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January 24, 2011

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Hilarious watching Greg portraying God as omniscient but not wanting to associate God with evil whilst still trying to make God look in control. The mealy mouthed logic abuse is too much fun.

Greg, I guess I had a misunderstanding about your view. I wrongly assumed you took the usual reformed position on God's sovereignty, which is that God decrees all things for some good purpose, not merely that he passively allows them and then makes the most of a bad situation.

I get the impression from reading the Bible that God decrees both natural and moral evil. He doesn't merely allow them to happen and then does damage control. He really intends for them to happen. I'll give some examples.

Natural evil

He sends a flood.
He sends plagues.
Isaiah 6:45:6-7 "I am the LORD, and there is no other, the one forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating disaster; I am the LORD who does all these."

Moral evil

When Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery it says that God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20).
God hardens hearts.
God causes people to be false prophets (1 Kings 22:23).
Isaiah 63:17 says, "Why, O LORD, dost thou cause us to stray from thy ways, and harden our hearts from fearing thee?"
He turned the heart of the Egyptians to hate the Hebrews (Psalm 105:25).
He caused the Egyptians to turn against each other and to resort to idolatry and necromancy (Isaiah 19:2-3).
He causes people to forget the Sabbath and feasts (Lamentations 2:6).
God intended somebody to execute Jesus to save sinners (Acts 4:27-28).

Maybe you'll think I've misunderstood these passages, but it seems to me that God takes an active role in bringing about both natural and moral evil. He isn't just passive. This is where my question was coming from.

"A Good Reason for Evil" by Greg Koukl

In this article, Greg maintains that God merely "allows" evil, but he does so for a good reason--because some good can come out of it. So even in the case of God allowing evil, God still has a purpose in evil. He isn't just doing damage control. He intended the evil to come about, which is why he allowed it.

Sam,

It's pretty hard to deny the part about Natural Evils if you even believe God created the universe and earth, but I'm not sure about moral evils still.

Your first example is ambiguous to me- what does it mean that he "meant" it for good? If he had foreknowledge of the event, couldn't he have planned on allowing it to happen and then also planned on using it for good, as opposed to actively causing it happen? Wouldn't "meant" describe this series of actions as well?

As for example two, what does a hardened heart entail? There seems to be dispute about this among Biblical scholars. The bible also says in Exodux 8:15 and 32 that Pharoah hardened his own heart. Some scholars think this means that God simply assisted a process which Pharoah himself initiated. If not, then what do you think it means that Pharoah hardened his own heart?

I'm not sure about your other examples, but maybe I'll read them in context later and get back to you. If it is so that God causes these specific evils, I'm not sure that means he causes every evil though. Then again, the "problem" still exists even if He only causes some, but not all evil.

I'll be happy to hear what you think.

Austin

So I guess I would have to rephrase my question. Since God allows evil to happen for a good purpose, should we thank him and praise him for allowing the evil? After all, allowing evil is something God himself did.

You said we should thank God and praise him for the good that comes out of the evil, but not for the evil itself. I think that makes good sense. But should we never thank God for the means he uses to bring about good? Should we only thank God for the ends?

Austin,

I don't think it makes much difference in whether God causes or allows evil. In either case, God intends the evil to come about because he has some good purpose in it. If God didn't have a good purpose in allowing the evil, he could've easily prevented it. He chose to allow the evil because he intended the evil to happen. That seems to me to be consistent with the view that "God decrees all things that come to pass." However you look at it, whether by allowing or causing, God disposes the world in such a way that evil is inevitable because evil is part of his plan.

Whether God assisted Pharaoh in hardening his own heart or whether God did all the hardening himself, we're still faced with the same situation--God played a role in Pharaoh's heart getting hardened, and the result was sin. In fact, that's why God hardened his heart. He did it so he could display his power in Pharaoh. God meant for Pharaoh to refuse to let Israel go, and he played an active role in assuring that Pharaoh would choose just as he did. Whether you say God did that all on his own, or he just assisted Pharaoh, doesn't seem to make much difference because God was active (not merely passive) in either case.

Sam,

I think it does make a difference in terms of God's character. Morally there is a difference between passively allowing evil for a purpose or actively causing it. Think about the difference between passive and active euthanasia- one is murder and the other is not.

