Wednesday, January 11, 2012

God using Human Evil for Good...

In preparation for this Sunday's big sermon on the origin and purpose of evil and suffering (@ Cornerstone Church at 10AM), I appreciated the insights from C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain:

In the fallen and partially redeemed universe we may distinguish (1) the simple good descending from God, (2) the simple evil produced by rebellious creatures, and (3) the exploitation of that evil by God for His redemptive purpose, which produces (4) the complex good to which accepted suffering and repented sin contribute. Now the fact that God can make complex good out of simple evil does not excuse—though by mercy it may save—those who do the simple evil. And this distinction is central. Offences must come, but woe to those by whom they come; sins do cause grace to abound, but we must not make an excuse for continuing to sin. The crucifixion is the best, as well as the worst, of all historical events, but the role  of Judas remains simply evil. We may apply this first to the problem of other people’s suffering. A merciful man aims at his neighbour’s good, and so does God’s will, consciously co-operating with ‘the simple good.’ A cruel man oppresses his neighbour, and so does simple evil. But in doing such evil, he is used by God, without his own knowledge or consent, to produce the complex good—so that the first man serves God as a son, and the second as a tool. For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.

This is a helpful explanation of what philosophers call compatabilism. Humans are independent moral creatures who make their own choices (whether morally good or evil), and yet these choices are all a part of God's sovereign plan to work out good according to His purposes (Rom. 8:28). 


Anonymous said...

God's sovereignty lined up with man's responsibility...good theology! Thanks for your insight into a difficult truth. Looking forward to Sunday's message!
Lisa W

Anonymous said...

This is a crucial principle in what I am currently studying in Isaiah and does beg the question you posed: "will I carry out God's will as a son, or as an instrument." This helps tremendously. Thank you.