Does God Create Evil?

The text under consideration is Isaiah 45:7, in the ESV: “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.” Now, this rendering doesn’t seem nearly so problematic as the KJV, which reads like this: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” Here is the Hebrew:

 יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חֹשֶׁךְ עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא רָע אֲנִי יְהוָה עֹשֶׂה כָל־אֵלֶּה׃

Now, the word in question is ra’. This word has a range of meanings centering around two main meanings, “evil” and “bad.” The question is, what is the meaning of ra’ here? John Calvin says this, “Fanatics torture this word evil, as if God were the author of evil, that is, of sin; but it is very obvious how ridiculously they abuse this passage of the Prophet. This is sufficiently explained by the contrast, the parts of which must agree with each other; for he contrasts “peace” with “evil,” that is, with afflictions, wars, and other adverse occurrences.” Then he goes on to note that “we ought not to reject the ordinary distinction, that God is the author of the “evil” of punishment, but not of the “evil” of guilt.” Indeed, the contrast does point the way here toward that understanding of ra’ as “bad.” Whatever it is, it is the opposite of “shalom,” which means “peace, well-being.” This is similar to E.J. Young’s approach (quoted by Baltzer, though missing a key sentence). Young argues that this refers to more than just calamity. It refers to the absolute decree of God. This means that God ordains whatsoever comes to pass, and yet God is not the author of evil. The difficulty with this position is that the Hebrew here is bara’, which is used of absolute creation by God everywhere else it is used (for instance, Genesis 1:1). Whatever the ra’ is, God created it. Therefore, I believe that Calvin’s approach is better. The context must allow its say in how we define the term ra’. So the ESV is a better translation than the KJV here, though the older usage of the word, if remembered, rescues the KJV from obsolescence.


  1. November 30, 2006 at 10:11 am

    God can and only accomplishes His own holy will.

  2. Seth McBee said,

    November 30, 2006 at 10:42 am

    I have absolutely nothing to add…just wanted to say that I love learning more about the languages and also some of the difficult parts of Scripture before I am confronted on them in front of others. Nothing feels worse than not having an answer, not that it is wrong NOT to have an answer, but as a teacher you love to at least have a biblical opinion on matters.

    so, thank you for the “heads up”

  3. Gomarus said,

    November 30, 2006 at 11:02 am

    Thanks for the explanation, Lane. I too agree that Calvin has the right understanding by relating it to the context. I may link to this in a comment on my blog series where you first raised the question. :-)

  4. theologian said,

    November 30, 2006 at 11:13 am

    This passage in the KJV gave me trouble until i read Calvin. I really like his treatment on the whole topic of theodicy.

  5. greenbaggins said,

    November 30, 2006 at 12:38 pm

    The balance of the WCF is really good here: God ordains whatsoever comes to pass, yet so as that He is not the author of evil. God is completely good, and therefore canno be the author or evil. This is a prime example where our systematic theology (i.e., the rest of Scripture) needs to be a key influence in our exegesis.

  6. Thomas Twitchell said,

    December 4, 2006 at 2:36 am

    I like Johnathan Edwards view. He was not ashamed to say that God was indeed the author of evil. There are two words used in Hebrews that are translated author. One means “creator”, and the other means the “first in.”
    I am not saying that we should read from the English back into the Greek or Hebrew, I just lay this out as a basis for what follows.

    We understand that God is not the doer of evil. He is not in it, nor is it in Him. God does not temp nor is he tempted. That however is quite a different thing than what the Scriptues mean when they say that “All things were created by Him, and without Him nothing was created that has been created,” and that “He upholds all things by the power of His might.”

    It must also be kept in mind that God is able to create what is not essential to Him. That is, He is Spirit, yet he created the material universe. In fact, He created the ethereal univese, and it is not essential to His being, either. Unless one wants to make sin self-existant and thereby propose that there is a god besides God, then we have to have a beginning for sin. We cannot say that it arose by the will of another, for then we would have another creator. And, God says he knows of no other. We also cannot say, with A.A. Hodge, that evil is the removal of righteousness, for that would in essence make negation as much a creative act as positively creating. Nor can we say that evil is not a thing, because nothing by definition does not exist. If we say that it is nothing, we destroy the revelation of Scripture concerning its existence. A reality that even without Scripture is revealed by natural revelation and is why the whole world is declared to be under sin.

    It would seem best then to leave the Scripture to speak for itself. If you want to argue about the language of Isaiah, fine. Shalom also speaks of salvation, and of the perfect righteousness of God, and of His rest. It is His name.

    If he can create, then He can create us in His image, wholly good, and if He is creator He can create that which is the antithesis of His nature, which He has, as Isaiah has declared. Paul has said the same, unless the vessels formed for wrath are considered something other than evil. Does the Scriptures say that He has also prepared the Destroyer for the day of destruction, and is that not what was said about Judas? Are his decreedal acts any different than His creative ones? Or, as far as God is concerned, is to decree the same as to bring into being.

    Hebrews say that Jesus is the author (first in) the Faith, it also say that He is the author (creator) of our Faith and the perfector (the one bringing it to completion). The difference is one of our understanding. The Faith of Christ is a pure one, beholding the Father face to face. It is in complete knowledge of its object and one with it. That is quite different from the creation of the New Man and which is only made possible for the believer through the miraculous action of His desire to be in us and we in Him. All other things in creation are outside of Him.

    It is here that some of the Reformers deviated from Scripture and from one another. For evil is a created thing and by its very nature is separate from the Creator. But in this they were also in agreement, that God being separate from His creation, is still active and immediate with it. “All things are upheld by the power of His might,” expresses the three essential attributes of God, omnicience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. Thus we see God who from the beginning has decreed all things whatsoever come to pass, so that he is neither the author nor the doer. So, the creeds held that by this the agency of secondary causes was upheld. When that is said it must be understood that He alone is the Creator. He does not devise evil, but he has ordained it. He does not participate in it but he has decreed it by his power.

    So, I stand with Edwards, if it is blasphemy to say that He is sin’s author because He has decreed it, as He has all things that have or will ever be, and is therefore its Creator, then so be it. But, I stand with Edward’s, and God Almighty also, to declare that there is only one True God who is the only Creator. Edward’s, and I have to agree, believed that God is bringing each and every moment into being as it is. He is the God of the eternal now, the Great I Am. Jesus said, “The Father is working even now, and so am I.” The only other view is one of many different sorts of deism. But, Our God is the Creator, now. If that is disturbing, it is only disturbing to those who do not trust that He knows the future.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    December 7, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    I can agree with Edwards on this. God ordains whatsoever comes to pass, including evil. Yet He does this not as the author of evil. I don’t think that I could say that God created evil. To me that sounds too much like doing evil. But I am quite comfortable with saying that God ordains evil.

