God responsible for evil?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by MikeinGhana, Jan 14, 2006.

  1. MikeinGhana

    MikeinGhana
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    Is God responsible for the evil in the world? What do you think Isa 45:7 means?
     
  2. standingfirminChrist

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    DOES GOD CREATE EVIL? Isa 45:7 says, "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things." This verse teaches us that God is in ultimate control of everything that happens in His universe. The word "evil" here is not used in the sense of sin, but of trouble. How do we know this is true?

    (1) The context tells us that this is the meaning. The context of Is. 45 is God's testimony of His sovereign power. "I am the Lord, and there is none else ... I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things" (Isa 45:5-7).

    (2) The parallelism tells us that this is the meaning. There is a parallel, a feature common to Hebrew poetry, between the first and second clauses in this verse. "I form the light, and create darkness" is the first half of the parallel. This clause contains a contrast between light and darkness. "I make peace, and create evil" is the second part of the parallel. This clause, too, contains a contrast-between peace and evil. The evil is in the sense of trouble and the lack of peace.

    (3) The Hebrew word tells us that this is the meaning. While this Hebrew word for "evil" (ra) is used many times of moral evil, it is also frequently used for trouble. The same word is translated "adversity" (Ps 10:6), "affliction" (Ne 1:3), "calamity" (Ps 141:5), "distress" (Ne 2:17), "displease" (Nu 11:1), "grief" (Jon 4:6), "harm" (Ge 31:52), "hurt" (Ge 26:29), "misery" (Ec 8:6), "sorrow" (Ge 44:29), "trouble" (Ps 27:5), "wretchedness" (Nu 11:15).

    (4) Further, the English word "evil" in past centuries carried a much broader meaning than it does today. In old English usage, "evil" was a perfect and fitting translation of the Hebrew word ra, which, as we have seen, carried a wide significance, referring both to moral evil as well as to adversarial evil. Consider the following passages in which "evil" is plainly used in the sense of adversity and distress rather than of wickedness. See Ge 19:19; 37:2; 44:34; 47:9; Ex 5:19; 33:4; Le 26:6; Nu 14:27; De 31:17; 2Sa 15:14; 17:14; 19:7; 1Ki 5:4; 17:20; Es 7:7; Job 2:10-11; 5:19; 30:26; 42:11; Ps 121:7; Pr 1:33; 15:15; Ec 5:13; Jer 1:14; Eze 5:17; Lu 16:25. Even the Lord is said to have "repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people" (Ex 32:14; 2Sa 24:16). Obviously the Lord was not thinking of committing moral evil upon His people; He was going to bring trouble and judgment upon them. The term evil is frequently used in this way: (2Sa 12:11; 17:14; 24:16; 1Ki 9:9; 14:10; 21:21,29; 22:23; 2Ki 6:33; 22:16,20; 2Ch 7:22; Ne 13:18). There are many other terms associated with evil in the Bible which do not refer to wickedness. These include "evil beasts" (Ge 37:33), "evil report" (Nu 14:37), "evil place" (Nu 20:5), and "evil diseases" (De 7:15), "evil tidings" (Jos 23:15), "evil time" (Ps 37:19). These terms, of course, do not speak of moral corruption, but of injury and trouble and adversity. From this usage we can see that the term "evil," both in Hebrew and in old English, is a broad term, and we must be careful to define it by its context, not by a preconceived meaning.

    (5) Jas 1:13 tells us that God is not the author of evil in the sense of sin and lust. Sin arises from man's fallen heart, not from God (Jas 1:14-15; Mt 15:19-20). Thus Isa 45:7 cannot be speaking of moral evil. The thrice holy God is not responsible for the evil that entered His universe, as many blasphemously charge, and this verse does not support such a wicked idea.

    (6) The testimony of 1Co 14:33 says God is not the author of confusion. This is in the context of the local church and the exercise of spiritual gifts. Thus we know Isa 45:7 does NOT teach that God creates confusion or error or problems in churches or among people. God can use any sort of problem and can work all things for good for those that love Him (Ro 8:28), but this does not mean that God necessarily creates the problems of life, or that He wills for such things as sin and moral failure to occur. God used the stubbornness of Pharaoh's heart to glorify Himself, but God did not create the sin in Pharaoh's heart. God will use even the wicked to glorify Himself; the Bible tells us He has made the wicked for the day of evil; but the Bible also tells us that God's express will is that every man would be saved (1Ti 2:3-4; 2Pe 3:9).
    Way of Life Encyclopedia
     
  3. StraightAndNarrow

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    If God didn't create evil or the inclination towards evil then who did?

