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Evil, Ethics & Evolution

Try to picture this:
A
vast, teeming sea of people stretching as far as the eye can see,
boiling, agitated, late as usual for something. Most are wearing headsets and the latest fashions; every person has the most recent issue of USA Today in one hand and a smartphone in the other. Some are quite educated, but still lost. Some are lost, but don't care. All are shouting, chanting, jogging, bumping into each other as each tries to march in his own direction, spouting a favorite truism. There is no right or wrong, so no one feels ashamed; all opinions are equal, so no one is allowed to think; religious convictions are private, so they are meaningless in any discussion. It's like America is a massive tabloid talk show gone berserk. 
 Frank Peretti

Secularism has swept through the land, removing the moral compass from culture and replacing it with narcissism.  People are directionless, guilt-ridden, and hopeless.  It’s time for Christians to stand up and give answers from a biblical worldview.


Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong provides biblical answers to cultural issues of our day.  Whether you’re talking about video games, the Internet, environmentalism, illegal immigration, the problem of evil…it’s all here.  Written by John MacArthur and the pastoral team at Grace Community Church, it will help you navigate through the issues and give you answers for an unbelieving world.

The Christian faith has come under fire lately. Whatever their deficiencies, the "New Atheists" have a firm hold of the popular imagination. Compelled by the reception of Christian detractors comes Ravi Zacharias The End of Reason. Approachable and powerful, it is a challenge to those who wish to rob the gospel of its credibility, and an exposé of the moral bankruptcy of atheism.

Far from an academic treatise, it is a book that you can readily share with your friends and family. It is a book that is written to empower Christians in their daily lives as they encounter daily struggles and challenges.

Want answers, this book is for you.

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T
he ideas that shaped our culture were great and worthy. The principal goal was to reconcile liberty with law. But in the last century our culture has undergone incredible changes and challenged the ideas that once shaped and guided us. The result has been the collapse of law, the eradication of the spirit, and the unleashing of evil.

The response of the Christian calling for a return to morality is a scream in the dark, because morality has no self-sustaining light. It is a vacuous term left at the mercy of our passions.
Only in the defense and authority of the Word can morality be anchored, evil understood, and the soul restored.  Ravi Zacharias   
 

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Is God Responsible for Evil?
John MacArthur

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Q.   Since God is sovereign, isn't He then the author of evil?

A.  No! 


Scripture says that when God finished His creation, He saw everything and declared it "very good" (Genesis 1:31). Many Scriptures affirm that God is not the author of evil: "God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone" (James 1:13). "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). "God is not the author of confusion" (1 Corinthians 14:33)-and if that is true, He cannot in any way be the author of evil.


Occasionally someone will quote Isaiah 45:7 (KJV) and claim it proves God made evil as a part of His creation: "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things" (emphasis added).


But the New American Standard Bible gives the sense of Isaiah 45:6-7 more clearly: "There is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these." In other words, God devises calamity as a judgment for the wicked. But in no sense is He the author of evil.


Evil originates not from God but from the fallen creature. I agree with John Calvin, who wrote,

. . . the Lord had declared that "everything that he had made . . . was exceedingly good" [Gen. 1:31]. Whence, then comes this wickedness to man, that he should fall away from his God? Lest we should think it comes from creation, God had put His stamp of approval on what had come forth from himself. By his own evil intention, then, man corrupted the pure nature he had received from the Lord; and by his fall drew all his posterity with him into destruction. Accordingly, we should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation in the corrupt nature of humanity-which is closer to us-rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God's predestination. [Institutes, 3:23:8]


It is helpful, I think, to understand that sin is not itself a thing created. Sin is neither substance, being, spirit, nor matter. So it is technically not proper to think of sin as something that was created. Sin is simply alack of moral perfection in a fallen creature. Fallen creatures themselves bear full responsibility for their sin. And all evil in the universe emanates from the sins of fallen creatures.


For example, Romans 5:12 says that death entered the world because of sin. Death, pain, disease, stress, exhaustion, calamity, and all the bad things that happen came as a result of the entrance of sin into the universe (see Genesis 3:14-24). All those evil effects of sin continue to work in the world and will be with us as long as sin is.


First Corinthians 10:13 promises us that God will not permit a greater trial than we can bear. And James 1:13 tells us that God will not tempt us with evil.

God is certainly sovereign over evil. There's a sense in which it is proper even to say that evil is part of His eternal decree. He planned for it. It did not take Him by surprise. It is not an interruption of His eternal plan. He declared the end from the beginning, and He is still working all things for His good pleasure (Isaiah 46:9-10).