    I think of evil as a twisting of what is good. Tolkien had a great deal to say about this in the Lord of the Rings. Orcs are twisted elves, the Ring-Wraiths were once men, but are now twisted. Everything that is evil is a twisting of what was good. Morgoth ultimately twisted himself, though created by Iluvatar. Iluvatar did not create Morgoth to be evil, though evil he became. I think we must avoid the danger of ascribing too much to God or too little to God in the matter of evil. If we ascribe too much, then we are in danger of saying that God is not good. If we say too little, then we are in danger of saying that God has no control over evil. Furthermore, if we ascribe too much to God, then we point the finger away from ourselves. If we ascribe too little to God, then there is no victory over evil. This, by the way, is the fundamental problem with pantheism: there is no way to get rid of evil. We also have to remember that eventually there will be no evil in the new heavens and the new earth. This is vital to remember in the question of how God deals with evil: He already has.

  8. Thomas Twitchell said,

    December 7, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    Greenbaggins, like that name.

    Riddle me this: where did the motivation for twisting good into evil come from? We get into an infinite regress if we go down that path and it answers nothing.

    If we say that evil is just twisted good, is it still essentially good? (A pelagian type of evil?) Or is it something of a totally different nature?

    Scripture talks about it as a distinct nature. No one simply tainted, or just twisted, needing only to be straightened. It speaks of it as unable to do good, impossible for it. It is written that what is require is a New Creation, not a mere reformation. Yes, there are twisted things that are spoken of as evil. But, we are not talking about things, but the things that makes them evil.
    It was not good elves that made orcs. It was evil elves that made them. The question is where the evil in the elves came from.

    Again, you make God to be of his creation. He is not, and a thing created is by nature, not God. Being the first cause of all things what so ever come to be no more makes God a thing, than a thing can make itself God. That Adam was created in the image of God, does not make him God, and though God has seen fit to make man responsible, it does not follow that the things that man does make God is responsible. We still cannot deny that evil is a thing, however you want to describe it. It was not the devil who killed Adam. It was God. Now, the idea is that God affixed evil to Adam and his race. It was not the sin of eating the fruit that killed Adam either, it was God. If we look at this in reverse we see mankind under sin, then he sins. It is not the sins that are sin, but sin that makes sins. What we have in Adam’s first sin is an action that was effect by a corrupted understanding, which did not come from him, but from without. If we go to Satan, the only reference we have is that sin was found in him. The hebrew word means to arise from within.

    As Edwards so clearly defends the sovereignty of God the question is not what the person does but where the motivation comes from that is the question. So Satan had sin in him. Where did it come from?

    It is not that I have to answer this question for my own conscience sake. I am not superstitous, though. I believe that all that the Scripture has revealed to us is true. It says that all things, be it sin an an entity or an influence, it makes no difference. That he is its creator is without question. It is in answer the worlds question that we must be ready to give an answer. And answering them with, “Sin, who know from whence it came,” is no answer. It is also necessary to answer those in the church who say that God is not in control of everything.

  9. Lee said,

    December 7, 2006 at 6:50 pm

    Just for the record about Tolkien, even Melkor’s twisting of the song of Illuvatar was already in the plan of Illuvatar. “And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite” (Simirillion pg. 6)

  10. Lane Keister said,

    December 9, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    Good point, Lee, about Melkor, by the way. I had forgotten that quote.

    Thomas Twitchell, thanks for a very thought-provoking comment. There are many things in it with which I agree. I agree, for instance, that God is completely sovereign over evil (though I do think this is possible to say even if we say that God did not create evil). I agree that evil is part of God’s plan. I agree that sin makes sins, not vice versa (I mean that we sin because we *are* sinners; we are not sinners because we sin, ultimately).

    However, I cannot see God as the source of evil, and I think there are two good reasons for this. The first reason is that ultimately there is no eternal answer to evil if God is the source. If God “sourced” it out once, then He can do it again, even in the new heavens and the new earth. However, Scripture teaches that there will be no evil in the new heavens and the new earth. I believe that the cross is the answer to evil, and will ultimately stamp out all evil when Christ comes again.

    The second problem I have with saying that evil has its source in God is that I don’t believe that Scripture teaches this anywhere. I have already exegeted Isaiah 45:7 in the post. I believe there must be a distinction between God controlling evil (even ordaining it) and God creating evil. Can we not say that the source of evil is in us? As G.K Chesterton wrote in his famous 2-word exam (the exam question was this: “What is wrong with the world?”), “I am.” I don’t think that this has to involve an infinite regression or a dualism, since true dualism means that good and evil are equal and opposite, whereas God is infinitely more powerful than evil. Satan is not God’s opposite, but Michael’s opposite. The reason my position doesn’t need to involve a regression is that evil could have another source outside of God that is temporary (not eternal). God created Satan, we know. And yet God did not create Satan evil. Satan was not evil when first created, nor was anything else that God created. That is why I think you have thrown away too quickly the idea of twisted good. I agree that the world is so twisted that it needs a complete overhaul. However, good has not been entirely eradicated from this world by the Fall. That would be a Lutheran understanding, but not Reformed. The Reformed view of the image of God, for instance, is that the image of God has been twisted and distorted almost out of recognition, but not eradicated. This is proved in scripture by Genesis 9, where the reason for capital punishment is the image of God (which must therefore still exist). There are a couple of other passages as well that point in this direction. As with mankind, so with the rest of creation, I think.

  11. Thomas Twitchell said,

    December 11, 2006 at 2:41 pm


    The Reformed view of the image of God being twisted and distorted almost out of recognition, I fully agree with that. But, is not what is meant by that, is that what is essential to the being of a rational moral agent remains, not that it retains the likeness of God in an sense of perfection in the original creation. Satan, too, is a rational moral agent, and in that sense in the likeness of God. Yet, none of us would consider him capabale of “good,” though he manifests himself as light. So, though the image has not been irradicated, it is a Calvin intends,nothing of what it was in its original.

    I do not think that you understand what is good. You contend that some good remains. This is at the least semi-Pelagian.

    You also fail to recognize that the fallen nature of man is not the result of removal of grace that attends to goodness so that good results. It is a distinct nature, never capable of doing good.

    You rightly say that God did not creat Satan evil. I did not contend that, either. But, the Hebrew word for “found” means to arise from, or bring forth from within. If you wish to say that he gathered to himself which is allowable, or that God discovered it in him, you have not relieved youself of the discovery of its origin.

