Disasters, Calamities and Evil in the World: Is God Asleep at the Switch?

Japan Burial

I preached a sermon recently about why God allows disaster, and that sermon is the basis for this article. I present this to my Sharper Iron brothers and sisters knowing that many of you are far more learned than I, particularly in the realms of philosophy and apologetics. I do not claim to be in the same league as C.S. Lewis or other great thinkers. So I encourage you to enjoy this article for what it is, a relatively simple (but practical) explanation of disaster, tragedy, and evil in the world based upon key Scriptures.

As a pastor, one of my most challenging responsibilities is to comfort the grieving. People can suffer in horrific ways. But one need not be a pastor to observe or experience these sad realities: life has a way of educating us all.

The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan killed thousands and left multitudes in utter despair. Many of us are praying for the survivors and contributing toward relief to this once great nation now in shambles.

This tragedy resurrects a question we have all heard time and time again, “How can a good God allow such things?” Locally, nearby tragedies involving our families or people we know bring direct grief into our lives. For example, some friends recently lost a nine-year-old child to an auto accident; a teen was diagnosed with cancer and died two months later; a recent newspaper headline documented that a child in our community died from abuse.

Some sufferings result from human choices. Others are considered “acts of God.” But we return to that well-worn refrain: “If God is good, if God is all-powerful, and God knows all things, why do seemingly random disasters take place?” Do they take God by surprise, as some assert? Has God created the universe and then taken leave, as some of our nation’s founding fathers believed? Or does He not exist, as the modern atheistic movement avers? Or is He not good? Or do we humans not understand the definition of “good” as it applies to God?

Who among us has not agonized with these questions? Although some people bury their heads in the sand and quickly dismiss anything requiring intellectual exercise, the question eventually catches up to even the most denying of people. Sadly, I have seen persons in their seventies or eighties wrestling with this question for the first time.

Ultimately, our choice is to go through calamities and trials with God or without Him—but go through them we must. Still, it helps to understand what we can of the “whys and wherefores” of God’s relationship to tragedies.

First, please note that God takes responsibility for tragedies.

Although some teachers of the Word disagree with my perspective, I believe this is clear in Romans 1:18-20. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”

This verse is part of Paul’s argument that natural revelation is enough to convince men of their lost condition and of the existence of a powerful God. I believe this verse is a Midrash based on passages like Psalm 29. In my view, God allows disasters and tragedies partly to make it clear that His wrath is still burning. God is angry. An honest person trying to learn about God from nature would rightly conclude that the Creator is filled with rage. Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, thunder storms, plagues, famines—all these natural disasters reveal God’s wrath.

If we isolate one of God’s attributes, such as love, we can be puzzled why a loving God allows these things. But if we consider some of His other attributes (such as His holiness and justice, which are connected to His wrath), we could equally be puzzled by this question: “If God is holy and demands justice, why does He allow sinners to enjoy life at all?”

From this perspective, what we call “normal life”—or the periods of life when we are healthy, well fed, and get along with our family members—is the result of God’s grace. We are not entitled to this; we have no right to it. Thus disasters and wrath are what should be. The pleasures and joys of life are gravy. They flow from God’s grace and His lovingkindness.

In His Word, God takes the blame for both disaster and handicap. Isaiah 45:7 reads, “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things…”

In Exodus 4:11 we read, “The LORD said to him, ‘Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD?’” Our sinful nature is the reason we struggle with this issue. Before our new birth, we are naturally hostile to the true God (Rom. 3:11, Rom. 8:7, Col. 1:21).

Colossians 1:21 makes the case: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior” (emphasis added). The words that described us before we were born-again (and the words that define most of mankind, whether part of “Christendom” or not) are “alienated” and “enemies.” The natural man hates God in a passive-aggressive way. The religious, in particular, feign love for God, but when His distasteful attributes surface, they prefer to deny them. It takes regeneration (the new birth, “circumcision of the heart”) to love the true God as He has revealed Himself. He is not naturally appealing to the sons of Adam, which is why most people have replaced Him with a modified version. The masses demand a kinder, nicer God. Such is not Yahweh our God. As C.S. Lewis’ described his allegorized Christ (Aslan, the lion), He is kind but far from tame. Redefining Him in an attempt to tame Him is futile.

