May God make innocent beings suffer?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by InSlaveryToChrist, Jul 21, 2011.

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  1. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    I know it is my own foolishness, but I cannot seem to justify the imputation of Adam's guilt to myself. Of course, in the same way, I cannot justify the imputation of Christ's merit to myself. But actually it all comes down to the question: Is it right (according to God's standard) for God to make His creation suffer, even if it has done no wrong (according to God's standard)? Because that's seemingly what happened, when Adam made his posterity suffer with himself, for what he did.

    Since God defines right and wrong, then I'd gladly accept that He may do anything He wants with His creation. I'd even approve of Him throwing innocent beings to a temporal lake of fire. But then again, I'm not sure I would consider God good, if He threw His innocent creation to everlasting lake of fire not using it as a means to a better end.

    Those are just my thoughts right now, and I admit I may be blinded by wordly wisdom here, so that's why I'm asking for godly wisdom. Please, share your thoughts on this matter.
     
  2. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Samuel, maybe you should take it a step further: Is it right for God, who is good, to suffer for His creation?
     
  3. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    Wow, that was the fastest reply ever! And your question, indeed, is a better one!
     
  4. Sviata Nich

    Sviata Nich Puritan Board Freshman

    A few things which jump to my mind is that God warned Adam and Eve not to sin or else they would die. When they sinned God would have been just to kill them right in that moment (thus ending the human race) but He showed mercy. I've also been under the impression (although the defense of such a claim is currently escaping my mind) that Adam and Eve were a perfect representative of the human race, so that we could not claim we would have done differently.
     
  5. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    Actually, this is where we often go wrong. God would have been just to kill Adam and Eve, even if they didn't break His covenant with them. The covenant God made with Adam did not say, "If you disobey me, I will be just to kill you." No, it says, "If you disobey me, I will kill you."
     
  6. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    Look there's a passage of Paul in Romans that deals with this issue

    m 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
    Rom 9:19 You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"
    Rom 9:20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"
    Rom 9:21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
    Rom 9:22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
    Rom 9:23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory--
     
  7. rookie

    rookie Puritan Board Sophomore

    As Joshua mentioned, we are looking at this from the wrong perspective.

    We look at it as "some men do some good, and there are some people that are suffering, and it's not fair that they should suffer in an eternal hell"

    The question should be "With the 3X holiness of God, why does He ever even give us any mercy, compassion, and even offer any of us salvation". And when it comes to sin, we shouldn't look at grading different sins, and saying "that one should be 10000 yrs, and that one 100 000 yrs.

    Again for sin, we should look at who it's offending, God, which is 3X holy. And the ONLY just punishment against a 3x holy God, that is everlasting, is an everlasting punishment.

    We always look at it from our perspective, we must look at it from God's.

    The real question is not "why did He hate Esau", the real question should be "WHY did he love Jacob?"

    ---------- Post added at 09:10 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:10 PM ----------

    As Joshua mentioned, we are looking at this from the wrong perspective.

    We look at it as "some men do some good, and there are some people that are suffering, and it's not fair that they should suffer in an eternal hell"

    The question should be "With the 3X holiness of God, why does He ever even give us any mercy, compassion, and even offer any of us salvation". And when it comes to sin, we shouldn't look at grading different sins, and saying "that one should be 10000 yrs, and that one 100 000 yrs.

    Again for sin, we should look at who it's offending, God, which is 3X holy. And the ONLY just punishment against a 3x holy God, that is everlasting, is an everlasting punishment.

    We always look at it from our perspective, we must look at it from God's.

    The real question is not "why did He hate Esau", the real question should be "WHY did he love Jacob?"
     
  8. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    God does not make innocent beings suffer. The question is irrelevant.
     
  9. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    Samuel,

    Great question. Don't feel too bad about not "getting" it--many people, smarter than either you or myself, have struggled with the same problem.