    If evil is not essential to its self but is just the dimunition of good, we have come no further in answering the questions that are posed by an unbelieving world. They know the doctrine of sovereignty better than we, then it would appear. For, they understand that it could not exist under the rubric of sovereignty of its own accord. It is mere superstition by which we try to release ourselves from answering. That fear leads to a misunderstanding of the holiness of God as separate and though immediate with his creation he is not essential in it. The same arguement against God as its creator is also used to establish contingent free-will of the creature. Even if you contend that evil is merely the dimunition of good, you have not answered from where the dimunition arises. If you say that it arises in the creature, then from where did the motivation to cause it to rise come from? If we go down that path we become involved in infinite regress that you say you avoid. Edwards clearly demonstrated the falacy of this proposition as it tends always to make the creature the creator. God is the first cause of all that exists by this is the doctrine of the contigency of secondary causes established. His soveriegnty finds its expression in that he has predestinated what so ever comes to pass, so that he is not the authorof sin. If we mean by that that it arose on its own then we remove from him the firsts cause. The contingency of creatures is not free such that it suprises God but is bound by his immediate creative action in the now. We are not deists, but theists, as it is written, “Every day of my life has been written in your book before one of them came to be…The heart of the king is in the hands of the Lord…he turns it what ever way…and who has given God council that he should listen to them…He works all things after the council of his own will…”

    If you wish to agrue that God so willed that Satan, or man could will into existence what is, then you have fallen captive to Pelagianism, that is that neither virtue or vice are essentials, but arise out of choice. I am sorry if you are offended by this, but it is so subtle a device that its presentation to us at once confounds the mind. It is the lie, the great delusion, Satan’s slight of hand, that man could by his naked will determine for himself what is good or evil. The tree of the Knowledge of good and evil, in and of itself is not Evil. Ted Haggard held this blaphemous position. Genesis records, “man has become like us knowing good and evil. In the possession of God this knowledge neither contaminates the agent, nor necessitates the doing of it. In the possession of the creature it will alway produce it. What I contend is that the knowledge of good and evil may have been in Satan from the beginnig. Knowing it is not the same as doing it or being it. Satan was indeed created good, the anointed cheribim. I am not saying that God tempted the devil, what I am saying is that just as in the Garden the presence of the tree presented the possibility that Adam would eat. It is not that Adam had a knowledge of good and evil from the beginning. Satan may have, though. In any case the possession of that knowledge will always bring forth evil in the creature if only on the grounds of probability. I do not contend for chance, only that it was inevitable, Neo.

    We are left with this conundrum, if God has an eternal knowkedge of evil, whether you define it as a dimunition of good, or essential in its being, it is still a thing. God is the creator of all things. If you make evil mere dimunition of good, that reduction of good is still the creative act of God, unless you propose a god beside God, for it did not come to be because it was a conception in the mind of the creature before the eternal knowledge. Unless prehaps you are in agreement with the Arminians, whose sense of foreknowledge is divorced from God predestination rather than assumed in it.

    In the beginning….Did God create darkness? You juxtapose Satan and Michael and I understand what you are trying to say, however, darkness is not the merely the opposite of light is it? It is not coequal and just the negative is it? Does not light distroy darkness by it essence? Then it is not equal. Because Michael would not bring an accusation against the devil, likewise does not make Lucifer and Michael equals. Would this not lead us to the revaltory discovery that God has his opposite and equal? God is light and we do not extend the analogy that darkness is his equal or oppossite, any more than we say that since God created light after darkness that evil preceeds God.

    You said that God could create evil again. What may ask could prevents him? We do not have the relelation of what God is going to do in the absolute future, but I think the answer does not lie in what he could do, but in the answer afforded in Genesis that when he had finished creation, he rested. You call evil temporary and perhaps, and I would agree here, that evil as an essence distinct from the evil nature of the creature, will be destroyed, yet evil in the creature will persist eternally, and evil thereby is not temporary. That it persists eternally is born out by testimony of Scripture and its depiction of eternal punishment of the wicked (evil ones).

    Calvin furthers the discription of the fall as not just the twisting or distortion of good, but that that image is all but distroyed and as good as. But, here again I do not believe that in the confessions we are not talking about the essence of evil. It is clear that evil nature is a distinct creation, utterly incapable of good, void of it, not just the diminishing of it. What you call good in creation, is not some vestiture of the image of God, but God working providencially restrains evil preventing it from becoming in every way evil only. Such is the case with God’s providential expulsion of A&E from the Garden, or that “God makes it to rain on the wicked as well as the good…or, “makes light to shine out of darkness.” We should not confuse how God is making known his revelation to his fallen creatures with what he has done in the curse. It should also be note that the amoral material universe is not essentially evil. It is subject to the curse but in a different way. Dirt is dirt, man is man, it is not dirt that is a breathing soul, it is man.

    You are mixing apples and oranges. You make the tree the same as the root. Those faculties in which the image of God cannot be evicerated have to do with the essential elements that make the person, that is the rational moral agent. That is not what is meant when we say that the nature is evil. Evil nature works though those elements. Or, to say it differently, it is expressed through the faculties of will, emotion, mind, etc. I am not questioning how God did it. God create the earth, out of the ground he created man, out of man woman. Satan was the causal agent of Eve’s demise, she Adam’s, and we are the result of Adam’s trangression. Still, in all this God is not to be blamed. He is however the first causal agent, yet remains holy, separated from his creation by his essential nature. I am not saying that the will of the creature is evil by nature, as the confessions agree, neither bent to good or evil its nature. It is the essence of the evil nature that choice by the creature produces evil in creation. We are not by the same statute of essence good in the same way that God is Good. We do not have an essential goodness, but a created one, if I am not confusing you. The essence of good in the creature is a created one, incapable of corruption. Adam did not just stumble from goodness, he fell from it. The idea of the fall is not simply to miss the mark, it is to be in complete darkness unable to see the mark.

    It was not just that Satan said that Eve would be like God, but would be as God. The lie was that she would be utterly different than she was. This twisted knowledge of death is not without its root, for God had said that in eating this fruit they would die and in dying they would be utterly dead. Not just mostly dead, or somewhat dead, or just sick.

    Death is talked about, not just as a diminishing of life, but as a thing which will be destroyed in the lake of fire. Now, there is the termination of death as an entity unto is self, symbolizing sin. But, as I said before, sin and death will persist in the agents of sin, eternally. And, I would agree with you that sin could have an origin outside of God, but only in that we do not make it nothing. And, if we agree that by what ever means, God brought it into existence through secondary causation. I would have to contend though, that it was God who made the clay.

