So begins all questioning of the origins of evil in relationship to God. Evil exists in human existance. Why does God permit it? Why won't God stop it? Can God even stop it? Does God want to stop it? These questions have plagued humanity for millennia. The reason is that for many, the origins of evil are steeped in mystery, during a time before time...the stuff myths are made of. One solution to this problem explains good and evil as being universally equal powers, humanity needing both for our survival and existance, and then promoting that concept on to the larger universal structure. This like the dualism of light and dark, male and female, were used to demonstrate this to be "true". This concept is demonstrated in the Yin and Yang symbol.
Another way of addressing this issue is to place all the responsibility for evil on God. The idea is the God is omnipotently sovereign, meaning that all that is is by his power. Thus, it is impossible for anything to happen outside of his control. Since God is all-knowing, nothing can happen that he has not seen. If his omniscience has seen it and knows it, and since all things are made by him, are things are the way he wants them, as he has seen them, as he designed them to be. A classic idea of this is 5-point Calvinism (T.U.L.I.P.):
1) Total Depravity of Humanity, meaning we are beyond the ability to choose God.
2) Unconditional Election, meaning that salvation is a decision made for you, without your input.
3) Limited Atonement, meaning that the atonement of Jesus is limited to those God has elected, and only those.
4) Irresistible Grace, meaning that the grace of God in Jesus Christ cannot be rejected by those he has omnipotently chosen to save.
5) Perseverance of the Saints, meaning the election and salvation of the saved cannot be lost by anything, they cannot unchoose salvation.
T.U.L.I.P...it sounds good, as it allows for God to be in absolutely personal, hands-on control of all things and all people, thus evil is equally God's fault as good. Unconditional election says that there are no conditions for salvation. However, it is not the uncondionality on the part of humanity, but it is unconditionality on the part God. It is saying that God is arbitrary in his selection of those for election, that he has no criterion, except what he decides. Thus, if some have been chosen to be saved, others have not been chosen to be saved. They have, as a result of not being chosen for salvation, have been chosen for damnation. This is called double predestination: some are predestined to be saved, other to be lost. Limited Atonement means that the grace of salvation through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus is limited to those whom God has chosen to save. Irresistible Grace means that God cannot be resisted or rebelled against. When God calls, one is compelled into His love. Perseverance of the saints has nothing whatsoever to do with the saints perseverance, but with God's perseverance in saving. He will not allow them to be lost, meaning they cannot but be saved...they have no choice. God wills it. This entire theology is dependent upon the doctrine of Total Depravity. This doctrine means that after sin, humanity lost the capacity to choose right from wrong, and has never had a choice since.
However the notion of the sovereignty of God for those who believe this takes one to some challenging places. If God, before the foundation of the world, designed the universe to be what it is, according to his Divine power and will (which Calvinist's believe), then sin is part of the planned will and desire of God, and is a manifestation of God's own power. Thus sin an evil originate with God. That means that obedience to the will of God is dependent upon what role one plays in God's sandbox: did he create you for good or evil. In any case, since God created, then it matters not what you were created for; so long as you fulfill your purpose, you are obedient. Thus, the standards of Good vs. Evil are really moot points, since to God they don't matter. He made one for evil, and when that one is evil, that one is obeying the purpose for which one was created. When one is good one is fulfilling the purpose for which one was created. According to T.U.L.I.P., and where this logic takes you, God gets glory, is made to look glorious, directly through good and evil. Evil is a manifestation of God's will and desire, as equally as good it. Thus if Jesus is coming to die for sin, the only being in the universe who actually sinned would have beThe Godhead itself for creating such a bipolar universe. Thus, payment for sin being death, Jesus would be coming down here to pay for whose sins? No one, since sin in reality would not be a bad thing. This makes God a sadist in liking to inflict pain (humanity), and a masochist in enjoying receiving pain (Christ). God in this scenario is akin to any of the pagan deities of the ancient world who pick favorites for no reason, destroy or create for personal entertainment, at the expense of all beneath them.
