Monday, December 27, 2010

Divine Sovereignty, Human Responsibility, and the Problem of Evil Part 3

Now that we've briefly canvassed divine sovereignty and human freedom, we will look at the implications of our sketch on the questions of whether or not we humans are responsible for our actions and also the problem of evil.

From my previous sketch of human freedom it should be clear that we are morally responsible for our actions. God works in and through our actions to bring about his desired purposes, but he never violates our will. We have the freedom to choose good or evil, however due to our fallen condition we persist in choosing evil. As an aside, while I do believe that the thrust behind the notion of irresistible grace is right, I don't particularly care for the name. God's electing purposes never fail. All of those whom he chooses come to him, but we do come freely. We don't have any desire to resist his grace.

I also think that my approach sidesteps some of the perennial problems surrounding the problem of evil. As we’ve mentioned above, God never wills evil. Usually there is some evil that attaches itself through our actions to the good that God wills, and in that sense one could say that evil goes back to God’s will. However, it would be unfair for God to be called responsible for that evil. Also, when one notices that God’s sovereignty is more about his power rather than his control (not that the two are always separable), it helps again deflect the unwarranted criticism that some may make that God causes evil.

Granted we are still left with the question of why God doesn’t prevent evil. Based on the conclusions we have drawn so far we can respond by saying that God permits it for a greater good. We may not know what that greater good is, but we must trust that the loving, omniscient, and good God knows better than we do. While God allows evil, we also see in Scripture that God uses his sovereignty to defeat evil and was willing to send his Son to the cross bearing our sin and our shame to free us from Satan’s grasp, defeating him in an act of suffering. God is not idly sitting by watching evil happen. He has actively opposed it at great cost to himself and will one day bring it to an end. Evil is not willed by God, but neither is it outside of his control.

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