    I would disagree with you as to their being no eternal answer to evil if God is its source. As I have argued previously, you do not make a distinction between the creator and his creation. As to evil being brought into existence in the new heavens and new earth, Scripturally, that is an impossibility. It is written, “They shall not learn sin anymore…and He is the light there of…so that where I am they may be…and if I go away, I will come again and received to myself…and there we shall be together always…. His promise rules out that theye ever will be sin in the new heavens and new earth because sin cannot abide in his presence.

  12. Lee said,

    December 12, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    I know I tread into dangerous territory by wading into this debate, but I am not sure I can agree with either of you.

    Thomas Twitchell said, “What we have in Adam’s first sin is an action that was effect by a corrupted understanding, which did not come from him, but from without.”
    I cannot agree with this statement. Are you suggesting that God twisted Adam’s understanding? Are you suggesting that the fruit of the tree was somehow magical and twisted Adam’s understanding? If Adam’s action resulted from something done to him, then how is he responsible for it?

    Lane said, “I think of evil as a twisting of what is good.” This too seems too much like Augustine’s privation theory, and has some trouble with some biblical passages, in my opinion.

    That being said, I should put forth a theory of my own for you all to pick apart. I think it comes from biblical passages such as Acts 2:23, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:” I do believe that God ordains whatsoever comes to pass including sinful and evil actions. It is fairly explicitly stated in Acts. God delivered Jesus to the cross by determinate counsel. A fairly active description. The action of the Jews to turn Jesus over to the Romans and Pilate to allow him to be crucified anyway was all determined by God. Yet, God’s reason for the death of his son is not the same Pilate’s nor the Jews. I believe that evil then is not a thing that is created, but rather it is a motivation.

    No action in and of itself is evil. For example, eating fruit is not evil. Adam ate a lot of fruit. But eating the fruit from a tree God told him not to eat was wrong because it meant he no longer cared about God. It was the motivation that made the act wrong. Another example is killing. If I told you that I killed someone, you would have no basis for knowing whether or not the act was evil. I could have killed a man in war, or someone who was trying to steal my wife and children or harm me. All of that would not be considered evil. But, if I shot a man in cold blood that would be considered evil. The difference is not in the act, but in the reasoning and motivation. In this manner then man is the author of evil since it is his selfish-contra-God-motivation that is evil, but God ordaining the action with a different motivation is free from being the author of evil.

  13. Jade said,

    December 12, 2006 at 9:31 pm

    I agree with Lee’s comments (sorry to just drop into this discussion). There are many examples where God allows evil to strike even upon his chosen ones for Godly purposes. Prime example is Job:
    Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
    “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
    The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

    As we all know the Lord allowed hardship to be placed upon Job (have to admit more than most of us every go through!)…so that his faith would come out as pure gold.

    Another passage that comes to mind is 1Cor 5:4, when Paul speaks of the immortal brother (a man has his father’s wife) and what needs to be done with him:
    hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

    But you probably already know all about this. :)

  14. Thomas Twitchell said,

    December 14, 2006 at 3:18 am


    No. God works through secondary agency. He is not the doer of evil. He does not temp man with evil, nor is he tempted by itl. Nor is evil coeternal with him nor self-existent without him.

    Edwards and Calvin would look at this in exactly this way, that the will is inextricably bound to the thoughts. Our confessions admit that our first parents were deceived. Though Adam was created good with a mind inclined to obedience, to right action, it was through capturing his mind that Eve deceived him being fully in transgression, herself being deceived by the Serpent. Eve was condemned for deceiving, just as the Snake, Adam was condemned for listening to his wife, he being deceived. Which is why the woman is not allowed to teach. It is not that the woman was not deceived, but that she became the transgressor, deceiving her husband. She corrupted Adam’s understanding, (she taught him wrongly) either to the view that God was not good, or that the fruit was not deadly (the exact syllogistics are not given, only the basic premises). In any case with Adam and with Eve, it came from without, not from within, at least in my translations. With the snake, however, Ezekial tells us that it came from within, as far as we can tell. It is given that Satan was not evil when he was created, but at the very minimum the knowledge of evil was in him from the beginning, which he did choose. Otherwise, it would have been God who tempted him to evil. But the very knowledge itself is not evil and it can not be said that a diminished good is evil, (Calvin condemned such absurdity, by the way), for the agency that diminished it would have had to be itself either good acting contrarily to its nature, or evil. It is a logical absurdity that good can diminish good, the same as saying that clean water added to clean water makes the later polluted. Or, that by pouring out some clean water from a cup makes the remainder unclean. It must be then that something was added, but since good and evil are of two absolutly distinct essences, or natures, like light and darkness, they cannot be confused or fused. It is anti-matter versus matter, positive and negative. To mix them is to annihilate both. We do not agree with the Arminian, or with the Manichees, or any the the vast array of Eastern mystics, nor the Pelagian. Our God who is quite different from the gods of this world, we believe, did something quite different in the curse. He removed life and in its stead he placed there death, or perhaps it can be said that he changed life into death. But the root of death is evil. It is expressed in James as desires (evil) that conceive sin(s) which when full-grown, bring forth death. When Jesus said to the teachers of Israel that they were of their father the devil, and of Peter’s flesh, when it spoke through Peter’s mouth, that the things of God were not in their hearts, and likened them to Satan, it was not that they were just diminished and with a little help they might get over it. But, as he said to Nicodemos, unless you are born again, that is, unless you have a new nature created in the image of God you cannot even see the kingdom, let alone understand it or enter into it. And, it is not in the darkness, that is sin, that he concieves, for he does not bind himself to the adulteress, but in the light of the Word of God are we conceived and that before all time had begun, when there was only the Light. Or, it is said that he puts new wine in new wine skins.

    Darkness cannot comprehend the light, and in the light there is no darkness at all. The great deception is that Lucifer whose name is brightness or light bearer, is a usurper and is called the morning star, a perversion, for Christ is called the Bright Star of the Morning, wanted to be the Light. Now he masquerades as the Light. One should not get confused by the fallen world, nor the symbols of revelation, for morning and evening appear a diffuse light, but it is not the light that is diminished by the earth that turns its back on the sun and appears to reduce the light and produce the dusk. It is not the earth that produces the darkness, it is what it is and it is not the light. Darkness and light are external to the earth. Darkness we know was in the beginning with the earth but was not it. God created light, and it was not the darkness, nor do they have any part in one another. God is the true Light and though he has the knowledge of darkness it has no place with him. So it also follows that he can create that which has no likeness within him and is absolute in its contradiction of his nature. God is light and there is no darkness in him, neither is there shadow of turning.

    Edwards would say that the will always acts in accord with what is “the highest good” in the view of the mind. In any case, Eve ate seeing the fruit was good to eat for food and beyond its natural ability as food, for the gaining of wisdom. It is what she believed, having been deceived was reasonable.

