Post by Mike Miller on Mar 26, 2008 16:53:55 GMT -5
1. The book of Job is a true story about a real, historical person. I believe that because there is no reason not to. Any time a story is given as a parable, it is prefaced as such. The book is presented as historical, so I take it that way.
2. When you ask of the origins of evil I assume you are asking about its source. From whence does evil come? As to your question about "when" evil came into existence--I don't know. The Bible (as far as I can tell) is silent on the issue (though sin entered the world with Adam). Therefore, I will first try to address the origins question, then go into the reason (not reasons, plural) for evil.
My deep and abiding conviction is that God is absolutely sovereign over all things, including evil. Now, there are basically two kinds of "evil"--natural and moral. Natural evil is stuff like hurricanes, tornadoes, disease, etc. Moral evil is stuff like violence, adultery, lying, etc. The Bible attests to the fact that, as Piper says, "God rules the world in such a way that all calamities and all sin remain in His ultimate control and therefore within His ultimate design and purpose."
When Job said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away," we are told that he "did not sin or charge God with wrong." When he said, "Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" we are told that he "did not sin with his lips." God gives and takes away, and He brings good and evil. In all this He is to be praised. In Isaiah 45:7, God Himself says, "I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord who does all these things."
Some other Scripture references for His control over natural evil:
Now, does this mean that God is the author of sin? Is God a sinner? No. His willing that sin exists is not sin. Man is completely sinful in nature, and if God did not restrain us, we would all be completely evil in our actions. God simply ordains that we will only sin in accordance with His perfect will. Again, Piper: "God has established a world in which sin will indeed necessarily come to pass by God's permission, but not by His 'positive agency.'" Jonathan Edwards said, "Sin is not the fruit of any positive agency or influence of the most High, but on the contrary, arises from the withholding of his action and energy, and under certain circumstances, necessarily follows on the want of his influence."
So, the final question goes to the "why" of sin. Ultimately, everything that happens does so for the glory of God. Again, Edwards: "If it were not right that God should decree and permit and punish sin, there could be no manifestation of God's holiness in hatred of sin, or in showing any preference, in his providence, of godliness before it. There would be no manifestation of God's grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from."
I've probably just raised more questions, so fire away.
so, if everything that God created is good and God created evil, doesn't it naturally follow that evil is good?
If evil entered the world with the fall, how was evil manifested prior to the earth's existence?
on the question of Job, could the same logic not be applied to the opposite conclusion, meaning that because there is no textual indication that the book of Job is a historical story, Job is a "everyman" story?
Post by Mike Miller on Mar 27, 2008 8:24:44 GMT -5
First, I don't believe I ever said that God created evil. I did say that he ordains evil events for His glory. The evil that men do is punishable by God, but God's use of it is always good. Read the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. We see that the brothers committed evil toward Joseph. They sinned and were accountable for that sin. However, we also see that God ordained the entire event, therefore it is good (see 45:5-8; 50:20). The theological term for this is "compatibilism," which holds that man is a moral agent totally responsible for His actions, and that God is completely in control of those actions.
So, in your human mind you might say, "But that doesn't make sense." All I'm doing is bearing witness to what the Bible says. The Bible says God is in control and man is accountable. The common objection is the one Paul anticipated in Romans 9:19: "You will say to me then, 'Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?'" Paul's answer was simple, "But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?" In other words, Paul says, "It's not your place to question God," much like God said to Job in the final chapters, beginning with chapter 38. God wants to know who dares question Him. Please remember that our task is not to figure out a system that fits our human reasoning. Our task is to determine what the Bible says, for it is God's revelation of Himself to us.
Second, I never said that evil entered the world with the fall. I said that sin entered the world with the fall. Evil obviously pre-existed the fall, for the serpent was evil. I refer you to my previous post where I stated that we don't know when evil came into existence. We have no record of how evil was manifested before the fall. We need to be content with the amount of information the Bible gives us.
