May God make innocent beings suffer?

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

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  1. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Yet in doing so he was being obedient to the Father's will:

    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 [Isaiah 53:10]

    Ephesians also says that Christ was "obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." It was a willing obedience, but an obedience nonetheless.
  2. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    Rev. Winzer,

    Wasn't Jesus suffering throughout His whole life, before the burden of our guilt was laid upon Him in the Garden?
  3. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    He suffered throughout His life just as He was obedient throughout His life. He was made of a woman, made under the law. Both His suffering and obedience served the purpose of redemption -- to redeem them that were under the law. All of what Christ did throughout His life in the way of suffering and obedience was redemptive. In other words, the burden of our guilt was laid upon Him the moment He was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin. His suffering does not serve in any way to support the notion that God makes the innocent suffer. If Christ did not willingly give Himself to be numbered with the transgressors He would not have received their "just recompence of reward."
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The fact is, it was voluntary submission to satisfy the just demands of the law in the place of others. God did not make the innocent suffer.
  5. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    AMEN Rev. Winzer.

    I have a question though. Is it a sin to question God when we suffer sometimes? I have heard that said a lot lately. I consider it might be sin to demand an answer from God but I don't think it is a bad thing to ask God why so that we may endure tribulation. As an example, I went through the book of Job during a hard time and I was asking God why I was being inflicted. I wondered if it was for sin or for some other purpose. It never really became clear to me. I did, in fact, believe I came to some kind of answer. When God put Job up before Satan God was proving to Satan how little minded and prideful he was. A mere man who was in a fallen but redeemed state showed him up and put even more shame upon the devil. That is just plain coolness when God is proven worthy by a mere man. That man Job put the devil to shame. That devil was an angelic being who shared in God's immediate presence at one time and he despised what this mere man loved. That is just plain glorifying God.

    Anyways, I have been taught and heard others teach it is always wrong to question God. I am not of that conviction as long as we don't demand an answer from God. Am I wrong here?
  6. Rev. Todd Ruddell

    Rev. Todd Ruddell Puritan Board Junior

    Dear Mr. Snyder,

    I believe the answer to your question lies in the ambiguity of the term "question God." If we follow the Psalmist, if we sing the Psalms, if we sing with understanding, we will "question God". See Psalm 10.1 among many others. The difficulty is not questioning God in this manner. It is when we begin to pass judgment upon God's actions, and questioning His authority that we transgress the limits the Lord has set. To cry to the Lord, "how long?" or, "why standest Thou afar off?" is not sin--but to bring God into the judgment seat, placing ourselves as judges over Him, to doubt of His mercy and goodness, to question His veracity, faithfulness, grace, forgiveness, etc. is going too far. We may not say to God without sinning, "What doest thou?" (Daniel 4.25)
  7. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    I have heard many pastors say that ascribing suffering to specific sins you've lately committed is not helpful.

    ---------- Post added at 05:13 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:10 AM ----------

    So, are you in effect saying God would be unjust (or not God at all), if He made the innocent suffer?
  8. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes I know Christ said that no one takes His life, but He has power to lay it down and take it back up again, but the purpose and end of Christ on this earth while He was clothed in the flesh was to suffer at the hand of His Father for the sake of the Elect. And in doing so He glorified His Father.

    Let's not forget that Jesus sweat drops of blood knowing that the wrath of God was to abide on Him.
  9. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Perhaps I misunderstand who God is, but from what I understand of His character as laid down in Scripture, I don't believe that God could (by His very nature) throw an innocent being into the lake of fire unless the individiual went willingly (which was mentioned above), that is Christ Himself.

    Neither Adam nor his offspring are innocent. I have never yet met someone who was completely innocent. Only Christ is perfect and innocent and He suffered willingly.