    As to responsibility. Jesus took upon himself the responsibility for the sins committed against him. Our doctrine of inherited sin, “original sin” is exactly to the point. We bear the responsibility for something that was done by another. It was God who transferred Adam’s transgression to us.He sinned and fell, we are fallen and therefore we sin. He sinned by deception and God cursed him with a fallen nature. We are decievers (Jacobs) by nature and so we sin. The sins of the fathers are visited upon their children. It is God who transfers the weight of our transgression to Christ. It is God who imputes (transfers) Christ’s righteousness to us. Sin and righteousness are not our will or our mind but the nature of sin or righteousness bends them according to its darkness or light respectively, so that they are as one. Calvin and Edwards agree on this. The will and mind are not by the nature of will and mind naturally bent one way or the other, but it is the root nature that is, either sin or righteousness that bends it. With Adam sin was without. With us it is within. This is also what the confessions say. Namely, that man was created with a will that was not by nature bent to good or to evil but maleably so that it could be bent. Without properly understanding imputed sin and the mechanisms through which they work (mind and will), we cannot undertand imputed righteousness and how it works through us to accomplish the works that God has before all time created that we should walk in them. Both Galatians and Romans agree with this scheme. Galations 5.17 is a very pointed synopsis of Romans 7. And Gal. 5.19-23 divide between those things done by one nature or the other that are in us. Paul is clear, the motivation that moves the will (thelo) is not resident in the will of the person but is a distinct creation essential to one nature, either the imputed righteousness or the imputed sin. And, I use sin as an equivalent to evil. So that we are at once both sinner and saint. Seeing that it is in us, we bear the responsibility. By grace God does not impute the penalty of sin, nor can we boast that it is we who have done anything according to an inherent righteousness, to merit reward. It is Christ is us the hope of glory, an imputed righteousness that is alien, from without, and yet he has made (recreated us) the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Not an empty shell filled with the Holy Spirit, but a New Man, in whom we live and move and have our being, created in the image of the Son, a true righteousness that is from God beginning to end. The mystery is that he has done it. We can never know the means that God has used to do it that are according to his nature the secret workings of God, but how it is done in time has been declared to us.

    Calvin would put it this way, If you only understand evil as a body that is racked with disease, yet has still some health in it, you have not yet come to understand the depths of the chasm of darkness that is sin.

    As I said, I do not deny God’s actions through secondary agency. It is in fact the very expanation of the fall. But, the fall is not the curse, and bending of good, as was the case with Adam’s will, is not the essence of evil. But, the sentence of death is very much like evil. It is absolutely separate and created, and has no place in life. Neither does evil have anything to do with good. “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or, what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.” So, yes the man is the author of evil who shoots in cold blood, but it is not the action that we are concerned with. You have rightly said that the origin of the secondary cause of the death of the man is not the shot that was fired, but the motivation. In fact, there is a string of secondary causes in the evil of killing a man with a bullet even if justified. We, however, are not trying to discover how the chain of events took place or even that it came from a “selfish-contra-God-motivation.” We are answering the question from where the motivation came from, and more than that where the contradiction first arose.

    Arminians will say that God created man in his image able to choose between good and evil. Still we have not progressed at all, for where did the evil come from that man was able to choose. I want to take a more careful approach then they do. For they say that God created man in his image able to choose to do good or evil. This is what the father of the modern Southern Baptist Convention, Hobbs, said, (I am SBC). Examine that statement. God’s image (man) able to choose evil. This is what all Arminianism says when you chase down their evil little word games. It is the free-will doctrine. It is only slightly removed from the Tao which is symbolized by the yin and yang in the Zen. A god who is able to choose to do evil is not the God of Christianity, nor is a god who is both good and evil. Still, it would do no good to say that God could choose to do evil as my Arminian aquaintences will admit in their defense of free-will. Because, we would be left with a self-existing evil or an evil created by another god outside of God from which he could choose. And, since there must be in the Arminian scheme alternative, they must also set good outside of God for a choice to be made. This all becomes rediculous. The problem of evil remains, and it is not good enough to say that it is just the negation of good, or good diminished. We certainly cannot make man a god who can bring it into existence on his own.

    You are correct Lee, contradiction of the truth is sin. Contradiction of the truth is a lie. We are not asking where lies come from but where the father of lies came from. Can we contemplate that a motivation to motivation would have to come before motivation, or that a thought to have a thought would have to come before the thouht of having the thought. It is an infinite regression that is meaningless. We must therefore concluded that evil motivation its self is the very evil of its source. Or, as the Scripture would reveal to us that the nature of root determines the nature of the fruit. Or, either the tree is wholly bad or it is wholly good.

    Sin is not diminished good, any more than darkness is diminished light. The Scripture indicates that our communion with God is pure like the marriage of a virgin with her groom. There is not sin in the virgin, for that would destroy the purity of the groom. God does not make himself one with a harlot. Neither is there any place in the light for darkness. Ours is an imputed righteousness that cannot be mingled with unrighteousness, or it would be corrupted and could not return to him. So too, imputed sin is not mitigated by any good remaining in man (even if that were the case), for that would be kind of righteousness by the works of the law, not unlike what Pelagius or Arminius would lead us into.

    One last thing for now, the eternal decrees place the beginning of all knowledge in God, and Genesis, the book of beginnings, tells us that the knowledge of good and evil is a knowledge that is his alone to possess. It was not the eating, nor the decision to eat, where the power of death resided, those were just the agents that God from all eternity saw necessary to glorify himself in his creation. It was God’s curse that killed man. They did not commit suicide. They were not murdered by Satan. For the power of life and death are the Lord’s. He executed them. But the guilt for those crimes rested upon their heads, individually, They chose their own over the head of all, who is Christ.

    Jade, there is no need to be shy, I just dropped in on this one, too. I hope you have understood what I meant by secondary agency. Whether it is a thing or a person does not really matter. God uses the matterial world, earthquakes, sunamis, mankind, pestilences, famine and flood. He uses the spiritual realm, angels, and imparts spiritual powers in the creature even asses like me, who when burdend by a rider cannot help but speak. It is not beyond comprehension that he creates all the mechanisms that he uses as the means to accomplish his will. As you have stated correctly it was God who willed the evil that came upon Job. But it did not come upon Job because it was first in the mind of Satan. It was in response to God’s initial suggestion that he acted as you have quoted. There is also the case with David where one Scripture says that it was God who incited him to evil. In another that it was Satan. We understand that it was God acting through the agency of secondary causation in all of Scripture, so that his vessels effectually carry out his will. It should not be passed over, though, that God is the only power in the universe, and that all things are upheld by his might, that he is the creator of all things, and that no thought of any king comes to their mind that God has not seen from afar (since before they were created). All that being said, it is not the pesonal agent that we have been talking about, but the anti-personal agent, evil, a created thing. It is not a person, but a nature. I use terms that I wish to incite your attention with. Evil is death, evil is darkness, evil will be punished in kind in the objects of God’s wrath individually, throughout eternity by absolute separation from God and absolute separation from any personal relationship with anything or anyone, forever. No fellowship, no water to quench, only consuming, flaming, passions with no object. Passions that have no expression of satisfaction for eternity. This should scare the hell out of anybody. It does not, except that the fear of God be born in us, anew. It does not register in the compassionless heart of stone. It only is heard in the heart of the Son of God that has been given to his children as an inheritance from the Lord.

