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On the Origin of Evil In Creation October 12, 2015

Posted by regan222 in Philosophy, Religion.
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This is mainly for me but if it helps someone then I am blessed.  If you disagree, that’s OK also.

On the Nature and Origin of Evil in Creation

The origin of evil has been a stumbling stone almost since the appearance of Mankind on the planet. It is difficult for us to rationalize the existence of a perfect creator God with the existence of imperfection in the universe. Great intellects like Augustine and Einstein wrestled with the question of the origin of evil and many Christians today are plagued by the same quandary. How can a good God, a perfect God, allow evil to be? Did He create it? Where exactly did “evil” come from?

Einstein was a follower of the Jewish faith. As such, he was shaped by his culture just as we all are. He could easily rationalize a creator God because he understood that cause always precedes effect in our universe. The idea that the universe sprang into being from nothing for no reason was as ludicrous to Einstein as it should be to us. However, shaped as he was by his Jewish culture, there was within him a need for rational and logical rules. This can also be seen in Einstein’s abhorrence of the Quantum Mechanics theory. He could not rationalize the existence of evil outside or apart from the creator and yet he could not indict God with the willful creation of Evil.

The answer to the question lies in defining evil. We tend to anthropomorphize evil into a personality. We equate evil with Satan. We give it personality, or at least, existence. The key to the quandary is found here. None of these things are true. Evil is not a quantity, a quality, a substance, or an object within creation. Evil is simply the absence of God. Anything, apart from God, is less than God, and thus, imperfect. We assume that evil is a created thing, when, in fact, it is the absence of something; God.

We can draw a parallel between the appearance of evil in the universe and the appearance of the universe itself. In Genesis we read that

 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

(Genesis 1: 3 – 4)

God created light but he did not have to create darkness. It exists as the absence of light. God perceived the light based on the way it interacted with darkness and in this same way we know that light exists. It was created. Darkness, on the other hand, cannot be created. It is a state apart from light. It does not exist as an entity. Light always banishes darkness because darkness is simply light’s absence.

In this same way, evil is the absence of God. Imperfection is the absence of perfection. God is defined by his nature, just as everything is. He is, of all things in the universe, the only example of perfection. He is a singularity in three aspects. The concept that there is one God only is fundamental to existence.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”

(1 Timothy 2:5)

As a singularity, God was alone in eternity past. He chose, for His own reasons, to share his existence with others (e.g. angels, people, animals, etc.). According to God’s inherent nature, he had three choices.

  1. Not to create at all and continue as a singularity.
  2. Create exact copies of himself, indistinguishable from Himself, and thus, perfect.
  3. Create beings that were not Him, and thus, were, by definition, imperfect.

There are no other options. Perfection is impossible apart from God. Anything created that is not God would be less than God, even if created BY Him, and so, imperfect. Had God chosen to create perfect beings of His own nature, or in other words, to duplicate Himself, it would have violated the nature of God as an eternal singularity, without origin. God’s nature demands that He be eternal. To create others like Himself would seriously rearrange reality and the space/time continuum. God’s only choice then would be to create beings outside of and different from, Himself, who, because they were not of God’s nature, had within them the capacity for imperfection. In this way, “evil” can be considered to exist as the absence of God in creation. Even when created perfectly, the capacity for imperfection exists within the creation because we are not God. Given the existence of the capacity for imperfection within created beings, coupled with the proliferation of creation, it was a matter of time and statistics.

The follow-on question then, is, how can a benevolent God allow evil to continue? The short answer is that He has no choice. We have established that imperfection is a potential inherent in everything that is not God. If God were to sovereignly banish evil He would have to get rid of everything but Himself and become alone again in non-creation. The only option for creation to continue is to allow imperfection to continue. Thus, evil, as the presence of anything “not God”, persists. God, never being without foreknowledge was aware of this condition of creation, and accounted for its resolution within His blueprint. He was aware from the beginning that simply creating would not be enough. He would have to deal with the potential for imperfection. The plan of salvation is as much a part of the plan of creation as “Let there be Light.”

Even Satan is a convert to evil, for he was not always so.

12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.

