If God allows evil, is He then responsible for it?

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By BibleAsk Team


The question of whether God, if He allows evil, is responsible for it is one of the most profound and enduring theological inquiries. To address this complex topic thoroughly, we’ll delve into various perspectives from philosophy, theology, biblical passages, and ethical considerations, all within the context of the Bible.

Understanding the Nature of Evil:

Before delving into the question of God’s responsibility, it’s essential to define what is meant by “evil.” Evil encompasses a wide range of moral and natural phenomena, including moral wrongdoing, suffering, pain, and natural disasters. From a theological perspective, evil is often understood as the absence of good, stemming from human sinfulness, rebellion against God, and the fallen state of the world.

God’s Sovereignty and Permissive Will:

According to the Bible, God’s sovereignty is foundational. He is portrayed as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, possessing ultimate authority and control over all things. However, theologians distinguish between God’s active or perfect will and His permissive will. God’s perfect will refers to His ideal desires and intentions, while His permissive will allows for the existence of evil and human freedom.

The Lord in His infinite love planned a way of redemption from suffering and death through Jesus (John 3:16). He sent His innocent Son to die to pay the penalty of man’s sin and deliver him from the eternal death and restore him to Eden (John 3:16). “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Biblical Perspectives on God’s Role in Evil:

  1. Isaiah 45:7 (NKJV): “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.”This verse emphasizes God’s sovereignty over all aspects of creation, including both good and calamity. While some translations use the term “evil” instead of “calamity,” the context suggests that it refers to the consequences of human sinfulness rather than moral evil originating from God.
  2. Genesis 50:20 (NKJV): “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”This passage from the story of Joseph highlights God’s ability to redeem and bring about good even in the midst of human evil. Despite the evil intentions of Joseph’s brothers, God ultimately works through their actions to accomplish His purposes.
  3. Job 1:21 (NKJV): “And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.'”Job’s response to his suffering illustrates a recognition of God’s sovereignty and authority over all aspects of life, including both blessings and trials.

Theological Perspectives on God’s Responsibility:

  1. The Free Will Defense: One common theological response to the problem of evil is the free will of man. According to this perspective, God created humans with free will, allowing them to choose between good and evil. While God desires all people to choose good, He respects their freedom to make moral decisions, even if it leads to evil consequences.
  2. God Overrules Evil for Divine Purposes: This perspective posits that God overrules the suffering and evil upon His children to bring about good (Romans 8:28).
  3. Mystery and Finite Understanding: Another perspective acknowledges the limits of human understanding and the mystery surrounding God’s ways. From this viewpoint, humans are finite beings with limited knowledge and perspective, unable to fully comprehend the bigger picture and the workings of an infinite and transcendent God, as seen in the story of Job.
  4. The End of Suffering: The Lord will eventually destroy the devil and his followers only after every being in the universe has seen that the devil’s government is deadly (2 Thessalonians 2:8). And when the controversy ends, everyone will see the difference between the love of God and the cruel hate of the devil (Philippians 2:10).

Ethical Considerations:

  1. Human Accountability: While God may permit evil to exist, humans are still accountable for their moral choices and actions. The biblical narrative consistently emphasizes human responsibility and the consequences of sin.
  2. Compassion and Empathy: The presence of evil in the world calls Christians to respond with compassion, empathy, and active efforts to alleviate suffering and promote justice. The biblical mandate to love one’s neighbor remains central in the face of evil.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the question of whether God, if He allows evil, is responsible for it is a deeply nuanced and multifaceted issue. While the Bible affirms God’s sovereignty over all creation, it also acknowledges the reality of human free will and the consequences of their sin. Ultimately, the mystery surrounding God’s ways and the limits of human understanding remind Christians of the importance of humility, trust, and faith in God’s goodness and providence, even in the midst of suffering and evil for God proved His infinite love on the cross (John 3:16).

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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