  15. Jade said,

    December 14, 2006 at 10:29 pm

    Thomas writes:
    No. God works through secondary agency. He is not the doer of evil. He does not temp man with evil, nor is he tempted by itl. Nor is evil coeternal with him nor self-existent without him.
    I don’t think Lee meant that at least from his last statements…but then I can’t speak for Lee. :) (If Lee did meant that, then I’d have to change my mind and say, no, I don’t agree with Lee. :) I didn’t really go far up the page of this thread to catch all statements..lazy me! :) ) As James 1:13 states:
    When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

    But I still stick to the fact that God does allow evil to strike (as Thomas agrees) even on his chosen ones for godly purposes as Job clearly understands this when he scolds his wife in Job 2:10:
    “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
    Of course Job is not implying that God is the source of trouble, but that Job understood the Sovereignty of God and that nothing happens without the Lord’s approval.

    Thomas writes:
    It is not beyond comprehension that he creates all the mechanisms that he uses as the means to accomplish his will. As you have stated correctly it was God who willed the evil that came upon Job. But it did not come upon Job because it was first in the mind of Satan. It was in response to God’s initial suggestion that he acted as you have quoted.

    Interesting…if one were to read that passage of Job(1:8-12) that I quoted in my previous post, taking it at face value, one would have thought that God was tempted by Satan. And yet, as I quoted just above from the book of James, it clearly states that God cannot be tempted. But then again, God knows all things and knows the thoughts of all things before they come to mind (Psalm 139:1-4)! God understood Satan’s weakness —that he is unable to turn down a challenge (is that fair to say??) when God presented Job his servant as a righteous man. Hence, Satan (unknowingly) becomes an instrument of God’s will! Isn’t God just cool! :)

    Thomas writes:
    But, the fall is not the curse, and bending of good, as was the case with Adam’s will, is not the essence of evil. But, the sentence of death is very much like evil. It is absolutely separate and created, and has no place in life.

    Sorry Thomas, but you’re going to have to forgive me of my lame brain — you lost me here. :) And maybe part of **my** problem is I’m just too lazy to scroll up and read of all the comments…but could you elaborate here? The sentence of death is the consequences of evil. The fall is not the curse? Or do you mean the fall lead us to a curse? As Galatians 3:10 -All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Is that what you mean? Or am I just getting confused here? :)

    But what do you think about the other verse I quoted 1Cor 5:4. When I first read that scripture, it was rather harsh and radical, don’t you think? That is, Paul handing this man over to the evil one as a means of destroying the sinful nature? Is that to say that evil can purge sin? (I’m going to say no to this, but I’d like to hear what you’d have to say…which I know you’ll elaborate on). :) And BTW, thanks for welcoming me! :)

  16. Thomas Twitchell said,

    December 15, 2006 at 5:47 pm

    Yes, very much so, the sentence of death is the consequence of evil. But, I am dilineating here beween the sin, and the nature of sin, which is evil. Some of the difficulty is that the same words or translations of diverse words are rendered with an equivalents in English, but may have quite a diverse meaning in the context of the original lanquages or the context of all of Scripture.

    I do not think that, that is what Lee was stating, either. Man is a rational being though, and no matter how illogical our conclusions, they flow from certain presuppostions (true or false) held a priori from which we derive a posteriori proposistions. Or, to state it another way what we first perceive, unless contradicted by clear proof, will lead us to a determined end. What I was alluding to is the assumption, not presumtion. It is not from an a priori that Lee, (and not he alone but the traditional view) begins from, but an a posteriori. Namely, that since evil does not exist in God,(and this is absolutely true), that it cannot have its origin by his decreedal act of creation. This conclusion is based on a false premise, i.e., that action is the same as knowledge. The idea that God’s essential nature is one with his knowledge is likewise confuted by the very definition that as Creator he is not the thing which he creates.

    What I was pointing to was, that the world’s religions move from what is now the world in which we live, to what was in the decrees of God, and conclude that God is in the image of the creature or the things that are would not be. They conclude, besides other things, that god is either both good and evil, or that the god behind the gods is beyond the physical realm, so, absolutely metaphysical. They ofter believe that it is only by emination that he produces lesser gods who were responsible for the evil of the cosmos. That is not what I am saying, that is not what Scripture teaches, nor do I think that Lee understands our God in that way. I am saying that God created a nature, not an individual that is evil. And, that it is not, as the confessions confirm, that man’s will itself is good or evil by its own nature. As is rightly observed, evil men do good things. In Adam, the will was created inclined to do good (not neutral as Pelagian and Arminians claim). However, the will is not good by its nature, but was bent to good by the nature of goodness that was in Adam, what is called also, innocence, or purity, rigteousness, or life. In the beginning he also acted with goodness, that is, his actions were good (the naming of the animals were in perfect harmony with God’s calling them each one into existence according to its kind).

    Yes, the eating of the fruit was sinful, but have you considered what Jesus said, in two different contexts but with the same core idea. “Woe to anyone who causes one of these little ones to stumble…Father, for give them. For, they know not what they do.

    If you are familiar at all with the effects of abuse, such a sexual molestation either directly, or through premature (early) sexualization of the thoughts of children, you can get a sense of this more easily, as it is such an extreme example and grasp what Christ has said. Christ places in the most innoncent of stumblings, any of the commandments, then extends them to the most heinous of crimes, his own crucifiction (as it is written, “If you stumble at an one point of the law, you are guilty of the whole law). Notice, that the stumblings are sin, but they are the fault of the causal agent , not the stumbler, but the stumblings have their effect and their due penalty, as all sin does on the one who stumbles. The culpable party is the offender and bears his own responsibility. The one who stumbles is offended and the offence has effect and the offended one bears the responibility of the effect.

    Flash back to the garden. The snake is condemned for his sinning against Eve, causing Eve to stumble. Eve is held responsible for her actions, not just in deceiving her husband, but for eating what she had been lead to believe was good. So, we see Christ looking down upon the history of man kind all the way back to Eden, and prays, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” We now understand that the coverings that he had made them from skins of animals, prophesied his atonement for them as fulfilled by his broken body and shed blood.

