Before we can look at specific Bible passages regarding the violence of God in Scripture, it is important to develop a framework which helps us understand what is going on within and behind these violent texts. I have six points of this framework, which I call “Choas Theory.”
The first point of this Chaos Theory is this:
God’s Policy of Non-Intervention
The first principle to recognize about the violent events that happen in this world, whether they are naturally occurring events such as earthquakes and tsunamis or man-caused events like war and terrorism, is that none of these are caused by God. God does not orchestrate suffering, cause death, send storms, destroy lives, or bring about death. He allows these things, He even uses these things toward His good ends, but He does not cause them.
In the Beginning…
In the beginning, God set up a universe with genuinely free creatures, which can truly impact their surroundings—for good or for evil. The reason God did this is because if God wanted real relationship with His creatures, ones He could love and who could love Him in return, there was no other way to do it. Relational love, if it is to be real love, must be free love. Love that is forced is not love; but something closer to psychological rape. Real love cannot force itself on others; nor can it force others to love in return.
Since God wanted true and genuine love with us, He gave us true and genuine freedom. God knew the risks of such a gift. In fact, based on His divine foreknowledge and His experience with the rebellion of the angels, God knew that His gift of freedom to humanity would likely result in our rebellion as well. And it did. But when Adam and Eve sinned, God did not step in to stop them. To do so would have been to deny their genuine freedom. Freedom isn’t freedom if God stepped in to stop things when freedom is used in wrong ways.
Like it or not, just as this was true of God letting Adam and Eve use their freedom as they did, it is also true of God letting each and every person on planet earth use their freedom as they will. Just as God did not stop Adam and Eve, He does not stop us from saying mean things to our spouses, cheating on our taxes, overeating, or letting a curse word slip every now and then. Nor does He stop murderers, thieves, rapists, and child molesters. We wish He would, but once God intervenes in the freedom He has given, it is no longer freedom. For God, freedom is worth the cost.
God Wants Freedom to Remain Free
This is what I call God’s policy of non-intervention. Because God has given freedom, He chooses to not intervene when we use this freedom in sinful and evil ways. In fact, He cannot interfere and allow freedom to remain free.
Maybe this is too strongly stated. It is not that God doesn’t intervene; He does intervene, probably more than we know. He just doesn’t intervene at the times we wish He would or in the ways we think He should. “If God’s role in the world was that of a perpetual Mr. Fixit, it has not, to say the least, been particularly self-evident” (Capon, Romance of the Word, 189). And when God does finally show up to “fix things,” it is not like Zeus—with thunder in His footsteps and lightning in His fists (as one Christian worship song so gleefully claims)—but with nails through His feet and hands and a spear through His side. “When the invisible hand that holds the stars finally does its triumphant restoring thing, it does nothing at all but hang there and bleed” (Capon, Romance of the Word, 221).
God is Involved, But Not In Ways We Expect
All of this reveals that when it comes to managing the world, either God does not seem to be doing much at all, or (more likely) God’s way of guiding and managing the universe does not look at all the way we expect or want. He gives freedom to His creatures, and then lets them live within the limits of their freedom, and only rarely intervenes or interferes. When He does interfere, it is only in ways we usually cannot see, or in response to our requests.
This first principle of the chaos theory helps us see that when evil things happen, it is not because God is causing them, nor is it because God was powerless to stop them. Quite to the contrary, God used His immense power to give genuine and real freedom to humans, and often, the evil things that happen are a result of our misuse and abuse of that freedom. God does not stop these actions because God cannot do so and still allow freedom to be free.
I have a little bit more to say about this first point of the Choas Theory, but for now, what are your thoughts and/or objections? Leave a comment below!How can a God who says "Love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44) be the same God who instructs His people in the Old Testament to kill their enemies?
These are the sorts of questions we discuss and (try to) answer in my online discipleship group. Members of the group can also take ALL of my online courses (Valued at over $1000) at no charge. Learn more here: Join the RedeemingGod.com Discipleship Group I can't wait to hear what you have to say, and how we can help you better understand God and learn to live like Him in this world!
If Jesus came to destroy the works of the law. Why can’t he as God intervene for the believers of God. In other words the curse of the law is broken when he died and was resurrected.
So why can’t God intervene in the lives of Christian at a rate that would lead one to believe not coincidental.
And for what reason must he stay invisible. He manifested himself with moses, now in the new testament with him destroying the works of the law, why must he remain invisible with all the suffering in the world.
Great questions…no answers.
He did intervene depend on situation, jesus allow me to show my muslim girlfriend miracle that he’s real by both witness, i threw ring from 5th floor to 1st floor, and it appear right beside my foots. After that my girlfriend acknowledge jesus and convert to Christian.
Awesome testimony samson
No its not! Her faith is in a magic trick?! Her faith based on this story is superficial. Jesus didn’t manifest into our physical world, catch that ring, and place it by his feet. This guy did what I’ve done to my 4 year old over and over. My 4 year old is convinced every time. This woman will alsi be les astray by the magic percormed by the antichrist. If Jesus was going to literally cross the quantum spiritual plane again and manifest physical changes overruling the natural law of gravity, why not just physically manifest himself to this woman. When in his earthly ministry did Jesus trick anyone like this?