13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

(Ezekiel 28:12 – 16)

Here Ezekiel is commanded to lament for the King of Tyrus but most scholars view this as a description of Lucifer prior to his fall. Lucifer was in Eden. He was, perhaps, second only to God in glory and beauty. He was the covering cherub. He was perfect until he was not. As a created being, not being God, Lucifer had that potential for imperfection. God did not appoint him to the position of evil but God knew of the possibility and chose to account for it in His plan. Had God chosen to destroy Lucifer instead of banish him, then, as eternity progressed, another and another of the created beings would have fallen until, once again, God would have found Himself in isolation. Anything not God is doomed by definition to imperfection. God did not immediately destroy the fallen but instead chose to use him to strengthen and perfect the other parts of creation.

God allows Lucifer/Satan to continue but not indefinitely. At some point, the imperfect will be removed from creation and only the perfect will remain. That is why it was so important that Christ be identified with us as human. As he is like us, we have the potential to become like him, and thus, like God. If we are made of the same substance or type as God, then we can share in God’s perfection. We have now, in the spirit, the same relationship that Christ had with the Father. When we are changed, we will have it in physical reality as well. All that is not God will be removed and only that sealed portion of us that is essentially the indwelling of God will remain. The miracle of salvation is the transformation of created being from “not God” to “God like”. We will see Him as he is because we will be as He is. God will no longer be a singularity but the foremost of a perfect congregation.

And so the final question is this: Where do YOU fit in? As a created being, and not being God, you have that capacity for imperfection. Each day of our lives, we are presented with our own “Garden of Eden” confrontation, both collectively and individually, and each day we fail. Our nature demands it. We are flawed. We cannot exist in God’s presence because we are not as He is. Our only hope is the physical, spiritual, and existential conversion of “not God” into that which is “of the same substance as God”. As imperfect beings we are unable to attain perfection.

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

 (Galatians 2: 16)

We require no less than God Himself, in the aspect of His son, the motive force of creation, to continue that creative process in us. Because the task is so herculean, only God could accomplish it. His nature must be satisfied and yet we cannot. In His infinite brilliance, God created a plan whereby we could exist in Him by existing in us. Thus Christ because one of us for all eternity, that we might become one with Him. The vehicle of this transformation is faith. We can simply choose to identify with Christ and allow him to continue the creation story within us, or we can choose to remain as we are; imperfect and lost.

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A Splash of Gratitude December 2, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, General Ranting, Religion.
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A sermon on Gratitude loosely following a chapter from Max Lucado’s book, “You’ll Get Through It”. The sermon was delivered on 12/1/2013 at Central Baptist Church. We need to remember that whatever it is, we don’t own it. We are just borrowing it.

NOW I remember what it was…. September 19, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, Religion, Science and Technology.
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I began a missive the other day concerning relativity and time dilation. I lost the thread about half way through and could NOT pull it together. While talking to our preacher earlier this week it dawned on me what exactly I was trying to say. I would like to first caveat my comments by saying that if you are of the Calvinist persuasion you will not like or agree with what I am about to say but I believe I can support my position with scripture.
There is a debate in Christian circles (hah! yeah like there is only ONE) concerning the doctrine of predestination versus the idea that all men are called to salvation. I can see both sides of the issue but I believe there is more scriptural basis for the idea that God calls all men and each has a right to choose, free of any destiny.

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might
be the firstborn among many brethren.

Romans 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom
he justified, them he also glorified.

Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good
pleasure of his will,
Most followers of the Hyper-Calvinist doctrine use at least one of the preceding verses as their justification for over applying the idea of predestination. The doctrine of predestination is generally accepted to mean ” the divine foreordaining of all that will happen, esp. with regard to the salvation of some and not others. It has been particularly associated with the teachings of St. Augustine of Hippo and of Calvin.” (Merriam-Webster).

The trouble with that doctrine is that its purveyors mistake intention with foreknowledge. Once again, to define terms, foreknowledge is considered to mean “awareness of something before it happens or exists.” (Merriam-Webster). God is aware of the choices we will make but that does not mean He orchestrates them. The Bible is VERY clear about God’s intentions toward men concerning salvation.
1 Tim. 2:3-4 “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”
 
  2 Pet. 3:9  “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”

Salvation is open to “whosoever will”. We are instructed to believe and be saved. God would that all people should abide with him.

