Ligonier Conference: Entry #8
Friday, March 16
John MacArthur addresses the "Problem of Evil."
The problem of evil is one of the major justifications people have for rejecting the Christian faith.
Not only does evil exist, massive evil exists, indeed dominant evil exists.
So here's the problem:
1. If the Biblical God is Loving...
2. If the Biblical God is Good...
3. If the Biblical God is Holy...
4. If the Biblical God is All-Powerful...
Yet evil exists....
THEREFORE: The Biblical God Must Not Exist.
Liberalism tries to "rescue" God from the "charicature" of Him that is found in Scripture. God is not really God, but He is now a symbol around which we structure our ethical principles.
So, is the Bible believer--in football parlance--on 4th down with 40 to go? Is punting the only option in the face of such strong opposition? Is there no 90 yard touch-down pass we can use to win the game?
Yes--we have a BIG PLAY to use to "win the game." And the answer is found in the Bible. It is something we can indeed know.
There are short-sighted answers to this problem--such as saying:
1. God is not responsible for evil. Adam and Eve are.
2. God is not responsible for evil. Lucifer is.
But these short-sighted answers only back the question up a step. Why did God create if he what Lucifer, Adam, and Eve would do?
No. The simple fact is that sin started in heaven. We find our way back to God with this issue, and you have to build your answer to evil upon God Himself.
That's why we have to call our answer theodicy. How can we count God as "righteous" in the face of His responsibility for evil?
Here's what we know:
1. Evil Exists: This is axiomatic--self-evident (unless your a Christian Science kook...) No. Evil is a metaphysical fact.
There is natural evil: This is impersonal and external to ourselves. For example: tsunamis, viruses, volcanoes.... We live in a fallen creation susceptible to physical corruption.
There is moral evil: This personal and internal to who we are. We are susceptible to an unceasing lust that conceives sin and brings forth death.
There is supernatural evil: This is demonic. It is led by Lucifer. These are spiritual beings that are as old as creation. They are wicked, skilled, and have delegated, temporal sovereignty in the world system. They are temporal but formidable. They work to exacerbate the moral evil already inherent to human beings.
There is eternal evil: It is exists eternally in hell. Hell is without God, without righteousness, and without holiness. It is where God is not.
Evil in all its manifestations is a MASSIVE REALITY.
2. God Exists: This is the God of the Bible. He is the all-powerful, all-knowing, good, loving, and sovereign God. And His sovereignty is absolute, infinite, and irresistable. (1 Chron. 29:11-12, Psalm 115:3, Dan. 4:35, Deut. 32:39, Psalm 105:16, 2 Kings 17:25, Lam. 3:37-38).
God drowned the entire human race, minus 8.
God takes full responsibility for everything--including evil. He is not asking to be delivered from the Biblical caricature. He is the only potentate.
But God made all things knowing that sin and evil will come. He is not conflicted or duplicitous about this fact. He is unequivocating, fixed, and unchanging.
God laid the foundations of the world exactly how He wanted them, and evil does not disturb His plan at all.
So: Evil exists. God exists. This is manifestly so...
3. God Wills Evil to Exist: There is no other possible option to this. God wills evil to exist without being evil Himself. Now this is where Arminians become apoplectic. Their eyes roll back and become sweaty. Panic sets in. So they have to reinvent God with a revisionist hermeneutic.
For example: Some deny God's power. Or, some say God simply does not use His power in order to preserver the higher good of free will. Others deny God's knowledge and fall into process theology and/or open theism. (God is really trying to do better, folks...)
All of these "revisions" lack a God-centered view of reality.
Some a give a metaphysical theodicy--a dualism that is clearly unbiblical.
Others use an autonomous theodicy where evil comes from the abuse of free-will. Here, free-will trumps evil in God's value scheme.
But God Ordained Evil. He did not create it. He ordained it.
Why? To display (to DEMONSTRATE) His glory:
His Glorious Wrath: Romans 3:5, "But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath?"
His Glorious Love: Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
His Glorious Wrath and Mercy: Romans 9:22-23 "What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory..."
God has the right to display all His attributes for all of eternity.
This is why evil exists.