Gil God is not invisible he works through believers by his holy spirit we are his instruments on the earth we cant blame him for the mess we get ourselves into Suffering exists because of sin and mans evil nature there is no reason that anyone should be hungry as there is enough food its just that it is not evenly distributed.Jesus came to release us from the influence of sin but sin still exists so there is a battle going on while Jesus is saving lives and setting people free satan is also active trying to destroy lives and keep people in bondage to sin so he can control them.brentnz
So you say his works are seen but he is not.
“the mess we got ourselves into” When a tsunami wipes out a village who did that? .doesen’t God control the universe?
He didn’t help the villagers because he can’t, or he won’t, Either answer not good.
Doesent the bible make all kinds of positive assertions about the poor, so why cant he help them avert a catastrophe?
Wouldn’t God have the wisdom to evenly distribute food?
So if satan did not excist no men would do evil?
We must honestly admit it is through are own free will that we do good or bad, we are not controlled by supernatural forces.
If jesus was the the messiah, son of God why don’t the jewish people believe he is. Before there was a Christian bible there was a torah (I don’t believe they have the correct position either) so who would know more about the bible than the people who were originally given the bible.
So Christians have an untenable position that they have the correct understanding of the messiah.
Let me give you a simple example. Lets say your wrote a 500 page screenplay and I read it and then claimed your interpretation of the work is incorrect and that I have the correct interpretation of your work.
Wouldn’t I sound rather silly making a statement like this.
But I don’t have to give any more examples because the Christian bible is rife with contradictions. The more you read it the more contradictions you will notice.
Gil you have asked some very good questions why does bad things happen in the world i personally dont know God didnt explain to Job either why he had to suffer.What i do know is that God desires that none of us should perish but that all would have eternal life in him through Jesus Christ.This world will one day pass away and the real world will be reborn so our focus as christians is on whats to come and being a witness in the here and now.Both good and bad happens to either the righteous or the sinner so what are we to make of that.What we do know is that God will set all things right at the appointed time the wicked will be judged and the righteous will be rewarded for there faith isnt that enough reason for us to believe.Free will is only a reality if we can choose between good and bad but our hearts are deceitfully wicked we naturally are inclined toward sin that is another reason whyt we need to be saved from ourselves so what are we to do.For me Christ died and rose again that is a fact witnessed by over 500 people that were alive at the time and was recorded by historians how many other religious leaders do you know that did that or did the miracles that Jesus did.As far as the bible is concerned much of the archelogical evidence has proven to be correct and many of prophetic words spoken many hundreds of years ago have come to pass including both the birth and the death of Jesus.Interested in what philosophy you are believing in if other than a faith in Jesus Christ so how does that philosophy give you the assurance that you are saved.Its really simple with christianity we just have to believe in Jesus Christ.brentnz
“Both good and bad happens to either the righteous or the sinner so what are we to make of that.”
You would think That Christians would Demonstrably receive more blessings.
The Christian apologist must labor long and hard to pound square pegs into round holes.
I actually found that the more I read God’s Word, the fewer contradictions I noticed. But then again, I was asking God to show me what I needed to see. If you want to know the truth, ask him with a sincere and open heart to show you. If you want to find reasons not to believe, you will always be able to find plenty, until it’s too late. If you refuse to believe in him until you understand everything he does and the reason for everything that happens, then you will remain blissfully, or maybe painfully, ignorant, until it’s too late. If you want to blame him for all the evils that man in his shortsightedness and sinfulness has caused by the exercise of his free will, then you can freely accuse him, until it’s too late. If you want to find people who should have believed in him but didn’t, you will find plenty, until it’s too late. Because one day… every knee will bow to him. But for many, it will be too late.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the Torah and more comprehensively, the Tanakh. He is the correct interpretation of “the work” because he IS the Word, who became flesh and lived among us.
John 3 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Gil, you won’t be able to say no one ever told you. Believe, while there is still time…
16 “For God so loved the world,9 that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
” If you refuse to believe in him until you understand everything he does and the reason for everything that happens, then you will remain blissfully, or maybe painfully, ignorant, until it’s too late.”
I try to understand as much as I can it’s called using logic.
When you examine a used car to buy, do you inspect the car or just buy the car based on faith?
When you look at the oil and see its all black and smokes when you start it. Then you open the crankcase cover and see it’s milky. Do you say this looks all bad but I’ll go ahead and buy it on faith? Or do you use logic?
Your statement kind of reminds me of Nancy Pelosi and her twisted logic that said pass the bill for gazillions of dollars and then we will read it, and you see how nice that ended.
“Jesus is the fulfillment of the Torah and more comprehensively, the Tanakh. He is the correct interpretation of “the work” because he IS the Word, who became flesh and lived among us.”
The Torah and Christian bible simply don’t disagree. They collide in terms of their differences. If it were the case that these books agreed with one another Christians and Jewish people would be standing together to worship.
The Bible says that God is a spirit. So he is invisible. No one has seen God. Only through the working of the holy spirit.
Actually, Jesus did not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets, but rather to fulfill them (Mt. 5). Since your reply on December 21, 2016 at 5:38 am does not have a response button, I’ll answer it here, since it is relevant.
