Ask this question in a group and you will soon find out who has the gift of self-control and who does not. Sure to fire up emotions on all sides, we still have to try our best to think clearly and critically about it. My purpose is not to create a full-scale scholarly research paper here, but just to ask and answer the questions as simply as I am able.
I think this will get us to the heart quickly:
Q) Who is God and how do we know about Him?
A) He is who He says He is, and He reveals Himself in the pages of the Bible, alone (as far as written words go). The cosmos also tells us about His nature, power, and wisdom among other things.
Q) Is it possible for God to have created this cosmos, and yet not be sovereign over all things?
A) No. (I failed post-modernism 101).
Q) Has God relinquished His sovereign control over some things for a greater reason?
A) Ephesians 1:11 “We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will (HCSB).” So we see that God has retained His sovereign control over all things.
Q) Does this make us human beings robots without real choice? Is evil a reality outside of God?
A) We have real choices to make within the sovereign decrees of God, and evil is truly chosen by human beings – although God has foreseen and chosen to use the evil of free creatures as a part of His plan to bring all glory to Himself. He can do that.
Q) Can we absolutely comprehend the resolution between these seemingly exclusive elements?
A) Only if you are God.
Q) Can we be at peace with a God who allows suffering and evil to bring Himself glory?
A) Do we have a choice? Also, yes, because He is all-good, all-holy, and thankfully, perfect love. He is trustworthy and powerful to rule over evil, override it for His glory and our good, and punish it in accord with His justice.
Q) Isn’t this a bit like what infamous anti-theist Christopher Hitchens alluded to when he compared God’s rule in our world to living in a cosmic North Korea?
A) If you start with humans at the center of your worldview, maybe. If you start with the proper center of all things, namely God, and allow His self-revelation to inform your worldview, then absolutely not. He created us to share in His joy and eternality – our rebellion in sin is cause for just condemnation and punishment.
Q) Is there such a thing as hope?
A) I’m glad you asked. There is not only hope, but assurance of peace with God. All real hope is based on His own gracious initiative to send His divine Son to earth as a man; He lived the perfect life we could not live and paid the sin debt humanity could never pay. The Son of God, Jesus, who created the cosmos and rules it eternally, not only died as a man, but then rose from the dead days later, proving that He had paid the full sin debt of all people who would ever repent of their sin, trust in Him as their only hope, and follow Him as their treasure. There is hope because there is the forgiveness of sin available to any person – to all people everywhere.
Q) Isn’t that just your religion Justin?
A) In the same way that gravity is my law.
Thanks for reading,