May 05, 2014

A World Without Evil . . .

Either God is able to end evil and suffering, or he's not. 

To deny that God is able to end evil and suffering is to limit God in a way that is inconsistent with his omnipotence. This is untenable for an orthodox Christian (no, open theism is not orthodox).

If God is able to end evil and suffering but doesn't, then he either has a purpose for evil and suffering, or he doesn't.

To say that God allows evil and suffering but has no ultimate purpose or plan for it is to deny God's omnibenevolence (as well as his wisdom). This, too, is untenable for orthodox Christians. However, the Arminian denial of God's meticulous control over all events (including evil and suffering) commits one to just this view.

Ironically, they hold this view in an attempt to salvage God's omnibenevolence. "How can a good God not just allow but ordain evil and suffering?" they ask. To that I respond, "How can a good God allow purposeless evil and suffering? How is this morally superior to God ordaining evil and suffering for a good purpose?"

The fact is, the Arminian doesn't really believe in purposeless evil and suffering. He believes that God allows evil and suffering in order to preserve human freedom. This amounts to saying that God ordained that evil and suffering would exist for some greater purpose—libertarian human freedom.

The Calvinist, too, believes that God ordained evil and suffering for some greater purpose—the revelation of God's glory in salvation through judgment.

When framed this way, it seems that the disagreement between Calvinism and Arminianism boils down to this: Did God ordain evil and suffering to preserve human freedom, or to reveal his own glory?

We are not left without guidance on this issue. Ask yourself, "Do the Scriptures ever assert anything like the idea that God values human freedom more than his own glory?" The answer is, "No." Also, "Do the scriptures ever explicitly state that God ordains evil and suffering in order to reveal his glory?" The answer is a resounding, "Yes!"

Romans 9:15-24
For [God] says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." So then [salvation] depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and one for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and 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—even us whom he has called ...
We are saved from the wrath of God. This means that, if there were no wrath of God—no judgment, no damnation—there could be no salvation.

A world without danger is a world without heroism.

A world without judgment is a world without mercy.

A world without damnation is a world without salvation.

A world without evil is a world without the cross.



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