Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Foundational Truths – The Will of God and the Problem of Evil

As we saw last time, the will of God is absolutely sovereign and that He is God over both calamity and well-being (Isa 45:7). Of necessity He must also be immutable i.e. cannot change, for if he could change it would imply that He is not all knowing, His plan was not perfect, or that He was acted upon by some force which caused Him to react thereby necessitating a change in Him. Any of which would indicate that He is in fact not God, just a mere impostor.

However, one may ask “what about evil”; meaning if God is sovereign i.e. all things happen as a result of His sovereignly willing it to be then evil must be a direct result of His will and not the result of sinful disobedience of the created.

To answer this Dr. John Gerstner in Primitive Theology – A Primer on Apologetics states that evil is largely an issue of perception. The position of his position is that "God is sovereign in an absolute way" and we must admit this is what sovereignty means. And that "God is good in an equally absolute way" so that there is no chance of anything evil ever happening if He is both sovereign and good, so that evil must be at its heart an issue of perception.

Now on the outset let me say what he is not saying. He is not saying that “evil” or “good” for that matter is not real in the sense the scientologist does i.e. reality is but an illusion so that they deny the existence of sickness, suffering, death and even hell. Rather he is stating that since “all things work together for good” (Rom 8: 28) then even the “evil” in the believer’s life is actually “good” since it does work out good in us. And since it is “all things” this would by necessity include both the “evil” and “good” in the unbeliever’s life as well.

His focus is that of God. If we see God’s hand in all that befalls us, if we see all things as being filtered though His hands to us, then we can see the good in all things that He ordains in our lives. Was this not the result of Job’s horrific ordeal? “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6). The evil in his life was actually good even though it required taking all he had to work this good out in his life. Was this not also the testimony of Joseph in his famous quote “you meant it for evil but God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20). Meaning that your evil intent was actually God’s good intent; why, “that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Now I do not mean to make light of the pain in our lives only to point out that as believers, evil is not a problem at all only an error in the perception of God’s good.

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