Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Did God Create Evil? & Thoughts on Calvinism

Thanks to Rose for the head's up on this excellent blog post on Dr. McArthur's Theodicy.

I think John R.'s comments on Calvinism are excellent. And, I certainly understand his concern with the idea that God created evil, but I do believe He did. God is the only one who can create, right? Though, I do not believe God is the cause of evil. I believe the cause lies within the freewill and natural causes of God's creation.

Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
I've heard other theologians try to explain how evil came about and that it is merely the opposite of obedience to God. It is the negative of the positive. But that just doesn't ring true to me.

Could I be wrong?


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19 Comments:

At Wednesday, March 21, 2007 7:24:00 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

Dawn, I am way out of my depth on this so I apoligize in advance.

I will start with this Zen parable:

"A chinese farmer's neighbors came over to offer him their sympathy after his horse ran away. "I'm not so sure it's a misfortune", said the farmer. The neighbors left, shaking their heads.

The next day, the farmer's horse returned, and three wild horses came home with him. The neighbors returned to congratulate the farmer on his good fortune. "I'm not certain that it is good fortune", replied the farmer. The neighbors left, more bemused than before.

Later that week, the farmer's son broke his leg trying to train one of the new horses, and the neighbors came by to offer condolences. "I'm not sure this is a misfortune", said the farmer again. The neighbors left, discussing the man's mental state among themselves.

The next day, the emperor came through, gathering up young men to be in his army. They bypassed the farmer's son, since he had a broken leg."

As you can see this could go on and on.

Perhaps we don't always know what is good and evil. Perhaps good and evil are both sides of the same coin. They both just "are", and we need to accept this and do our best to "be," and be kind.

I do not always know how to "live" this as I certainly am angered by what I perceive as evil and am made happy by what I perceive as good. The key for me is not to cling to the anger or happiness. Clinging to theis feelings just obscures my living in every moment of my life. I guess those feelings are also just part of the mix.

 
At Thursday, March 22, 2007 6:41:00 AM, Blogger Dawn said...

Hey Andrew! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I believe there is good and evil in this world and that there is a definitive difference. I think there is such a thing as righteous anger. But I agree with you that we should not hang onto our anger. It will only destroy us. I think clinging to happiness is a good thing as long as you prepare yourself for times of unhappiness.

The chinese farmer seems a bit pessimistic to me, but I understand what the proverb is saying. Or at least I think I do. That is, maybe not everything we see as bad is truly bad. And not everything we see as good is truly good. Only time will tell. Though, I don't believe that when a good thing comes along that we have to question it or worry that it isn't really good. I think we should enjoy it.

It goes along with the account in Genesis of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers. Long story short, it was a bad thing that happened to Joseph, but by the hand of God Joseph eventually became Pharaoh's right hand man.

I think that whatever situation we find ourselves in (good or bad) we should do all we do as unto the Lord.

 
At Thursday, March 22, 2007 1:07:00 PM, Anonymous Mike, Leo's friend said...

Hello Dawn,

Good, evil, what an interesting subject and one I wish I could completely understand. I know I sometimes ponder way too much about it. You wonder if it is a blessing or a curse to have a mind that never rests. But you would rather be a cynic than a hypocrite, so you continue to pray with one eye open and wonder:

about starving children
about the power of prayer
about Christians in cancer wards
about good and evil

Tough questions. Throw in the towel questions. Questions the disciples must have asked in the storm.

All they could see were black skies as they bounced in the battered boat...
Then a figue came to them walking on the water. It wasn't what they expected. They almost missed seeing the answer to their prayers.

Unless we look and listen we risk making the same mistake. God's lights in our dark nights are as numerous as the stars, if only we'll look for them.

I don't know much about a lot when it comes to good, evil and the doctrine of Calvinism...I do know I love and trust God.

 
At Thursday, March 22, 2007 4:12:00 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

Hey Mike! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yes, there are many things that we just may never know the answers to until we get to heaven.

Mike: "...I do know I love and trust God."

Amen Mike! That's really the key. Loving and trusting in the Lord and believing that He knows best.

