Is God the Author of Evil
Is God The Author of Evil is a response to the origin of evil for many seem to blame God for the mess that the world is in at the moment.
Is God the Author of Evil
To answer this question is God the author of evil, we need to establish some suppositions about God's character.
First, we need to understand God's omnipotence. If we say God is all powerful, does this mean God has no limitations? Certainly not, God has limited Himself in two distinct areas, namely, natural limitations and self-imposed limitations. Natural limitations simply imply that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), He cannot be tempted to sin (James 1:13) and He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). Self-imposed limitations simply refer to those things which He did not include in His divine plan, such as, He did not choose to spare His Son and He did not choose to save all people. Although God is all powerful, we must be aware of His limitations when we ask ourselves the about question.
The second characteristic of God that we need to comprehend is His Sovereignty. Is God in complete control? The Scriptures teach that God is in complete control (Psalm 135:6); nevertheless, this does not mean that God does not choose to allow certain situations to occur according to natural laws which He has ordained. The natural assumption from this supposition is that sin was included in God's eternal plan. If it were not, then God would not be in complete control. Although God is in complete control, it does not mean that He is involved in evil (Proverbs. 16:14).
Another aspect of Sovereignty that needs emphasising is that even though God is in control, He has not denied man the responsibility of his actions. This is certainly taught in the Scriptures (eg. Luke 22:22). We can conclude from God's character that sin was in His eternal plan (otherwise He would not be Sovereign), and He was not the author of sin (otherwise He could not be Holy).
We find in Scripture that the origin of sin is associated with Satan. Ezekiel 28:15 explicitly states the origin of sin. When we examine this verse, two prominent factors need to be taken into consideration. First, Satan was created blameless and second, the sin that corrupted Satan was self-generated. Satan's wisdom was spoiled by his splendour. In other words, Satan allowed his beauty to generate pride, thus ultimately leading to his fall. According to this passage in Ezekiel, sin originated by the free will of Satan. Satan deliberately and responsibly chose to corrupt the holy character of godliness. From this we can conclude that sin was permissible, but God was not the author. God allowed Satan to sin, but God did not initiate the act. Sin is a part of God's eternal decrees, but He is not the author.
Again, we see the duplication of the fall of Satan in the fall of man, namely, it was Adam's choice to sin. God had created man and pronounced him to be "very good," thus suggesting man was created without a sinful nature (Genesis 1:31). It is quite clear that Adam was given the choice in the Garden of Eden to obey or disobey God. This choice was presented to Adam and Eve in the prohibition not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When Adam and Eve sinned against God a radical change took place in the universe.
The consequences of their sin brought death upon the earth (Genesis 2:17; 3:2-3, 19). God also pronounced curses upon the earth and on man, for example, pain in childbearing (v. 17), male domination over the wife (v. 16), toilsome labour (v. 17), thorns and thistles (v. 18). There is more. Paul says in Romans 8 that all creation now is subject to the bondage of decay and it waits for the redemption from this bondage. The birth of natural and moral evil is evident from these passages. The progressional fall of Satan and man is consummated by the interjection of evil (both natural and moral) into the world. Natural evil simply refers to natural phenomena, for example, earthquakes, hurricanes, and cyclones, etc. Moral evil refers to pain, unhappiness, murder, etc.
We can conclude from these findings that God did not create evil. The evil that is in the world came as a result of sin. Both Satan and man chose to sin, thus resulting in evil being manifested in the world. God's omnipotence does not permit Him to participate in sin. Furthermore, His Sovereignty allows sin to be included in His eternal plan. However, this does not make God the author of evil for man chose to sin against God, resulting in evil being manifested in the world.
These thoughts were penned by Rev. David Blackburn BA GDM
Boettner L., The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (The Reformed Publishing Company: New Jersey, 1981) pp. 228-253
Elwell W.A. ed., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1984) pp. 1083-1086, s.v., Theodicy.
Erickson M.J., Christian Theology (Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1983) pp. 411-432, rdg., Evil and God's World: A Special Problem.
Ryrie C.C., Basic Theology (Victor Books: USA, 1982) pp. 141-145, rdg., The Creation and Sin of Satan; pp. 35-44., rdg., The Perfections of God; pp. 201-206, rdg., The Fall of Man.
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Is God The Author of Evil