Are you sure? Sure, I'm sure!
Previous articleBack to Table of ContentsNext article


Topic: Theology Proper

God As Good: Part 2

by Darrel Cline

In our first approach (317) to the question of the character of God, we addressed the fact that genuine personhood means genuine thought and real choice. Therefore, the evil that is in the world is not necessarily traceable to the Creator. Any true person could, at any given point in time, choose to perpetrate evil. Thus, the birth of evil.

But this raises this question: if God is God, thus omniscient, did He not know that some person would choose to insert evil into His creation? And if He knew, and is omnipotent, could He not have stopped that from happening? And if He knew and could have stopped it, is He not liable for its presence?

By what logic? Where, in the eternal counsels, is it written that someone other than the maker of the choice is responsible for the choice? Personhood is the presence of mind and volition. If a person is never responsible for his choices, he does not have true volition. If he does not have true volition, he is not a person, but a machine. If a person builds a machine and uses it to do evil, then the person who built the machine is liable for the evil. But if a person creates a person, one of the consequences is that there are now two with volitional capacity and that means that there is always the possibility of two ways for the wills to work...ways that are incompatible. One good, one evil. This is the nature of the reality of personhood and the consequent reality of the creation of persons.

There are two (this is a major understatement, actually there are a gazillion, but only two of them are under my consideration at this point) foolish notions in the minds of men. One is that he can create the eternal counsels and determine what is necessarily there (how does a pea-brained idiot [ok, a grapefruit-sized-brained man] suddenly become an omniscient god just by self-declared fiat? -- since when can a grapefruit-sized brain contain infinity?).

The other is that blame-shifting is a valid exercise. Just because the notion of liability for the behavior of others is written into our law, that does not make it sound wisdom. It is true that under our law, a person who could stop an evil act and did not is liable to the courts. It is not true that our courts are any kind of reflection of the courts of true and infinite wisdom.

The result is this: Man has declared himself the judge of the Judge (the finite sitting in judgment of the Infinite), and has determined by some tortured logic that since God is omnipotent He must stop evil or be evil Himself. What cultural devastation has resulted from this nonsense! The blame-shifting of our latter 20th century American culture has almost brought it to destruction by this kind of thinking precisely because it is this kind of thinking that has allowed the blame-game to flourish.

The plain fact is this: the one who makes the decision, and chooses to act, is the one responsible for the result. Even if a capable other is sitting next to the chooser and chooses not to interfere, it is still the chooser who is responsible.

How is this a plain fact?

Actually, in several ways. First, consider where you would be today if God felt compelled to stop you from your evil choices. First, you would be reduced to the status of a machine because you would no longer be a person with real volition. And second, you would already be in Hell. You see, God, to stop you, would have to kill you. And if He kills you, you go to the place where warped personhood is restrained from venting itself on the universe. So, it is a plain fact that you have personally profited from God's willingness to permit your actions even though He knows the evil of them and the damage they will do. You are yet alive and that means that you can yet turn to God for forgiveness before He does kill you.

And, it is a plain fact because all of the complaining is coming from folks who have been injured. No one in our world cares if evil is done as long as it does not impact them in any significant way. This fact, that the complaints come from the self-interested, makes it a plain fact that each of us is personally responsible. How so? Because self-interest is evil and the complaints of the evil are evil...meaning that evil people can only think in terms of their own interests and that means that their complaints about God are evil because they do not take any other interests into consideration. It never crosses the mind of an evil person that the God who made them might have a legitimate reason for the temporary tolerance of evil. Only evil persons rail at the God who does not continually protect them from all evil.

But God has a larger interest. It is His belief that redemption is a greater good than the prevention of evil. It's a good thing too! If God was as intolerant of evil as the evil claim to be, no redemption would have ever occurred. God's mind is this: redemption (mercy) is better than unmitigated vengeance (the prevention of evil). This is established as a part of the eternal counsels by the revelation of the mind of God through divine communication to man and divine preservation of that communication over time so that man might have it in his possession so that he might look into it to discover what the truth really is. That's not a bad thing for a man limited to a grape-fruit-sized brain!

Just remember this: responsibility arises from personal choice and action. I am not responsible for your choices. If I were I would have to put you to death so that I would not be liable for your evil. You are not liable for my choices; if you were you would have to kill me so that you would not stand liable for my evil. God has chosen to reveal to us His commitment to personal responsibility and individual redemption. There is mercy after sin with God. He is, after all, good.

(return to the top of the article)

Previous articleBack to Table of ContentsNext article
This is article #318.
If you wish, you may contact Darrel as darrelcline at this site.