 
At Thursday, March 22, 2007 5:32:00 PM, Blogger dmarks said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Friday, March 23, 2007 12:52:00 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

My pleasure Dawn. Great discussion. Would you explain more about this quote: "I think that whatever situation we find ourselves in (good or bad) we should do all we do as unto the Lord." I am sure if I spent more time in church it would resonate more for me.

Is it like saying "we can only do what we can do, and be thankful for the gifts/knowledge of the Lord?"

 
At Friday, March 23, 2007 6:36:00 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

Andrew, I'll have to come back later to respond to your comment.

 
At Friday, March 23, 2007 7:55:00 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

DMarks, I know this topic is not your cup of tea. Thanks for stopping by and commenting anyway.

Hopefully one of these days I will have a topic in which you can appreciate. Maybe some pics that my husband has taken. :-)

 
At Saturday, March 24, 2007 12:21:00 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

Dawn: "I think that whatever situation we find ourselves in (good or bad) we should do all we do as unto the Lord."

Andrew: "I am sure if I spent more time in church it would resonate more for me."

While we should most definitely be in church, it’s the one-on-one time we have with God (spending time in the Bible and in prayer) that helps us to know the heart and will of God. Everything together helps us to grow and learn: studying God’s word, prayer, fellowship with other believers and sitting under teachers/pastors, but that one-on-one time is just so necessary for our own spiritual growth. Our knowledge becomes more than just head knowledge, it also becomes heart knowledge.

Andrew: "Is it like saying "we can only do what we can do, and be thankful for the gifts/knowledge of the Lord?""

I would say that as christians we should do what we know to do (we know by reading His word) and whatever situation we find ourselves in we should rest in the knowledge that the Lord is in control and that He knows best. Especially when we find ourselves in a seemingly bad situation. For His ways are higher than our ways and thoughts higher than our thoughts. We are to be a light to those around us wherever we find ourselves. And we’re to always conduct ourselves in a godly manner. And yes, we’re to be ever thankful for the gifts and knowledge of the Lord.

For example, in our jobs we should be giving our employer 100% and not be murmuring and complaining in any way. We should be doing what we’re told unless it is unethical or illegal. We should be on time and not wasting time talking and not doing our work. We should be acting according to the word of God and stay away from gossip.

On the other hand, let’s say a person gets laid off from their job. They should rest in the knowledge that God has another job available and that it may be simply that it was time to move on and be a light to others.

Did you not get the promotion you thought was yours? Don’t be bitter and angry. Look at it that maybe you’re just not ready for a promotion or maybe God is protecting you from something. Maybe your personality wouldn’t have gelled with the new boss and it would have ended in your termination. Or maybe it would have been that you could not handle the job or it would have ruined your marriage or taken too much time away from your children. We should rest in the fact that God knows best.

When the apostle Paul was put in prison for preaching the gospel he didn’t get bitter and angry. Rather he preached the gospel to the prisoners and the jailers and led them to salvation. We’re to use every opportunity to tell others the good news of salvation which is only through Jesus.

If we find ourselves in the hospital for whatever reason, we can still be a light to those around us. God may even be using that situation to draw us closer to Him. What’s the worst that can happen? If you’re saved, you’ll go on to be with the Lord.

The death of a loved one or even our own deaths may also be used to lead others to repentance because it makes us aware of our own mortality and what lies ahead in eternity.

John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

1 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"

2 Timothy 2:15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

Philippians 4:11 "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

1 Thessalonians 5:18In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Colossians 3:17 "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."

Colossians 3:22Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:

Colossians 4:1Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

Matthew 5:16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Isaiah 55:9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I hope this helps to explain what I was trying to convey.

 
At Sunday, March 25, 2007 6:28:00 PM, Blogger Todd said...

As for the evil thing Dawn, everytime I start to figure out what I think about that it gets out of control. I finally decided that God's creation is, at the very least, two sided. In order to have beauty and sovereignty maybe there has to be a flip side of evil and rebellion. In the end God makes it all work out for good. Whatever the answer is must be completely beyond our comprehension in this world so I refuse to blow a head gasket over it.

 
At Sunday, March 25, 2007 7:11:00 PM, Blogger Leo said...

