Archive for the ‘Theodicy’ Category

Response to "The Quick and Easy Guide to God"

October 5, 2012

The “quick and easy guide to God,” is an image that has been circulating on the Internet in the form of a flow-chart.  The flow chart begins with the premise “evil exists.”

I suppose that one easy way to address this chart is to point out that “evil” doesn’t exist.  “Evil” is an abstract idea.  Moreover, “evil” is defined negatively by reference to “good.”  Asking if concrete examples of “evil” exist is like asking if shadows exist.  Well, there are shadows, and we can talk about them, but they are really an absence of light.  In much the same way, physical evils are really absences of physical perfections and moral evils are any absence of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God.

But let’s say that for the sake of argument, we grant that there is some sense in which “evil exists.”

The next step of the chart asks, “Can God prevent Evil?”  The answer to that question, of course, is only “yes.”  As the chart indicates, if you can  God cannot prevent evil, then you have denied that God is omnipotent (all-powerful).

The next step of the chart asks, “Does God know about all the Evil?”  The answer to that question, as well, as a firm “yes,” because (as the chart indicates) if the answer were “no,” it would imply that God is not omniscient (all-knowing).

The next step of the chart asks, “Does God want to prevent Evil?” The answer that question is, “no.”  If the answer were “yes,” the options one would be left with would be that either God is internally conflicted (he wants to prevent it, but he also doesn’t want to prevent it), which would be denial of God’s simplicity.

The chart objects to the answer, “no,” alleging that “Then God is not good/ God is not loving.”  But this does not follow.  It is not necessary that a good or loving God would want to prevent every Evil.

A good and loving God can have a good and loving reason for allowing evil.  Allowing evil to exist for a greater purpose is a rather obvious and example of how this may be the case.

We can stop the analysis right there, as we have found an important flaw in the flowchart.


Who Caused Job’s Suffering?

February 22, 2012

Was it Job’s own free will?  Check out this interesting analysis and then update your theodicy, if your theodicy depends on “free will.”

UPDATE: The link seems to be broken.  This is the chart that I thought was interesting:

Who Caused The Death And Suffering In Job

Ref. Who Inference Text
Job 1:11 God Implied “But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”
Job 1:12 Satan Implied And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.”
Job 1:21 God Explicit The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away
Job 2:3 Satan Explicit “You incited me against him to destroy him”
Job 2:3 God Explicit “You incited me against him to destroy him”
Job 2:5 God Implied “But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.”
Job 2:6 Satan Implied And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”
Job 2:7 Satan Explicit So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.
Job 2:10 God Implied “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”
Job 42:11 God Explicit And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him.

So, in summary . . .

Inference Satan God
Implied 2 3
Explicit 2 3

Excellent Answer to Theodetic Issues

October 21, 2008

In the following video Voddie Baucham provides a remarkable and helpful theodicy:

His answer may not be philosophically rigorous, but it is helpful to refocus people on the important points. I must say that it is not an answer that had occurred to me previously, as a response to the question, “If God is so good, why does evil exist?” … though perhaps it ought to have.

H.T. to the Truth Matter blog for bringing this to my attention (link).


God’s Decree = God’s Endorsement?

October 13, 2008

Beowulf2k8 (b2k8) has provided a further comment illustrating his lack of understanding of Calvinism. Since I doubt he is the only person with this misunderstanding, I think it may be helpful to highlight the error he is making and explain why, biblically, he is wrong. b2k8 wrote:

In the sense that Calvinism teaches that God’s Sovereinty [sic] means micromanagement and that God controls all of everything minutely, God is the author of Hinduism (according to Calvinism, of course, not me) and hence Hinduism is as as much “the faith” as Calvinism (according to Calvinism, since God decreed it equally with Calvinism, according to Calvinism), and therefore the Hindu woman is a martyr (to Calvinism, not to Christianity).

(source is an unpublished comment submitted on this earlier blog post)
It’s a little difficult to construct a meaningful argument from b2k8’s comment, but generally it seems to have the following structure:

1) Calvinism teaches that God micromanages all things minutely;
2) Minute micromanagement makes God the author of those things he minutely micromanages;
3) Therefore, God is the author of all things;
4) If God is the author of a religion, it is the faith;
5) Therefore, Hinduism is “the faith”;
6) If someone dies for “the faith,” then they are martyr; and
7) So, the Hindu woman in the article who was killed is a martyr under Calvinism.

As a preliminary matter, (7) does not follow from (6) because of a factual error, namely that the Hindu woman in the article was killed mistakenly, her tormentors and murders being under the misconception that she was a different religion than was actually her own.

The remainder of the errors are more interesting, as they are more fundamental leaps in reasoning and definition.