Logic can only take you so far in understanding Someone who is beyond human comprehension. You can use your logic to understand simple things like cars and Pelosi, but to even begin to understand an inscrutable God, you will have to use faith. If it didn’t take faith to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, everybody would enter, but as it is, few people find the narrow gate. You could look at faith as the price of admission. “For without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Heb. 11:6 As you exercise your faith and believe in Jesus and begin to put that faith into practice through obedience to what you understand of his Word, then things start to make a lot more sense, like how the Bible evolves naturally out of the Torah. It is an amazing adventure; I can only suggest that you embark on it to see for yourself.
‘So logic is not such a good thing?
….the Bible evolves naturally out of the Torah.’
Where do you see Jesus coming from the Torah?
God say’s he is not a man, and that he can never change.
Do you have a greater understanding of what God said, than God Himself?
Also God can’t die. He didn’t say I’m going to die sometime in the future and then be resurrected. He Can Never Die.
Or is God playing games with us.
Do you have faith in what God said about not being a man and not dying?
Or do you doubt the texts?
Gil there is no confusion in the book of john 1 -14 In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word became flesh and dwelt among us.Here is God incarnated in the flesh.Did God die as you say God cant die but Jesus Christ died a man just like us yet he also was God in the flesh.Its hard for us to comprehend that.But to be the perfect sacrifice he had to the same as us in the flesh though without sin.As God his sacrifice benefited all mankind there was forgiveness for all through Jesus.I dont have any problem with that concept.The same is true that God is three distinct persons in one but separate it is hard to comprehend but with God nothing is impossible.brentnz
“Did God die as you say God cant die but Jesus Christ died a man just like us yet he also was God in the flesh.Its hard for us to comprehend that”
Is Jesus God?
Once again did God say he can’t change.
Did he say he is not a man.
You believe in the incarnation.
But it doesen’t appear that God does.
So who is right you or God? Tell me.
It is hard to understand, because your are playing word games. Your embellishing on what God said. Your adding on to the plain reading of what God said. Your contradicting yourself all over the place. making no sense and then after all this confusion you begin to skip on to the concept of a trinity.
Logic is a wonderful thing, it is just not adequate to the task you ask of it. A fork is a good thing but not of much use in digging a tunnel through a mountain.
You ask a question about Jesus which goes beyond our original discussion of him. It makes me wonder if you are not a genuine seeker and getting closer to the Kingdom. You raise my hopes that you are asking sincere questions and not just trying to justify your unbelief with contrived shotgun arguments. Jesus can be found throughout the Torah. A book could be written about that. Compare the first book of the Torah with John’s Gospel about Jesus.
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. … 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
I don’t know how deep to get into all this with you because apparently you have been choosing to limit yourself to what you can understand only through logic. You can make a good start like that but your understanding will always be limited until to launch out into the realm of faith. God is not a man, he doesn’t change, and he isn’t playing games. I do not doubt the texts at all. God is not the same as his Son. It was Jesus, the Word made flesh who died, not the Father who sent him.
The topic of the article is God’s policy of non-intervention. Sometimes he intervenes in spectacular ways as he did in sending Jesus to earth, which we celebrate in this season, so that all who choose to put their faith in him might be saved. He doesn’t intervene to save everyone or force everyone to have faith in him. But I can tell you this, Gil. If you put your faith in Jesus, and make the firm commitment to follow him at all costs, he will intervene in your life and you will become a child of God. It’s probably hard for you to understand what an amazing privilege that is. Here is what John said in a later epistle.
1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Agree fork not good for digging tunnel.
Sorry if I got off track.
If rabbis felt the New Testament was true , wouldn’t they be worshiping jesus aongside the Christians your telling them yhe Christians have a better understanding of their own texts.
It’s like saying the Mennonites have a better understanding of the seventh day Adventist religion.
what you wont believe is the Jewish people know their own bible.
Now the Christian believer might like to dress up like Pharises sorry if I misspelled but they will believe their old testament up to a point.
You can copy and paste all day and the jewish believer will not agree with your interpretation, and no i’m not Jewish
I don’t believe I can add anything more.
It kind of reminds me of the criticism of the catholics they see the commandment not to have idols but they have 10 thousand reasons why they can.
Same hing with the Christians they see the most important text to the jewish believer hear he Israel the the lord our god is “one” and they have 10 thousand reasons why this one includes jesus
Without suffering in the world, what is this life worth? How would we learn courage, patience, charity, and so many more virtues? If all were pleasant what would be our purpose here? Our suffering begins as soon as we take our first breath and open our eyes. This physical body must be maintained. We must have food and shelter and for that we must work, we cannot just sit in peace and enjoy all that is around us. Jesus was our savior and our example of perfection in the flesh, and he led a hard life and suffered. But he loved everyone, even the ones that tormented and ridiculed him. This life is not meant for us to seek only pleasure. It is meant for us to love one another as we love god. And that is not just a mental activity. It is perhaps the most difficult thing there is to do. Jesus showed us how and knows that we cannot live up to his example, but we have the example of how a perfect life is led. It’s very rarely pleasant and may be short and painful.
If adam and eve were in paradise. Why was there a satan to tempt them? This means it wasn’t partadise, as it is called. Didn’t God know this? If God knew they would be tempted and fall out of grace. Why did he allow them to be tempted, which because we are fallen millions of people die from sickness and disease. Is God’s freedom for us worth it for all those that are suffering?
