No Evil Required

God created Adam and Eve initially to have a limited knowledge. They were like children. Over time humanity would have grown and matured to a state in which they had a full revelation of God, and of truth, of goodness, and beauty. Clearly this process is God’s good plan for humanity. God did not create us to be in this final state right from the beginning. Why is the process necessary? We don’t know yet.

God probably created the angels the same way. The angels probably have their own process which God is maturing them through to a final and perfect state. We don’t know that, but it makes sense.

This process, both for man and angels, does not require evil. Any theodicy which claims that evil is necessary for God to accomplish His goals is a lie. Evil did happen, and God allowed it, but it was never a necessary component to creation.

Another parable [Jesus] put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘” (Matthew 13: 24-20 NKJV)

The good seed does not require the tares. In the end, the good seed grows into what it was meant to be regardless of the tares. God is unwilling to destroy His creation even though evil has infected it. He is also unwilling to stop the maturation process for humanity because of evil. The process of growth continues despite evil, and all will be sorted out in time. Why did God allow evil in the first place? Probably because to prevent the evil in the first place would have meant aborting the process. So, while the process does not require evil, the process would have been aborted in order to prevent evil.

The goals which God had in mind for His creation at the beginning never change. If evil was not in God’s mind at the beginning, it certainly is not in His mind for the end. The perfect consummation for creation God planned for from the beginning will happen, without compromise, without loss.

Related reading: The Fallacy of Theodicy; The Alpha and the Omega and the Foundation of all Correct Theology; What God Wills and What God Permits

The Path to Free Will

“Free will is the ability to choose.” No, it’s not. The ability to choose only shows you have a will. Your will might be free, or it might not be.

Looking at the diagram above, suppose you choose option A. There is a reason you chose A, and that reason was determined by one of the preceding desires. You don’t choose your desires, at least not in the moment of choice. You can shape your desires over time through ongoing actions, but in the immediate moment of choice your strongest desire will determine which option you chose.

Your desires may be evil, and if they are, you will choose to do evil things. You may have good desires and evil desires. If so, the strongest of those desires will determine your choices.

If a man’s desires are only evil, all he can do is chose to act on one of those evil desires: the one which appeals to him most in the moment. This man is not able to chose good. He is a slave to evil.

If a man has good and evil desires, the potential to do good and evil is present, but he will still act out his strongest desire in the moment.

If a man has only good desires, all his choices will be good. This man is free.

Only through Christ can you become one who desires only the good. It is a process of a series of deaths and resurrections. It is not easy and is sometimes painful, but it is necessary.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” ~Roman 12:2

Sufficient Wisdom

The bible is sufficient in telling us everything we need to know. Emphasis on the word “need.” The bible is not sufficient in telling us everything we want to know. That’s not a flaw; it’s intentional. God is not saying to us: “If it’s not in the bible, I don’t want you to know about it.” Rather, God is saying: “If it’s not in the bible, I’ve given you the wisdom to figure it out for yourselves.”

This is where philosophy comes in. Philosophy: philein sophia – lover of wisdom. Philosophy doesn’t replace the scriptures. My faith is based on scripture, not philosophy. Truth is based on scripture, not philosophy. The nature and character of God is based on scripture, not philosophy. So what is philosophy good for? For figuring out the things not directly revealed by God.

God gave us curious and inquiring minds. He gave us the ability to gather information and solve problems. He expects us to wrestle with difficulties and obstacles so that we will grow in maturity, understanding, and knowledge (see Luke 2:41-52). We can ask the tough questions. We can safely talk about the possible answers. We can philosophize.

As long as we keep philosophy in it’s proper place, and not make it the foundation of our lives (that’s what the scriptures are for), we do indeed have sufficient wisdom to find and know what we want.

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” -Proverbs 25:2

Are You Saved? Saved From What?

You have desires. Your desires determine your choices. If more than one desire is active in you at one time, the strongest desire will win. You have a desire to lose weight and therefore have decided to do daily morning exercise. You wake up at five o’clock in the morning and discover there are two desires working against each other in your mind: Stay in your comfy bed for another hour, or get up and exercise. If your desire to lose weight is stronger than your desire to stay in bed, you will get up. If the opposite is true, you will go back to sleep.

Your desires determine your choices, and you can’t choose your desires, at least not in the moment. You can shape your desires over time by your choices. You can create a lifestyle with systems and habits which develops certain desires in your life which then determine your choices. This is difficult and you’ll probably need outside help.

What about moral desires? If you are evil, and your desires are evil, your choices will be evil. How can you change this? How can you know what is good? How can you desire what is good?

You need to be transformed by the only one who can transform you: Your Creator.

The Christian gospel is not primarily about being saved from hell. It is about being saved from being evil. Being evil will send you to hell, but if you were somehow able to avoid hell, that wouldn’t mean that you were then good. The avoidance of hell doesn’t make you good. Christ’s salvation makes you good.

Free will is not the ability to choose A instead of B. Even a person whose will is enslaved to evil is able to choose A vs B. Free will is the ability to always choose the good. To choose the good is to know the good and to desire the good. Free will = good desires. Enslaved will = evil desires.

Christ offers to all salvation from enslavement to evil. You already know the good enough to know that Christ’s offer is true. You already have the desire within you to be saved, no matter how evil you might be. Therefore, Christ’s salvation is available to you right now. To choose that salvation is as simple as asking for it, which you can do right now.

But be warned, Christ’s salvation is no small thing. Your life as you’ve known it will be torn apart, you will die, and there’s no turning back.