    Personally, I see this shedding some light on the free-will versus predestination question. God created man with free will. He could either chose to do good or to do evil. God made the choice clear. He could either eat from the tree of good and evil or obey God and refrain. God allowed Satan to tempt man and man made the wrong choice.

    The real question is how did Satan become evil?
     
  4. bjonson

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    StraightAndNarrow,

    The Bible is silent on how Satan became evil. We know he became lifted up with pride, and therefore sinned.

    We know God is sovereign over Satan, and all evil.

    We know Satan only works in this world because God allows him to (Job, for example).

    God has never been thwarted by Satan. God is in control of what happens.

    The question of how evil came to be must therefore be this:

    God "decreed" that evil exist. This doesn't make God evil, but He certainly could have stopped it. For reasons that belong to His secret counsel, He allowed it.

    Here are a couple of thought-provoking articles on this:

    http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/8449/prob.html

    http://www.apologetics.com/default.jsp?&bodycontent=/articles/doctrinal_apologetics/bowman-job.html
     
  5. shannonL

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    Just to add to the mix I know the teacher, speaker RC Sproul holds to the view that God created evil. Maybe he has some opinions on his website.
     
  6. Marcia

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    That's because he's a Calvinist.

    I do not agree that God created evil, certainly not in the sense of moral evil.
     
  7. russell55

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    Double post....
     
  8. russell55

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    Could you give a quote of Sproul saying that?

    I think perhaps you misunderstand him. Here's what he says about the fall.
    Here's the link to the whole article.

    Calvinists (like Sproul is) usually believe that God ordained evil, but that's not the same thing as creating it. They believe that evil is ordained only in the sense that God chose to allow it. He did not directly cause it, and creating it would be directly causing.
     
  9. genesis12

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    Was it evil for those with hammers and nails to nail Christ to the Cross?
     
  10. Marcia

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    Yes, it was, but God used that as part of his plan for redemption.

    Man meant it for evil, but God used it for good, as when Joseph was sold into slavery (Gen 50.20).
     
  11. MikeinGhana

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    How about this thought. Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of holiness.
     
  12. bjonson

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    Yes, it was, but God used that as part of his plan for redemption.

    Man meant it for evil, but God used it for good, as when Joseph was sold into slavery (Gen 50.20).
    </font>[/QUOTE]Marcia,

    Here's where it gets tricky:

    Did God "use it" or did He "ordain it"? Seriously, was He surprised that Jesus had to die on a cross or was it planned for all eternity?
     
  13. Marcia

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    bjonson, God was not surprised.

    But if God ordains something, does that mean he makes people do things? He did not force anyone to condemn Jesus and put him on the cross. So whether you call that ordaning or not, men chose to do what they did.

    How God works out things is beyond our knowledge, but I do not believe God ordains sin in the sense that he forces men to sin. That would violate the character of God, imo.
     
  14. Alcott

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    Explain that with regard to John 1:3 -- "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."
     
  15. Marcia

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    Explain that with regard to John 1:3 -- "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." </font>[/QUOTE]Evil is not a "thing." It does not have an ontological existence.

    Evil is the absence of good and comes about through action - rebellion against God. God does not create rebellion against himself.
     
  16. standingfirminChrist

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    Amen, Marcia!

    As I posted earlier, the 'evil' that God created was not sin; it was trouble.
     
  17. Alcott

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    thing: any matter, circumstance, affair, or concern; (2)that which is done, has been done, or is to be done
     
  18. standingfirminChrist

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    EVIL

    In the N.T. the Greek terms for evil are used primarily in three ways: (1) That which is wicked in character (Mt 7:17; Ro 3:8; 1Co 5:13; Eph 5:16); (2) that which is destructive or injurious (Ac 16:1; 28:5; 2Ti 4:14; Re 16:2). (3) that which is troublesome (Isa 45:7).

    DOES GOD CREATE EVIL? Isa 45:7 says, "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things." This verse teaches us that God is in ultimate control of everything that happens in His universe. The word "evil" here is not used in the sense of sin, but of trouble. How do we know this is true?

    (1) The context tells us that this is the meaning. The context of Is. 45 is God's testimony of His sovereign power. "I am the Lord, and there is none else ... I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things" (Isa 45:5-7).

    (2) The parallelism tells us that this is the meaning. There is a parallel, a feature common to Hebrew poetry, between the first and second clauses in this verse. "I form the light, and create darkness" is the first half of the parallel. This clause contains a contrast between light and darkness. "I make peace, and create evil" is the second part of the parallel. This clause, too, contains a contrast-between peace and evil. The evil is in the sense of trouble and the lack of peace.