“If adam and eve were in paradise. Why was there a satan to tempt them? This means it wasn’t partadise [sic], as it is called. Didn’t God know this?”
Another great question…again, no answer.
Mikelle Jaquish says
This is what I know about suffering. When we go to heaven we will have everything taken care of. We will never be sick hungry hurt or anything but I think we will still have free will. So here on earth we are to learn what it is like to be kinda out of his light. I mean we still have it partially but not like in heaven because look we have to know what it is like to be sick or hungry or whatever so that when we have total grace from God in heaven we never ever turn from Him or do anything that will take us away from him because doing it if we don’t learn it now and we do it in heaven we wold be banished forever like the fallen angels. We have to hurt here so that when we go to heaven and we feel his overwhelming love we will never do anything to leave his grace if we did not suffer. Ok Adam and Eve had perfect health, perfect bodies and they sinned because they did not know better and look what happened. I guess he has to allow us to love and choose him freely and he allowed that for Adam and Eve and they did not know what it was to be out of his light and look where that got us but now we will all know and never be tempted to do a thing he tells us no on again. In heaven it is so hard to answer I tried I know I ramble but it is complicated
Gil It comes down to freedom to choose either Gods way or our own way if like adam and eve we choose our own way we suffer the consequences just like them.Its not freewill unless we have the option to choose. That is why satan was in the garden remember when God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of good and evil that was the only place i believe that satan was allowed to be as God was protecting them yet they deliberately went there and ate of it of there own free will.You cant blame God for that if he told them not to eat of it they could eat from any other tree including the tree of life if they had wanted to.I guess we are just like them and chose to go our own way by that you can see that it is only by the holy spirit that any of us are saved as we love to sin its our nature.brentnz
Gil you dont see the bigger picture yes Adam and Eve sinned that was there mistake God redeemed them through his son so not only them but all would be saved if we believe in Jesus Christ that was always Gods plan.He desires that none should perish remember that paradise still exists and for those that trust in Jesus Christ we will experience what that paradise is this time satan wont be allowed in he will have own paradise to “enjoy”.brentnz
You ask some good questions and since your 12/29 post above does not have a response box, I’ll answer it here along with the questions you asked earlier. Apparently God’s freedom for us is worth the suffering that ensues as a result. Satan exercised his free will and rebelled against God. As God’s enemy, he worked to seduce Adam and Eve in paradise. They could have remained in Paradise untainted if they had exercised their free will to obey God. They could have told him, “Get lost, we’re listening to God, not you.” Unfortunately, they listened to Satan and we are all dealing with the consequences. By the way, it is still and will always be a better idea to listen to God rather than Satan.
As to the texts, Jesus was a Jew and he had a better understanding of the scriptures than the religious leaders of his time. One of the reasons the crowds flocked to Jesus is because he explained their holy books so well which made the Jewish leaders, like the Pharisees, jealous. When they argued with him, he always won. So, I follow Jesus’ superior interpretation of the Bible and yes, they will probably still disagree. Jesus said that they have eyes but don’t see. Someday their eyes will be opened to see the truth, but that’s another story. Your eyes could be opened now if you really want them to be. Or you can choose to be like all the religious groups you mention who just don’t understand the Word of God.
“…based on…His experience with the rebellion of the angels, God knew…”
So, God learned something from the rebellion of the angels? I learn from experience, but God? How can an omniscient being learn something? How can an omniscient being regret something, like creating life in the first place?
“…if God wanted real relationship with His creatures…”
“Since God wanted true and genuine love with us…”
“God Wants Freedom to Remain Free”
How can an omnipotent God *want* anything? or *need* anything? Actually, want is worse than need. Want implies something that is lacking. I can *need* air to breathe, and have air to breathe. If I’m in *want* of air to breathe, I die. On top of this, God does not in fact give free will in this respect. It’s, “Love Me or suffer eternal damnation.” I hardly call that free will. We are *commanded* to love Him. Jesus called loving God with all of one’s heart, soul, mind and strength the greatest *commandment*. I don’t know about you, but my parents didn’t command me to love them, nor did they threaten to bake me in the oven if I didn’t. I probably loved my parents more than most children, and cared for my aged mother for years. It wasn’t because of commandments or threats. It was love, plain and simple.
“Nor does He stop murderers, thieves, rapists, and child molesters. We wish He would, but once God intervenes in the freedom He has given, it is no longer freedom. For God, freedom is worth the cost.”
Really? He doesn’t intervene? What about Ananias and Sapphira (simple financial sin, for which restitution could have been made, unlike rape and murder)? Pharaoh? the Flood? all of the Holy Wars (not unlike what ISIS is currently waging in essentially the same part of the world) in Joshua and Judges? Seems like God intervened in these events as well as many others.