    Again, this is exactly what you have alluded to in the passages that you quote. We have an old testament Scripture that goes like this. “See this day, I have placed before you life and good, death and evil. Choose life.” At first this appears that God is giving them the choice between good and evil. But, he does not say choose one or the other. He tells them which one to choose. In the garden it appears that God did likewise. He does not tempt them. Instead, what he had done with Adam was to say it is good that you do not eat of the Tree of Good and Evil. God does not temp man. He does not place him in circumstances that will be an act of God leading him to choose to cause himself to fall. In stead he uses secondary causation, remaining holy and separated from sin, to bring about his devine decrees. The law is not given to children that they may disobey it. It is given that they should obey, and in doing they will be blessed (Honor your mother and father….). We do not teach our children that they have choice, we tell them what good they may chose, and tell what what will be the penalty if they do not chose it.

    In the case of Job I would disagree that Job knew what he was talking about. In fact, what is shown at the resolution of his testing is that he held a wrong view of the God that he thought that he was worshipping. He, that is Job, had been worshipping a harsh task master, as is born out by his legalistic practices. Much like the pagans, under the law of recompense, he believed that his sacrifices were magic talismans that appeased his god. God’s statement about Job’s righteousness is a declarative one much like the declarative name Israel is of Jacob. Quite to the contrary to traditional teachings, he does exactly what his wife begs. In accusing God of unrighteousness, he curses God, and in a very true sense, dies spiritually. It is not as if Job had not been dying his whole life. It was a life of fear, not of love, a dreadful expectaion of punishment, not of expectation of God’s merciful grace.

    God has used throughout the testimony of Scripure agents for ill and good for the benefit of man kind, so that bearing long with the vessels prepared for wrath he might show his infinite mercy to his vessels of mercy. What does it mean, vessels prepared for wrath? Aspargus root contains a deadly posion, but used topically it is the (or at least it was) the only cure for scabbies, a tiny subcutaneous skin mite that burrows under the empidermal layers, hatching out in twenty-four hour cycles, usually at night. Let me tell you, when they are ubiquitous from head to toe, the itching and burning is hell. Now, God uses even evil to bring about good. Yet, he is not evil. The question of so many is how can a good God allow evil? That is not the proper question, but why. We have been told how. It is the why that involves us in the tautological, or circular reasoning that is expressed in I AM THAT I AM. It is here, not in the origin of evil that the things of God, that belong only to God, begin. He is because he is, but all others are because he is.

    Evil cannot purge evil, but God has chosen the foolish things to confound the wise. He uses those who are evil to persecute and to purge the sin from the saint (Job, the Church). He uses our own sins to humble so that we throw ourselves upon the mercy of his inexaustable love. The awesomeness of God working by the hands of sinners to bring salvation to man is the mystery of the Cross. Never let it be said that God does evil. Though it pleased him to crush the Son, he was not doing evil by doing so by the means that were in his hands. He uses evil for it is he who has created the destroyer for the day of destruction and that day will initiate the eternal kingdom. It is just as you have said in so many words, if they had have known that they were crucifying the Son of God, they would not have put him to death. Then where would we be? There would be no resurrection, and we would be the most miserable of men, for we would believe in vain.

    Yes, the consequence of evil is death, but death is not without sin nor can death itself remove sin. Through death the Lord took sin away from those he was saving. Jesus took our sins upon him, and though perfectly innocent, he died and not just in a figurative sense but in truth. In the person of his flesh he bore the full impact of sin, that is evil. Now how are we to explain that an innocent person dies, responsible for the sins of another, except that sin (not sins) itself is the root of death, and as is the root, also its fruit. The fruit that Eve ate was the serpents lie, which she believed in innocence. Is it in the listening, is it in the handling, the biting and chewing, the swallowing or are these merely the mechanisms by which we consume the poison. It is the poison that kills, is it not? And here is where the sinning is, it is in the contemplation, as Jesus said, as a man thinks in his heart so is he, and guard your heart with all due diligence for out of it flow the issues of life, and man will be held accountable for every idle word that is spoken, and beware of the leavening of the teachers, guard what you hear.

    The fall is a process. It begins with a wily, deceptive creature who speaks words of beguilement, twisting the knowledge that was at first in Eve’s mind, bending it away from the will of God, to his. Eve saw only what she believed she knew, it is the grand delusion. Not simply parlor tricks, but far more devious and powerful is the enemy and the way that he works. He exerts his control over the minds of men, bringing them into captivity. We have been given the task of taking every thought captive, throwing down every lofty arguement that would exalt itself above the knowledge of God. So, no, there is a greater source of sin than the eating (sinning). There is unbelief, and it is evil by nature, it does not just reside in the mind. Unbelievers do not just not believe, but there is behind their unbelief the darkness of their understanding, real evil. In Eve’s case, she in her act of unbelief believed that what she was doing was good. It was goodness, at least in the eye of her mind that she thought she was eating. Sounds familiar, for in the case of sexual abuse it is pleasure, in and of itself not a bad thing as Paul says, it is the source, that is, evil using pleasure. It was not the fruit that was evil, for it was the knowledge that God possessed and evil itself has no part in God. It was in the eating of it that evil was present. So, I would ask this question, when did Eve fall? At what point? Was it listening, the seeing, the eating? Yes, yes, and yes. But, at what point did she die? We talk about the fall, but is the fall the push, the dare, in the leap, the descent or the abrupt halt at the bottom where death awaits? That sudden halt to life at the bottom, is what I am referring to when I speak of the curse, but is summed up by others as the “fall.” It was God who placed the boundary of his knowledge and as it is written no one has yet seen God and lived, for he lives in unnapproachable light. To cross that boundary is death. It is not in the crossing, but in the penalty where death is decreed. In a court of law it is the same. The sentence is affixed to the offence of the actions, but the execution to the offender. There is no sense though in which we remove one from the other. At the same time the actions and motive, will and want are considered one with the crime and so courts also affix a series of offences to the central charge. It used to be said, an eye for eye, or in the terms of man, the penalty is just when it fits the crime. The penalty is assigned in like kind. But, the penalty is not the crime, the crime is not its effect and the penalty is not the execution of it. In Gods providential working out of his will in time we only have an glimpse of the scope of sin. In the case of man, God has put within him both the penalty and the crime, its nature and it fruit, and has gone beyond the imaginable and made the penalty infinitely broad and deep and wide and eternally enduring, so as to contrast the love of God who gives us an inseparable reward, the inheritance of the saints, eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord . We have not yet begun except to taste of l the ife to come. In the same sense all the horrors of mankind do not begin to give us an idea of the execution of God’s wrath against the evil resident in the creature.

