May God make innocent beings suffer?

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

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  1. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    we do not know that.... I know it sounds ridiculous of a claim to say that, but I am sure that we are retarded to the endless abilities that God has put into His creation.

    Luk_19:40 He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.

    How would the stones cry out without a mouth?
  2. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I believe this is called metaphorical language.
  3. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes I know, but at the same time did not God make water spring from a rock? Was that also metaphorical language? I am just saying that we are so blind, retarded, stupid, or however you want to say it, to the things of God and His creation.
  4. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't see the Bible teaching that, e.g., stones, trees and rivers suffer pain. There'd be more in Scripture about caring for such entities if that was the case. :D

    On the other hand Scripture indicates that we should have a reasonable care for animals:

    There are also plenty indications that God cares for the animals.
    The fact that animals - who are not sinners, and are incapable of sin - suffer pain because of the curse is an indication of how Adam's representative headship encompassed not only his offspring, in one way, but also the whole creation, in another way, and is an ongoing reminder to us of the terrible consequences of sin and the injustices which it can unleash in its wake, some of them unintended.
  5. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    The difference between historical narrative and rhetorical device, on the other hand, is plain to anyone with common sense. Water from the rock is historical narrative. Rocks making music is a rhetorical metaphor.
  6. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Rock 'n' roll.;)
  7. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I am not sure it is appropriate to apply the term "innocent" to a non-moral being, because "innocent" is a moral term.
  8. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Jason, please note that guilt and innocence are categories only applicable to moral-rational agents, not to amoral creations. Man is that creature which is created in the imago Dei, and as such is the terrestrial creature endowed with reason and morality - not rocks or ducks. To say that "the ground" is innocent because it isn't guilty is a mistake of categories. It is neither innocent nor guilty: it is amoral.

    Also, I think it would behoove us all to note a previous poster's careful citing of the first question of the shorter catechism as explanatory of the Reformed position on such forms of questioning. Rich's subsequent citation of Calvin may elucidate why that answer is relevant if it is yet unclear to anyone. The Reformed system is voluntaristic not so that it can address hypotheticals of what the Creator could have done (which would take theology into the realm of the speculative), but to remove the intellectualist tendency to speak of what God must do or be on account of how the world works or what he already has done (which is simply speculation working in the opposite direction). In other words, Reformed theology is voluntaristic precisely to remove speculation and abstraction from theology - quite ironic in light of the strong misconception that voluntarism lends itself to speculation. In the Reformed understanding, the chief end of man (that is, the moral-rational creature) is twofold and connected: 1.) to glorify God, and 2.) to enjoy him forever. These cannot be separated. Not because of some necessary, ontological connection, but because of God's established order as revealed in his word. So for us to separate righteousness and innocence from the enjoyment of God is to go beyond the bounds of the guide which God has left for us, and to enter into the world of speculation. We do not say, "God had to do it this way," or "God's nature required this pattern;" we leave God to his freedom; but we also do not say, "This other possibility is the/a way God could have done it." Both are to be avoided.

    Had I waited two minutes to respond, I would have seen that Ruben said it far more succinctly while I was typing.
  9. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I was just thinking that if I had known you were typing, I wouldn't have bothered to say anything.
  10. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    Says who? Man?? Paul says that the creation was subjected to futility and corrpution unwillingly and it stems from the fall of Adam. God's creation to this day has not broken any commands, but man has. God has made his creation suffer not because the creation sinned but because Adam sinned. Now if God made man cursed because creation sinned, man would be the first to hold a tribunal against God.

    Rom_8:22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

    Why is the whole creation groaning together???

    Why should God see it fit to punish creation because of the sin of Adam?

    If inocence only applies to "moral agents" why does not curses also only apply to "moral agents"?
  11. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    What does "innocent" mean?

    Yes, he does; but that doesn't mean that rocks or animals are properly spoken of as innocent or guilty.

    God's non-moral creation was not given any precepts.

    This doesn't support your position.

    Because God will not have creation restored until the manifestation of the children of God, Romans 8:19-24.

    The curse on creation is part of Adam's punishment: man is the head of the material creation, and his own fall into sin involved his whole kingdom in disaster.

    Curse is opposed to bless; innocent is opposed to guilty. Each speaks in its own area, and they are not necessarily connected. Is a day a moral creature? And yet God blessed the seventh day. The fact that the ground is cursed does absolutely nothing to suggest that "innocent" is appropriately applied to it.

    Jason it seems like you are either being careless in your thinking, or you're plunging into an area without having learned much about it first. It would probably be better for you to spend some time digesting the Reformed doctrine of creation and man in the image of God. I know you enjoy reading Calvin, so perusing him on Genesis 1,2 and Romans 8 would be a good and pleasant place to begin; and if you pay attention to his interpretations, you will notice that he is concerned not to press expressions beyond what they will bear. That is also a good lesson.
  12. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am reading through John Calvin's Sermon's on Genesis as we speak. Most of the things I say were penned already by Calvin himself. I just don't want to be considered being Calvin's puppet.

    So speaking of "reformed" how reformed must I go?

