God is sovereign. What does this mean? It means that God can do whatever He wants to do. No one can stand in His way and say, “No!” What it does not mean is that all that happens is what God wants to happen.
What God allows and what God wills are not always the same thing. Some would argue they are: “If God can stop an evil thing from happening, and then doesn’t stop it, it’s the same as wanting it to happen.” No, it is not. Do not turn God into a computer program.
Anyone with kids knows: What you want your kids to do, and what they choose to do are not always the same. You could stop them from doing the things you don’t want, but because you want them to have a certain amount of freedom, you do not stop them. What you will for them and what you allow them to do are not always the same thing.
God is sovereign, but He is not a robot. God is not a binary computer program which must do what it was programmed to do. God is alive. He does what He wants and He allows what He allows. He gives us the truth, and the truth gives us the freedom to follow Him, to know Him, and to live forever under His good and perfect sovereign rule.
Theodicy: a defence of God’s goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil
We ought to reject all attempts at theodicy. God did not need sin, death, and evil to bring about His plan for creation. Sin, death, and evil did happen, but not at God’s command or decree. And, we take comfort in the fact that God hates sin, death, and evil, and He will redeem His creation from it all.
Excerpt from an article written by David B. Hart titled Tsunami and Theodicy….
“Christians often find it hard to adopt the spiritual idiom of the New Testament—to think in terms, that is, of a cosmic struggle between good and evil, of Christ’s triumph over the principalities of this world, of the overthrow of hell. All Christians know, of course, that it is through God’s self-outpouring upon the cross that we are saved, and that we are made able by grace to participate in Christ’s suffering; but this should not obscure that other truth revealed at Easter: that the incarnate God enters ‘this cosmos’ not simply to disclose its immanent rationality, but to break the boundaries of fallen nature asunder, and to refashion creation after its ancient beauty—wherein neither sin nor death had any place. Christian thought has traditionally, of necessity, defined evil as a privation of the good, possessing no essence or nature of its own, a purely parasitic corruption of reality; hence it can have no positive role to play in God’s determination of Himself or purpose for His creatures (even if by economy God can bring good from evil); it can in no way supply any imagined deficiency in God’s or creation’s goodness. Being infinitely sufficient in Himself, God had no need of a passage through sin and death to manifest His glory in His creatures or to join them perfectly to Himself. This is why it is misleading (however soothing it may be) to say that the drama of fall and redemption will make the final state of things more glorious than it might otherwise have been. No less metaphysically incoherent—though immeasurably more vile—is the suggestion that God requires suffering and death to reveal certain of his attributes (capricious cruelty, perhaps? morbid indifference? a twisted sense of humor?). It is precisely sin, suffering, and death that blind us to God’s true nature.”
Read DBH’s full article by clicking here.
Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to ensure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.
~Roger Zelazny, from his novel Creatures of Light and Darkness
Often atheists will try to refute Christianity by saying to the Christian: “You’re only a Christian because you were born into a Christian family in a predominantly Christian society. Had you been born in India, you would be a Hindu.”
The first part of that assertion is true — one of the main reasons I am a Christian is because I was born and raised in a Christian environment — more on that in a second. The second assertion is nonsense. Had I not been born to the parents I was born to, in the country I was born in, at the time I was born in, I would not exist, and so no logical assumptions can be made from that assertion. It is like saying, “If 2 + 2 = 5, then….” Well, two and two don’t equal five, and so no logical argument can result from that line of reasoning.
As to the first assertion: I am a Christian because my forebears were Christian — yes, that’s true — so… so what? That does nothing to refute the Christian faith; in fact, it supports it. We know from the bible that God is a God of covenant: “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:5b-6) God maintains relationship from generation to generation through covenantal relationships. That is the way He operates, and the concept of covenant is one of the essential ideas one must understand in order to understand Christianity.*
Perhaps I will write more on covenant at a later time. For now, if you’re interested, click here for further reading on the concept of covenant.
*The other essential idea one must understand is holiness.
In the Bible, faith is not said to be needed in order to believe that God exists. Rather, faith is needed to believe that what God says is true. This is the greatest temptation to doubt: “Did God really say…?”
God speaks, and if He didn’t, we wouldn’t exist. The atheist says he doesn’t believe in God. That’s what he thinks, but what he really doesn’t believe in is that God speaks, and speaks truthfully. God’s existence goes without saying — God is the unspoken Speaker. The atheist would disagree, but that’s because the conditions of proof for God in his mind are incompatible with reality. The atheist demands that God be an objective product of speech. Whose speech? No one’s.
“The atheist says, ‘Believe me that there is no God.’… He invokes your and my belief in the power to speak the truth… Atheism is self-contradictory, because to speak means to believe in God — to say something that has validity before and after my physical existence.”
God says, “I am,” and all of humanity hears it. To make the claim that God does not exist is really not a valid claim, and anyone who makes it is really saying that he doesn’t believe God’s claim. We all have a belief in God built into us. We all have to choose to believe if God speaks truthfully or not. The atheist takes one extreme and believes that God is lying always. The Christian takes the opposite extreme and believes God never lies (although, he will struggle much with that belief). Most people live somewhere in between those extremes.
Related reading: God’s Idea; The Kingdom of Speech; Past & Future: Connected by Speech