It seems as though the free will of the sinner/perpetrator is more important than that of the victim. What about the helpless aborted children? Are the collective free wills of the abortionists more important than those of the children? I’ve heard abortion survivors declare that they indeed wanted to live! My High School music director’s teenage daughter was killed by a drunk driver. Her father was taking her out for an ice cream cone when the drunk driver came around a curve on the wrong side of the road. I guess the drunk’s free will to have a good time getting plastered was more important than the free will of a talented, promising, innocent teenage girl. A slight delay or advance in time would have prevented the accident — is that too much to ask? A phone call to delay their departure, an untied shoelace that took a few seconds to tie, a forgotten item that took a few seconds to retrieve, or one of an infinite other possible delays would have prevented this tragedy. Similarly, the lack of an actual delay (advance) would have prevented the accident. Perhaps then, the drunk would have driven off the road into a tree instead of their car, and gotten what he deserved. So much for the “reap what you sow” philosophy. Anybody with open eyes can see that this is not true, except for a few things like smoking leading to lung cancer.
Looking forward to your answers.
Jeremy Myers says
A lot of those incidents you refer to are similar to when Christians today say that God sent floods, tsunamis, and hurricanes on sinners. Did He do it? No. But for some reason, people like to blame God for such things.
Thanks for replying. I don’t see how the sovereignty of God can square with that. I thought He intervened in the affairs of men — at least He did in the Bible. I have trouble reconciling God killing Ananias and Sapphira, who committed a sin for which restitution could be made, but does nothing to punish pedophile clergy, or purveyors of filth (perverse music, entertainment, Hollywood, porn, etc…) that destroy lives and pollute the culture. There’s no restitution for rape, murder, etc… To me, true justice would be to drop the pedophile, etc… *before* they do any harm. I believe the expression, “Justice delayed is justice denied,” is one of the greatest truths.
As a musician I find it amazing (in a bad sense) how filthy popular music is, produced by musicians with mediocre talent at best, when tremendously talented musicians who create excellent music with decent content have minimal success. There was a time when popular music was not like it is today. It communicated a wholesome message, suitable for anybody. I spent two decades sold-out to serving God in the Christian music arena. I’ve see guys teaching their kids how to play worship music alongside AC/DC — you get the picture. “Today we’re going to learn how to play ‘Everlasting God,’ ‘Awesome God, ‘Highway to Hell,’ and ‘You Shook Me.'” It’s impossible to raise a child today without him/her being bombarded every second with filth on the radio, cell phone, internet, television, etc… Where is God in all of this? The standard explanation given for why God took Ananias and Sapphira out is that the church was so pure back then, and was just starting out, so God wanted to send a terrifying message to them. What about us today? Don’t we count? Is the church so corrupt now that it doesn’t matter? I would have thought that God would have continued to keep His church pure — that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. I’m not exempting myself from this either. He should take me out as well if I’m contributing to the problem. I find it troubling that it took a convicted murderer to take out pedophile priest John Geoghan in prison, which should have happened before he touched his first victim. Punishing Geoghan in Hell, or Hitler for that matter, does not undo what they did. Think about all of the people that are not here due to the potential future generations of Holocaust victims, abortion victims, etc… What about the people that lost their potential soulmate in the Holocaust? How can eternal damnation of the perpetrators make any of this right? There are people who never had the chance to even exist because of these crimes. What about them?
Sam Riviera says
Another explanation might be that God did not “kill” Ananias and Sapphira, but that they died and the those around them decided that God killed them. We read and hear of similar events today. Someone dies, a storm kills people, a bridge collapses and someone “evil” dies, and some people decide God made it happen. Maybe God did. Maybe God didn’t. Yes, such an idea messes with some people’s idea of how we ought to understand some of the stories in the Bible.
Great point. I’d also thought about other possibilities, or that they didn’t lie at all. Perhaps the buyer of the land lied to Peter about the price of the land, or perhaps there was an innocent error in communication. Peter, after all, denied Christ three times and was given another chance. Peter’s reaction seems rather harsh in light of his past failures and second chances.
Jeremy Myers says
There are different ways of understanding God’s “sovereignty” and there are different ways of defining “church.” In the ways I define both, I see God as just as involved in life today as He has ever been, and I see the church rising up to become the Body of Christ like never before.
I won’t go into detail in this comment about how to view “sovereignty” or “church” differently, for these are two topics that are covered extensively on this blog elsewhere.
I think the bottom line is that we cannot count on God to intervene. I believe in a Creator, but I’m not sure the Creator is what we think it is.
Mikelle Jaquish says
I did not read all u said but u said love me or be damned by God. Look if we don’t love him and choose his light we will have to do everything in our own power which is so limited. He spoke our world into existence. Don’t u think we need his help if u try to do all in your power u will not get far and so like in heaven u get to live forever if u love him and his way is pain free, suffer free. What would u say he should do? Give u everything? Perfect body, perfect health and u offer him nothing, not even your love? Since when in life do u do anything for free and that is big to ask him? It is like saying go god I expect u to give me everything – love, peace, health, food, clothes while I don’t love u, don’t respect others, and go and do sins and wrong to others because I don’t want to do right. Oh u are so so sadly mistaken but I do know understand this all is so so hard.
