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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

02 July 2007

Second-guessing God

Evil from Perfection

Q: I have one question that I cannot for the life of me figure out; God is perfect, omniscient, and omnipresent, with a perfect plan for the world and for man. Why would a God with these characteristics create an imperfect being, knowing perfectly well that this being would need God to become human to save his imperfection from damnation?

Michelangelo: Creation of EveA: Your question ultimately ventures among the mysteries of God which we are not permitted to view or understand. Yet it is clear from Scripture, including the story of Creation in Genesis, that God made people holy and perfect in every way. Genesis 1:27 reminds us, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Man was not imperfect in any way. However, God gave the first man a choice — a choice which Adam made sinfully and lived to regret.

The Lord totally involved Himself in Creation. He fully utilized all of His divine attributes — those you mentioned and all the others. He exercised His perfect foreknowledge and His election of the saints to eternal life, tempering His decisions with grace and mercy.

We know that God created everything to glorify Himself. He also created man to be in a relationship with Himself. He intended that the history of His Creation would stretch endlessly through the years and made man to live in eternal harmony with other creatures and with their Creator.

The Devil Cast DownJust as He didn’t create evil, so God didn’t create imperfection. These were perversions invented by His creatures. Just as Adam was sinless in the beginning, so also God created the creature who would later be called “Satan” and “the Devil” perfect in every way. Satan chose to rebel against God and to lead others of the heavenly host into sin. He then moved to spoil the physical creation by misleading mankind into joining his unholy rebellion.

I marvel at a God who knew that this would happen and, from all eternity, planned salvation (not only for all people, but even for me). He knew before calling anything into being that His Son would assume human flesh and frailty and would grow up to suffer and die. God created while also planning to re-create; He formed man out of the dust of the earth while knowing that He would need to re-form him in the likeness of His Son.

We can never know exactly what guided God’s reasoning: “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’, declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8)” Dad simply would have said, “It’s none of your business.” I prefer the Lord’s way of speaking — it lets me down a bit more gently. However, when responding to Job (chapters 38-42), God sounds more like my father, daring Job to figure out His will for Job’s life.

Nine-ElevenPrevious posts dealing with the topic of evil’s origins include A Christian Response to Suffering and Death, How Can God Allow Evil to Happen, and others. In A Christian Response, I wrote, “God could rightly blame each and every one of us for every evil that has ever happened. However, He doesn’t!

“Instead, God blamed His innocent Son. To reconcile Himself to sinners, God ‘made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)’

“In His agony on the cross, Jesus cried out with and for us sinners, saying, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)’ As He quoted Psalm 22, Jesus identified Himself with every person who has ever been devastated by untimely loss. No one was ever more innocent, yet no one ever suffered more severely both the attacks of Satan and the divine justice of God. The greatest miscarriage of justice was also its highest expression, for in the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Christ, we are forgiven and invited to become citizens of the heavenly kingdom.

Weimar Altar Piece“Simply knowing that God knows best and that all things work out for good doesn’t take away our pain. But the pain Jesus felt sanctifies and gives purpose to our suffering. Believing in the resurrection doesn’t immediately call the dead to life, but it guarantees that the dead in Christ will rise. The Christian still asks, ‘Why pain, suffering, and death?’

“God still answers, not from the whirlwind, but from the cross: ‘Because I love you and desire to make My strength perfect in your weakness.’ He saps our strength through tragedy that He might provide His strength for this life and for life everlasting.”

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adam was not created with any defects, yet according to St. Irenaeus and other Fathers, is a spiritual infant. He was meant to grow, to mature, to become a perfect adult instead of a perfect baby. He failed to do it.

If he had already reached the height of (adult) perfection, he could never have fallen.


08 July, 2007 21:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“God could rightly blame each and every one of us for every evil that has ever happened. However, He doesn’t!

“Instead, God blamed His innocent Son."

Shall we really consider this justice?


08 July, 2007 21:21  
Blogger Orycteropus Afer said...

"Shall we really consider this justice?"

We shall, if we accept this as the inspired Word of God: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)"

09 July, 2007 00:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely "made Him to be sin *Who knew no sin*" means God sent Him to die like a sinner, yes, but without *blaming* Him for our sin! Rather, that His dying might destroy death (the way a brilliant light destroys the darkness of a room when it enters).

But to say God blames the Innocent -- !!!!???


10 July, 2007 22:12  

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