    (3) The Hebrew word tells us that this is the meaning. While this Hebrew word for "evil" (ra) is used many times of moral evil, it is also frequently used for trouble. The same word is translated "adversity" (Ps 10:6), "affliction" (Ne 1:3), "calamity" (Ps 141:5), "distress" (Ne 2:17), "displease" (Nu 11:1), "grief" (Jon 4:6), "harm" (Ge 31:52), "hurt" (Ge 26:29), "misery" (Ec 8:6), "sorrow" (Ge 44:29), "trouble" (Ps 27:5), "wretchedness" (Nu 11:15).

    (4) Further, the English word "evil" in past centuries carried a much broader meaning than it does today. In old English usage, "evil" was a perfect and fitting translation of the Hebrew word ra, which, as we have seen, carried a wide significance, referring both to moral evil as well as to adversarial evil. Consider the following passages in which "evil" is plainly used in the sense of adversity and distress rather than of wickedness. See Ge 19:19; 37:2; 44:34; 47:9; Ex 5:19; 33:4; Le 26:6; Nu 14:27; De 31:17; 2Sa 15:14; 17:14; 19:7; 1Ki 5:4; 17:20; Es 7:7; Job 2:10-11; 5:19; 30:26; 42:11; Ps 121:7; Pr 1:33; 15:15; Ec 5:13; Jer 1:14; Eze 5:17; Lu 16:25. Even the Lord is said to have "repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people" (Ex 32:14; 2Sa 24:16). Obviously the Lord was not thinking of committing moral evil upon His people; He was going to bring trouble and judgment upon them. The term evil is frequently used in this way: (2Sa 12:11; 17:14; 24:16; 1Ki 9:9; 14:10; 21:21,29; 22:23; 2Ki 6:33; 22:16,20; 2Ch 7:22; Ne 13:18). There are many other terms associated with evil in the Bible which do not refer to wickedness. These include "evil beasts" (Ge 37:33), "evil report" (Nu 14:37), "evil place" (Nu 20:5), and "evil diseases" (De 7:15), "evil tidings" (Jos 23:15), "evil time" (Ps 37:19). These terms, of course, do not speak of moral corruption, but of injury and trouble and adversity. From this usage we can see that the term "evil," both in Hebrew and in old English, is a broad term, and we must be careful to define it by its context, not by a preconceived meaning.

    (5) Jas 1:13 tells us that God is not the author of evil in the sense of sin and lust. Sin arises from man's fallen heart, not from God (Jas 1:14-15; Mt 15:19-20). Thus Isa 45:7 cannot be speaking of moral evil. The thrice holy God is not responsible for the evil that entered His universe, as many blasphemously charge, and this verse does not support such a wicked idea.

    (6) The testimony of 1Co 14:33 says God is not the author of confusion. This is in the context of the local church and the exercise of spiritual gifts. Thus we know Isa 45:7 does NOT teach that God creates confusion or error or problems in churches or among people. God can use any sort of problem and can work all things for good for those that love Him (Ro 8:28), but this does not mean that God necessarily creates the problems of life, or that He wills for such things as sin and moral failure to occur. God used the stubbornness of Pharaoh's heart to glorify Himself, but God did not create the sin in Pharaoh's heart. God will use even the wicked to glorify Himself; the Bible tells us He has made the wicked for the day of evil; but the Bible also tells us that God's express will is that every man would be saved (1Ti 2:3-4; 2Pe 3:9).

    [See Affliction, Judgment, Sin, Suffering, Trials.]
    Way of Life Encyclopedia
     
  19. StraightAndNarrow

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    I think all of the following mean the same thing, that God did create evil.

    1) Created the Angels with the ability to stand against Him,

    2) Created man with free will so he could chose to sin, and

    3) Predestined evil acts.

    It's really just dancing around the question to draw a distinction between giving man the freedom to sin and creating evil. He created man and the angels and if He had not given them the choice there wouldn't have been any evil, ever.

    Again, as I said before, if God didn't create something then who did?
     
  20. Marcia

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    But creating a creature who can choose to sin is not the same as saying that God created evil since evil cannot be "created" like the sun, moon, earth, oceans, animals, or people. It's an action.

    Does God allow evil acts to be committed? Yes, He clearly does. But that is not the same as bringing them about or causing them. If it were, we would have to say God causes abortions, murders, rapes, etc., which is an abhorrent view.
     

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