Another example would be watching a murder happen that you could possibly do something about, but have a reason to act otherwise- maybe fear or something else. Though I certainly commend anyone who would do something to prevent the murder, watching the murder happen is morally distinct from causing the murder.

Does that make sense?

Thanks,
Austin

Well said, Greg. Good video.
I don't consider that our present sufferings are worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed in us.

Austin,

The reason I say there's no difference is because in both cases, God intends the evil to happen. He wants it to happen, because it happening will result in something else he wants.

Imagine if I were standing beside a murderer who had a gun pointed at somebody, and imagine that it would be very easy for me to prevent the murderer from pulling the trigger. All I had to do is ask him to put the gun down. But I actually intend for him to pull the trigger because I have some reason for why I want the other person dead. So instead of asking the murderer to put the gun down, I passively allow him to commit the murder. Is there really a big difference between me allowing the murderer to go ahead and pull the trigger as opposed to me persuading him to do so?

I'll grant that one seems worse than the other, but the culpability is merely a matter of degree. There still is culpability on my part in either case.

Now let me use another analogy to show why even though I'm culpable, I'm not necessarily guilty because I haven't actually done anything wrong.

Let's suppose there's a black man who is about to push a button that will detonate a bomb in a public school with all black students and teachers, and I just found out about it. And let's say there's a murderer with a gun who hates black people so much that he would gladly kill one if he thought he could get away with it. But he will refrain from killing if I tell him to. And let's suppose that I'm stuck in a wheel chair with no arms and legs.

So here are the questions:

1. What should I do?
2. Have I done anything wrong?
3. Has the murderer done anything wrong?

Let's explore these questions:

1. I can't stop the bomber because I'm in a wheel chair with no arms and legs. But if I keep my mouth shut, the murderer will stop the bomber. If I tell the murderer to put the gun down, he'll do it. But in that case, the bomber will detonate the bomb and kill everybody in the school. If I tell the murderer about the bomb, the murderer will not want to commit the murder until after the bomb has been detonated because he would rather everybody in the school die than just one black person. So I can't tell him that he'd be saving lives by shooting the murderer. The only motive that will cause him to kill the black man is his hatred for black people.

It seems like I ought to keep my mouth shut and allow the murder to happen.

Now let's tweak the scenario a little bit. Let's say I know the bomber is in a small shack, and he just went in there to detonate the bomb. I see the murderer coming, and I know how he wants to kill black people because he hates them so much. What should I do? If I do nothing, everybody in the school will die. I can't stop the bomber myself, and I can't tell the murderer that he'd be saving lives by killing the bomber. The only way I can get the murderer to stop the bomber is by telling the murderer there's a black man in the shack. What should I do?

It seems like I ought to tell the murderer there's a black man waiting to be killed in the shack, and that the murderer should kill him quickly.

2. It seems to me that in both cases, whether I passively allow the murder to take place or actively cause the murder to take place, I'm still culpable. I had some control over whether the murder took place or not, and I chose for the murder to happen. But I don't think I have done anything wrong in either case since the death of the bomber who had nothing but evil intentions saved the lives of many innocent people.

3. It seems to me that the murderer is guilty of murder. Even though he saved the lives of many innocent people by taking the life of a guilty person, that was not his motive for killing. His motive for killing was simply that he hates black people and wants to see them eradicated.

What do you think about this, Austin? Do you agree that whether I passively allow or actively cause the murder to take place that I am culpable in either situation? Is God culpable for the evil he allows to take place? Does it make a big difference in whether the evil is allowed or caused?

Do you think I would be guilty if i caused a killing to take place in which the murderer's only motive was to murder an innocent man for being black? Do you think God would be guilty if he caused sin to take place as long as he did it for good and praiseworthy ends? Would I be guilty of sin in my scenario?

@ Austin:

Not be a drive-by commenter, but I just want address one thing. You said:

"The bible also says in Exodus 8:15 and 32 that Pharoah hardened his own heart. Some scholars think this means that God simply assisted a process which Pharoah himself initiated."

