God & suffering

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by arapahoepark, Apr 2, 2015.

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  1. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    I was recently told by someone I know that they think God enjoys people suffering, from 'innocent' people to babies. He allows it because He must enjoy it, this person reasoned, otherwise He wouldn't allow it and not intervene.
    I am at a loss of how o refute this person. I mean I told the person of the Adam and Eve story and that God ultimately has a purpose for it, perhaps to make us stronger. Yet, they were insistent that they were correct (despite being Biblically illiterate).
    What are ways to relate God and the role of suffering to each other?
     
  2. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    What has this person experienced that they feel this way?
     
  3. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Hi,

    This issue is near and dear to my heart, since for many years I was a hyper-Calvinist.

    There is an inherent flaw in the thinking of the person you spoke with. He is trying to understand God by understanding himself. Perhaps he reasons that if God orders all things, he must take pleasure in suffering since there is suffering. However, since God is not like us, we have to understand Him through His word and understand ourselves that way as well.

    For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God . “Therefore turn and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32)

    There is lots of good writing out there that distinguishes between God's revealed and decretive will and I would encourage you to read it if you haven't, but in short, the finite mind is unable to completely reconcile all of what we know about God for the very reason that we are finite and He is not.

    For example, God is infinitely merciful and just (to name just a couple attributes). In a human court, mercy is at the expense of justice and vice versa. God perfectly reconciles these so that He is both at the same time and does not have to compromise any of these attributes to be both (consider substitutionary atonement so that He is "just and the justifier of the one who had faith in Jesus").

    At the end of the day, we must be careful to use human logic to understand God. The premise of our reason has to be grounded in scripture even when it's beyond our finite understanding and comprehension.
     
  4. Jimmy the Greek

    Jimmy the Greek Puritan Board Senior

    Ask him what his authority is for such a conclusion. He is basing it on his own authority, or what someone else has told him, or some other extra-biblical source. Then expalin that if the Bible is right, he is wrong; and that your authority is the Bible.
     
  5. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This area is more complicated that it appears in that one ought to look at it from the perspective of how God views the person who is suffering. We can say with confidence that God has no pleasure in the suffering of any person if we look at that person as an image bearer of Himself as James 3:9 teaches. Another view is looking at the perspective in the suffering of the elect which God is pleased they do suffer in themselves without Christ to learn a lesson which leads toward the molding of said person into the image of Jesus by a dependence on Him. The view of the reprobate in suffering is one that should lead them to become like The Son and this is God pointing the way to such BUT the reprobate will not conform because no matter how bad they got it they refuse to honor The Son.

    So does God take pleasure in suffering of people? Yes He does for what the end result of the suffering does to them, and I also can say no in that God does not take pleasure in suffering of anybody so far as they are an image bearer of Himself. James 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

    So far as the Ezekiel passages that appear to say that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked I refer you to this fantastic article that should dispel any thought that God desires are not fulfilled. http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/murray-free-offer-review.htm
     
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