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Theodicy

(4 posts)

On Theodicean Errors

Tuesday··2018·04·10
It’s heresy to say the world is full of evil apart from a predetermined plan and purpose of God. The same goes for most of the answers to the problem of evil—they fail because they attempt to reconcile the truth about God and the existence of evil to the satisfaction of the unbelieving world. They’re too focused on rounding off the sharp edges of biblical truth in order to accommodate philosophies and worldviews that are openly hostile to God and His Word—to conform God’s goodness and power to the boundaries and limitations of the unilluminated mind (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18; 2:14). —John MacArthur, None Other (Reformation Trust, 2017), 54.

Sovereign over Evil

Wednesday··2018·04·11
God speaks for Himself in unmistakable terms. He is sovereign over everything that exists, including evil. In Revelation 4:11, those in the throne room of heaven worship God: “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” That is the God of the Bible. The God who is in absolute control of everything, and nothing—not even sin and evil—can disrupt or derail His plan. The rebellion of Satan and his followers didn’t surprise God, nor did the fall of Adam and Eve force Him to resort to plan B. He makes it clear in Isaiah 46:9–10 that His plans will always come to pass: “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’” This is the God who exists. —John MacArthur, None Other (Reformation Trust, 2017), 58–59.
Why do so many work so hard to distance God from the world’s evil, even to the point of making man, effectively, his own sovereign? The notion that God has a purpose in evil strikes panic in the hearts of people who have not thought carefully about God’s sovereign omnipotence. They can’t envision how God might derive glory or fulfill His good purposes by letting evil exist in His universe. They imagine (wrongly) that if God sovereignly ordained a universe that could be cursed with evil, He must be the efficient cause of the evil. They wrongly assume that if God saves some sinners but not all, He must bear the moral responsibility for the fact that some are not saved. They want to rescue God from blame for all the bad things that happen. And having not thought carefully about God’s sovereignty and what it means, they wrongly assume that the only way to vindicate God is to reinvent Him. They don’t want to imply, of course, that He is not good, loving, holy, or omniscient. Therefore, their own faulty logic forces them to conclude that there must be some limitation to His sovereignty. Some . . . go so far as to conclude that He doesn’t have the power to stop evil. Others believe that He has the power, but some self-imposed limitation keeps Him from using it. They are operating with the assumption that the only way to save God from bad press is by believing that the human will reigns supreme. —John MacArthur, None Other (Reformation Trust, 2017), 59–60.

Unrighteousness Demonstrates Righteousness

Friday··2018·04·13
Why did God permit evil in the first place? Why does He sovereignly, willingly allow it to keep infecting and distorting His creation? In His unfolding, preordained plan, what is the presence of evil accomplishing? In his epistle to the Romans, Paul gives us the answer. He writes, “If our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say?” (Rom. 3:5). Our unrighteousness demonstrates . . . the righteousness of God. In the context of Romans, Paul has been showing that God is faithful to His promises to Israel despite their sin and unbelief. Compared to the rebellious wickedness of Israel, God’s righteousness is truly and unmistakably glorious. And that’s the bottom line: We would never understand the full glory of God’s righteousness if we were not so familiar with the wretched fruits of unrighteousness. . . . The murder of Christ is unquestionably the greatest evil ever committed. But under the preordained plan of God, that act of supreme wickedness was also a supreme display of His grace, mercy, wrath, justice, righteousness, and countless other attributes. It gives us a glimpse into His loving character that we otherwise never would have seen. And revealing those aspects of His nature in turn causes us to love and glorify Him more. In short, God tolerates sin and evil because, in the end, it brings Him more glory. —John MacArthur, None Other (Reformation Trust, 2017), 62, 64–65.

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