I have heard this argument used a lot concerning Pharoah, and Paul's use of Pharoah as an example in Romans 9. But the Bible is clear that the hardening of Pharoah's heart was both God's idea and his doing. Exodus 4:21 says:

"And the LORD said to Moses, 'When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.'"

God's words to Moses here are spoken before Moses confronts Pharoah.

A reference that is at a least mildy relevant to this discussion:

"Is God a Moral Monster" by Paul Copan.

CMM,

I understand that God says he will harden Pharoahs heart. However, that doesn't negate the fact that the Bible is also clear that Pharoah hardened his own heart. When confronting the issue, one has to take both of these into account. Either one verse is misunderstood and must be shown to be so, or both verses are more compatible than they seem. I don't have an answer, I only issued the verses in chapter 8 to show that it isn't so clear as if you read either verse on its own.

Austin,

I understand, and I agree that both should be taken into account. My view on this is that if God claims that he will do something to someone, and then that person does it, it is God acting through them. I think we'd all agree that Pharoah had significantly less power than God, and God said he was going to harden Pharoah's heart. It's similar to asking what caused an earth quake--shifting tectonic plates, or God? In a sense, both; but ultimately, God. He ordains the end and the means.

It always comes down to Free Will. It's either the greatest gift or the most terrible curse. The creation of free willed, authentic, conscious, decision making holy beings -- not automatons or marionettes -- is God's doing; it's what we have been given through Love. Depending on what we experience at the moment, we usually either condemn or praise this gift. If there is life after the passing of our physical bodies, then our sufferings can be seen as relatively minor through the vision of that eternal perspective. But if we live and die as mere mortals, it is ultimately a nasty picture because all that we love and all who love us inevitably, without exception, pass away -- and often via terrible pain and fear. We had no choice in the decision to be created as free willed beings. But now that it is our eternal fact, we are advised to choose wisely.

Sam,

Wow, I have changed my mind about 5 times and when I finally made it up, I accidentally refreshed the page before submitting my response.

Unfortunately, I have to do work now and don't have time to reorganize and type my thoughts. Expect a response later this evening when I am done with work.

CMM,

I think we'd all agree that Pharoah had significantly less power than God, and God said he was going to harden Pharoah's heart.

I don't know that it's an issue of who has more power as long as both parties have the minimal amount of power needed to accomplish the thing in question. For example, suppose there is a murder and it is known that the only two people in the room with the victim were a 30 year old man and a 1 year old child. As a 1 year old child does not have the power to hold and shoot the gun that was left at the seen of the crime, it is obvious that the 30 year old adult must have done it. But replace the baby with a 50 year old woman and that becomes irelevant. In the same way, if God and Pharoah are both capable of hardening Pharoah's heart on their own, then the amount of power they have is irelevant.

So the question becomes: is Pharoah, or any man for that matter, capable of hardening his own heart? I guess this depends on your view of man's freedom. I think even with a compatibalist view of freedom, a man is capable of hardening his heart, even if he is unable to to soften it. With a libertarian view of freedom this is definitely so.

It's similar to asking what caused an earth quake--shifting tectonic plates, or God? In a sense, both; but ultimately, God. He ordains the end and the means.

I feel like maybe you are begging the question here by comparing a human decision to something that is completely deterministic and has no freedom at all. Do you believe that man has any freedom, even in a compatibalist sense? If so, this analogy is meaningless because obviously a techtonic plate is not even in the slightest sense a free agent capable of making a decision or doing anything on its own.

Sam,

OK here's my crack at it (I couldn't stay away for as long as I wanted haha).

What do you think about this, Austin? Do you agree that whether I passively allow or actively cause the murder to take place that I am culpable in either situation? Is God culpable for the evil he allows to take place? Does it make a big difference in whether the evil is allowed or caused?

In the scenarios you crafted, I agree that you are culpable in each case. However, your responsibility lies in allowing the evil to be physically manifested- not creating the evil in the first place. 1 John 3:15 shows us that hating your brother (the bigotry of the murderer) is morally equivalent with the physical act of murder.