    Besides that, I do not contradict the Scriptures or the Confessional when I say that God can make the innocent suffer. The human mind cannot comprehend what it means to be innocent in the first place. I just stand with Paul when he says:

    Rom 11:32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
    Rom 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
    Rom 11:34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?"
    Rom 11:35 "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?"
    Rom 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

    I believe along with Augustine that God can make good come out of evil. I cannot comprehend it, but God made in me a heart of flesh where there was only a heart of stone.

    XXVI. The Triumph of God's Sovereign Good Will 100. These are "the great works of the Lord, well-considered in all his acts of will"218 --and so wisely well-considered that when his angelic and human creation sinned (that is, did not do what he willed, but what it willed) he could still accomplish what he himself had willed and this through the same creaturely will by which the first act contrary to the Creator's will had been done. As the Supreme Good, he made good use of evil deeds, for the damnation of those whom he had justly predestined to punishment and for the salvation of those whom he had mercifully predestined to grace. For, as far as they were concerned, they did what God did not will that they do, but as far as God's omnipotence is concerned, they were quite unable to achieve their purpose. In their very act of going against his will, his will was thereby accomplished. This is the meaning of the statement, "The works of the Lord are great, well-considered in all his acts of will"--that in a strange and ineffable fashion even that which is done against his will is not done without his will. For it would not be done without his allowing it--and surely his permission is not unwilling but willing--nor would he who is good allow the evil to be done, unless in his omnipotence he could bring good even out of evil.

    St Augustine (2010-03-24). Enchiridion On Faith, Hope, and Love (Kindle Locations 1260-1271). Kindle Edition.

    ---------- Post added at 07:13 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:57 PM ----------

    Pro 17:15 He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD.

    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

    God the Father made Christ(who happens to be His Son) who was innocent, to suffer for the sake of the wicked (the elect). God the Father justified the wicked by making His Son suffer the just judgment that belongs to us. And we cannot agree without question that God can make the innocent suffer? If the suffering of the innocent served to bring God glory, than Praise God! Because God made the innocent suffer so we may enjoy Him and Love Him.
  13. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    I don't think I've seen a more absurd statement in years. What in the world do you mean by this?

    If we cannot understand "innocence" then we can understand nothing. Thankfully you are not correct in your statement. The concept of innocence is clearly displayed in God's word such that we can arrive at a clear understanding of it through diligent study. A rock cannot be innocent, since it cannot be guilty - it's that simple, as it is not a moral agent! Anything that can be called "innocent" by some measure must also possibly be called "guilty" by the same measure. They must be one or the other. To apply the label "innocent" to rocks is to make an elementary category error. Similarly, your appeal to the "rocks cry out" passage is ill-placed. To claim that it shows agency, i.e. that they must truly be able to express moral decision-making by crying out is to make a most basic hermeneutical error. The most conservative and sound Bible scholars recognize as they should that Christ there is using metaphorical language. One can understand that passage metaphorically without falling into the gross liberalism of interpretation that you've insinuated they might. Rocks are not moral agents - they simply cannot be properly termed "innocent".

  14. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    Ruben gave you some excellent counsel. I hope you accept my advice in the spirit in which it is intended. You would do well to step back from making uniformed and dogmatic statements and learn from those who have studied in the Reformed tradition. I am not suggesting this to insult you but to help you.

    I joined this board back in 2005. At the time I remember starting a thread asking the following question: "Is God the author of sin?" I look back on that thread with a bit of embarrassment. I was 44 years old, a Christian for 25 years, and had hardly any idea of what Reformed theology was. I was a fairly new Calvinist and viewed every theological issue through the Calvinist lens. I was locked in what's commonly called a "cage stage." God was gracious to me by granting me a teachable spirit. I took in many threads and learned from men that I still consider to be my better. I asked many questions and stumbled along the way. This month marks six years in my Reformed journey. I make no claims about being accomplished in the Reformed faith. I've been a quick learner, but that's due to the transforming work of God in my life. I pray you learn from my experience. Be quick to hear. Be quick to listen. Be slow to become a teacher. Certainly ask questions, but be ready to receive correction meekly; humbly. You don't have to agree, but you would be unwise as to assume that those who are mature in the Reformed faith are so myopic so as not to see the theological forest for the trees.
  15. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well thank you for the encouragment.

    But I never said God was the author of Sin. It only seems that way from our perspective. It's like Augustine's description of an oar in the water. When we veiw the oar in the water is seems to our vision that the oar is bent, but when we take the oar out of the water we see that it is not infact bent. What seems to be from one perspective is not from another.
  16. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I don't think there's any immediate danger of that.

    The discussion has developed since it started. Where we are now is only indirectly related to the question that started this thread. It is being pointed out to you that it is hermeneutically unsustainable and theologically inept to use the curse on the ground for man's sake as proof that God makes the innocent suffer.

    I don't believe anyone disagrees with your Augustine quote - certainly I don't. But it is not to the purpose.