Phrygian to me i sense that you are struggling with issues in your mind that you cant reconcile and these issues are affecting what you believe in your heart and therefore your faith in God.I had something similar happen to me recently regarding the story of the demon possessed man at one point the demons begged Jesus to cast them into the pigs does that mean that Jesus was implicated with the work of satan.It cast my mind into doubt and then i began to question who God is.I prayed and sort the holy spirit for an answer the answer i got was that Gods character never changes he is always holy righteous and sovereign why else would satan ask for his permission.So the answer was that he allowed satans purpose to prevail so that we can see that satans intention is always to destroy it may well have been that the pigs were his anyway.As they were for the gentile nations who offered the pigs to their demon Gods.Just as satan cannot change who he is the destroyer the thief the liar God cannot change who he is when we realise that despite what we see going on in the world God is still the same yesterday today and forever.The time is coming when those that have hurt others will be judged for there wickedness as we serve a holy and just God.Just as it was in the times of Noah so it is with this this generation that as the wickedness reachs its zenith then the Lord will return to judge the nations.He is coming again and we need to be ready it is not a time to be caught sleeping.brentnz
James A. Olson says
The only way I square ALL of these things is believing that God (omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent) knows that all these event will happen, but not that He caused them. He knows these things will happen and that they all play into His plan. Little forces, when combined, can create vast chances, sort of a spiritual “For want of a nail, ….” thing.
Why does He want us to experience pain and horror? We are his supposed “children.” I would not want MY children to experience pain and horror…would do everything in my power to prevent it. So, then, why doesn’t God do everything he can to prevent the pain and horror experienced by innocent people?
He warned us, over and over in the Bible, that Christians will experience pain and horror. Why He does this can be for many different reasons, the main one IMHO is for a teaching lesson, for the person(s) experiencing the pain and horror or those observing the pain and horror. There could be, and most probably are, other reasons, too.
Christians often use your rationalisation as a convenient fall-back position when evidence that God is an all-powerful interventionist is painfully lacking. In effect it goes something like this:
A. When hideous things are done by humans it’s our fault as fallen people.
B. When good things are done by humans it’s really God’s doing.
Of course this is very convenient for the church. It’s like every insurance company’s dream opt-out clause. The problem is that the theology of a personal, interventionist God is widely and strongly taught. On those occasions when the interventionist theology seems to work (e.g. a child survives a serious car accident) it’s loudly proclaimed as God’s hand in the situation. When it doesn’t work (the child dies in the accident) it’s the fault of humans.
It seems you’re right though. When members of the clergy use their free will to sexually abuse children, God clearly chooses not to intervene, even though this systematic, wide-spread evil is occurring within the body of Christ. Many people have decided that this is evidence not just of a non-interventionist God but of a powerless and /or immoral one.
Who are we to judge what God does or allows he has his reasons who can fathom his ways he sees the end from the beginning and is not limited to time or space like we are.Does God want anything the answer is Yes he wants a relationship with us that is why he sent his son because he had a purpose in creating us.However the wages of sin is death in this scripture alone regardless of what happens here we all deserve to die God could have wiped us all out with another flood for who of us is worthy.It is by grace that we live and yes bad things do happen to good people just as it does for the wicked is it to test our faith i do not know but i do know that God gives us the grace to endure through trials and difficulty and that all things do work for Good if we love him..One day we have the assurance that all will set right that justice will prevail and that those who trust in God will be saved.brentnz
Al Graham says
“Nor does He stop murderers, thieves, rapists, and child molesters. We wish He would, but once God intervenes in the freedom He has given, it is no longer freedom. For God, freedom is worth the cost.”
Presumably, according to your reasoning, God is respecting the freedom of the victims of murder, theft, rape and molestation by allowing them to suffer these horrors? Presumably they have chosen to suffer these things, yes? If they have not chosen to suffer these things, then why does God have more respect for the freedom of criminals to commit crime than he does for the freedom of their victims to go about their lives in peace and safety?
It is quite wrong to talk about the “freedom of man”, as if humanity is a single being, rather than recognise that one person’s freedom is another person’s bondage. The truth is that some people have been given the liberty to commit crime thus FORCING others to suffer it.
You fail to understand that freedom is a zero sum game. The permitting of evil in order to uphold one person’s (the wrongdoer’s) freedom is a deliberate act of depriving another person (the victim) of their freedom.
Vengeance is the Lords no one will be exempt from his judgement all the crimes past present and future will be be revealed hiden sins exposed and all hearts will be judged fairly by God and all will get what they deserve.The Lord is coming soon are you ready.
Our freedom is that though evil exists it does not have to have power over us any longer that is the message of the Gospel even though slaves became christians it didnt initially stop slavery not for many years but it helped the slaves to survive and gave them hope that one day God had something better for them and eventually because of christians activists slavery was abolished.Just like us our hope is not in the here and now but that one day we would be finally free from the corruption of this world but while we are in it we are not under its evil influence and i not meaning that bad things do not happen to christians but that in Christ we have been set free from its power over us.brentnz
But remember that YOU are a sinner too whose sins left victims and if God stopped all sinful acts like the ones you mentioned, He would have to stop YOUR sins/wrongdoing, too.
God didn’t hestitate to light an altar on fire to show the followers of Baal who the “real” god was. But then he lets Andrei Chikatilo do his thing. Rationalizing this away is both absurd and exhausting to listen to.
It’s obvious that God is not involved in our daily lives. No one really knows why, but I think that he knows we’ll all be with Him eventually, and what happens on earth isn’t that important. BUT…it IS important to us when we lose a child or have other traumatic experiences. If He loves us, why put us through such pain? Just don’t get it.
