Saturday, March 16, 2002

Sinful Foreign Policy part II-Did a Good God Create a Bad World?-The question of theodicy came up in the Murtaugh piece, which William Sulik sums up as
(1) if God is the Creator of everything that is, did He create evil? (2) if God is good, just, and all-powerful, why does he allow bad things to happen to good people and/or why do evil people prosper?
Bryan Preston sums up an orthodox biblical take on the sin of the world.
Why is all this suffereing happening? It's happening because we chose to allow it. God gave us a pristine world, free from pain and sorrow, and we blew it by sinning against Him. Thus we ushered in sin and its effects, including injustice, disease and so forth. For many, including too many Christians, that answer is unsatisfying, because it puts the responsibility for suffering, and our reaction to it, on us. It's easier to blame someone else for our suffering, and easier still to react outward instead of inward.
Sulik gives us this more Arminian take on the issue
God created beings that He could love. It would further appear that He desired beings that could similarly love Him. And this is the key. To create beings worthy of love and worthy of giving love, he had to vest them with full free will. Free will means that those beings are capable of choosing to love God or reject God. It means that they are capable of choosing to love one another or not. When the beings choose to reject God, or not love the other, they create evil (or choose to not do good).
Why did a perfect God create an imperfect world? An omniscient God knows what people are going to do and chooses not to stop people from doing some things. That’s troubling, but the alternative to a sinful world is a bunch of robots hard-wired to worship and follow God. Having a robot mouth the words “I love you” doesn’t mean much to its creator. If love is to mean something, it needs to an option rather than a requirement. Thus, God must have created mankind with the capacity not to love Him. He put Adam and Eve in a perfect spot, telling them not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They then proceeded to go into that no-go zone. The two lab rats flunked the test, but He made them with the ability to get the questions wrong. After that, God kicked them out of Eden for their own good. Note that there was also a Tree of Life in the Garden. My former pastor Joel Stocker gave a good sermon on this area, noting that if mankind were sinful and eternal, we would never get to the eternal communion with God. Thus, God put the Tree of Life under armed guard, allowing us finite earthly lives in order to eventually be with Him. I’m not going to agree with Sulik on the concept of a Libertarian God. People will tend to project the image of earthly fathers onto God the Father. It seems that Sulik’s God is reading up on Dr. Spock, giving His children a more permissive and non-disciplinarian structure to grow up in. God does correct His children, allowing our conscience to steer us away from trouble and giving the believer the Holy Spirit to further steer us away. Paul comments to the libertarian that
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
The freedom that God gives us in Jesus is freedom from sin, not freedom to sin. Parents have to allow their children to grow up, but will instruct them to do the right things, correcting them as needed. Proverbs points to a more bounded attitude-“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.“ Likewise, God wants to train us, but wants a person free to love Him but prepared to do the right things. Part III soon “Foreign Policy in a Sinful World”

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