Error 1:

The first error is equivocation. It is the error by which b2k8 provides (4). We might agree that if God is the author of a religion, that is the faith. In agreeing with such a claim, though, we would need a definition of “author” that implies that the religion intended by God to be “the faith” and that it is the way that he has intended to be worshiped by his followers.

But these things cannot be said of Hinduism. Even assuming the remainder of b2k8’s misconceptions of Calvinism (that God is the author of all things, since God minutely micromanages), God has not appointed Hinduism as the religion of His followers – instead it is a religion of the enemies of God. It is not intended by God to be “the faith,” but is instead a counterfeit faith – a religion of devils.

Thus, at a minimum, we can see that b2k8 has equivocated (implicitly, of course, since he never provides a formal argument). Even if God is the author of Hinduism in some sense, that sense is not the sense required to make Hinduism “the faith.”

Sometimes God sends lying spirits as a judgment. Recall, for example:

1 Kings 22:22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.

And sometimes as a judgment, God ordains that people will be deluded and believe a lie:

2 Thessalonians 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

Nevertheless, those lying spirits are not equivalent to the holy spirit, and the lies that ungodly believe are not equivalent to the truth.

Error 2:

A second error is definitional. B2k8 seemingly believes that minute micromanagement = authorship, but B2k8 provides no basis for this arbitrary definition. This is not the traditional definition of “author” that we use when, for example, we deny that God is the author of sin (yes, b2k8, it is the Calvinist position that God is not the author of sin). In the traditional sense, “author” comes from the Latin term auctor. In modern English the equivalent would be “actor.” The person by who power the thing is carried out.

The person who carries out sin is never God. Sometimes it is sinful men, other times it is fallen angels. It is always a moral agent, but it is never God. God cannot break the moral law: that is the exclusive arena of men and demons.

But instead, b2k8 implicitly defines authorship as minute micromanagement. This is bizarre, to say the least. We consider ourselves the author of a document, for example, even when we do not minutely micromanage a computer – but simply type in the words and click the “print” button. Likewise, we do not need even to know what goes on inside a gun in order to be the morally responsible agent for a shooting.

This brings us to …

Error 3:

Innovated standard of morality. For some reason, b2k8, along with many others, have invented a theory of morality in which, if God minutely micromanages things, he is morally responsible for what happens – and the actual person doing the sinful (or righteous – though that rarely comes up) act is not responsible under this theory.

But where did this theory come from? Who invented it? It seems to have been created out of thin air. There’s nothing in the Bible to suggest such a rule of morality, and there’s no particularly logical reason for arriving at such a rule.

And finally, we arrive at …

Error 4:

Minute micromanagement is simply the logical conclusion of God being:

a) Interested in the smallest details of human life;
b) Omniscient; and
b) Omnipotent.

If all of (a), (b), and (c) are true, then minute micromanagement of some kind (whether Calvinistic, Molinistic, or otherwise) must follow. This, of course, offends the autonomous heart of rebellious man, but that really cannot be helped. God is the ruler over all the Earth, and because of (a), (b), and (c), everything that happens a particular way happens that way, because that is the way God wants it to happen in His providence.

There is a final error that b2k8 makes, that is only implicit in his criticism above …

Error 5

Confusing the moral law of God and the Providence of God. God in his Providence ordains that certain bad acts will happen. God ordained that Jesus would be crucified, which was a sinful act on the part of those that did it to him. It was not sinless for Christ’s murderers, just because God had ordained that it would happen, and just because God wanted it to happen. In fact, one can hardly imagine a more horrible crime than to slay the incarnate Son of God.

God wanted this great sin to happen, He ordained that it would happen, and He was glad that it happened, although he still counted it as sin against those who did it. The same is true of the many lesser sins that occur in God’s providence. They happen for a reason that glorifies God ultimately, and yet they still sins for the people that do them. The fact that God has a good purpose in them does not excuse the people who commit the sins.

One hopes that this explanation will help b2k8, and others like him, to see that they have misunderstood and misrepresented Calvinism – perhaps simply because they have not fully understood its single source of authority: Scripture.


Response to Hitchens’ Complaint about Human Suffering

February 5, 2008

In the video above, Dr. James White addresses atheist Christopher Hitchens’ complaint that man was suffering for a long time, while God was just watching.

What is the answer?

Hitchens has not addressed Christianity. Christianity asserts that God has had a plan from the very beginning and that nothing comes to pass that is not part of God’s plan, and that is not for the best.

Of course, many things come to pass that are not the “best” for that particular person, but the appropriate worldview is God’s perspective, not that of the individual man.

Christianity is not a form of theofic humanism, in which God plays the role of Santa Claus to a deserving mass of humanity. Instead, Christianity is a God-centred religion in which all that is, is directed to His glory.

May our Creator and Provider be praised!


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