by God for good (Genesis 50:20). In fact, Paul went so far as to say that "God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all" (Romans 11:32). I'm not saying that I have a whole theological/philosophical system worked out. That's hardly the case. What I am saying is that God is not wringing His hands and trying to salvage what He can from evil actions. Rather, these actions are a part of His plan.

There are many examples of this in the Bible. Joseph's brothers sell him into slavery, but this is revealed to be God's plan to rescue Israel. Pharaoh refuses to let Israel go, but this is God's plan to glorify Himself by subduing Pharaoh. Satan torments Job to get him to curse God, but God reveals that this is a means of discipline (and is common to all believers). Jesus' crucifixion was an act of great evil, but God used it to glorify Christ by saving people for Himself. And the list goes on.

"What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory...?" (Romans 9:22-23)

What is clear is that it is perfectly appropriate for God to give people over to their own sinful desires in order to accomplish His ultimate purposes. He doesn't directly cause evil; rather, He allows evil people to exercise their own desires and then uses their actions for His glory.

As Paul said, STR has some reading on this. They can probably do a better job explaining it than I can. But I want to establish that this is simply an attempt to explain something that is explicitly taught in the Bible.

Jonathan Edwards goes into detail on this subject in his book on The Freedom of the Will.

Greg's commentary "Augustine on Evil" has some great info on this topic. (Just found it the other day.)

If one can learn anything from the Old Testament, it is clear that what happens is not a surprise to God, nor is it our actions he then works out to be fine, but rather His plan that He works out according to His will. I would like to second the recommendation of Edwards' work on free will (and Luther's).

could the gods be aliens? hey i might be wrong but does it say thad judes was in a tample reciving sacrifices: childrens to the gods? is this mayan wana be?

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