Have you ever noticed that people who rarely give thanks are often first in line to express their disgust at God when disaster strikes? Again, the passive-aggressive hatred leaks out through the cracks in the façade.

Jesus predicted there would be many wars and earthquakes throughout the age, and that they would worsen in the end times. Revelation talks about the horrible plagues that will make life on earth miserable during the Great Tribulation. Biblical Christianity has always been married to a God who brings disaster; and, as long as this marriage is presented in general terms, most people accept it. But when reality hits, it is tough to take.

Second, note that disasters are among the consequences of the curse.

Romans 8:18-23 reads:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

God created man knowing that man would fall into sin and that the physical universe would be cursed as a result. When a Christian is confronted with evil and disaster in the world, the word “curse” should jump into His mind. Many Christians somehow completely forget about the curse. Consciousness of the curse is important if we want to embrace a genuinely Christian worldview.

Understanding the curse is central to understanding life under the sun. As our bodies age or deteriorate, we need to remember that this is because of the curse, not just because of basking in the sun too long or eating too many preservatives. Disease, pain, injustice, and natural disasters—all these things testify that our planet is cursed by God.

As Phillip Yancey points out in Disappointment With God, we know God loves us not because of how well our lives go but because of Calvary. Romans 5:8 states it clearly: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In the world we see God’s wrath and God’s curse as well as His common grace and goodness. But in the cross we see His amazing love and special grace.

Third, consider that we do not know what we do not know.

This may sound like an evasion, but it is actually a humble approach. Being cognizant of our ignorance is a virtue, not a vice. The apostle writes in I Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

Ancient mirrors were quite different from their modern counterparts. The distortion in these mirrors made the clear and sharp cloudy and tenuous. This is how we now see eternity and the dealings of God. There is so much we do not know; so much of our understanding is partial.

Consider that God has all power. That does not mean He can do anything. He cannot contradict His nature. He cannot sin nor lie, for example. In addition, His complex plans may make it unwise to do what seems like an obvious no-brainer to us. Whatever God is accomplishing might require this cursed universe we inhabit to run its course with God altering that course only as suits His purpose. Ultimately, Psalm 115:3 comes into play: “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.”

When we cannot understand, we should not deny our feelings or live in a dream world. Take the example of Job, a man who could not understand God’s ways. He lost 10 children and all his wealth at once. Yet Job responded in Job 1:20, “ ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’” He faced the reality of loss, did not pretend to like it, but trusted God nevertheless.

David haggles out his grief in the Psalms, and one of the Psalms of the Sons of Korah (Psalm 88) is called “The Dark Night of the Soul.” Notice its bleak conclusion, “darkness is my closest friend.” I hope neither you nor I have to go through such a time, but I cannot guarantee that we will not.

Fourth, consider that God allows evil for a greater good.

Romans 8:28 communicates this thought: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

This promise only applies to those who know God, who are called according to His purpose, and yet we know, in another sense, God is good to all (Psalm 145:9, “The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made”). Here we will focus on God’s plan for His elect.

We can take the fall of Adam and Eve as a case in point. God created them, knowing they would sin. This was all part of God’s plan. We must remember that creation was planned around Jesus’ identity as the Lamb of God (Rev. 13:8). Thus, the whole plan of salvation brings glory to God. Yet we need to face the obvious: people cannot be saved unless they are first lost. Thus if the Lamb is to be slain for sinners, we must have sinners.

In Christ, we believers have more than Adam and Eve ever had. Not only will we rule over the earth, we will judge angels. We need never fear losing our status through sin. Thus, by God’s allowing of evil, we experience a greater good, and God is glorified in a greater way (which is perhaps the ultimate good).

Again, we know God loves us, not because of how our lives go, but because of Calvary. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Fifth, consider that the best perspective is the eternal perspective.

2 Corinthians 4:17 states the case: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

For the believer, temporal life is presented as a struggle populated with troubles. In contrast, eternal life is one of glory beyond imagination. We should view tragedies as wake-up calls to the human race in general and the individual in particular. Tragedies remind us of our vulnerability and our need to be right with God, to look at the eternal perspective.