    The fact that you can accept temporal suffering for "innocent" beings is good. I think it puts us closer to a resolution. But I think that it's essentially the same phenomenon, albeit on a smaller scale. Because of one man's sin, the creation was thrown into turmoil. The Curse of thorns and thistles, pain and suffering, death and destruction applied not only to Adam, but to the whole world. Nature was pitted against Man rather than being provided for his benefit. All of that suffering is a result of the sin of one man, yet its scope was incredibly far-reaching.

    But, if I'm not mistaken, you accept that, insofar as it is a means to a better end, right?

    Let me suggest this--the same thing applies to the bigger picture of the eternal destinies of Adam's progeny.

    God uses their destruction, in the eternal torment of Hell, as a means to a better end.

    That better end is His glory.
     
  10. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Do animals suffer?
     
  11. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Not in the rational-moral sense required by the question.
     
  12. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    In other words, you view Adam as an inadequate choice as the Federal Head of all mankind? How could God have improved upon His choice?

    AMR
     
  13. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Another way to say this is: "What innocent beings?"
     
  14. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    But was not creation innocent (i.e. sinless) before Adam's fall (except Satan and the fallen angels)?

    ---------- Post added at 03:44 AM ---------- Previous post was at 03:42 AM ----------

    I think that is what I'm saying. Now that you asked, I cannot know if Adam was an inadequate choice as the Federal Head of all mankind.

    ---------- Post added at 04:00 AM ---------- Previous post was at 03:44 AM ----------

    What is your basis for such assertion? Where does the Bible say God only makes suffer, if He is sinned against? Or would you even suggest that it is unjust for God to make the innocent suffer? And then I must also ask, Was not creation innocent (i.e. sinless) before Adam's fall (except Satan and the fallen angels)?

    ---------- Post added at 04:08 AM ---------- Previous post was at 04:00 AM ----------

    Thank you, Jonathan. I'm just laughing at myself that I had not considered the fact that Adam's fall, indeed, is a means to a better end. I would gladly accept my fall with Adam, if it meant an "opportunity" to a better end, than the neutral, innocent state of Adam and Eve in the beginning.

    Edit: But in the end, I think the above is not necessary for my knowledge to accept my destiny with Adam. It is rather an encouragement. I only have to know that God is my creator (i.e. my wisdom cannot exceed His -- because God cannot create anything equal or higher Himself -- and my moral views don't matter, and again, cannot be higher than God's). In other words, I'm not in the position to question God's actions, will, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011
  15. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes God makes innocent beings suffer

    2Co_5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God
    Rom 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

    Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

    Isa 53:10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

    But then again Christ suffered willingly. And right now God the Father is "longsuffering" Himself.

    But I am with Josh. We are the creatures and GOd is the Creator. God can do what ever He wishes to do to us and it will always be righteous and just.
     
  16. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Great questions, Samuel.

    Let mine be e pluribus unum.


     
  17. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I do think, Samuel, that whenever the problem of evil and suffering comes up, we have to view it in light of the larger narrative of Scripture: creation, fall, redemption, consummation. Suffering is the result of the fall, but Christ in His suffering redeemed that suffering so that when the Christian suffers for righteousness' sake (or like Job, for no apparent reason), we are united with Christ and our suffering makes us more like Him.

    I think your concern is that we don't cast God as a sadist, and I agree---this is a mischaracterization of God. We must, therefore, understand why He allowed the fall, why He allows evil, and it is because He means to bring greater glory out of it. That's why it is key that we include consummation as the end of the creation-fall-redemption narrative.
     
  18. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    A couple ideas:

    1. Reformed theology does not hold to extreme voluntarism. That is, although whatever God does is just, that does not mean that God could hypothetically do anything and still be just, simply by being God. That idea comes from medieval theology, in which some distinguished between the ordained power of God (potentia Dei ordinata) and the absolute power of God (potentia Dei absoluta). The absolute power is God's power or will considered abstractly from his other attributes, such as his intellect, goodness, and justice. Calvin and the other Reformed deny that this distinction, or at least the distinction used this way, is valid. So, we can never ask questions about God that drive a wedge between his attributes (See B.B. Warfield, Calvin and Augustine; Paul Helm, John Calvin's Ideas; David Steinmetz, Calvin in Context).