    This is still confused. Christ did suffer; but why? Because He volunteered to be laden with the guilt of our sin. The suffering was still related to sin, though it was sin imputed, rather than committed.
  17. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    So our language about innocence is equivocal? Calling rocks or animals "moral agents" is a category mistake. You can argue that animals are innocent, but you will be talking nonsense (literally) just as if you argued that a sleeping chair dreams of sofas. We cannot argue over the moral states of non-moral entities any more than we can speak of the unconscious thoughts of things that have neither consciousness nor thought.

    Jason, we have to affirm that God is not the author of sin. If God is the author of sin, then God is not good. Jesus, when He suffered, was not innocent, for He bore the burden of all our sin.
  18. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    Again I never said God is the author of sin. We are just incapable of understanding the works of God.
  19. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Jason, I never said you called God the author of sin. I was using my own experience to make a point about diving into deep waters before we've learned to swim.
  20. Dennis1963

    Dennis1963 Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't understand it as God making anyone suffer. God said to Adam Gen 2:17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
    Adam did it to himself, and it is because of that, he suffers.

    Amen, and God is holy and good!

    No one who is innocent will suffer in the lake of fire.

    ---------- Post added at 09:26 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:20 PM ----------

    You can be sure of it, God will never throw the redeemed (innocent) in the lake of fire.

    I'm sure you agree. :)

    ---------- Post added at 09:29 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:26 PM ----------

    Who would God have to show His authority to?

    ---------- Post added at 09:36 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:29 PM ----------

    I think we have to remember the only people who are innocent are those saved by the blood of Christ. We, the elect, will suffer in this life, that we cannot escape. But that's it, after this life, no more suffering.

    Phil 1:29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake
  21. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    If we are incapable of understanding the works of God, then we are incapable of knowing God. To say that we are utterly incapable of understanding the works of God sounds really deep, but it undermines the practice of theology, not to mention Scripture itself (wow, I'm sounding like a Clarkian tonight!).

    Not to me. I begin the discussion with "God is not the author of sin" as a premise, not a conclusion.
  22. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    The Ted Williams quote I heard the other day is becoming more and more my favorite extrabiblical quotation, especially for myself:
    This is my new motto.
  23. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Well, Ted Williams didn't need to think "too good." All he had to do was swing the bat.
  24. Dennis1963

    Dennis1963 Puritan Board Freshman

    We can know within the bounds of God's written word. Other then that it is just man's ideas, mere speculation. For example the Trinity. It is taught in scripture, but I no not believe there is a man who can give a good clear explanation of it. Considering also the fall, by the simple fact God told them not to eat of a certain tree and Satan being in the garden, makes it obvious that the fall was in God's plan. In Genesis Ch 2, the firmament God created above the earth, makes it obvious after the flood it was there for a reason.

    Yes, there are many things we can know since God has revealed His will in scripture.

    However, man has to come to the safe conclusion that there are things we cannot understand, explain or know.
    We have to agree with the Psalmist that, Some things are just to wonderful for me, I cannot attain to it.
  25. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    And within the bounds of general revelation.

    Indeed---that which is revealed is shown to be even more mysterious than when it was hidden. At any rate, a discussion of the epistemology of revelation is tangential to the real discussion.
  26. Dennis1963

    Dennis1963 Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, judged by scripture.

    Yes, I agree. :)
  27. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    I just wanted to add Lamentations 3

    32 But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.

    33 For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.

    34 To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth,

    35 To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High,

    36 To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not.

    God loves freely; His mercy is unfailing and new every morning; but He does not afflict willingly. If we didn't know this, as Rev. Winzer said earlier (which has been a comfort), we would have no hope in life to endure; and seeing Him who is invisible would provide no strength at all. But we do know this, not only because He teaches it to us in our experience, but because when all else fails, we know what He told us.
  28. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior


    As for my own questions, this thread has long since served it's purpose. If someone still wants to discuss the topic given on this thread, be my guest, but please don't address your comments to me anymore, because I'm not interested in further discussion.

  29. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Animals aren't innocent or guilty, but it is true that they haven't done anything morally wrong, being incapable of it, and yet they suffer pain, distress and discomfort because of Man's sin.

    God is also concerned about animals suffering gratuitously at Man's hand, within reasonable bounds - e.g. purposelessly torturing animals - although He imposed animal suffering on the creation because of Man's sin.

    If God is even somewhat concerned about the suffering of animals in both His decretive and preceptive wills, as the Bible indicates, He does not impose suffering on them without good reason.

    The whole of the natural creation - including the animal kingdom - is spoiled and yet shines with God's glory

    There may be a degree of mystery in this until the New Heavens and New Earth, as C.S. Lewis indicates.

  30. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Samuel, I hope it's okay to address to you just that I am very grateful you started the thread. Reading Lamentations 3 in light of this question was incredibly helpful to me. One can see our Saviour there identifying with His judged people, 'I am the man who has seen affliction', and understand the hope that sustained Him in the depth of His afflictions. Christ knew God better than anyone; and this question bears so much on what He knew about God that gave Him hope -- it has been a tremendous help to my faith, in union with Him. I'm sure I'm saying all of that badly; but it was a good thread. :)
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