Attended a good talk by Dr James Anderson (RTS Professor) today on The Reformed Response to the Problem of Evil. Fascinating if you think about it, an Almighty omnipotent omnipresent and omni knowing God would tolerate or allow the even mere existence of evil in this world? By the title of omnipotent, surely it is within his power to have stopped that. But he could possibly be framed as micromanaging God or all controlling God, and that pops in the most lethal question of “Free Will”. I believe this “Free Will” issue is the single most important and palatable answer to the whole question of evil.
Let’s take the case of the original sin by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3 . It is absolutely mind blowing that it takes literally less than an hour for Satan to trip up Eve and Adam to the collapse of the entire mankind, in handing over the dominion of this entire earth, world, cosmos from Adam to Satan, and it activated the salvation redemption plan of God into action, sending the most powerful precious very Son of God himself God, to a wooden cross for torture, bleeding, blasphemed, slapped, mocked, ultimately separated from God the Father, to act as the lamb of God sacrificed to take the judgment of God upon mankind. Jesus became the Savior of the world, by a sacrificial substitutional sacrifice as the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.
All these to describe the deep damage that’s been inflicted upon mankind and even God himself, by a single act of temptation by Satan in the form of a serpent. No one can believe that Eve is not premeditating upon taking the forbidden fruit, her desire to be like God, meaning taking over ultimate control of herself over her life, effectively sending a message to God, “I want to be in charge of my life, not you”. She essentially rejected God, and put her onto the control seat. And her husband of hers who’s supposed to be in charge, meekly and tamely consented to such the most important and biggest decision in life, without struggle, argument whatsoever, much to my shock and dismay, and to the disgrace of the entire man race. But the point here in this essay is God “allowed” it, with full foreknowledge, with full “power” able to intervene and even killed the serpent if needed. But the entire discourse of the interaction between Satan and Eve, God was visibly absent. Did he see all these happenings, of course he did. He knows everything, but remained quiet. Why? The only reason I can think of is that he gives enough free will choice to mankind to choose him or the power of self-autonomy. In a sense he watches from behind to find out what’s really in a man’s or woman’s heart that he created in his own image. The troubling part for me, which I have no answer to, is that God knew before hand, but that’s not too bad, but the doctrine of predestination truly throw me off in this.
Did God predestine that? That will not make sense. I can see that he foreknew that or foresaw that, and he let it float, so therefore in a complicit way, he predestined it. But he did not predestine it, to become evil, he predestined it to let it play it out, in order to bring out his ultimate beauty and glory in his selfless love to save entire mankind by dying on the cross to save them. (Anderson’s point on bringing out the better good) We humans would not been able to perceive God’s love today as the way we see of the cross, without the cross. But there would be no cross needed without the falling into sin by Adam and Eve! So in a roundabout way, this helps me to understand better. I can see that God, in an indirect way, predestined the fall of Adam and Eve to bring about his ultimate glory, by letting it float. The other doctrinal issue is that the Omnipotent holy God created Adam in his image. So does that mean that the image of God is flawed? If it is so, that won’t be Adam’s fault, should it be God’s fault? How dare would I say that, but God’s image is put to the test, to see what’s really in God’s created man. I keep coming back to this, it seems. But some may argue doesn’t God already know what’s in their hearts? Sure he does, but he will let it play it out from knowledge into experiential, and that’s bringing knowledge into reality. That’s big, and important.
In my mind the predestination of Christ to be crucified on the cross is a hugely heroic selfless sacrificial act by God in response to the fall of Adam, and as such definitely in line with who He is. But the predestination of Adam’s sin, will not be in line with God’s character of holiness, compassion, righteousness.
Therefore I called it a complicit predestination of Adam’s fall, while the predestination of Christ’s crucifixion was totally glorious and reflecting who God is.
With that, I will say God allows evils to let it play it out to the fullest and ultimately express his glory and love to us. Amen.