Suppose we change your analogy so that the man with the gun is not a bigot at all. Instead, wanting to kill the bomber to prevent the bomb going off, but not wanting to do it yourself, you use a brain wave device to control the mind of the gunman temporarily. You change his will and desires so that for a few minutes he DOES hate black people, and thus ends up killing the bomber, saving the hundreds of students. In this case, you are culpable and guilty of the evil itself. You are the source of the hatred and bigotry which led the gunman to kill the bomber. This hypothetical could even be less science-fiction like if we said that instead of using a mind control device, you simply brainwashed the gunman into hating black people.

Can you see the difference? In one case, you are allowing the gunman's pre-existing evil (hatred/bigotry) to physically manifest, resulting in the killing of the bomber. In the other case you are actually CAUSING the evil (hatred/bigotry) itself. I think this IS a morally significant difference.

Do you think God would be guilty if he caused sin to take place as long as he did it for good and praiseworthy ends? Would I be guilty of sin in my scenario?

In your original scenario, no. In my modified scenario, it seems more likely- for you are God are actively the source of the evil in that case.

PS. Do these scenarios remind anyone else of the scene in The Dark Knight when the two boats (one with criminals and the other with regular citizens) were each given the detonator to bombs on the other ship? Haha

Austin,

Fair enough pointing out the weakness of my example. That's why I hate using them. The point I was trying to make is that God, who can exert control over Pharoah, clearly said that he was going to harden Pharoah's heart. Pharoah's heart is hardened. The text says Pharoah did it, but it previously said that God was going to do it. I have to believe then that God used something within Pharoah to harden Pharoah's heart. Again, both the ends and the means.

"So the question becomes: is Pharoah, or any man for that matter, capable of hardening his own heart?"

I think this question goes beyond the boundaries of our discussion. We're talking about a particular instance where specific things were said and done in a specific order. Generally, I do believe it is possible for a man to harden his own heart. But that's not the question. The question is, who did it in this particular instance?

What should I be thinking now about my niece being murdered just a few weeks ago. What do I say to her mother and grandmother. God was in this, he allowed this, or people are sinful we chose to kill because we want to. what if they say I don't want to know a God that would allow this murder. I just don't want to say I am praying for you, when they want to know why God allowed this and how will I overcome my grief and hate for this person that killed.

God intends and plans that certain events take place in the world. There is no event anywhere that actually happens that does not fall into the category of events planned by God.

Some of these events are the results of the intentions of God and God alone. And some of these events may be characterized as bad and even evil...especially by those who have to experience them. One of the individuals who experiences the worst of all these events is God. Yet he chooses, weighing the good against the bad, to allow them anyway. An athlete will choose a painful exercise routine. It is not necessarily evil of him to do so simply because it involves some pain.

There is no evil at all in the events just described. Though some people may be tempted to describe them as evil. We may gloss this with the expression that God allows evil. That is, He allows events to occur that someone could characterize, albeit inaccurately, as evil.

Others of the events that God plans and intends also involve limited agents intending that those very events take place. It is part of God's grand plan of the world that these limited agents have these very freely held intentions (these intentions and not others). For some of these cases, it is evil for the limited agents to intend those events.

It is not evil for God to plan that some limited agent perform evil. But it is evil for that limited agent to perform evil. What is the difference? God knows all ends, and feels all the ill effects of the evil actions. He plans and intends that these events occur anyway. Those who perform evil actions do not see all ends and do not feel all the effects of their own evil acts. Their acts are evil precisely because they do them without knowing of the good that their actions serve (and, indeed, if they did know of that good, they might not do the action).

We might also gloss this by saying that God allows evil. That is, without performing evil Himself, He intends that some events occur in which other agents do perform evil.

Martha, I'm terribly sorry to hear about your niece. I don't know what the right thing to say is in the situation because it goes beyond theology and philosophy. My own niece was killed in an accident a couple of years ago, and my sister-in-law kept asking me why God would allow it. I don't think I handled the situation like I should have.

At least if it was part of God's plan, your niece did not die in vain. It wasn't a pointless tragedy that can't be redeemed. God had a purpose in it that will result in some greater good. I find that somewhat comforting, but I don't know if you will or your family.

Grief takes time to heal whether it's the result of a pointless tragedy or a tragedy that serves a divine purpose. There's nothing you can say to somebody that is going to make them feel better about it. And they shouldn't excpect to feel better about it any time soon. It's been two years, and my brother and sister-in-law are still grieving.