In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus suggests that God sends tragedies to wake us, to shake us:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Rather than apologize for God or hide from view, Christians need to follow the Master’s example and use tragedies as a brutal reminder for all that (as a song puts it) life is short, death is sure, sin is the curse, but Christ is the cure. Tragedies hound us to prepare for eternity and remind us that our eternal destiny is more important than our earthly lives—a truth that eludes us like a loose helium balloon. We know it is so, but we struggle to hang onto this reality.

We know God loves us, not because of how our lives go, but because of Calvary. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Conclusion

Comprehending this framework does not mean we ignore this life. Obviously we should try to avoid unnecessary suffering by being wise (Prov. 10:8). We should be eager to comfort and help the suffering. When major tragedies occur, we should consider giving to a relief agency that will help in Jesus’ name.

We must recognize that we all are, or will be, fellow sufferers and that showing practical love to those is distress is a clear mandate from our Lord. We cannot help but wonder when our turn will come, for such is life in a fallen world.

In Disappointment with God, Yancey makes a point we would do well to contemplate: when we go through trials, we can either go through them with God or without God. But go through them, we will. Let us chose to take God’s hand—not bite it—during our worst moments.

[node:bio/ed-vasicek body]

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There are 13 Comments

Dick Dayton's picture

Ed, Thanks for this well balanced presentation. I remember that, before my salvation, as an usaved grad student in physics, I posed some of the "objections" that you mentioned. It is only when we see life through a balanced, Biblical perspective that we can begin to put some of the pieces together.

Dick Dayton

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Thought that struck me: disasters seem to convey the impression that God is angry because He is angry. Never looked at it quite that way.... was too busy explaining why Pat Roberts, et. al., are wrong to say "disaster on country X = God's judgment on country X." I do think that sort of conclusion is presumptuous (because you have the curse, etc.). But we shouldn't swing to an extreme that denies disasters express the wrath that Romans 1 says is revealed from heaven.
It's possible to take Rom.1 differently (i.e., the wrath is revealed in the verses that follow), but I think Ed's take on it rings true. The argument of Rom.1 doesn't require that the revealing of wrath be limited to the judgments later in the chapter (in fact, it can't be limited to them if we believe in Hell!)

There is an expression of God's holiness in these disastrous events.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Thought that struck me: disasters seem to convey the impression that God is angry because He is angry. Never looked at it quite that way.... was too busy explaining why Pat Roberts, et. al., are wrong to say "disaster on country X = God's judgment on country X." I do think that sort of conclusion is presumptuous (because you have the curse, etc.). But we shouldn't swing to an extreme that denies disasters express the wrath that Romans 1 says is revealed from heaven.
It's possible to take Rom.1 differently (i.e., the wrath is revealed in the verses that follow), but I think Ed's take on it rings true. The argument of Rom.1 doesn't require that the revealing of wrath be limited to the judgments later in the chapter (in fact, it can't be limited to them if we believe in Hell!)

There is an expression of God's holiness in these disastrous events.

Aaron, what led me to connect Romans 1 to Psalm 29 and the like is my belief that much of NT teaching is a Midrash on a portion of the Old Testament (which is why I wrote my book, The Midrash Key). Once one is on the lookout for this, it is amazing how NT verses becomes so much simpler. For example, Isaiah 53:6 is one most of us admit has been expounded in the NT. If we start with Isaiah 53 as the mother text for these NT passages, there is little doubt that the atonement is penal in nature and that it pleases (satisfies) the Father. Thus all the ruckus about rethinking Paul or the Lutheran captivity of Romans becomes only minimally relevant. I call it the "Testament Slide."

"The Midrash Detective"

Dick Dayton's picture

Ed, Some time I would like to set up a conversation with you Before salvation, I had been moving toward conversion from secularism to Judaism, and regularly attended a Conservative synagogue in St. Louis. Even that limited background has given the Scriptures some real richness. When the text says Jesus came to fulfill the Scriptures, that it is the intent of the law that God focuses on, and that Jesus is the Lamb of God, those things really gripped my heart. Thank you for your keen observations.