But God's role with regard to evil is never as its author. He simply permits evil agents to work, then overrules evil for His own wise and holy ends. Ultimately He is able to make all things-including all the fruits of all the evil of all time-work together for a greater good (Romans 8:28).

 


Question: "What is the definition of evil?"

Answer: A dictionary definition of evil is “morally reprehensible, sinful, wicked.” The definition of evil in the Bible falls into two categories: evil against one another (murder, theft, adultery) and evil against God (unbelief, idolatry, blasphemy). From the prohibition against eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9), to the destruction of Babylon the Great (Revelation 18:2), the Bible speaks of evil.

For many centuries Christians have struggled with both the existence and the nature of evil. Most people would acknowledge that evil is real and has always had devastating effects on our world. From the sexual abuse of children to the horrific terrorist attacks on 9/11, evil continues to rear its ugly head in our own time. Many people are left wondering what exactly is evil and why does it exist.

The existence of evil has been used as a weapon by opponents of theism—and Christian theism in particular—for some time. The so-called “problem of evil” has been the subject of various arguments by atheists in an attempt to demonstrate that a God who is good simply cannot exist. By implying that God must be the creator of evil, God’s holy character has been called into question. There have been many arguments used to indict God as the cause of evil. Here is one of them:

1) God is the creator of everything that exists.
2) Evil exists.
3) Therefore, God is the creator of evil.

The logic of this syllogism is sound. The conclusion follows logically from the premises. But does this syllogism demonstrate that God is the creator of evil? The problem with this argument is its second premise, that evil is something. For evil is not a thing; it is a lack or privation of a good thing that God made. As Christian philosopher J. P. Moreland has noted, “Evil is a lack of goodness. It is goodness spoiled. You can have good without evil, but you cannot have evil without good.”

Goodness has existed as an attribute of God from all eternity. While God is perfectly holy and just, He is also perfectly good. Just as God has always existed, so too has goodness as it is a facet of God’s holy character. The same cannot be said for evil. Evil came into being with the rebellion of Satan and subsequently entered the physical universe with the fall of Adam. As Christian apologist Greg Koukl has said, “Human freedom was used in such a way as to diminish goodness in the world, and that diminution, that lack of goodness, that is what we call evil.” When God created Adam, He created him good, and He also created him free.

However, in creating Adam free, God indirectly created the possibility of evil, while not creating evil itself. When Adam chose to disobey God, he made this possibility a reality. The same scenario had previously played out when Satan fell by failing to serve and obey God. So it turns out that evil is not a direct creation of God; rather, evil is the result of persons (both angelic and human) exercising their freedom wrongly.

While evil is certainly real, it is important to recognize that evil does not have existence in and of itself. Rather, it only exists as a privation (or a parasite) on the good. It exists in the same way that a wound exists on an arm or as rust exists on a car. The rust cannot exist on its own any more than cold can exist without the existence of heat or darkness can exist without the existence of light.

Despite the horrible effects of evil on our world, the Christian believer can take comfort in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ recorded for us in the Gospel of John, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). More importantly, we look forward with great anticipation to our home in heaven where the ultimate evil, death, will finally be destroyed along with the “mourning, crying and pain” which it inevitably produces (Revelation 21:4).


From Got Questions.org



                                                    

Theodicy

Theodicy is a branch of theology which studies of the problem of evil and defends the goodness and justice of God in the face of the problem of evil.

Epicurus, a Greek Stoic philosopher initially posited the problem this way:


Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?


The issue is raised in light of the sovereignty of God. How could a holy and loving God, who is in control of all things allow evil to exist?


This is a question that has kept brilliant minds in philosophy and theology busy for millennia, and we still don't have a more definitive answer than for God's glory. 

However, if we, like God, knew all things—then why call him God? But, since we don't, we do. Ergo, his sovereign reign and rule is in no jeopardy from mankind.


Do not dignify the problem of evil as if it's a logically valid impasse to faith in God. Rather, present it as prima facie evidence for God's existence in an evil world. Doing so, you will never be at a loss for examples of Satan's handiwork in this world as his minions go about fulfilling scripture calling good—evil, and evil—good.