A book I would recommend on this subject is Suffering and the Sovereignty of God by John Piper and Justin Taylor.

We can know that God has a good purpose in whatever tragedies befall us without knowing specifically what his purpose is. I explained that in two blogs which you can read here: part 1 and part 2. These philosophical arguments probably won't be any help to your family, but they have been a help to me. I have to remind myself of these things whenever tragedies happen, like when my niece died. But if somebody had told me these things right after she died, I don't know that it would've had any effect on me at all. I made the mistake of trying to reason with my sister-in-law because I was afraid she was going to lose her faith in God, and I don't generally deal with other people's grief very well. I guess I panicked and told her the only thing I knew to say.

I am interested in this discussion, and dont have much time right now, but want to chime in with a quick question and a comment that I believe will help everyone when considering this.

The question:Did God create the world[universe] for the glory of man or for His own glory?

The comment: We dont know enough to attribute evil to God as to make Him morally responsible for the acts of His free agent creatures, but in the end, it is all His creation and logically, everything must have met His approval before its founding--even the demonstration of divine wrath poured out on an innocent lamb.

Hi Sam, both part 1 and part 2 begin as though in the middle of something--I could understand this from part 2, but what else came before part 1? It seems to be a continuation also like part 2 [and it is indicated to be a continuation at the top left]

Sorry Brad. Here are the first two parts: part -1 and part 0.

Hi CCM and Austin, in the case of Pharoah, all God has to do to harden Pharoah's heart is to show His goodness or challenge Pharoah's claim to sit as supreme ruler by stating through Moses/Aaron that it is the God of Abe,Isaac,Jake who is the true Sovereign sitting on the throne. Neither of which could be construed in any way as being a sin, evil, or an offense toward Pharoah's right of self determination. Hey, in this case at least God didn't send lying spirits in the mouths of Pharoahs prophets to convince him to not let Israel go.

A study of both Supralapsarianism and Infrlapsarianism under the heading of Calvinism, will give precious insight into what is being discussed here, from the church's greatest and deepest theological thinkers.

Brad B,

"Hey, in this case at least God didn't send lying spirits in the mouths of Pharoahs prophets to convince him to not let Israel go."

When you say "in this case," do you mean in the actual case of what happened, or do you mean in the case that God only showed Pharoah His goodness, etc like you propose? Do you have reasons for why you think this is the case, or are you only listing it as a minimum possibility?

It is interesting though, because that was my concern from the start: what exactly does it mean when the Bible says that God hardened Pharoah's heart? I thought the other verses that say Pharoah hardened his own heart could give insight and maybe they still can.

Does God literally and directly change Pharoah's will and desires from the inside? This, to me, would be likened to the above hypothetical where one literally controls someone's mind, causing them to have an evil will and commit an evil act.

Or does God use other factors to guide Pharoah's pre-existing evil will to do something as part of His plan? These factors could be internal or external. An example of an internal could be God giving Pharoah some previously unknown insight. An example of external could be someone (an Israelite or another Egyptian) or something natural (the plagues) doing wrong to Pharoah, sending him into a fit of rage and causing him to change his mind.

Brad, if you go to part 1, there are links to the earlier parts on the right. The first two links at the top of the list are the earlier parts to the email. I tried to post links here, butfor some reason it wouldn't go through.

Hi Austin, to answer your first query, "in this case" was in reference to when God did send lying spirits into the prophets of the King of Israel when God's true prophet was ignored. This was when Ahab dressed as another and was still slain in battle as was prophesied when an archer by random shot hit the king between the plates of armor;>).

Either way, God didn't have to move to make Ahab different from who he was created to be to get him to do as God wanted. Neither did Pharoah. My scenario to you and CCM was not meant to be my proposed version of what might have happened, only just to suggest that we can think outside the box a little to see that God can demonstrate His goodness to completely harden the wicked--it happens all the time when saints are abused by the world for the sake of God.