Dick Dayton

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Ed,

You are a thoughtful apologist. It is always clear that you seek to far extend yourself (much unlike many notable voices [and when I say notable voices I mean every voice from whatever overwhelmingly credentialed and popular voice one can imagine, down the line ] within and among this theological quadrant who, in their arguments, give at best pretentious service to the arguments and positions of others) in your effort to cover bases while making your particular arguments.

A thought that is weighty in my mind and one about which I have been reading lately (and may treat at my little blog at a later date but soon I hope) is in regard to what you posted:

Ed Vasicek wrote:
First, please note that God takes responsibility for tragedies.

When many people talk about tragedies and use this phrase they do so without appropriate distinction. That is to say, when one views God taking responsibility, they do no understand that the term, "responsibility" does not often include initiation or culpability and this is extremely critical in our reception of this idea and its application and further reconciliation in such matters. It may be there is divine initiation and/or culpability but certainly far from always though God may position himself as sovereign.

And to shed some light on this in a rather plain but startling manner, I refer to Dan Gracely's book, http://www.xcalvinist.com/category/chapter-9/ CALVINISM: A Closer Look By Daniel Gracely, Evangelicals, Calvinism, and why no one’s answering the Problem of Evil, where he brings to light that in Job's life it was, in fact, not the direct will of God for Job to suffer what he suffered, rather it was the permissive will of God which allowed for the activities of Lucifer and not God in bringing immense suffering and tragedy upon Job. As you read the paragraph Gracely brings to our attention that it was not Divine consideration that prompted God to cause the suffering of Job, rather that God, just as the Scriptures state, was incited by the Evil One to allow this. Job's suffering was not because God wanted to use it to teach him patience, rather it was in direct response to Satan and in a clearly judicial manner as a rebuttal to Satan's accusation in which God allowed Job to be submitted as evidence to prove the point of God to Satan. Job's patience or personal benefit was secondary. Yes, God did use it to teach patience but this is not why his tragedies were initiated. But lest I say more let me post Gracely's statement:

Quote:
Satan incited God to act according to His permissive ‘will’ rather than His direct will. As a result, God removed His hedge of protection from around Job. It is clear from a plain reading of the text that God would not have removed the hedge if Satan had not incited Him to do so—(as God said to Satan: “though you have incited me to ruin him without cause”).23 Someone might say, “But this was all part of God’s plan to teach Job more patience.” Well, certainly it is true that Job learned more patience because of his trial, but the question remains: Did God actually indicate that these circumstances of Job’s suffering at this time and in this manner was His plan for Job? No, much to the contrary. God removed the hedge because He was incited to do so. God’s motive and his servant’s reputation had been questioned before the entire angelic host, and God decided not to let this particular accusation pass unchallenged. Thus, the particular trials that Job suffered in chapters 1—2 were not part of God’s design for pruning character. Indeed, it would not be like God to direct hammer blow upon hammer blow on the anvil of Job’s life to get a point across in the quickest and severest possible manner. God does not collar the believer up against the wall in order to get the most spiritual growth out of him in the shortest period of time. He is more merciful than that, a fact proved by God’s restoration of Job by the end of the book (cp. Ja. 5:11). Had God thought that Job needed to be chastened to learn more patience, He would have done it at a more gradual and gracious pace than that recorded in chapters 1—2. But God did allow Job to suffer in order to vindicate His servant and Himself before all the heavenly host.

I recommend those challenged by this to explore the considerations of Gracely.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Alex said (summarizing a book)

Quote:
Job's life it was, in fact, not the direct will of God for Job to suffer what he suffered, rather it was the permissive will of God which allowed for the activities of Lucifer and not God in bringing immense suffering and tragedy upon Job.

I do agree that God sometimes permits disaster but other times he directly causes it (a clear case would be Sodom and Gomorrah). Although Sodom and Gomorrah was a judgment for specific sin upon a specific people, other disasters could be viewed as a judgment upon sin in the world in general and thus is "the voice of the Lord." Isaiah 45:7 reads, “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things…”

In the case of Job, we have to assert that God is never surprised, tricked, or manipulated. Satan did not manipulate God in the case of Job. God went into the entire episode, eyes opened.

