Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why Would a Loving God...?

A Question I Received From a Friend  

Why would you say that a "Loving God" created such "Wicked people" that "Only a few" find the "Straight and narrow path" back to God? I am sincere in getting a truthful and accurate answer. … It seems like the only answer I can come up with so far is that because He is God.
The Answer I Sent Him

… Here is my attempt at answering your question, which is a variation on a question that many have asked over the centuries of human history.
Your question: Why would you say that a "Loving God" created such "Wicked people" that "Only a few" find the "Straight and narrow path" back to God?
Well, the fact that He is God is ultimately the best answer. Job had questions for God, and in Job 38—42, God basically answers with a long, "I am God... and you are not."
But, frankly, the question is wrong. The question is a human construct that presumes that God must answer to us as judge. We say, God must primarily be loving... that is the standard of judgment. And therefore, the question, "Why...a loving God would create..." a world in which it seems that less people are loved, presumes that we know what the right outcome ought to be, and that He is subject to our test. Second it is wrong because it blames God for creating wicked people, for which He cannot be blamed. In doing so it falls into the trap of the serpent's logic in Genesis 3. Thirdly it is wrong because it presumes that any find the way to God. Reality is that none find their way to God.
So, before I attempt to answer the question as it is, let me explore briefly why the question in wrong, adjust it properly, and then attempt to answer it as effectively as I possibly can.
First, to say that God is loving, or God is love, is true enough. However, we run into trouble in two ways in that statement: 1) God is love, but God is Holy, and righteous, and all powerful. He is Creator, Redeemer, He is pure and spotless. And certainly He is not subject to our evaluation, but we to His. The question presumes that God is love over Holiness, righteousness, etc. God's love is a holy love and is not a human love.
This leads to the second way we get into trouble with the statement. 2) God is love, but when we say that we cannot mean, "Love is God." As if, what we humans call love, or love as we define it, is God. John tells us "God is love..." (1 John 4:8) but then immediately tells us how He revealed love to us, and what love is. He revealed it:
"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." (1 John 4:9)
So God revealed what love is to us by sending His Son that we might live through Him. Then he defines love in the next verse:
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 4:10)
So love is defined not first in us, but first in God and in His sending of His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. So, we would not even know what love is apart from God sending His Son to redeem us from our sin. So, when we define God as a loving God, we are defining Him as the God who would send His son as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of people who did not love Him first.
Second it is wrong because it blames God for creating wicked people, for which He cannot be blamed. In doing so it falls into the trap of the serpent's logic in Genesis 3. The serpent's logic in Genesis 3 that I am referring to is found in the words of Genesis 3:5
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The logic of that line is something like this: God is holding out on you... the problem with everything is rooted in God. And the problem with blaming God for creating wicked people is that it is just that: blaming God. Since by the question, "why would a loving God..." may well presume the God revealed in Scripture, then it would be important to acknowledge that Scripture indicates that God did not create wicked people, but that they were "very good". In fact, it isn't God's fault that we have a fallen world. It is our fault. God is the One who said, "Don't eat or you will die." Had we listened to Him to begin with, we wouldn't be in this mess. The serpent is the one who said, "No, you won't die, you'll be better off." And yet, for thousands of years we have continued to point the finger at God and listen to the serpent. Go figure.
Paul spoke to that objection to God, but essentially didn't answer it, because he didn't seem to think it needed an answer. His answer was simply:
19One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" 20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'"  21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9:19-21)
I think we could summarize that with your first answer: Because He is God He can do as He pleases. On the other hand, He is free from blame. Again I refer to Paul's earlier argument in the book of Romans:
3What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness?  4Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: "So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge."  5But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.)  6Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world?  7Someone might argue, "If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?" (Romans 3:3-7)
Thirdly this question was not quite strong enough, for it may well have ended with, “that none can find the 'Straight and narrow path' back to God?” I believe the biblical picture is one in which every human is blind and running in the other direction. No one seeks God. No one understands. (See Romans 3:9-18.) In fact, salvation only occurs because God sovereignly opens the eyes of wicked sinners who hated him, and gives them a heart that loves Him. While we were objects of mercy, God made us alive and gave us the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:1-9). Paul, on the road to Damascus, was not looking for the narrow way. He was looking to persecute Christ by persecuting His church. But he was blinded physically, and his eyes were opened spiritually. And he was then sent to open blind eyes. God finds us, in his mercy. (See this quote from Mark Webb.)
So, now to the question: Why would a Loving God (defined as a God who would send His Son as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of those who do not love Him) create people who would reject Him—though He had loved them and placed them in paradise—a people who would submit themselves to a serpent's lies, though they had been given authority over the serpent? And why would this God go ahead and become one of them in order to suffer the result of their rebellion and make a way that they could be saved anyway... through the gift of eternal life, and then require that the only way back to Him is by believing in His Son whom He sent to die for them? And finally, why would He, after they even reject His Son and crucify Him, go ahead and graciously and sovereignly give some faith to believe in Him, opening their eyes so that they might see and believe?
Answer: Most likely because He is loving. And because He is glorious, and the most wonderful thing for us to know is Him. And in order to know Him, He had to create a world that reflected His power, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love of the weak and helpless, His mercy to the undeserving, and His power over the unsubmissive who haughtily exalt themselves above Him. And if knowing Him is the greatest possible good, since He is the greatest possible being in existence, then He must make Himself known in order to be Who He is: a Good God! Good, defined by Who He is, not by our end of some negotiation...or the greatest possible number of creatures being happy at the end, even if none of them ever knew God as He really is.
But, I think we are still left with: Because He is God.
One thing I know for sure: When that day comes that we are before Him, and we see things with utter clarity, no one will be accusing God. Rather we will all be saying, "Holy Holy Holy...". So when we can see clearly, we will know that. And in the mean time, I will trust that those creatures who have eyes all around (Rev. 4), such that they see everything, must know something I don't... for they constantly say, "Holy Holy Holy..."
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,

1 comment:

  1. Very good Jerry! I love the 3rd to last paragraph that starts with: So, now to the question: THat should be the real question all people ask about God and his love! This is Truth.

    Michael Zick