Just so you understand my position, it'd be supralapsarian as dave mentioned above, and the thing is, I've lost my offense to God being God when it comes to His ordering the whole of creation. After all, somewhere it says: "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? 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? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

Sam, Typepad thinks comments are spam if they only (or mostly only) have links without text. I found your comment in the spam folder and posted it (see above). Sorry about that!

Thanks Amy.

One can understand 'evil' only in light of the Biblical view of man's sin and the fall.

Sin is a transgression of the Law.

God is not bound by the Law. (Some think the Law reflects God's nature. Others think it is purely arbitrary given to humans to abide by.)

If God is bound by any Law, it becomes God, even if it emanates from His nature.

We like to hold God accountable to the Law that He gave to us.

If we realize that God cannot sin, that everything He does or doesn't do is righteous, a lot of the problems in our world view will disappear.

Interesting. Greg seems to depart from the traditional Reformed understanding that God exhaustively controls all events.

Also, he consistently talks of evil as if it were a real thing, without using the Augustinian dodge that evil is just the "absence of good", and therefore not a real thing.

Even Greg can't reconcile James 1 with God actively doing evil, as most reformed folks contend He does, (Cue various OT stories).

Jeff,

That's a decent point (one that I haven't heard against the reformed view). Pretty explicit too. What would a reformed theologian say to defend their view against James 1:13-15?

Hi Austin, it would be silly to try to re-invent the wheel and scripture proof the reformed positon. The James quote is hardly enough to make a full biblical doctrine on providence. I thought it might be good to paste the WCF Ch 5 On Providence to see what the reformed ought to hold to. I bolded some interesting phrases for you to consider the Protestant view. Chapter 3 on God's Eternal Decree is also pertinent on this. You can find the completer WCF with scripture proofs here

I. God the great Creator of all things does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, according to His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will, to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.

II. Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, He orders them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.

III. God, in His ordinary providence, makes use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at His pleasure.

IV. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extends itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as has joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceeds only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.

V. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God does oftentimes leave, for a season, His own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.

VI. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous Judge, for former sins, does blind and harden, from them He not only withholds His grace whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon in their hearts; but sometimes also withdraws the gifts which they had, and exposes them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and, withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan, whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God uses for the softening of others.

VII. As the providence of God does, in general, reach to all creatures; so, after a most special manner, it takes care of His Church, and disposes all things to the good thereof

Hello Austin,

For me it comes down to this:

God cannot be "sovereign" in the sense that the Reformed folks use the word and "good" in the sense that most people would use the word.

Reading the NT, James and I John and the Gospels, I come down on the "good" side of the equation. In my view, although God is powerful and brilliant, and capable of controlling everything and everyone.....He doesn't. By choice. That's explains why, even though He states that He desires everyone to be saved.....everyone is not saved.

Now I have had Reformed folks tell me it is just an unknowable mystery that God plans and desires evil yet is still good. That is an intellectually honest position. I'm just not convinced.

So, to sum it up, when I am confronted with something in the Bible that seems to show God acting in an evil way, I look for an alternative explanation. You see, I trust that God is not evil.

This really is no different than what Reformed folks do when confronted with something in the Bible that doesn't seem to fit their system.... they look for an alternative explanation. They just are convinced that their view of God is correct. They might be right. I'm just not convinced.

Hi Jeff, I think that what you've said says a lot more about you than what the Bible actually reveals. It's not wise to pledge allegiance to certain scriptures because they seem good or right over against others that wrankle your sensibilities based on what you want the biblical revelation to display.

A systematic theology must make a coherent exposition of what is revealed in the scriptures by taking the tension found there and wrestling with them in an unbiased way, allowing the scriptures to lead--not follow. I think that the Westminster Confessin of Faith does this without regard to the offense of man.

I have a question, do you[or anyone] really think that the Reformed position was arrived at by desire? In other words why would anyone draw out of the scriptures such an offensive assault on the pride of man?

It might do some good to discuss chapter V of WCF to see if what it has to say has biblical warrant.

In the book Calvin's Calvinism, he says that God is the remote cause, and we or the Devil are the proximate cause of all that happens.

That is, In my understanding, I chose what to wear today from my wardrobe, but it was God who determined that I would choose the particular garments. Being blinded by sin and insensitive to His control, I would naturally fabricate a notion of free will and assume it was all to my liking.

