Tuesday, August 10, 2010

There is No God: Part III

In Part II I discussed why it is a logical absurdity for God to create free will beings which have no volitional choice. Wherever volitional will exists, the potential for evil exists. So given that, you might ask, “Then why doesn’t God just somehow negate the consequences of those choices? Couldn’t He allow people to make evil choices, but then dismiss or counteract the results?” Such a question would bring us to assumption 1c in the theorem presented in Part I, an all loving God (omnibenevolence).

The human race is in rebellion against God. Evil flows from both individual and collective human choices. There are real consequences to evil within this fallen world. A truly loving God would not shield us from every consequence. Consider this, when you were a child your parents probably told you a hundred times not to touch the stove. At some point in time, most of us disobeyed and touched it.  We got burnt and we learned the lesson quickly. Without pain we would not draw back from things that our injurious to us. Without consequences we would learn nothing and have no motivation to change. The evil we experience in this world has much the same effect. By experiencing the consequences of a world in rebellion we long for something better and are driven to God. Experiencing temporal pain and suffering in this life is not the greatest tragedy. Experiencing eternal separation from God is. The ability to experience pain is a blessing of sorts that redirects us to that which is eternal, causes us to learn, and often moderates sinful behavior. God would no more protect us from the consequence of every wrong choice than a truly loving and wise parent would protect their child from every consequence they might face in life.

In discussing omnibenevolence, it is also very important to understand what the Bible really teaches about this attribute of God. Omnibenevolence does not mean that God is loving to the exclusion of all His other attributes. God is perfectly loving, perfectly merciful, and full of grace. He is also perfectly righteous, perfectly holy, perfectly just, and experiences holy wrath against sin. Because God is perfectly righteous and just, He cannot simply wink at sin and say, “No big deal. Don’t worry about it. I’ll just sweep it under the carpet”. That would be like a judge saying, “Don’t worry about that rape/murder you committed. No big deal. We’ll just forget about it”. That’s not justice and it’s not right.

So how does a simple essential being (i.e. one who is what He is and can be nothing else) who is both perfectly loving and perfectly just deal with sin? Obviously, He cannot simply brush the consequences aside. He does allow us to experience many of the temporal consequences in this life for the reasons I mentioned above. But the really Good News is that He has provided a way that we need not bare the eternal consequences. Jesus came and lived a perfect life in every respect. His perfect holiness and righteousness is credited to the account of every single person who believes in Him. His perfection replaces our imperfection. It’s a foreign righteousness that’s not of us. It’s simply deposited in our account and credited to us so that we stand before God legally declared “not guilty – holy – righteous”. But it doesn’t end there.

As a perfectly holy God, God cannot help but experience wrath against sin. As a perfectly just God, God cannot help but require justice against sin. God cannot act as if sin does not matter. But God, in His infinite Grace, has chosen to take all his wrath and justice back upon Himself and bear it all Himself in the person of the Son. Jesus, as God in the flesh, experienced the full wrath of God for every sin ever committed by every human throughout time. God bore it all upon Himself. As the eternal infinite God, He paid an infinite price and bore the justice and wrath for our sins for all eternity. He paid in full eternally. There is nothing left to pay, unless we choose to reject His work on our behalf and bear our sins on our own eternally – and He does allow us that choice. Jesus also rose again and ascended to Heaven guaranteeing that all those who are in Him have eternal life right now and forever. Now that’s good news! It’s love in perfect harmony with justice while allowing humans real volitional choice.

In Part IV I would like to talk a bit about why the existence of evil supports the belief that there is a real creator God.     

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