25 September 2012

The "God and evil" dodge (NEXT! #30)

by Dan Phillips

Challenge Version A: Why does God permit evil?

Response: Good thing He does, eh?

Challenge Version B: Can God be good and all-powerful, and permit evil?

Response: [Eyeing challenger.] Evidently.

(Proverbs 21:22)

Dan Phillips's signature


donsands said...

"It is what it is".

And the thing about a good God, is that He is always, always good. His goodness dosen't depend on me, and infact, I'm beyond any expression to show my gratefulness for His goodness toward me, such a wretched sinner.

"Amazing Grace how sweet, so very sweet the sound, that saves such a wretch as me."

Peter said...

Ok. I admit it. I don't get it.

God permits evil so he can show his wrath on the day of wrath?

Bob Edwards said...



Peter said...


Thanks, then I did get it.

DJP said...

An aside to newcomers, which I'd've put as first comment if I'd been online at 12:01am...

If you're new to this series, be sure to note it's #30, and click the large NEXT! at the bottom, so you can read the framing post.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Peter, more than that, God is patient with men who continually buck against Him and presume on His patience and grace and add to their wrath by indulging in the sin they love so much, not caring that one day God's patience will run out and He will exercise His wrath on them. This is as much about God's love and patience as it is His justice - because He permits us to live past conception, creatures that will naturally oppose His goodness.

Anonymous said...

Loved this one Dan.

If God didn't permit evil, he wouldn't permit...me, or the challenger. So I'm glad he does.

As R.C. Sproul so often points out, we don't get to ask if God is good or all-powerful, Scripture is clear on those things.

So...it only takes a minute to look around and see that, yup, the all-powerful and good God certainly allows evil.

DJP said...

Thanks, Daryl, bingo.

Peter said...


So this ultimately reduces to: God permits evil, because God created us with free will.

Isn't that the core of the idea?

Kerry James Allen said...

Witnessed to a guy the other day who brought up all the "evil that God allows." Perhaps the question we should be asking them instead of apologizing for God is, "Since the evil in the world is nothing more than the aggregate of individuals, how shall we address the evil, pain and problems you have caused sir (madam)? I have dealt with and am continuing to deal with mine. What about you?"

DJP said...

Peter, no. That is almost completely unrelated to what I am doing in this series and post.

Bill said...

Kerry - agreed. Another question to ask is "define evil." Invariably people give examples of evil rather than defining evil. Most folks can not give an acceptable, let alone biblical, definition.

Peter said...


I was trying to understand Daryl's comment. Specifically,

"If God didn't permit evil, he wouldn't permit...me, or the challenger. So I'm glad he does."

Here is how I understood it:

By permitting me (to exist, I presume), he necessarily permits evil. That must mean that the only way God could have created us was with evil (or the capacity for evil) within us.

Given that there is the capacity for evil in everyone, evil actually comes into the world through people (specifically through their wrong actions).

But isn't people making wrong actions just people using their free will?

DJP said...

If you didn't read the first post in the series, please do. If you did, I ask as a favor, when convenient, please read it again. I hope it'll help identify the intent of the posts in this series.

Peter said...

Ah, I get it.

Rational νεόφυτος said...

Theodicy is a difficult one to frame in a dodge, and although I like your answers and agree, this is still a difficult one to wrestle with for me.

DJP said...

Rational, here's a piece I did on the subject.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Love this one!

I can just see you, giving the challenger the Hairy Eyeball of Irony.

Daryl beat me to the punch, though. God tolerates evil, for a time, graciously giving us time to repent.

Julie G

Anonymous said...


I suppose you could wrangle an element of free-will into my post, but that wasn't my intent, nor, I think, does it answer the question biblically.

My point was, I am evil. Scripture and experience are both crystal clear on that point.
Since I am evil, were God to not permit evil, I and you and Adam & Eve themselves, would be blotted out before we could even begin.

OK, actually Adam and Eve would've been alive until they ate from the tree, but I've been evil since I was conceived...so have you.

So it's not about free will, it's about God's sovereign will to make for himself a world wherein those creatures which are in His image are is evil to their core, and the rest of creation is cursed.

To create such a world (or at least to voluntarily cause/allow/decree his perfect world to be so) is what His goodness has chosen to do.

Ours is not to reason why...but to go only so far as Scripture allows.

trogdor said...

It's hard to imagine something more evil than a miserable creature pretending to sit in judgment over his Creator.

Is it OK to link to an extended version of this? How about if it's Voddie Baucham?

DJP said...

Oh, Trog, I guess, okay. Because it's good, and because he's a neighbor.

Peter said...


Thanks for your response. I see what you were getting at now.

jmb said...

Those are good answers. Puts me in mind of what G.K. Chesterton wrote to a newspaper that asked the question, "What's Wrong with the World?" Chesterton's reply:

Dear Sirs:

I am.

Sincerely Yours,

G.K. Chesterton

scrapiron said...

I've always explained the "good and evil" thing by the fact that one wouldn't know how good "good" is unless you had a bad "evil" to compare it to.

Aaron said...

This is a good post, but I've always appreciated how Paul said it in Romans 9:

"But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

Robert said...

The thing is we don't have a comprehensive view/understanding of things. Look at Joseph and his brothers...what they meant for evil (and surely anybody watching would ahve called it evil), God meant for good. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things for the good of those He has called. And we know that all things for for His glory, which all truly good things are done for.

I'm not saying that there is no such thing as evil, for surely sin is evil and must be punished...but God works through evil for our good and His glory. And He is even longsuffering in enduring the evil of the world because He is patient to bring salvation to His elect.

And to be honest, all we deserve is death and hell anyways. So why are any of us complaining to the Creator and Sustainer of all life?

Jim Pemberton said...

It's the sort of thing where people are inclined to bend the scriptures to their own flawed sensibilities rather than allow their sensibilities to be straightened out by the scriptures.

So in this case the argument presumes to point out what seems like a contradiction. The problem is that such thinking is flawed. Scripture clearly indicates that not only can God be omnipotent and holy and still permit evil, but He can glorify Himself in the process.

Once we realize this, we can correct our philosophical error and see how it impacts our thinking in other areas.