This explanation of "why" of evil is a direct attack agains the nature of God: either 1) God is a weak good god, and out there is an evil power equal to him, they are eternally at war, and this war in balance allows humanity to exist, or 2) God is a brute who creates all things for his entertainment, some of which he purposefully created to do evil, others to suffer the evil done, and all this for his glory.
God Is Love
1Jn 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
This is the quintessential revelatory description of God. Notice the two descriptors here: love is of (from) God, and God is love.
In order for God to be love, we use consider what love is, or how love functions. Love needs an subject to originate in, and an object or subject to bestow upon. For God to be love, God must have love, give love, and receive love. For God, by himself as an individual, to be love God then must be relational. For God to be love, God must be relational within God’s self. Thus, God must be a muplicity of oneness; God must be plural. In order for love to be love, there must be giving and receiving. However this is not coercive giving and receiving, but rather freely giving and freely receiving. Thus there is freedom within the Godhead: freedom to give or withhold, freedom to receive or reject. Within this freedom, the love given must be other-centered. It is a love that has the best interests of the recipient, not of the giver. Thus it is a selfless love, in the sense that it is not selfish. It is not a self-oriented love, but a love that accepts that the value of what is being given is the value of the giver, and that what and who is being given is the best thing for the recipient. Additionally, there is selflessness in the reception. The recipient realizes that receiving the gift of love is to receive the giver, and so to recieve or accept is to love in return. All of this is within God, within the Godhead. It is God's relationship within God, with God, to God.
It is from this existence and identity that God decided to create. This God of love, when choosing to create, would not make some automatons who have not the freedom to love. This kind of God would want love to be the pervading principle of universal identity and existence, as an extension of Their own identity and existence. Therefore, every sentient creature created in the universe would be given freedom: to give love or not to give love, to accept love or not to accept love.
Here is the rub: love is a gamble. Love is risky. Love acknowledges that chaos may ensue, that rebellion is possible, and rejection is plausible, that reciprocation is not guaranteed. Even in a perfect envirionment, with perfection surrounding, and access to the divine itself, the creature still must be able to choose to love. If the beloved is incapable of choose love, then whatever the beloved gives is not love...it is obedience to a programming.
Adam and Eve, in such perfection, chose to love themselves over God. Their ability to choose this was based on God wanting to be loved in return by creation, not simply obeyed like a machine. When humanity chose to love itself over God, they chose against all the love, the life, they had been given.
Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Genesis 2:16-17). "Dying you will die (you shall surely die)" is what they chose, and the reverse of creation is what they should have become. However, immediately at the entrance of their rebellious decision comes God walking, looking for them.
Gen 3:8 "And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?"
God refuses to let humanity head down this path alone. He comes searching, and offering a solution: "...it will bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
This solution, this promise and plan to save humanity, is what gives the Spirit of God the permission to move as freely as he did during Old Testament times. At the entrance of sin, humanity was encapsulated within the grace of God to keep us alive as a race, and the Spirit of God was give freedom to move on the credit card that Jesus was coming to pay the wages owed to God's justice.
The evil we experience is experienced within the grace bubble. The evil itself is not the grace. Life is grace, evil is consequence of living in a world where sin and evil are an actually thing to experience. It is grace that allows evil to exist. Should God remove is grace, all life would perish. One preacher said that we should thank God for allowing our breath to remain in our bodies while we are sinning, for "...If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust (Job 34:14-15).
All of humanity, at the inception of sin, was so totally depraved we should have gone the way of un-created. The presence of humanity demonstrates that God has not left us entirely to our own depravity totally. Those nations who have totally depraved themselves are now extinct. Those of us who remain, as depraved as we are, are still able to make a choice. The Spirit of God still works on the hearts of even the most depraved and sordid of people. The love of God is still calling to us, trying to lure us with cords of love, grace, mercy, and blessing into choosing God, and thus choosing life.