    2. There is a real connection between Adam and the recipients of the curse. I think this is one of the major problems modern people have in developing a biblical mindset. We think only in terms of concrete individuals. In Scripture, identity is more organic. We can see that in the way that God reacts to just or wicked individual not only by rewarding or punishing them, but by including with them everything in their domains. For example, when Pharaoh takes Sarai as his wife in Gen 12, God visits plagues on him and his house. In Exodus, because of Pharaoh's hard heart, all Egypt suffers. When Achan takes the forbidden loot, his whole family is put to death. If you can grasp these examples, then seeing Adam as the head of all creation, and therefore all creation as fallen with him, makes more sense.
    There are no innocents.

    3. Your phrase not using it as a means to a better end is very important. That is what God is doing:

    Romans 8:19-23 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

    If the whole world falls in the first Adam, the precedent is established wherein all creation may be restored in the second Adam. His position as mediatorial ruler of the universe means that in his resurrection we find the firstfruits not only of individual human salvation, but also of the remaking of the cosmos.

    I hope some of that has been helpful. I think you should pursue these lines of inquiry. God wants you to proceed reverently, of course, and by Scripture, but he doesn't discourage us from meditating on these difficult things.
     
  19. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    Please do not forget the book of Job.

    Job 2:10 But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
     
  20. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Job did not sin with his lips and do what his wife suggested, however, the last portion of the book deals with the fact that Job tried to push his self-perceived "innocence" too far - he was not innocent.
     
  21. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    Oh Bob don't get me wrong I believe Job sinned towards the end of the Book, but before he sinned it was said of him:

    Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.
     
  22. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    Are you suggesting Job was sinless just because he was called "blameless and upright?" :eek:
     
  23. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Job was a cut above the rest but the only way he was 'blameless and upright' was in that he knew that his redeemer lived.
     
  24. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I think the key here is that Job is not being made to suffer because of his sin---the suffering of Job serves a different purpose than punishment---this is the point that Elihu made (that was the mistake of Job's three friends---thinking that God only lets people suffer for particular sins).
     
  25. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore



    No, I never said he was sinless. But it was God that said this to satan

    Job 1:8 And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?

    God said he was blameless, an upright man, he feared God, and he turned away from evil, and yet God was pleased to bring evil upon Job. (Job must have been governed by the Holy Spirit.)
     
  26. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    Job was not any more blameless or upright than Noah was, of whom God Himself said,

    "Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation." (Genesis 7:1)

    And yet he was a sinner in and of himself, the righteousness of whom was not his own, but Christ's:

    "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." (Hebrews 11:7)

    There is no denying Job was an unique man of God, very righteous and very separate from the sinners of the world. Indeed, he was the most righteous human being on the planet in his era -- but yet he was a sinner in need of a Saviour. He was not innocent.
     
  27. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    These answers are not bad, the problem is that the question isn't exactly precise. It begins with "May God....", well of course, God may do anything he wants, he is above all moral laws. The question should begin with "Can God...", and of course, God is all powerful but can't go against his nature or logic (a necessary property of His nature). The word "innocent' is really defined by the context. No one is innocent, no not one and yet all those in Christ are blameless as he is blameless. Add a bit more precision to the question and it will answer itself.
     
  28. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes God can. He did it to His one and only Son for our sake.
     
  29. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Please read John 10, especially verses 17, 18. Or Ephesians 5:1, 2. Christ voluntarily offered Himself. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, "He was made sin," i.e., imputed with our sin, and it was on this legal basis that He suffered and died.
     
  30. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The whole Bible is my basis for this assertion. In the words of the Shorter Catechism, "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever." The idea that God might make an innocent person to suffer destroys "the end of the Lord," and the end of the Lord is a consideration which inspires endurance.
     
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