Is God Good or Evil?

November 19, 2009

Philosophy

What kind of a question is this?  To the Christian, this comes as a bit of an absurdity for sure.  Nowhere in our fiber do we attribute evil to a just and holy God (my wife just left the room for fear of a lightning strike).  However, go out amongst those in the world and this is a bona-fide philosophical argument. 

Particularly in our moment, our age, the horrors of evil that Man is capable of strike us at a phenomenal rate.  How many examples can you bring to mind in only a few seconds?  There is no need for a Google search to find some.  An interesting side note, though, is what exactly is evil.  We’d all say, I dare think, that evil (or bad things if you prefer not to use that word) exist.   We all have some sense of right and wrong.  It may not be based on traditional Judeo-Christian thought, but even the most ardent, morals denying behaviorist thinks of things he should or shouldn’t do.  But, where does this concept of right and wrong come from?  I mean, if we’re all creatures derived from a pre-time, sub-atomic nuclear event, then morality shouldn’t exist.  If we are all part of the same metaphysical soup, then there is no rational framework for morality.  There can be no good or evil because there would be nothing to determine them.  To say it another way, if we were to go back to the very beginning of our universe, what within that construct would be capable of determining good from bad and instilling that sense in man (man is alone at this point, morality is not observed in anything that is not man)?  Good and bad, or morality, has no cause for its existence.  But that is not the case, we function within a moral framework whether we want to or not.  It is inherent within us, we can only suppress it.

But that is not the philosophical thought I really had bounding through my mind.  I believe we have a creator God who gave us our inherent nature from the beginning.  God is infinite in His being and outside our finiteness.  Morality is the essence of his being.  To deny His morality is to deny His own nature; to deny Himself.  The bible states that we are created in the image of God.  Every man, therefore, is an image bearer of God.  But, how does this morality, this image tilt?  Can a cruel man, that exists in a cruel world be created by a God who is holy, just and good?  I would have to answer no!  Why would God create something contrary to His nature?  He can’t.  Then,…since God is true to his nature, He must be cruel?!  I ask these questions to illustrate the basic problem.  How do we know God is not cruel?  Let’s take the flip-side of this argument.  God, from the beginning created man as a morally “good” being.  We see Adam in the garden, sin-free, and in full communion with the Lord.  Since that is the case, then, man, today, is a continuance of that initial creation, being morally just and good.  But that is not the case.  Clearly, man is capable of completely reprehensible and shocking evil.  So, what happened?

Discontinuity.  Man at the start was good, but somewhere along the line things changed; he became capable of evil.  The question is who caused the change.  Did God change man?  No.  In Genesis we read that man freely rose up and openly rebelled against God.  Man broke the covenant of creation with God, ate of the tree, and placed himself under the curse.  At that time man became capable of evil.  God did not change man, man changed himself.  So here we have a discontinuity whereby man was initially created “good” by a holy and just God, then man’s pride rose up within himself and decided to disobey the ordinances of God; ordinances designed for his continual preservation and fellowship with the Lord.  This is biblical truth giving cause for observations of the behaviour of man.  God exists, He is absolutely good, and in Him is no evil.  The Holiness of God is a great and eye-opening study in and of itself.

I just bring these thoughts forward for two reasons.  First, by way of considered explanation, to help me better understand the basic philosophical arguments that have been struggled with throughout the ages.  And second, to give a forum for those of us elect of God to understand further the struggles that unregenerate man deals with when concerning his own fate.  We, by no means, can argue anyone to salvation.  But, perhaps a little understanding will give us a deeper love and respect for those who are lost.  No amount of apologetic work will be effective until the very heart of understanding concerning the Gospel, as directed by the Holy Spirit, permeates the heart of a new creation in Christ.

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