The Fallacy of Theodicy

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.

The Agnostic’s Prayer

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

The God of Covenant

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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.

God Speaks. You Live. Have Faith.

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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.”
~Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy

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

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I recently tweeted: The only theology that matters: Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.

A Progressive/Liberal Christian responded….

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Obviously LunaticFringer didn’t bother to look up the two O.T. verses, in which she would have discovered what Jesus was quoting when He said, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

As I have young children, I have been thinking a lot lately about how I will successfully pass on my Christian faith to them. It is not a guaranteed thing when mom and dad are Christian that the kids will be too. I’ve seen it too often when children, even raised by pastors, reject the faith when they’re old enough to be allowed to do so.

This passing on of the faith can be looked at in relation to a whole society in much the same way as individual families. The Deuteronomy passage tells us what to do…

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
(Deut. 6:4-9)

First we are told to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds — everything we are. Second, we are told that these words need to be in, or on, our hearts. That doesn’t happen automatically. If we want the faith to continue to the next generation we must teach God’s word, and make His word foundational to all aspects of our lives — our children need to hear us talking about God and living what we are saying. Whatever we do with our hands and with our minds is submitted to God (compare to Revelation 13:16). Our family life (thy house) and our political sphere (thy gates) are shaped by His word.

If we don’t do these things we are guaranteeing that our children will either become atheists directly or Liberal Christians, which leads to the same place. Liberal Christianity, both its fading modernist version and its new progressive/post-modernist version, with its worship of the zeitgeist god and its false mission to “save” the Church from itself, has always been and will always be a direct road to atheism.

Today we live in an overly feminized culture. If you say or do anything which offends people and makes them feel bad, you are in the wrong. Truth, when offensive (as it often is), is rejected. God’s word is truth; God’s word is offensive. The strong father figure is no longer respected and is seen as “toxic masculinity”.

God is one — He is not divided. He is not tossed to and fro in His thinking. He was not different in the Old Testament as He is in the New Testament. His word does not change meaning over time (as post-modern philosophy teaches). What He said to the O.T. Israelites as recorded in the Bible was not just their confused understanding of His word muddied by their tribalistic warrior worldview.

Christian fathers need to grow some backbones and pass on the uncompromised word of God to their children and the entire next generation.

Further reading…

Men in Charge?! So Patronizing!

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God (Book Review)

Postmodern Jesusism