Is God the cause of evil?

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by WrittenFromUtopia, Oct 11, 2005.

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  1. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    How would you answer this qustion, posed by a naturalist?

  2. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    No, sin is. God is the redeemer of the sinner.
  3. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    God created the sinner, so God created sin. Therefore, God created evil.
  4. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    :lol: This is why I do not have these kids of debates. I used to when I thought it was my duty to go and get people saved. Not any more.
  5. Average Joey

    Average Joey Puritan Board Junior

    To glorify His Goodness and Righteousness through Christ,correct?
  6. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    Ah, so God created evil for a purpose other than the end of evil? Now you're on to something.... ;)
  7. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Evil is abstract. Like fear, hate, love. . .
    It is not material. It was not created. The potential for it was intrinsic to the creature. When God creates contingent beings, like angels and men, there is the potential to disobey. All things contingent are subject to corruption. Only God is immutable and perfect.

    So did God create it ? Did God create fear ?

    No, but He created creatures in His image that were upright, and chose by pride to disobey the law and subject themselves to vanity.

    He does use evil for His own glory though. (ie. the Cross)
  8. ChristopherPaul

    ChristopherPaul Puritan Board Senior

    Easy, read God & Evil, The Problem Solved by Gordon Clark.

  9. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    Clark? No thanks. :p
  10. Average Joey

    Average Joey Puritan Board Junior

    Would there be any other reason He would have allowed it?
  11. ChristopherPaul

    ChristopherPaul Puritan Board Senior

  12. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Evil is the result of sin. God decree's all things. Somethings are secondary to His decrees, hence God is not the cause.

    (Post anesthesia post)
  13. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Amen Scott.

    Jam 1:13
    Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

    Classic Augustine stuff here.

    1) All things that God created are good
    2) evil is not good
    3) therefore, evil was not created by God.

    1) God created every thing
    2) God did not create evil
    3) therefore, evil is not a thing.
  14. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

  15. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior


    How is it Platonic ? Can you hold evil in your hand ?
    Evil is abstract, and always vested in the actions and thoughts of a personal being.

    Also, God can use evil without being guilty of it.
    The classic writing on this, in my opinion comes from Calvin's institutes Book 1:18

  16. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate


    Classically, God is described as being the first cause of all things, including sin. By first cause, they mean that God has predestined these things to come to pass.

    However, the distinction has always been made between first causes and second causes. Second causes are the MEANS by which God accomplishes his purposes. Does God want sin to happen? In a sense, most definately, otherwise he would not have decreed it to be so.

    I think this is the most helpful distinction. Even the Westminster Confession uses this termonology:

    Also Calvin (From Calvin's Calvinism (The Secret Providence of God), Sovereign Grace Union, 1927, p. 244) :

    And Gordon Clark (Gordon Clark, What do Presbyterians Believe?, p. 37.):

    Also, see this thread, this thread,and this thread.
  17. JWJ

    JWJ Puritan Board Freshman


    Are you implying that evil is an independent force, i.e., dualism? Please show me that there is a difference between cause and decree?

    To this day I am still puzzled why many today's Reformed people are afraid to say that God is the ultimate cause of evil. Not only is it biblical and logical, it is also what Luther and Calvin taught.

  18. Richard King

    Richard King Puritan Board Senior

    It is just hard to come to grips with even if it is so.

    Once you aknowledge this you have to deal with somehow

    a child being molested

    a child being aborted

    a woman being raped

    is all part of the plan.

    I have trouble getting my mind wrapped around it.
  19. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate


    That being said, I think that both answers are right in a sense. This deals heavily with the compound and divided senses of God's will. I would HIGHLY recommend Webmaster's book on the subject The Two Wills of God.

    So in a sense, Scott is right. The problem is, is that it is not that simple. To simply say that he is not the cause of sin is only half the answer. Matt goes into detail distinguishing this in his book.

    1. God decrees sin. It cannot be denied that in a sense, this is a cause of that sin, for without that, sin could not happen. God predestines sin (cause), therfore sin happens (effect).

    2. Man commits sin. It cannot be denied that in a sense, humans cause sin, for without these means, sin could not happen (God cannot sin). Humans act (cause), therfore sin happens (effect).

    In a real sense, #2 is important to stress, because God has decreed that this is where responsibility lies. When people deny that God is in some sense the cause of sin, they are usually trying to free God from the responsibility of sin. This is admirable, but we must not go overboard. God is not responsible for sin, becuase he defines responsibility! He is the judge, law, and jury. We are not.
  20. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    Then Job answered the Lord and said: "œI know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:1-2)

    11 Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold. (Job 42:11)
  21. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Jim, and Jeff,

    God does decree it. But He does not cause(solicit or induce) it.

    He simply withdraws His Spirit from those He chooses, and that results in hardening of the heart and sin and evil.

    This way, evil is not something permissive, but active, yet God is not causing it directly, but allowing the deficiency in contingent beings to manifest itself in His neglect of them to His own glory.

    Of course it is decreed. Because the lamb was slain before the foundation of the world.
  22. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Amen to that! Also Amos 3:6 "If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity [or evil] in a city, will not the LORD have done it?"
  23. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    I understand your frustration Richard, and we shouldn't accept such actions lightly.

    That being said, if a person were to make an argument out of the list you made (which I am not saying you are), it would be a fallacy (an appeal to pity).

    As hard as it is to accept, the scriptures tell us that God decreed the WORST sin on earth to happen, the death of his Son, who did not deserve to die.

    All sin and it's relation to God's decree is summerized in Matthew 18:7:
  24. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior


    Job 42:11 is not evil in the abstract sense but the providential sense of calamity, or tradgedy. Kakos is used this way in Isaiah as well.
  25. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    These verses may have been mentioned before but they are worth much consideration:

    But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Gen. 50.20

    From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes. Ps. 17.14

    For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. Acts 4.27-28
  26. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    You are getting first and second causes mixed up.

    His Spirit is not in everyone, yet some are more wicked than others, and none are as wicked as they could possibly be.

    This is the permissive decree no matter what you call it. The permissive decree has always been God stepping back (active) and allowing (passive) people's sin to take over. The problem with this is that God actively predestines even their wicked desires to happen (just as much as he predestines the good ones!). This is not equal ultimacy, but equal predistination.

  27. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    How ?

    Yes I think He is. What is striving with men then ? He does not indwell everyone in a salvific sense, but He does restrain evil.
    If God's Spirit did not dwell with men to restrain evil then the full measure of man's depravity would destroy mankind.

    There is nothing passive in God. I do not care what any theologian says. God is immutable. By permissive I mean what you are calling passive.
  28. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    Because you would readily admit that God predestines sin (which in theology is called a first cause) but deny that it is a cause in any sense.

    Here is how the term "cause" is used in the english language:

    Webster's 1828 Dictionary of the English language:

    How is God predestining sin NOT a cause according to this definition?

    Where is your evidence for such an assertion?

    Exactly my point.
  29. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    We might be arguing semantics then.

    In my view, if God is not evil, He cannot cause evil.
    Like a magnet and a piece of iron, when the magnet is withdrawn, the iron loses magnetism and returns to its natural state.

    Men are by nature totally corrupt.
    So is God causing good or evil if He witdraws His grace from them ?
    I guess if the cause of evil is indirect, then that is what ?
    The formal, final or efficient cause ?
    Man would be the material cause.
  30. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    God did not cause the fall, He allowed for it.

    I don't think that compound or divided senses play a part here.
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