    Galatians is speaking from an afterward. That is, the curse as it is working out in time, the life eeked out by the sweat of the brow. The end of the law is death as all men know. And, as is demonstrated by their repeated sacrifices, their good works died with each offering. That is why we have been given Christ, who through the eternal sacrifice of himself once and for all, having been resurrected from the dead, lives forever to make intercession for us so that we have entered into his rest having ceased from our own labor, we have eternal life in him who is free from sin. During this time on earth we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. The case of this man, as well as perhaps that of Ananias and Safira, stand as a solemn warning to the saints of the fierces of the Jealous one for his bride. In the tender mercies of his love, he will purge us by what ever means he deems for our good. Many Christians do not like this idea. We need to keep in mind, that as Paul said elsewhere, there is nothing good that dwells in our flesh. We need to understand that it is God who is working all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. It is obvious that this man was one of us. And I believe Ananias and Safira , also. Are we not all, at all times as great as sinner as they. At the end of the day if God wants to kill us let us not lose heart and sing with the Psalmist, “Even though he kills me, yet will I praise him.”

  17. Jade said,

    December 16, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    Thomas writes:
    In the case of Job I would disagree that Job knew what he was talking about. In fact, what is shown at the resolution of his testing is that he held a wrong view of the God that he thought that he was worshipping. He, that is Job, had been worshipping a harsh task master, as is born out by his legalistic practices. Much like the pagans, under the law of recompense, he believed that his sacrifices were magic talismans that appeased his god.

    Why do you say that Job didn’t know what he was saying in Job 2:10? And I don’t think you’re implying that his statements of Job 2:10 are just dead wrong —but that he did not have a grasp his own statements? Because prior to Job 3, after each statement Job makes (including 2:10), it states “In all this, Job did not sin in what he said” —implying that there were no theological errors in his statements/thoughts (after all, does not God even understand our thoughts?). Also, I don’t know how one can say those statements and not believe that God is sovereign. Being that the case, I still don’t think Job had a view of God as some harsh task master and that later he was being rebuked for such views. God never charges Job this crime. Further, if Job had this view of God before and after the series of destructions, do you really think God would have presented Job to Satan as a righteous man, even stating the fact that there is none like him? Let’s go to the “video tape” on that conversation (Job 2:3):
    Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

    In fact if you read Job 29:2, he speaks of his friendship with God:
    “How I long for the months gone by,
    for the days when God watched over me,
    when his lamp shone upon my head
    and by his light I walked through darkness!
    Oh, for the days when I was in my prime,
    when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house,
    when the Almighty was still with me
    and my children were around me,
    when my path was drenched with cream
    and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.

    And yes, the above verses speak of events before the attack on Job, as he later changes his tone in Job 30:11, 18-23:
    Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me,
    they throw off restraint in my presence.

    In his great power God becomes like clothing to me;
    he binds me like the neck of my garment.
    He throws me into the mud,
    and I am reduced to dust and ashes.
    “I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer;
    I stand up, but you merely look at me.
    You turn on me ruthlessly;
    with the might of your hand you attack me.
    You snatch me up and drive me before the wind;
    you toss me about in the storm.
    I know you will bring me down to death,
    to the place appointed for all the living.

    While some might see the above verses as grounds for your argument, I think you need take both chapters 29 & 30 as a whole. Taking those two chapters doesn’t imply that Job had a view of God as a “harsh task master”. He knew God before as a friend; as someone who watched over him. Then something happened. From Job’s perspective, clearly something has changed in their relationship. He doesn’t know why and this is why he makes a plea before the Lord, when Job states (in Job 13:3), “But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God”. Job’s crime was that he questioned God’s choice of what He willed. This is confirmed when God charges Job in Job 38:2 –
    “Who is this that darkens my counsel
    with words without knowledge?
    Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.

    This is not the same as being accused of being a harsh task master. When Job says (in 42:2), “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” I don’t think this new revelation for Job due to the fear in seeing God in the form a storm. I believe this is known knowledge to Job before crisis. The interesting point too is when God rebukes Job’s friends (42:7):

    “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”

    Twice, the Lord states that “you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has”. And I don’t think the Lord was just referring to Job’s last statements (Job 42:1-6). I believe He was referring to Job’s even earlier statements, his general opinions of God, excluding of course Job’s demands for justification —as the Lord charges him in 40:8:
    “Would you discredit my justice?
    Would you condemn me to justify yourself?”

    Further, I don’t think Job’s practice (e.g. ritual sacrifices) was practiced in a manner of “legalism”. I’m guessing that you’re usage of the word “legalistic” in your statement wasn’t meant to imply the actual dictionary term, but rather as in the negative connotation of “the practicing of a law in ignorance” —at least some Christians seem to use this word in that sense. It is hard to say if Job had knowledge of the law (as given to Abraham) since it’s not clear when these event’s occurred. But Job did have a sense of understanding of atonement for one’s sins. And from what it seems God honored it (as shown in Job 42:7). Otherwise, I would think God would have corrected Job on that too.

    Thomas writes:
    The fruit that Eve ate was the serpents lie, which she believed in innocence.

    “Believed in innocence”? Are you interpreting “innocence” to be synonymous as ignorant? If so that’s not the case. Granted she misquoted (Gen 3:3 ) what God commanded and who knows exactly how Adam worded the information to her since woman didn’t come to the scene until after the command was given. Eve was presented two options —what the serpent said versus what God said. Granted the serpent was taking God’s word and “reinterpreting” in a twisted manner, such that it deviates from the truth. But still she consciously chose to disobey God.

    Thomas writes:
    Unbelievers do not just not believe, but there is behind their unbelief the darkness of their understanding, real evil.

    It’s not the darkness of their understanding that led them to unbelief. Since Adam, all man kind is in a fallen state. Man kind is presented with a choice (and I’d advise not to get into free-will vs predestination here because that in itself deserves a different thread…but let’s just speak here in the reference frame of man and not in the reference frame of God). Just as Joshua states, “choose you this day whom ye will serve” — Glorify (believe) God or not, are the two choices. Do you want a way out of this fallen state or not? The real evil is what comes after the unbelief.
    Beginning at Romans 1:21

    For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened….
    Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts…
    They exchanged the truth of God for a lie….
    Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts…
    Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind…

    A choice followed by the consequences of that choice. I know that Satan plays a factor in influencing our decision, but we are still fully held accountable for that decision. And the consequences of that decision could lead to further degradation.

    Thomas writes:
    …sing with the Psalmist, “Even though he kills me, yet will I praise him.”

    Actually, that it’s Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him”.

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