Thursday, July 23, 2009

God's sovereignty and the problem of evil

In an attempt to have a working explanation of God's sovereignty and the problem of evil I was tossing around the idea that while God might be in control of a bad event his 'moral favor' was withdrawn from it. However I think the old Reformed permissive will of God explanation is best, given the opaque nature of this topic in Scripture. So it's back to Van Til on this one.

"On Van Til's view, divine sovereignty extends to all things, and therefore also to evil and sin. God is not responsible for sin, but we should deny 'that anything happens in spite of him and in circumvention of his purpose.' ... God's decree 'is inclusive and permissive of the fact of sin.' According to Van Til, we may 'speak of the permissive will of God in order to stress man's undoubted responsibility for sin, but this distinction may never lead to subversion of the clear teaching of Scripture on the all-controlling if ultimate and mysterious power of God.' ... Because of his biblical view of divine sovereignty, he is unable to 'defend' God by appealing to human free will, the unreality of evil, the weakness of God, etc." (Van Til: An Analysis of his Thought, John Frame 83)

"Essentially, Van Til's theodicy is an appeal to God's inscrutable wisdom. God has the answer, but he has not chosen to reveal it to us, at least not comprehensively. Our thinking must be subject to his revelation and where that revelation is silent, we must be silent as well." (85)

2 comments:

Andrew Bowles said...

Have you read Barth on 'the nothingness' (see CD III.50)?

His view is that evil/death receives a kind of initial pseudo-reality from being negated by God's will (and will eventually be driven from possible existence altogether), but is only brought into actual existence by corrupt human/angelic wills. So it is permitted as the necessary potential corollary of creation, but only in order to be defeated. Quite a helpful take on the topic, as it doesn't require God to be willing in any way (even for good purposes) the actual evil that does take place.

Luke said...

Thanks for the recommendation Andrew, I'll check it out.