According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Is God Culpable For Sin and Evil?






Does God permit evil to produce good? The answer is "No, of course not," but to listen to old line theology is to say "Yes, God permits evil so that good might arise." This line of questioning goes back to the idea of how responsible is God, the Creator, for the suffering and evil that is in the world? Is He 100% culpable? 50%? 0%? Is it us? Is it God? Is it sin, devil, world, or those around us? If God is the Sovereign God of the universe, of all creation, over all mankind, over me and my actions, etc and etc, than is God culpable for sin and evil in any sense?

Again, the answer is, "No, of course not." It goes back to the premise we wrongly assumed and started off with - that God is "Sovereign" over sin and evil. In plain language, God is NOT. The sin and evil that is in this world is not of God, nor used or employed by God, nor continued by God, nor even of its own kinds of power or entity. It just is because there is love, freedom, goodness in this world. Once God granted love, freedom, and goodness than the conditions exited for rebellion - for not loving, for oppression, for doing harm. The initial conditions God granted set the initial outcomes of all things irrespective of who God is, desires, or wants.


Stated another way, "God is holy, good, loving, and righteous." And thus, we have a problem. Our definition of God and sin/evil is in direct opposition to what we think we know of God, the world, how it operates, ourselves, and so on. Quickly we would think, "If God is not God than He is neither Sovereign, Holy, Good, nor Loving!" But again, this is incorrect. God's relationship with His creation as Sovereign is extremely complicated - claims that He is a lesser God than He is, or incapable of "controlling" (a word which is unhelpful in this discussion but used all the time by Christians in explaining God to themselves and others) His creation, or a useless God for all the outcomes we see but do not like. These ascriptions cannot help us here.




So again, "Is God unwise, or short-sighted, or made powerless once He created a creation with the possibilities of sin and evil, or with such horrible outcomes as sin and evil?" This kind of question we'll leave to the philosophers and theologians but essentially, if God were to create a world with how it is now, in this moment, than this is how it will operate - both good and bad, right and wrong, loving and hating, along with its storms, cancers, brokenness, and such like.

Which brings us to another line of thought... Did God create a world in which He might share His fellowship and love with His creation despite knowing the outcomes of sin and evil? That because of His great love, that it is, that He must likewise allow His creation to respond one way or another. IF God were not the way He is in Himself than no corollaries would be resulting. But because God is who He is than all the corollaries we have read about, felt, and seen, are in evidence. They are, because He is. If He were not such those qualities would not be either. Nor would we be. Nor this world. Nor our family, friends, ministries, hopes, dreams, and occupations. Which gets us back to that philosophical line of thought we'll leave for another time - both in their heretical (non-theological) and non-heretical (theological) forms.


Experience tells us that sin and evil seemingly compounds itself out of control. But cannot light as well? Cannot light push away the darkness of sin and evil? And there's that old, mistaken assumption again... If I can't have a God who is "in control" than He isn't any kind of God I can believe, trust, respect, worship, or obey. In essence, we've assumed the role of God, we have become His own Father and Creator, we have told God how to be, live, run a universe, and so on. Curious, isn't it? A God who loves, who provided so much good, is accused of being so short-sighted, limited, and unwise. People like the biblical tragic figure of Job have stood on these same shoals asking similar questions of essence, ontology, and metaphysics. And God's reply? To look around us and answer us in the only categorical existentialisms we can understand. In this case, God used Job's definition for a good and loving God against Job's line of thinking. He didn't teach above it, beyond it, or redirect it. He used what Job knew and answered him to the point of overwhelming humbleness and submission.


Jesus was also such a tragic figure bearing the sin and evil of the world upon Himself. This, as Christianity teaches, is the very God who created all things who became for us a created, tempted thing but within sin or stain, blotch or blemish. Who took upon Himself all sin and evil unto His holy personage as ransom for all. His redemption as fully God and fully man enlivens creation with opportunity to live productively. To live lovingly in a sinful world. To resist its temptations and powers even to the point of death or martyrdom. And yet the world still spins, still reels from sin and evil, still goes along and we ask, "When, O God, shall this pain end? How shall this old creation be renewed?" Which we'll save for another day - that of the Christian hope in a creation full of pain. For if God cannot answer this question through love and by His love than I suspect all other versions of God's apocalyptic end-times are askew, filled with our sinful versions and ill-expectations of Himself, and need a bit of correction. Suffice it to say, we are to love God and love our neighbor. The simplicity of this command is enough to obey. To act as our Creator acts in all wisdom and love, goodness and justice. Be this so that your light might push away the darkness for others.

Peace,

R.E. Slater
March 25, 2018

      


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