    For some reason, I see this whole question even larger than the question of innocence. As I see it, to glorify Himself, so that we could understand and see His mercy, justice, grace and love. All that happened in the fall of His creation and the life, death, burial and ressurection of His Son serves to allow us to bring glory to God and to allow us to see a side of Him that would never be seen apart from His work of redemption.
  10. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    'It pleased the Lord to bruise Him' because God is always pleased to exact payment for sin, but God did not take any pleasure in the suffering of His Son. The suffering of His Son was a necessary step in procuring His Son's desire: the redemption of His seed. Can a Father be accused of making his innocent son suffer when he digs a splinter out of his hand, or yanks a loose tooth out of his mouth?
  11. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    God does all things for His glory. The question then becomes: Can God act for His glory by killing innocent beings (say, kill Adam before he violated the CoW)? Would not such an act demonstrate God's authority over His creation? So, I still don't see how God would not be justified to make the innocent suffer.

    On the other hand, I realized that my objection to Adam's fall was irrational. Because if Adam's guilt was imputed to us, when we still were innocent/sinless, it does not follow that innocent beings were made to suffer. We were found guilty in Adam before any suffering befell us! We are rightly made to suffer, because we are guilty of what Adam did.

    But then again, let me remind you that although the making of innocent beings suffer was not the case in Adam's fall, it does not follow that God is unjust to do so, since He can clearly act for His glory regardless. Inevitably, why He didn't was because it glorified His name more. God chose to show His mercifulness instead of showing the Potter's authority over the clay. But of course, there is a way God demonstrates that to us also, although it may not be by making the innocent suffer.
  12. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    God is righteous. It would be unrighteous of Him to make innocent creatures suffer. Therefore He doesn't make innocent creatures suffer.

    Christ's suffering is on behalf of His people who aren't innocent.

    There is a unique relationship, also, between Adam and his offspring, such that the name "adam" was given both to him and his offspring (Genesis 5:2) - in the original language. This meant that it was suitable and just that Adam should represent his offspring in the of the Covenant of Works. If he'd passed the test there would still be a question as to how he could do that on our behalf.

    Studying how it was possible for Christ to represent His people may shed light on how it was possible for Adam to represent the race.

    The case of the animals is peculiar, but they are not moral creatures and so cannot be called innocent or guilty. The Bible indicates that their suffering is because the creation was spoiled as God's response to Man's sin - but one day this Curse will be lifted.

    The whole of the creation was headed by Adam as Prophet, Priest and King.
  13. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    What does that portion I set to boldface mean? Are you speaking of temporal matters sans the eternity of God? Is your theodicy supralapsarian?

  14. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    I was talking about us existing in Adam [before his fall]. But now that you asked, I would rather take back my words and just conclude: we, the posterity of Adam, were never innocent/sinless. Oh, and yes, I'm supralapsarian.

    ---------- Post added at 03:53 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:42 PM ----------

    That God is righteous means simply that God defines right and always acts according to what is right in His own eyes. That doesn't indicate it is wrong for God to make the innocent suffer (unless God expressly says so in His Word).
  15. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Well He'd have to have a righteous, i.e. just, reason for making the innocent suffer.

    Casting unfallen Adam, the unfallen angels, or the redeemed saints into Hell aren't righteous acts.

    If God isn't righteous, He's pernicious.

    Bless God that He's righteous and the foundation of righteousness.

    That's why He must redeem us in Christ in the way He did.
  16. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    Casting the redeemed saints into Hell would be unrighteous, because then God would contradict His own promises. But God is not bound by anything to not let the unfallen Adam or the unfallen angels suffer, as long as He acts for His own glory. And as I've reasoned before, it would serve God's glory to make innocent beings suffer, for it manifests the authority of the Creator over the creation. And it is always most righteous of God to serve His own glory. I would even go as far as to say that it were righteous of God to cast innocent beings into eternal hell, because although it wouldn't work as a means to the well-being of the creature, it still would glorify God (which is the main thing).
  17. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    It wouldn't glorify God because it would demonstrate that He was unrighteous and pernicious and capricious.

    Have you examined the biblical revelation of what righteousness is?
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2011
  18. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    Where in the Bible do you find a definition of righteousness that forbids the suffering of innocent beings. Please, cite Scripture.

    Edit: No need, I already found one:

    "Far be it from You to do such a thing--to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25)
  19. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    The only way to extricate yourself from the labyrinth you find yourself is to stop speculating about God's nature apart from His Word.
  20. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I have heard even several calvinistic pastors say that God does not punish on the basis of hereditary sin (original sin) but on the basis of real, committed sin only. This is used as a basis of contending for infant salvation of all who die in infancy. Thus, an infant has a sin nature but no actual sins according to these pastors.