"Therefore, it should not be thought that "the problem of evil" is anything like an intellectual basis for lack of faith in God. It is rather simply the personal expression of such a lack of faith. What we find is that unbelievers who challenge the Christian faith end up reasoning in circles. Because they lack faith in God, they begin by arguing that evil is incompatible with the goodness and power of God. When they are presented with a logically adequate and Biblically supported solution to the problem of evil (viz., God has a morally sufficient but undisclosed reason for the evil that exists), they refuse to accept it, again because of their lack of faith in God. They would rather be left unable to give an account of any moral judgment whatsoever (about things being good or evil) than to submit to the ultimate and unchallengeable moral authority of God. That is a price too high to pay, both philosophically and personally."  Greg Bahnsen


                                                    
Simple Apologetics 
 A few basic facts: Evil Exists and is Evil. God Exists and is Good. God is Sovereign.

  • God has a morally sufficient, yet undisclosed reason for everything He does or permits, including the temporary existence of evil. 
  • God did not create evil. He permits it to exist for His glory. All that He creates or ordains to occur is for ultimate good.
  • A finite sinful creature in rebellion against an infinite Holy God is disqualified to judge whether God has a morally acceptable reason for evil to exist.
  • Evil is not something, it has no essence or being. It is the antithetical inverse position taken against God's sovereign holiness, a proof of God's existence.
  • Evil is not sovereign. Evil is not eternal. It is a temporary straw-man that God will destroy forever in His good time when it has served His purpose.
  • Without the presence of evil God's glory and attributes, best seen in His grace, mercy and love would have been locked away in His person forever.
  • The paradoxical coexistence of good and evil does not constitute a valid argument against the existence of God. They are contradictory, yet, compatible.
  • At the cross good and evil are seen for what they are—we are seen for who we are—and God in Christ is seen reconciling the world back to Himself.
  • Evil began somehow with Lucifer, God's highest creation in heaven choosing to exalt himself above his Creator. Choosing to honor himself above God.
  • The chief end of man is to love God and enjoy Him forever. The end of this life is not happiness, but God. Loving God overcomes evil with good.
  • Evil is evil. It is a sin to call evil good. But, when God ordains evil to occur, it is good that it occurs for the fulfillment of His divine purposes.
  • One day very soon, just as time will be no more, evil will be no more. God will destroy evil forever.


                                              

GOD HAS A MORALLY SUFFICIENT UNDISCLOSED REASON FOR THE TEMPORARY EXISTENCE OF EVIL


From Creation the presence of evil has served God's salvific purpose. In heaven it was the cause of Lucifer's fall. In the garden of Eden it was the cause of ours.
At Calvary it was the cause of God's son dying on a cross, where we see God reconciling the world back to himself by breaking the power and penalty of evil for everyone who would believe. In the future it will be the cause of great joy and rejoicing when God destroys evil forever. But above all other reasons, it will be the cause of our eternal gratitude, rejoicing in what Christ has done on our behalf by reconciling us back to God through his suffering. Christ will indeed receive the full reward of his suffering throughout eternity. The unconditional, unconstrained love and pure devotion of his Bride, The Church; all because of the existence of evil.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  Romans 5:1-11 


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare

and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11


Today, evil can be seen serving God's salvific purpose in a myriad of ways in the sanctification process of believers lives, making them more like Christ. By being more like Jesus, believers today can overcome evil with good to the glory of God and the eternal welfare of others. What a blessing! What a privilege!


Like everything else, this issue is a matter of ultimate authority. Unbelievers are not going to accept the existence of God because of some plausible explanation for the existence of evil. For men to do that they would have to be willing to give up their personal autonomy, and that's never going to happen. Not on this planet.

Answer this question and they will simply slide to the next one on their list. They will not permit you to remove their warm blanket of autonomy for any reason, especially one that places them directly in front of the omniscient Holy Judge of the Universe with all power and authority to punish them eternally for their sin.


The unbeliever opposes the Christian faith with a whole, antithetical system of thought-not simply with piecemeal criticisms. His attack is aimed not merely at certain random points of Christian teaching, but at its foundation. The particular criticisms utilized by the unbeliever rest upon basic key assumptions which unify and inform his thinking. It is this presuppositional root which the apologist must aim to eradicate if his defense of the faith is to be effective. Because the unbeliever has such an implicit system of thought directing his attack on the faith, the Christian can never be satisfied to defend the hope that is in him by merely stringing together isolated evidences which offer a slight probability of the Bible’s veracity. Each particular item of evidence will be evaluated by the unbeliever’s tacit assumptions; his general worldview will provide the context in which the evidential claim is understood and weighed. What one presupposes as to possibility will even determine how he rates "probability."   -Dr. Greg Bahnsen, Always Ready, pp. 67-69


One resolution to the alleged paradox of evil.