Carole there are times i dont understand Jesus still loves us and understands what we are going through he doesnt always set things right but he promises to give us his peaces that passes all understanding.I do know that if a child dies you will see them again but that doesnt take the pain or loss of losing a loved one but he does strengthen us in our weakness especially during times that we struggle to feel that God Loves us.If you have lost a child i believe he knows your pain just tell him how you are feeling and ask him to help you deal with the grief sometimes we just cant handle it in our strength.I know he has given me strength when circumstances were to much for me to bear his holy spirit strengthens me when i am weak.regards brentnz
Gil if we only received one blessing in this life and that was eternal life in Jesus Christ that alone would be enough but we are blessed way more than that because we have been sent his holy spirit to help us overcome our old nature.He never leaves us nor forsakes us whether good or bad happens he strengthens us in our weakness.It says in the bible that the rain falls on both the righteous or the wicked God is fair to all whether they deserve it or not he cannot be anything else than a holy righteous loving and fair God.I dont need to convince you to believe about God he will reveal himself to you if you are seeking the truth as he is the truth.I dont try and make others believe its pointless.I know without a doubt that i am saved and my sins are forgiven.As a christian it will a joy to be with the Lord there is no fear in death for those that love him.In the meantime i serve him with all my heart until he calls me home.I love talking about the Lord but each of us must walk according to what we believe.I trust my life to Jesus Christ and i choose to follow him who do you follow? brentnz
Gil that is why logic is flawed it has its limitations we are not greater than God who is all knowing this is what Job struggled with he wanted to know why he was suffering.Its the same question we ask why is there suffering in the world.God never told him just like us we need to trust that God is for us and not against us.The point being that Jesus became flesh and blood exactly like us to face the same trials and temptations and he overcome them as a man.Yet he was the son of God it is a contradiction even if i cant comprehend it i can believe it as that is what it reads in John 1-14 You could argue that Christs flesh died but his spirit certainly never died as God is spirit and is eternal.When whe came back to earth for the 40 days and spent time with his disciples he clothed himself with a new heavenly body that did not decay that could walk through walls yet was as real as our physical bodies because he ate food and thomas touched his scarred hands.Something more for you to ponder on.regards brentnz
The Professor Of Faith says
If you pick up your dog and put him in a cage… have you “interfered with his free will”? and now do we have proof you don’t really love your dog? Uh… it’s your dog. You having the mastery of the dog is not “interference with the dog’s free will”. Rather arrogant, isn’t it, for someone to say you don’t love the dog and now the dog cannot love you because you”interfered with the dog’s free will”?
Arrogant to the point of blasphemous to say God cannot do what He wills with those He has created.
We love God with the love with which God first loved us. The love of the flesh is not the love of God.
Only ppl God has graced with His own love love God.
God wanted Adam and Eve to fall. So that the reprobate could be born of them. So the reprobate could be redeemed by fire on the last day.
They’re the devil and his angels incarnate in spirit made human.
They cannot be saved in human lifetime. They’re devils like Judas was.
How did you think God was going to restore fallen angels?
He had to make them human. And send Jesus. To die in a human body for humans.
Dave rambo says
God could stop disease and terrible airplane crashes without affecting freedom.so your reasoning doesnt hold water.sorry but its true.
Jeremy Myers says
How would God stop a disease? Diseases are spread by people (carriers of the disease). For God to stop the disease, he would have to control where people went and what they did (no coughing, touching others, etc.) Same with the airplane. Is God going to override the free will of the pilot?
I know that God wouldn’t interfere with the gift of free will, but what about protection (creating protective barrier, warning ahead of time)? Couldn’t God do these?
Jeremy Myers says
Well … how? Wouldn’t these things interfere with free will? If you were driving your car, and you rammed into an invisible protective barrier, didn’t that just stop you from practicing your free will?
I think this “block” is like how humans can not fly, even if they wanted to. I don’t think ramming into a barrier blocks free will because it does not affect the thoughts of the individual, similar to how running into a locked door doesn’t block my free will of wanting to go in another room.
Jeremy Myers says
Yes, God has put restrictions on what people can and cannot do. But once these restrictions are in place, God lets people operate within the bounds of these restrictions. If he stops them, then this would affect their thought process and would be a violation of the restrictions that God Himself set up. We cannot walk through a closed door. But what if we opened the door, and then tried to walk through it, and an invisible force pushed you back? What would you think?
A time where I saw God affect thought process via restrictions is changing language of builders who are building Tower of Babel (Genesis 12).
I know of God’s nonintervention, but what about warnings? Before a plane crash or shooting, couldn’t God warn people to not go on a plane or not go to area of shooting?
Jeremy Myers says
Some of this would interfere with people’s free will. But maybe He is saying things, and we are not hearing properly…
If people don’t usually “hear” God, then how can people who never heard about Jesus get saved? I believe Jesus reveals himself in dreams/visions (similar to Paul in Acts 9), so how can God convey certain messages but not others?
Another batch of questions…
Why are we expected to intervene when evil happens but not God? What’s the difference between our non-intervention and God’s non-intervention? What about the “sins of omission”?