    However, if this were the case and infants were, in fact, innocent, and God cannot make the innocent suffer, we have the problem of the high rate of infant mortality in the world.
  21. athanatos

    athanatos Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't understand. How come Adam is a Federal Head? It is okay if God makes that choice, but where does it say so in Scripture? Rom 5 has some hints as to the symmetry of Christ and Adam for salvation and sinfulness... but not sure how that makes him federal head. Or what makes him one. Or how that is implied from God making a covenant of works?
  22. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    Romans 5 has FAR more than "hints" as to the federal headship of Adam.

    By the way, have you read the WCF, with which you say you agree? Perhaps you've not read the sections on covenant, or those in the LBCF, also, which equally claim Adam as the federal head of the human race.
  23. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    I was not speculating "apart from the Bible," or at least it was not intentional. I was using the Bible as my authority in the matter all the time, but I only failed to see that God has defined/limited righteousness to mean the innocent shall not be treated as the wicked (Genesis 18:25 -- see my earlier post).
  24. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    Ok Adam fell and God not only cursed Adam, but God also cursed the ground because of Adam. Therefore creation suffers innocently because of Adams fall. At this moment the creation has continued to obey God even while subjected to it's curse because of Adam's willful disobedience. On the other hand, man continues to rage against God.

    So is not creation suffering while maintaining absolute innocence? The creation doesn't even demand to be heard from by God, but yet we would all hold God on trial if he were to do that to us. We are wicked people.

    Gen 3:17 And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

    Rom 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
    Rom 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope
    Rom 8:21 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.
    Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
  25. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Only those parts of creation that are sentient suffer.

    The Apostle is personifying the creation in Romans 8. Rocks and trees don't suffer.

    Animals suffer - although it is questionable how much the lower animals do suffer e.g. insects. Maybe we as human beings are ascribing suffering to them.

    Animals aren't innocent or guilty because they are not moral creatures like human beings and angels. It is true that they haven't sinned, as rocks or trees haven't sinned.

    I haven't come accross much theological reflection on animal suffering apart from C.S. Lewis's "The Problem of Pain". It would be interesting to know what any Reformed theologians had to say about it.
  26. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    The creation is suffering under the unwilling corruption of the curse God placed upon it because of Adam's fall. Animal's die, they get cancer like humans do. Remember what Jesus says about the rocks, he can make them cry out to Him.
  27. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    I think it is a questionable assertion that animals would suffer like we do. Where do we find Scriptural basis for that? God's righteousness is that He will not "[treat] the righteous and the wicked alike" (Gen. 18:25). Animals are neither righteous/innocent nor wicked. Therefore, God is not unrighteous however He may treat them.
  28. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    It seems fairly clear that some "higher" animals suffer pain, but since they don't have a sense of righteousness and unrighteousness it's difficult to see a future life for them in the New Heavens and New Earth as being some kind of compensation. C.S. Lewis discusses this in greater detail.

    Stones don't suffer pain, although they may suffer damage e.g. from earthquakes. The whole creation may suffer - in the broader sense of the term - because of the curse, but only a (small) part of the creation suffers pain, discomfort and distress i.e. human beings and animals i.e. sentient beings.
  29. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    The title of this thread is "May God make innocent beings suffer?"

    With that said word "being" defined I think I have answered correctly. The question was not may God allow innocent moral agents suffer, but innocent beings. Creation suffers on behalf of man not because of anything creation did. Therefore creation which is innocent suffers because of Adam's fall. If we want to argue over whether or not God may make innocent moral agents suffer then the question needs to be framed in that respect.

    ---------- Post added at 12:47 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:18 PM ----------

    The creation suffers because of us. We should suffer even more. We are the offending parties against our Creator. Like I said before, creation suffers the corruption of Adam's fall without calling God into account for the curse, but even Job wished to be heard from God for the suffering that he endured. So sinful are we!
  30. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Actually, that's a good distinction to make.
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