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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

       Friday, September 24 2004 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Sovereignty and the problem of evil

After Wednesday's first Jonal entry about the sovereignty of God I got a reply from a list member along these lines:

No way can I imagine God having anything to do with the September 11 terrorist attacks. I think He was as surprised by it as anyone. Don't we believe that Satan is the creator of every evil thing?

The theological logic of this attitude, which may be more widespread than I'd imagined, is that if there's anything in the universe, in history, and even in the future that He doesn't know, and have total sovereignty (rule) over, He is not God. By definition, God is the creator of everything, including Satan and the people and angelic beings—Satan and his minions—who do evil, and even the free will that they exercise to hatch such plots as the terrorists' attacks. He is not the author of any evil, but by His will he has given His created beings wills and free will to choose to love Him or not do so...otherwise, the creation itself would be meaningless.

The simple logical syllogism is that in order for there to be love, there must be choice. There must be the possibility of an opposite condition, hate, or at the least, lack of caring or lovelessness. (Cynics might ask here: then, shouldn't believers in God—in choice—also believe in freedom to choose abortion, pornography, prostitution, and other related evils? The answer to that is that the law is a schoolmaster (Galatians 3:24), a teacher of right and wrong for those who don't have much sense of that in their own makeup. The law is about encouraging people to do the right thing, and the absence of laws, as in the negating of the antiabortion law through Roe v. Wade, encourages many to do evil things and use the excuse that there's no law against it.)

Although Satan is the father of lies, he is not the only evil being, only the most dedicated and most powerful, but far from all-powerful, an attribute that can pertain only to God. Chapter 1 of Job, believed to be the oldest book in the Bible and therefore probably one that even Moses and Abraham knew as guidance on the nature and person of God, His sovereignty, His interaction with Satan, and the problem of evil, shows the conditions by which God allows Satan to attack His other beings. The basic idea of it is classic literature, which I think has best been made current in its adaptation by playwright Neil Simon in God's Favorite. The theme of the play about a contemporary Job, is that it's a terrible thing to be God's favorite, because it's going to result in trials and testings being part of life. Simon's main allegorical "favorite" was probably the Jewish people, who definitely are presented in the whole Bible as God's favorite people, yet they have had no end of persecution, trouble, and terroristic attacks. But the New Testament doesn't give Christians a free pass, either, cautioning that those who live godly lives will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).

Although love has its opposite, and godliness has its opposition, the universe is not dualistic. Satan is not God's equal other. Neither is evil equal to good or hatred of love, wrong of right.

Back to the basic logic, if God were not sovereign, what would be the meaning of praying? Why ask Him to protect us in our travels and workaday activities if He can't do it? And of course most religion teachers would tell you that if you say the prayer without believing that He can protect you (not that He will always protect you, but that He can), the prayer is pointless. To believe that God is not all-powerful is to disbelieve in God in the monotheistic sense. Such gods are the stuff of Greek mythology, perhaps, but not of biblical religion.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 


Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other, "Does this taste funny to you?"

Sent by Mary Ann Losiewicz  

Thought for today

Don't put a question mark where God puts a period.

Sent by Trudy Myers  

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