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 argument is often made that evil exists in the world because God gave humans free will and He gave humans free will so that they could truly love God, as love can only be genuine if it’s chosen. This argument is faulty on at least two points: it incorrectly defines “free will”, and it wrongly assumes love can only be real if it is chosen.
- The opposite of free will is not “no will”.
- The opposite of will is “no will”.
- Will is defined as desire — I have a desire for such and such to happen. It is my will. To have no desires is to have no will, and thus no ability to choose. Any action by something with no will is automatic and “preprogrammed”. A heart functions, it does what it does, but it does not have a will of its own.
- The opposite of free will is enslaved will. Both one whose will is free or enslaved is able to make choices. An alcoholic can choose which whiskey he will get drunk off tonight, but he is enslaved to his alcoholism.
- Free will is not the ability to make choices without being influenced by an outside force, since no one makes a choice without desire, and no one’s desire exists in an arbitrary vacuum. Your choices are determined by your desire (your will) and your desire is determined by your nature.
- Your nature is either free or enslaved. Free from what? Enslaved to what? Sin, evil, and corruption.
- Thus, free will is the ability to never sin, and enslaved will is the inability to never sin. Indeed, free will is the inability to sin.
- God is free and He cannot sin.
- If God is free and there is no potential to sin within Him, then it is not a requirement to have the potential to sin in order to be free or to have free will.
- God is love. Jesus loves the Father. Jesus and the Father are both God. One God — three persons. Jesus is a man. Jesus is 100% man and 100% God.
- Jesus is the perfect man. What is not true for Jesus is not true for all humans, and what is true for Jesus is true for all humans.
- Jesus loves the Father, and there is no potential in Jesus to hate or reject the Father. God is not divided (Mark 3:24-25). There is no darkness in God (1 John 1:5). God cannot lie or break an oath (Hebrews 6:18). Jesus does not change (Hebrews 13:8). There is no potential in God (for change).
- Thus, it is not required, in order for one to love another, for there to be the potential to hate the other.
- In order for humans to love God it was not required for humans to have the potential to hate God.
- God did not give humans “free will” so that humans could possibly reject God thus making their love for Him “real” — as some teach: love is only real if it’s chosen.
- God desires humans to never sin — God desires for humans to be free and have free will. We are made free for freedom’s sake (Galatians 5:1).
- God did not risk evil entering His creation by giving humans the potential to be evil for the sake of genuine love. Humans were clearly given the potential for evil since that’s what happened. But, they were not given that potential for the sake of genuine love. Genuine love is possible without the potential for sin and evil.
- A man loves his children. He does not have to chose to love them — he just loves them. He knows them and he loves them, and they love him.
- To know God is to love God.
Jesus is 100% God and 100% man.
Jesus (a man) cannot reject or hate the Father. He cannot reject the Father because He too is God, and God is not divided. God is perfect and without sin.
Jesus, not being able to reject the Father, is not disqualified from being a full and true man.
Therefore, it is not a required condition, in order to be fully and truly human, to have the ability to reject God.
Therefore, true love for God from humans is not only possible if humans have the ability to reject and not love God, as some would argue: Love is only real if it is chosen.
If it’s not true for Jesus, it’s not true for mankind.
We should not decide what is required for one to be truly human by looking at ourselves, then applying those requirements to Jesus.
It should be done the other way around: What is required for Jesus to be a human (the perfect human) is also what is required for us to be humans.
Those who argue for human free will often state that humans need free will in order to truly love God — it’s not true love if it isn’t chosen.
The major flaw with that thinking is that it’s not true for Jesus. Jesus cannot reject the Father. Jesus loves the Father perfectly. Jesus is 100% man.
Do humans have free will? Yes, but only after being freed from the slavery of sin. True free will is when sin is impossible.
If you were completely free from sin, you would be unable to hate God. You would be a perfect human, like Jesus.
Related reading: Free Will and Evil