1.   God Is All-Good
2.   God Is All-Powerful
3.   Evil Exists
4.   God Has A Morally Sufficient Yet Undisclosed Reason For The Temporary Existence Of Evil
5. 
God Will Destroy Evil Forever In His Good Time, After It Has Fully Served His Purpose

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Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained that Evil Be?

Jonathan Edwards Institute

Annapolis, MD

by John Piper


Fourteen years ago Charles Colson wrote, "The western church – much of it drifting, enculturated, and infected with cheap grace – desperately needs to hear Edwards' challenge. . . . It is my belief that the prayers and work of those who love and obey Christ in our world may yet prevail as they keep the message of such a man as Jonathan Edwards." That conviction lies behind The Jonathan Edwards Institute and behind this conference. And I certainly believe it.


Most of us, having only been exposed to one of Edwards' sermons, "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God," do not know the real Jonathan Edwards. We don't know that he knew his heaven even better than his hell, and that his vision of the glory of God was just as ravishing as his vision of hell was repulsive – as it should be.

Most of us don't know:

  • that he is considered now, by secular and evangelical historians alike, to be the greatest religious thinker America has ever produced
  • that he not only was God's kindling for the Great Awakening in the 1730's and 1740's, but was also its most penetrating analyst and critic
  • that he was driven by a great longing to see the missionary task of the church completed, and that his influence on the modern missionary movement is immense because of his Life of David Brainerd
  • that he was a rural pastor for 23 years in a church of 600 people
  • that he was a missionary to Indians for 7 years after being asked to leave his church
  • that, together with Sarah, he reared 11 faithful children
  • that he lived only until he was 54 and died with a library of only 300 books
  • but, nevertheless, his own books are still ministering mightily after 250 years.


But not as mightily as they should. Mark Noll, who teaches history at Wheaton and has thought much about the work of Edwards has written:

Since Edwards, American evangelicals have not thought about life from the ground up as Christians because their entire culture has ceased to do so. Edwards's piety continued on in the revivalist tradition, his theology continued on in academic Calvinism, but there were no successors to his God-entranced world-view or his profoundly theological philosophy. The disappearance of Edwards's perspective in American Christian history has been a tragedy.


One of the burdens of this Conference, and certainly one of the burdens of my life, is the recovery of a "God-entranced world-view." "Evangelicals Seeking the Glory of God," in my understanding, means "evangelicals seeking a God-entranced world view." But what I have seen over 18 years of pastoral ministry and six years of teaching experience before that, is that people who waver with uncertainty over the problem of God's sovereignty in the matter of evil usually do not have a God-entranced world view. For them, now God is sovereign, and now he is not. Now he is in control, and now he is not. Now he is good and reliable when things are going well, and when they go bad, well, maybe he's not. Now he's the supreme authority of the universe, and now he is in the dock with human prosecutors peppering him with demands that he give an account of himself.


But when a person settles it Biblically, intellectually and emotionally, that God has ultimate control of all things, including evil, and that this is gracious and precious beyond words, then a marvelous stability and depth come into that person's life and they develop a "God-entranced world view." When a person believes, with the Heidelberg Catechism (Question 27), that "The almighty and everywhere present power of God . . . upholds heaven and earth, with all creatures, and so governs them that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, all things, come not by chance, but by his fatherly hand" – when a person believes and cherishes that truth, they have the key to a God-entranced world view.   Read More


                                                         

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Dressing with Dignity 
by Leslie Ludy

Dressing modestly (and fashionably) these days is an art form. Most of us aren’t willing to make the extra effort to overcome the challenges and dress with grace, mystique, and dignity. Add to that our desire to be found appealing to the opposite sex, and we end up with dismally low standards for the way we dress. We

know that we’ll get more attention from guys in form-fitting tops, tight pants, and short skirts. And it’s all too tempting to rationalize immodesty because “at least this outfit isn’t as bad as a lot of things I could wear.” We think that as long as we aren’t going topless on the beach, we have an element of modesty. But what is God’s standard?

“I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly”
(1 Tim. 2:9 NASB)

The word modestly literally means “with shame and bashfulness.” In other words, not shamelessly flaunting our bodies, but exuding a sense of careful dignity and guardedness, even in the way we dress...  Read More

Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God.   John Piper 
  

“The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.”

- Immanuel Kant
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"Men will not be judged in the last day by the opinion which they had of themselves."


Archibald Alexander,
Princeton Theological Seminary
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