Dave,

You say, "That is, In my understanding, I chose what to wear today from my wardrobe, but it was God who determined that I would choose the particular garments."

Why would you believe this? You really think God determines every event? Why?

Brad B.,

Discussing the Westminster Confession doesn't interest me. Dueling proof texts over an old document written in archaic english.....

What motivates people to come up with something like the Reformed position? Many people will choose something distasteful rather than live with any uncertainty. Perhaps that could be a reason.

The question, "How can God plan and cause evil yet not be evil?"

That would be worth a discussion.

Give Sproul a listen
http://www.ligonier.org/rym/broadcasts/audio/i-am-lord-there-no-other/

@ Jeff> You really think God determines every event? Why?

Because if even the slightest thing escaped the control of God, it would collapse and cease to exist. Further more, he would not be All Mighty. He would at best be sorta mighty, or wanna be mighty.

Hi Daron, you must be listening to Sproul's "Renewing Your Mind" radio program currently, I heard that one late last night and also recommend it.

Hi Dave, thanks for the reference regarding Calvin, this is biblical Christianity. Also, your last question is a good one for Jeff to consider.

Hi Jeff, to answer your question in similar fashion, how can God be One and Three? You are not satisfied with mystery, so you have to abandon clear scriptural references that reveal to us that 1)Nothing happens that is outside of God's control, 2)Evil is present and used by God, and 3) the scriptures reveal His purity. None of these 3 can seriously be denied without abusing sound biblical interpretation. You believe that there is incompatibility there, you ought to deny the doctrine of the Trinity also. If you believe that the WCF is disqualified based on such ad hominem reasons, you really have not dealt with it in any way. I hope you would, it'd be to your benefit--even if you still would disagree with it's presuppositions, you could never fault it's full orbed coherence in its biblical exposition

Hello Daron,

I spent 25 minutes listening to Sproul as you suggested. Again, I don't see how it logically follows that because God is unique that He must control all events, and that He is incapable of creating a universe that doesn't require His constant micromanagement.

Also, R.C. quotes Job, "The Lord gives, the Lord takes away". Actually, Job was mistaken. It was Satan doing those things. (The taking away that is) Job was blessing God for the work of Satan! I would challenge you to read: http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/the-35w-bridge-collapse-and-the-book-of-job/ for a better reasoned analysis of Job.

It's better reasoned? How can I resist such a challenge? Thanks.

Hello Jeff,
I don't find Greg's blog to offer strong reasoning. He offers a God who is just doing the best He can, a poor beleaguered fellow who's really up against it with the evil in the cosmos.
That's not the God I worship. I worship the God who can secure what I entrust to HIm and Who I know can keep His promises.

Dave wrote: "Because if even the slightest thing escaped the control of God, it would collapse and cease to exist. Further more, he would not be All Mighty. He would at best be sorta mighty, or wanna be mighty. "

Do you think God is incapable of creating a universe that doesn't require his "control" of everything?

If God decided to not control everything you would decide He wasn't all mighty enough for you?

But I guess under your paradigm, that would be God deciding....

Hello Daron,

I can understand that you find Boyd's view of God unconvincing. However, what did you find about his analysis of Job incorrect?

Brad B writes: "Hi Dave, thanks for the reference regarding Calvin, this is biblical Christianity. Also, your last question is a good one for Jeff to consider."

Brad, Reformed systematic theology is the minority position among Christians. Many Christians don't agree. Are their positions unbiblical?

" Hi Jeff, to answer your question in similar fashion, how can God be One and Three? You are not satisfied with mystery, so you have to abandon clear scriptural references that reveal to us that 1)Nothing happens that is outside of God's control, 2)Evil is present and used by God, and 3) the scriptures reveal His purity. None of these 3 can seriously be denied without abusing sound biblical interpretation. You believe that there is incompatibility there, you ought to deny the doctrine of the Trinity also."

Sigh. Nice try. The Trinity is a fundamental doctrine held by all Christians. The Calvinist view is a distinctly minority view. That it is not Biblically clear is shown by the many Biblical scholars and Christians who hold a different view.

Apples and Oranges, Brad. Did you really think that argument would work?

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