The best that I come up with here is that God has permitted (allowed) evil to occur. I would agree with Dawn as she states I believe the cause lies within the freewill and natural causes of God's creation.


I cannot believe that God decreed evil as this would make Him its Author. The difficulty, of course, is that He knows the end from the beginning so certainly He was not taken by surprise but if He knew it before human creation and prior to any influence upon human condition then why did He not prevent it? At times like this I can appreciate the way out that the open theists choose - God has no knowledge of free choices rather He is a really good predictor of choices. I cannot agree with Open Theism but I understand the need for some explore this option and can even understand why some embrace it.

I think that the answer to this is in Deuteronomy 29:29a “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever,

Of course, the created being that certainly commited the first evil act is the devil, Satan, Lucifer. John 8:44 ...your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Ultimately one must remember that so-called Calvinism is a human matrix and therefore cannot be perfect and has many flaws. I am curious as to where the man himself stood on the issue of Theodicy.

 
At Monday, March 26, 2007 4:28:00 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

Todd: "Whatever the answer is must be completely beyond our comprehension in this world so I refuse to blow a head gasket over it."

LOL Todd. My sentiments exactly. I'm not going to blow a head gasket over it. If the scripture I've quoted isn't the answer for evil, then it isn't the answer. If it is the answer, I do not see a problem with God having created evil. (I don't know how to define evil.) It is simply available. It doesn't mean that God has tempted us with it.

Some people do blow a head gasket if you even so much as suggest or ponder the idea that God created evil...whatever evil is.

 
At Monday, March 26, 2007 4:47:00 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

Leo: "At times like this I can appreciate the way out that the open theists choose - God has no knowledge of free choices rather He is a really good predictor of choices. I cannot agree with Open Theism but I understand the need for some explore this option and can even understand why some embrace it."

I could believe this way if that is what the bible taught, but it does not.

Leo: "I think that the answer to this is in Deuteronomy 29:29a “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever,"

I agree. But there are many things that I believe he has revealed, but others deny this revelation.

And I'm wondering if in the case of evil the answer is in Colossians 1:16.

 
At Monday, March 26, 2007 4:55:00 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

To me, evil is a power and God said that He has created everything that is under heaven and that includes powers.

 
At Tuesday, March 27, 2007 8:57:00 AM, Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Dawn, I think you need to define what evil is.

Is it a substance? A being? A state of mind?

You use the word power. But people can mean different things when they say that. Can you clarify, please?

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

 
At Tuesday, March 27, 2007 1:51:00 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

Matthew, you are right. I do need to define evil. I'll have to come back later to do that.

 
At Wednesday, March 28, 2007 9:38:00 AM, Blogger John R. said...

Dawn,

The discussion here is interesting. I appreciate the tone of the blog. Thanks for making me a part of it.

Here is a quote from my response to a comment at Anvil and Fire:

The reasons (plural) God allowed evil must be morally sufficient. My problem with Dr. MacArthur's theodicy is that his language (it seems) squarely puts the source of evil upon God. We cannot do that and remain scriptural since God is not tempted by evil, neither does He tempt men to do evil. I have to agree with Norman Geisler (who I have read on this topic since returning from Ligonier) that God does not produce or promote evil He can only permit it--not because He isn't sovereign but because of His very own nature. He is good. If we don't have a good God--then just what are we worshipping here?

I agree that God uses evil to accomplish His purposes and can destroy it at any moment.

Keep clinging to the cross. It is our only hope.


God not only allows evil, He can use it to accomplish His purpose. I guess we can call that sovereignty! :) :)

The mystery remains, but I cannot say that God "causes" evil.

Thanks!

JR

 
At Thursday, March 29, 2007 2:35:00 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

JR, thanks for stopping by!

JR: "The mystery remains, but I cannot say that God "causes" evil."

I agree. Though, I think He might be the Creator of its existence.

I do need to make the time to come up with a definition of evil. I want to get the hebrew and greek meaning as well as the dictionary meaning.

 
At Thursday, April 05, 2007 2:59:00 AM, Blogger Dawn said...

Well, I was going to try to define evil and started to do the research, but this is so in depth that I'm just not up the task at the moment.

Perhaps I will come back to this issue at a later date.

 

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