Steve Spicer says
I have a hard time getting behind a lot of what people say when trying to explain why God does or doesn’t do anything. I am a Christian also, but when I read someone trying to explain why God acts the way he does, it never seems to satisfy the question. It’s always the same arguments and vague points. For example, you say ‘God does not stop these actions because God cannot do so and still allow freedom to be free’. See I find that extremely black and white, like God can’t work somewhere in-between. Why can’t God step in and stop one persons actions, and leave the 7.5 Billion people to remain in their freedom. I believe. There are things in the world that I cannot fathom without an intelligent creator. But then I read about people like Sylvia Likens. A 16 year old girl who was beaten to an inch within her life everyday for 3 months, ridiculed, starved, humiliated, and abused in the worst ways. Where was God for her? He didn’t even have to stop the abuser, how about letting her die early on. Why was that not an option? But no, she suffered in ways I can’t comprehend, day after day after day after day. I struggle to see how a God lets this continue. Surely he would say ‘ENOUGH!”
Don’t know how you can make such a ubiquitous statement, “ He just doesn’t intervene at the times we wish He would or in the ways we think He should.” There are multiple accounts of God intervening on the behalf of Israel in precisely the way Israel looked to Him to intervene.
II Chron 32 is just one of many times. His intervention of Israel out of Egypt, multiple times, in numerous instances.
My question is, why has God not intervened in like manner in the 21rst century. I’m looking for a scriptural answer, vs conjecture.
William A. Carter says
Is God’s not intervening at odds with God’s promise of protection and safety, or does it just boil down to our free will?
mike ecsedy says
What is your opinion of Process Theodicy?
Don gray says
I believe that you are correct in that God has turned everything in this world over to us but few have awaken to this fact, the scripture endorces this fact when he turned everything over to we the christ/sons to sudue this world and when this is completed then it is all turned back over to the father.
What about the great flood, why did he intervene then?
Finding truth says
Far too much suffering, evil of the scale. For humans as well as animals. Why does nature kill its self to survive? We become conditioned by so much evil. Free will?
Sean Gerrity says
We are told that god hears our prayers. When children are regularly gunned down in American schools, parents, teachers, police and the children themselves are praying for help. None comes from God. So what is the point of praying for help?
We know God is omnipresent and can intervene when he wants to; big floods, smiting all kinds of people when he is angry. Why does he hold back when people ask for help?
John Doe says
I see a double standard in this logic. First of all, the idea that the only way we could exist with free will is by having sin is flawed. It suggests that the all powerful god of the Abrahamic religions could not have achieved what he wanted any other way. This would be putting him in a box and contradicts the idea that he has the capacity to shape the very laws that govern our universe anyway he intends them to be shaped. Secondly, if humans need to be able to sin for free will to be possible, yet we, according to scripture, will be perfected in heaven, then by that logic do we forfeit our free will once we reach the afterlife? This would seem counterintuitive to present it as an eternal paradise yet we can’t even make our own decisions. Let’s say for the sake of this argument that we could maintain free will in heaven. That would mean that it’s possible both to have free will and exist without sin simultaneously. So if that is the case, why did god create us without being able to circumvent the phase of life on earth where we have the option to sin but don’t have the divine knowledge and abilities that would help us avoid sin as we would in heaven? As for this time on earth, considering the incomprehensible level of pain and suffering that’s collectively happened since life itself existed and the lack of a logically sound argument that makes enough sense for me to even consider justifying said suffering, I sincerely hope that the Christian god doesn’t exist; he seems indifferent to our worldly affairs at best and outright cruel at worst.
I believe GOD in the Old Testament, told the Israelites to kill their enemies, because to establish and protect the Land that He Promised to them? These Nations in, and surrounding, were a people not worshipping the True GOD of Abraham! These people were doing evil Pagan Religious Practices, such as the Cannanites, whom were already living there in the Land of Promise, but also, their were the many Pagan Nations surrounding the land of Cannan. GOD in His Mercy, told the Israelites to kill the Cannanites, allowing these Pagan Nations Death! One reason may be, to put an end to their sinning? But, it was also not without warning, as the Law had already gone out from Moses, and GOD tried to prevent the Israelite Tribes from being infiltrated with these Pagan Nations and evil practices? However, many of the Israelites, allowed some of these Pagan People to survive, thus many of the Israelites turned away from GOD, and mixed in GOD’S Truth, with Practices of the False evil Pagan Religions…
John Doe says
You know, I tried to give religion a chance but, meh. With that said, I have several issues with this theory. First of all, throughout the Bible, divine intervention is a reoccurring theme. So if scripture makes us to believe that he is interactive, then isn’t it completely counterintuitive for us since we experience such a deficit in God’s actions that we have to actually try to determine for ourselves logically whether he is involved or not? It seems that it should just be apparent to his believers (as opposed to them just grasping at straws for where he intercedes). So that leaves us with two possibilities. Either God is supposed to be involved but isn’t, thus falsifying the Bible, or perhaps after the creation of the Bible he has become absent (even though we were kept in the dark on that bit of information). So let’s say he is not involved because it would intervene with free will. How would it be morally justifiable for him to be absent or at the very least deficient in action, and then, despite being largely uninvolved in our lives, he gets to ultimately judge our fate? Another issue I have with the theory: By saying that God would have to create free love because it’s the only way, aren’t you putting the “all powerful” God in a box by determining what he can or can’t do? Finally isn’t the threat of hell if we don’t follow him a form of psychological rape/ coercion out of fear?