Third, on the question of Job, the same logic could be applied the opposite way with a different set of presuppositions. If you approach the Bible believing that it is a set of moral lessons with no grounding in history, then you would naturally assume that Job would fall into that category unless there were some indication otherwise. I, however, approach the Bible with the presupposition that it is a historical record of God's interaction with man. Therefore, I read it all as historical unless there is some valid reason to do otherwise. We all have presuppositions. You just need to identify what yours are. Either the Bible is myth or it is history. I go with the latter.
Post by Mike Miller on Apr 11, 2008 10:46:48 GMT -5
First, to create something means to bring something into being that did not previously exist. God created the earth, the animals, and people. They previously didn't exist. To ordain something (not in the sense of ordaining a minister, but in the context of this discussion) means to arrange things in a certain order. For example, God ordained the events of the crucifixion; He did not "create" them. Things are created; events are ordained. That is why I said that I don't know about the origins of evil (when and how it was created), but that the Bible teaches that God ordains evil events. In other words, He arranges the order of things to accomplish a particular outcome.
Second, I hope that you understand that my convictions about the nature of the Bible are ultimately based on faith. However, it is not a faith based in fantasy. The historical accounts of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, are repeatedly verified by archaeological and extra-biblical historical data. In other words, its historical information is always shown to be accurate.
Now, having said that, there are different genre of literature in the Bible. There is poetry, wisdom, epistle, prophecy, parable, history, and others. Often these overlap. However, we read them as they are presented--just as we do with other bodies of literature. In other words, let's say I write you a letter telling you of something that happened to me when I was a pilot. Do you read that and say, "Hmmm . . . I wonder if Mike is speaking metaphorically, or if he is trying to communicate a spiritual meaning, or if he is simply talking about an experience that could happen to anyone"? No. You read it as an actual account of something that happened--unless, of course, there is reason to read it another way.
By the same token, if I write you a letter and begin with "Think about your life like this: Suppose you were a pilot . . . ." then you know I am giving you an analogy. Or suppose I say, "The year was 2236. I had just returned from Galaxy 31 Omega . . . ." then you know I'm simply writing fiction. The point I'm making is that we read things as they are written unless there is some reason to read it otherwise.
When I read the Bible, unless it is poetic, or apocalyptic, or unless it is introduced as a parable ("Jesus spoke this parable to them . . . ."), then I take it as an actual account. If the Bible had been shown to be full of lies and fabrications, I would not do so. Now, when I read the Book of Mormon, I know that it is intended to be a historical record of actual people and events. However, I don't believe it to be true because it contradicts the Bible (and all archaeological evidence, by the way). That doesn't mean that it wasn't mean to convey something for people to believe, but I still read it as an "intended" historical account--even though it proves to be a false one. When it comes to the Bible, many people don't believe it. And you certainly have the prerogative of saying, "I just don't believe the book of Job is a true story," but the fact is, it's presented as a true story. There is no reason within the book, either from a literary or a theological perspective, to see it any other way.
That's why it ultimately goes back to faith. I believe the Bible to be true. Therefore, I believe all the stories in it are true stories unless there is something in the text to tell me otherwise. I see nothing in Job to indicate that it is anything else. This is based upon my conviction that the Bible is the Word of God and is not just a compilation of myths, legends, or fables.
If God created beings that have the capacity to act in a way that pleases God (good) or to the contrary (evil) then this alone would not constitute the creation of evil, but rather the potential for evil. Evil could not exist/occur without the created being acting in disobedience, placing the blame/origin of evil on the created being and not on God. What do you think? Is this inconsistent with what we see in the beginning?
Post by Mike Miller on Apr 16, 2008 8:47:31 GMT -5
AD, if I understand what you are saying, then I am in agreement. Sin is the source of evil actions, even though ordained by God for His purpose and glory. If willful creatures did not exist, sin would not exist. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that natural evil (not just moral evil) is ultimately the result of sin. All of creation suffers as a result of the fall. We are no longer in Eden.
As I said in one of my previous posts, God is not the author of sin. Humans sin. It's just that God is sovereign, and He only permits the sin that will bring Him glory.