Friday, November 18, 2005

One of the tougher Q & A's

Q: If God writes sin into His plan, how can we say that He doesn’t cause someone to sin?

A: Good question!

First of all, you are right to start with the crucifixion. It is much more common to start anywhere else and it doesn't work. If you can solve it at the crucifixion, you can solve it anywhere, since that event is the height of evil.

You can't solve it without specific texts. And then you can't go any farther than they take you.
In general, God's plan works out exactly like He wants.

Job 42:2 I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.

Isaiah 46:10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.

In specific, His plan regarding Christ worked out just as He planned. God's plans cannot be frustrated, so the evil done at the cross didn't frustrate, but rather accomplished God's purpose.

Acts 2:23 This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

Acts 4:27-28 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.

Two things are clear. God decreed or ordained the evil and the people were held accountable for it. At this point you have to remind yourself that God can't stand evil.

Habakkuk 1:13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.

So we know God doesn't do evil by decreeing evil.

He is, by definition as the one who plans it, the ultimate cause of everything that happens. And, thus, is the ultimate cause of evil. Yet without himself doing or being evil or approving of evil. In other words, He decrees things he hates and disapproves of.

The resolution, though I don't pretend to understand it, has to do with levels of causality. The events of Christ's crucifixion (and I think all evil) had at least three causes, though. God was the ultimate (distant) cause and was not guilty of sin. Satan entered Judas and was the intermediate cause and will suffer eternally for his involvement. And, the people were the proximal cause and they are under God's judgment, too.

We see this clearly in Job 1 & 2. God allowed (ordained, decreed, planned) for Satan to afflict Job. The Sabeans stole the camels (sin, evil). Satan caused them to do that (evil). God permitted it (good). And Job, says "The Lord gives and THE LORD takes away." And the text says he didn't sin by attributing those evil acts to God as the ultimate cause.

That's the best I can do. I think you have to say what the texts say. People are so quick to "protect" God that they are hesitant to make evil part of the decree. I think you have to say what the text says whether you understand how it could work that way or not.

I hope this helps. I'd be happy to talk about it more.

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