God himself asserts that he is the one who sends disasters (as quoted above), yet I agree that does not mandate that EVERY disaster is directly initiated by Him. Some may be the natural course of a cursed world. Yet, because of concurrence (I don't know if you believe in that or not), and because God knows about the disaster before it happens and has power to stop it, even his "passivity" (for want of a better term) is a chosen passivity. I do hear what you are saying, that God is one step insulated from disaster. While that may be a good philosophical argument, God does not present himself this way in Scripture. Instead, he tells it like it is and makes no attempt to defend himself. None of us like this. But when I am falling, I don't like the law of gravity.

Even if we bring it down to the curse and say, "God cursed the world and let's the curse take its course," then the question simply moves from the specific "Why did God allow this disasters" to "Why did God orchestrate cursed nature so that these things would happen?' Such thinking may help explain what appears to be the randomness of disaster, but not the principle that disasters must be.

At the beginning, Alex, I admitted I picked a subject that is over my head. I consider this a low-level presentation and acknowledge that people have given much more thought to this than I have. Perhaps you are one such person. But this is about the best answer I can give Smile

Dick said:

Quote:
I had been moving toward conversion from secularism to Judaism, and regularly attended a Conservative synagogue in St. Louis. Even that limited background has given the Scriptures some real richness. When the text says Jesus came to fulfill the Scriptures, that it is the intent of the law that God focuses on, and that Jesus is the Lamb of God, those things really gripped my heart.

Thanks for sharing this, brother. Yes, I agree that there is an amazing richness in Jewish Roots, especially in understanding that so much of the New Testament is actually a Midrash on the Old. The Torah in particular is foundational to Jesus' ethical teachings, and many of them are Midrashim of Deuteronomy or other Torah texts. Looking forward to more interaction with you. You might check out my website where I have a few papers posted about specific Midrashim in the New Testament. Here is the link. Feel free to leave comments (you and all SI people are welcome to do so). The site is
http://www.midrashkey.com ]The Midrash Key Website

"The Midrash Detective"

gpinto's picture

The " curse on creation" discussion provides some insight, but I think John 5:22-27 gives us a better explanation. Sir Robert Anderson, in his book THE SILENCE OF GOD, writes, "He to whom the prerogative of judgement has been committed is now sitting upon the throne of
God in grace and that, as a consequence,all judicial and punitive action against human sin is
in abeyance-deferred until the day of grace is over and the day of judgement dawns". While the
curse on creation continues to be in affect, there is no fire from heaven, the ground opening up to swallow rebellious men, etc. Judgement for sin has been reserved for the Son, and will commence with the great tribulation. While God is still sovereign, Divine judgement for sin, such as the flood and the destruction of Sodom, is absent in this age of grace.

gpinto

Ed Vasicek's picture

gpinto wrote:
The " curse on creation" discussion provides some insight, but I think John 5:22-27 gives us a better explanation. Sir Robert Anderson, in his book THE SILENCE OF GOD, writes, "He to whom the prerogative of judgement has been committed is now sitting upon the throne of
God in grace and that, as a consequence,all judicial and punitive action against human sin is
in abeyance-deferred until the day of grace is over and the day of judgement dawns". While the
curse on creation continues to be in affect, there is no fire from heaven, the ground opening up to swallow rebellious men, etc. Judgement for sin has been reserved for the Son, and will commence with the great tribulation. While God is still sovereign, Divine judgement for sin, such as the flood and the destruction of Sodom, is absent in this age of grace.

Charlie, I see things otherwise. I do not think the NT negated the OT idea that God is still angry with the human race. According to the implications of John 3:36, the wrath of God REMAINS upon the unregenerate:

Quote:
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Additionally, Paul describes the wrath of God coming in the Destruction of Jerusalem as an earthly one, IMO.
I Thessalonians 2:14-16 is a case in point:

Quote:
4For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God’s wrath has come upon them at last!

Of course if you do not believe in a literal 7 year Tribulation, then I suppose that this is also affected by our differences in eschatology. If you believe that the Lion and the Lamb are lying down together right now, etc., then that is naturally going to influence your view in that direction. If you believe that many of the effects of the atonement are to be realized in the future (as I understand Romans 8:18-25), then healing and the ceasing of the revelation of God's wrath from heaven are future effects of the peace Christ purchased. The present tense of Romans 1:18 suggests an ongoing revelation of God's wrath, one that is part of natural theology.

