If God Didn’t Create Evil, Then Who or What Did?
By Jerry A. Kane
Occasionally I’ll respond to a comment on one of my news stories or commentaries, but rarely will I take the time to write a lengthy reply to a commenter. However, there are always exceptions to any rule.
Below is an exchange of comments between me and a responder to my latest commentary, “Whom God Means to Destroy, He First Makes Undiscerning” published at Canada Free Press:
He [God] does not make them so [undiscerning], but allows them to make themselves so.
God does NOT create evil, but allows it so they can damn themselves – then He destroys them, more often by other evil entities”
To which I responded:
“First off, I’m not always right, but I’m never wrong. Secondly, your theology appears to be Arminian, mine isn’t. I believe God is sovereign, not man. Finally, as to whether or not God creates evil, the prophet Isaiah clearly says He does:
‘I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.’ Isaiah 45:7 (KJV)”
It appears we agree on most of this – we are using different terms to say the same thing except for one item.
“Isaiah 45:7 should match Amox 3:6 where the more correct translation would be ‘..shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD not done [known] it?’ He knows of the evil, he does NOT create it. If that were so, He would no longer be God.
‘God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.’ (James 1:13) and ‘God is light, and in Him there is NO darkness at all’ (emphasis mine) (1 John 1:15) As there is much less error in translation in the New Testament, I will believe God Himself over other ideas.
Arnminian? No, but many of his [I think he’s referring to the author of the piece, which of course is me, but he doesn’t realize it] thought processes are in the correct realm, but your [I think he’s addressing the commenter, not the author of the piece] assessment of that group is just opposite of what they say. It is their claim that God is Soverign, and that is the reality of our creation.”
And I wrote:
“How can I discuss the never-ending debate over biblical manuscripts and the central issue of Christianity with someone who knows so little, but thinks he knows so much? The short answer is I can’t. Yet, I won’t let your unsupported assertions go unchallenged.
You say, “Isaiah 45:7 should match Amox [sic] 3:6 where the more correct translation would be ‘..shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD not done [known] it?'” The word “ra” translated evil in Isaiah 45:7 (the same word used in Amos 3:6) is never translated as sin in the Hebrew text.
In the context of Amos 3:6, ra can be correctly translated to mean “sorrow, afflictions, adversity, wretchedness, or calamities,” but in Gen. 5:6, 8:21, 13:13, 38:7 and fifty other verses in the OT, ra can be translated “wickedness,” which clearly implies sin.
In the context and plain meaning of Isaiah 45:7, ra means wickedness and not calamities and afflictions as the fruits of sin. In context, if ra means external calamities in the verse “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil,” then the word “peace” must mean a military peace, i.e., a political matter, because the phrases are parallel.
However, the verses preceding and following verse 7 are not restricted to trivial political matters, verse 3 speaks of treasures of darkness, hidden riches, and the knowledge of God; verse 6 speaks of God’s knowledge extended throughout the world; and verse 8 speaks of righteousness falling down from heaven like a pouring rain.
The following chapter in Isaiah makes it clear that God just doesn’t know things, as you put it, but He actually brings about what He has purposed:
“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: … yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. Isaiah 46:10-11 (KJV)
You write that God “knows of the evil, he does NOT [please, let’s not be sophomoric] create it.” By “know” I assume you mean that God knows or permits evil to happen. What you fail to understand is that “permitting” man to sin does not absolve God from the charge of being the “author” of sin, as you seemed to suggest in writing “If that [God created evil] were so, He would no longer be God.”
God “permitted” Satan to afflict Job; but Satan could not have afflicted him without God’s approval. Permission does not exonerate God. If God could have prevented, not only Job’s trials, but all of mankind’s sins and temptations, if He foresaw them and decided to let them occur, how can He be less reprehensible than if He had decreed them?
Put another way, if a bystander could rescue a baby from a burning building, but decided to “permit” the baby to die in the flames, would you say that the bystander’s decision to watch the baby burn was morally acceptable because he wasn’t the one who lit the building on fire? Your position puts you on the horns of a dilemma whether you realize it or not.
You also write that my “assessment of that group [Arminian] is just opposite of what they say.” By sovereignty I mean that God has eternally decreed all that ever comes to pass, and providentially controls all things in his created universe, including the “free will” of man.
The Arminian notion of man’s free will cannot coexist with God’s omnipotence. If man’s free will to fulfill his sinful desires and purposes can resist and thwart God’s perfect will and purpose, then God is not all powerful, man’s free will is.
Neither is the Arminian view of free will compatible with God’s omniscience, because knowing all things renders the future certain. If God foreknows all things, then of necessity those things will come to pass; otherwise, they could not be “foreknown.”
Acts 2:22, 23 and 4:27, 28 teach that God foreknew, even foreordained Jesus’ crucifixion by the hands of sinful men, yet the men who carried out his execution are responsible for murder. If God ordained it, could the high priest and Sanhedrin have done differently? Could Judas Iscariot not have betrayed Jesus Christ? Scripture plainly teaches that God determined or decreed their actions.
I’m not saying that men are robots and don’t make choices. They do have “free will” in the sense of “free moral agency.”
All men have freedom of choice in that they choose to do what they want to do and can’t do otherwise. But man is not free to be indifferent, i.e. his freedom to choose is always governed by the fears, desires, and habits of his sinful nature. Yet, all his choices are subject to the eternal decrees of God.
Romans 3:9-18; 8:7, 8 and Ephesians 4:17-19 teach that man cannot choose what God requires. Man will always choose the evil desires of his flesh, which are dictated by his sinful nature. Man is never indifferent in his willingness to do anything. Even though God has determined all things that will ever come to pass, man is held responsible and accountable for his sinful actions.
As the writers of the Westminster Confession of Faith (3:1; 5:2, 4) put it:
“God … did … ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established…. Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently…. as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God; who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.”
You’re right that “God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” (James 1:13).” Nowhere does the Scripture teach that God is evil; however, it does teach that God is both the cause of sin and the cause of salvation. Scripture also teaches that God is not responsible or accountable to anyone or anything for what He does; yet His creatures are accountable and responsible to Him for what they do.
God is holy and righteous, but our sinful nature taints and limits our understanding of His holiness and righteousness. As Paul writes, “For now we see through a glass, darkly… but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1Corinthians 13:12 (KJV).
You write, “As there is much less error in translation in the New Testament, I will believe God Himself over other ideas.” I am always willing to teach those whom God has made willing to learn, but I will not waste my time and energy on people who dogmatically hold to their erroneous preconceptions of Christianity and what Scripture teaches.
So you know, I spent hours researching and writing this response, and you have taken enough of my precious time. Thank you for your response to my piece and please accept this as a final response to any further discussion.”
NOTE: The hot links were added for this post at The Millstone Diaries. There were no hot links in my responses to in the comment section at Canada Free Press.