Does God have foreknowledge? Is He aware that some will not accept His gift? Yes but does that mean He ordered things to be that way in infinity past? NO. To say that would imply that all things are destined to be and that God’s will can never be thwarted. This is not the case. Our actions can hinder God’s will. It happens every Sunday in churches across America. Someone in the grip of making a decision looks down the aisle as they are preparing to step out during an invitation only to see some jaded, bored Christian texting or tweeting or playing Angry Birds during the invitation. Immediately the devil begins to whisper into the potential convert’s ear about how all these people are hypocrites and he or she should wait until they find a REAL church to be saved. The will of God is thwarted by simple human indifference. The mighty arm of God stopped dead still by some thoughtless child misbehaving.

Psalm 78:41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

1.Matthew 13:58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

It is not only possible but fairly easy to balk God’s will. It is, however, a very dangerous and foolish thing to do, and the consequences are nearly always disastrous.

Finally, We return to the very verse most often used as justification for absolute election to, in fact, justify the more Arminian view (even though we are NOT Arminian and categorically renounce the idea of falling from grace).

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might
be the firstborn among many brethren.

According to Romans 8:29 God predestined those whom He foreknew or had foreknowledge of that they might be brothers of His son Jesus Christ.  Who, if anyone, did God NOT foreknow.  He was aware of all of us from the beginning of time and so all of us are intended to be among the brethren of Christ.  He also knew that some would not accept that offer.  He still reaches out to those with all the power and sincerity that the conviction of the Holy Spirit can muster if for no other reason than to hope that they will change their minds.  Free will is a powerful force in the universe.  We may have no other power to call our own but we always have the power to choose.  God’s view is not limited to one destiny path for all humanity.  There are hundreds of millions of individual threads of possibility each leading inexorably to the same place but each taking a different route through the lives of believers and unbelievers alike.  All of these threads are possible.  All you have to do is choose.  Choose Jesus.

A Parable is NOT Two Male Cows August 19, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Books, Religion.
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Tonight is just a short scripture study on a passage that caught my attention. I had always had trouble with the parable of the householder who sent servants and then his son to receive the fruits of the vineyard. It dawned upon me tonight just how clearly this parable demonstrates the Father’s plan for the son.

Matthew 21
33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.

35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.

37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.

38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.

39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?

41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

For those who think God unjust or unkind in His treatment of the unsaved, I offer this interpretation. The owner of the vineyard may do as he pleases with his property. He builds and develops it into a useful and profitable venture for his own pleasure. He then hired others, sharing his wealth with them, again out of kindness, to work the vineyard and gain profit from it.
When the time of harvest arrived and the landowner sends servants to collect his share, the workers kill the servants and refused to give the landowner his due. How would YOU feel? Instead of bringing grief and misery down upon their heads, the landowner gives them another chance. In SPITE of the fact that they killed his servants, the landowner was willing to allow them to stay employed. Would any of us be that merciful? When the landowner sent his son and the workers killed him, Jesus asked the pharisees and scribes what THEY would do. They said “Kill the workers.” Even here, the landowner is merciful. He gives the workers a VERY long time to repent and apologize before he brings justice upon them.

The story is a very accurate depiction of the interaction between God and man over the last 2000 years. God built and prepared a paradise for man and shared it with him. He allowed man to profit from essentially no labor. Mankind rebelled. God sent prophets and servants to woo humanity back into the fold. The servants were killed or ignored. Others were belittled and scoffed at. Sounds remarkably like the treatment most Christians get when they declare themselves believers. God sent His son to bring mankind into the kingdom, not by force, but by offering them everything they needed. Humanity treated the son even worse than the servants that were sent before. Even now, after ridiculing and killing God’s servants, humanity is allowed room to repent.

2 Peter 3
8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

God is not ignoring the things that don’t please Him. He just does not want to punish and destroy people. The time is at hand. Today is the the day of salvation. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow and yet people live like they are going to live forever. News Flash: Death will NOT be cured before it comes for YOU. Be sure you are ready.

Ephesians 2
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Acts 16
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

Grace is free but any gift requires acceptance. You must be willing to believe. Belief is an act of will. Choose to believe and be saved. It’s as simple as that. If you have questions, comment below but remember…a sincere seeker will never be turned away but mockers will have no place in God’s heaven.