"The Midrash Detective"

Caleb S's picture

14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity, consider: without question, God has made the one as well as the other, so that man cannot discover anything that will come after him.

What do you think of this verse in Ecclesiastes 7?

gpinto's picture

In response to Ed's comment, no one ever said that the NT negates the OT. God doesn't change, and neither does His attitude toward sin. What I am saying is that the manifestation of His wrath in the OT is being postponed during this dispensation until the rapture occurs and the tribulation begins. But you didn't address the issue of John 5:22-27. If, as it clearly states, the Father " has given ALL judgement to the Son", and we know that the Son is at the right hand of the Father making intercession for believers, where is there Scriptural support for the conclusion that He is also doling out judgement in the form of natural disasters? While such occurrences may play a crucial part in convincing people to turn and investigate the claims of the gospel, they appear to be more related to God's permissive will (such as 9/11) rather than outright decrees of judgement such ( as the flood ).

gpinto

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Another Gem from Gracely:

Quote:
***Nor does Bridges mention Mark 4 where Christ rebukes the wind which was causing the waves to nearly swamp the boat which held Jesus and His disciples. The very fact that Christ rebuked the wind implies that He was not directing it just prior to his rebuke, for why would Christ rebuke the wind if it were already under his absolute sovereign control? In any particular situation Jesus may first command the wind to blow in one direction and later command it to blow in another direction; but to rebuke the wind? A rebuke implies that Jesus stood in contrariness to an existing circumstance fueled by ungodly activity.25 How much plainer must these passages be to tell us that God is not the cause of every weather occurrence? Therefore if weather brings destruction we should not automatically attribute it to God, as the Calvinist asks us to do.26

***Perhaps someone will raise an objection here. Why, in Mark 4, would God allow the Enemy to cause a violent wind to blow, if He knew Christ would rebuke it? Wouldn’t that mean that God was acting against Himself? But the Bible does not support this objection because to allow something is not to cause it. God is not ruling the wind at the time Jesus rebukes it. While it is true that God allowed the Enemy to control the wind for a time prior to Christ’s rebuke and foreknew that it would cause trouble for Christ, that circumstance is not the same as if God commanded it (anymore than as if God commanded the wind in Job 1, or the lying spirit in 1 Kings 19). God didn’t send the wind against Christ any more than He sent Satan to tempt Christ in the wilderness. In Mark 4 Christ rebukes the wind after being awakened to circumstances that would have proved terrifying for any other man. His faith in God was firm, however, and He rebuked the wind that had been driving the waves. (Certainly, the storm also tested the disciple’s faith.)

JohnBrian's picture

Alex,

I have read http://www.xcalvinist.com/preface/ Gracely's Preface (the book is too long for the limited reading time I have).

He references Rom 5:12 and denies that Adam's descendants inherited a sin nature.

Quote:
Yet the presence of this correlative conjunction challenges the very heart of the doctrine of original sin, a doctrine which has routinely been used to defend the idea of the lost will of man. [I actually do believe that man inherited something in the Fall, but this, I believe, was an extensive and (for man's lower form), impudent knowledge (not a sin nature), a part, at least, which we allow to distract us from our focus upon God, even unto sin.

In post 46 of the http://sharperiron.org/forum/thread-natural-man-receiveth-not-things-of-... ]Natural Man thread, you wrote:

Quote:
The fact is that the typical rationalistic Augustinian/Calvinistic interpretation fails miserably because they begin with a view of depravity that errs.

Do you affirm the view of Gracely with regard to man's sin nature?

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Alex Guggenheim's picture

I am not in harmony with Gracely on man's sin nature. While he accepts an inheritance of some kind (extensive and impudent knowledge) he does not go far enough which is, of course, to state we do inherit our sin nature from Adam. I understand his argument but I am not convinced nor do I believe it is necessary to challenge the Augustinian/Reformed/Calvinistic (ARC) view of depravity. I do not believe that particular point of his contention with Calvinism is as well explored as the issue of divine sovereignty in which I believe Gracely is optimal.

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