Monday, September 04, 2006

Theodicy


The existence of evil in light of God's omnipotence and goodness appears to some a problem . Those who hold to Free Will think they have the answer by saying man's free will creates evil and that it is only a problem for Calvinists. Conservative theologians grant God's omnipotence and so the purpose of this discussion is to reveal from the scriptures that God determines everything that happens and that everything that happens is for his pleasure and therefore good. The answer to them is a simple reference to the scriptures in Romans 9:20 which says "who are you, O man, who answers back to God?" It is a presumption to think we can decide for God what is good.

Inconsistencies from some who hold to predestination add fuel to the free willer fire. John MacArthur, a popular Pastor, Author of the MacArthur Study Bible, and a Calvinist, says in reference to God's hardening act in Romans 9:18, that it does not refer to God's creating unbelief but that he merely withdrew his influence from Pharaoh. He later shows from his comments on verses 22 and 23 that he believes God only allows or permits sin. A short time ago, I read the minutes of an ordination service of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, a conservative Calvinist denomination, where they ordained an elder who denied that God ordains sin. The ramifications of this thinking are devastating. The fall becomes just an accident, Christ's death a chance happening, and ultimately God is not in control.

The Bible in distinction says in Isaiah 45:7 that God causes peace and creates evil. In Proverbs 16:4 we learn that God creates the wicked for the day of evil, in Lamentations 3:38 we learn that from the mouth of the most high comes both good and evil, and Isaiah 63:17 asks "Oh Lord, why have you made us stray from your ways and harden our heart from your fear?" These verses clearly articulate that God is the ultimate cause of everything. God is glorified by demonstrating his wrath and judgment on the reprobate.

In his book, Chosen But Free, Norman Geisler argues that man's actions are caused by himself or "self-caused actions." Geisler does this under the rubric of moderate Calvinist. This line of thinking leads him to redefine all 5 points of Calvinism and therefore disqualifies him as even a moderate Calvinist. True moderate Calvinists, like W.G.T. Shedd, Curt Daniel, and John MacArthur, as listed above, although alot more careful theologians than Norman Geisler, come very close to this in their denial of God's ordaining evil.

Moderate Calvinists argue that James 1:13-18 is proof that God does not cause evil. The purpose of these verses is however to indicate that God is not the immediate cause of evil but not to contradict the verses listed above which clearly indicate he is the ultimate cause of evil. They also claim this from 1 Corinthians 14:33, but once again, this is merely God's preceptive will for speakers in the church and not indicative of God's decretive will. In 2 Chronicles 18:19-23, we learn that God used a spirit to lie in the mouth of the prophets so that Ahab would fall. In 2 Thessalonians 2:11, we learn that God will send a strong delusion that people will believe a lie. God [Rex] is ex lex. God cannot steal as everything belongs to him. God cannot murder although he kills all the time. God's jealousy is perfectly justified and righteous.

This precious doctrine should not lead to a "qué será será" way of thinking nor does it justify sin. The elect will hear God's voice, love him and follow him, keeping his commandments. However, I can rest that my sin will not frustrate God's plans as "we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God to those who are called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28.

For further enlightenment on this very important matter, I highly recommend God and Evil by Gordon Clark, The Justification of God by John Piper, No Place for Sovereignty by R.K. McGregor Wright, The Serpent of Paradise by Erwin Lutzer and A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith by Robert L. Reymond.

1 comment:

mandolinartist said...

This is an interesting topic and a heated debate. We should all keep in mind, when thinking through this issue, that we are guilty and we are always guilty of our sin. Christ is perfect. As reformers, we hold fast to the fact that Christ ordained and predestined everything, and we must continue to hold this ordination truth through "everything." It is comforting to know that while I fail, I cannot interrupt or get in the way of God's plan. His decree and his plan is much bigger, better, and perfect than I can ever be on this Earth. His plan does not conform to our mere worldly standards... We are trying, and failing, to reach his standards. It is also comforting to know that all things work to our good, as long as we love Christ. This should take all worry, fear, and dread away...