Theodicy

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Theodicy is a branch of theology that defends God's goodness and justice in response to the problem of evil.

The word was supposedly coined by the German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716), and is derived from two Greek words (theos, God, and dike, justice).

The premise which Theodicy is based upon is that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, with the question being how can God be the author of evil, or allow evil and suffering to exist?

Proposals

In response, various proposals have been made, such as,

God could have,

  • 1.Made us (and angels) with no moral standard or sense or deprived us of the moral ability to respond to or choose good [morally insensible, even as with clouds].
  • 2. Granted us free moral agency, but never have given us anything to choose between [negation of moral choices, and no devil or God to chose between].
  • 3. Left man only with recourse to finite competing sources as his god, as being the sure and stedfast ultimate law-giver, and the ultimate object of spiritual affection and allegiance and source of security, and supreme judge of what is good [cultic theistic and atheistic governments].
  • 4. Called man to make the Creator their god, but rather than His reality being effectually believed due to a seeking heart in the light of substantial evidence and thus appreciated, a seeking made His reality so manifest as to leave no other choice, by compelling obedience thru overt positive irrefutable supernatural acts, such as by God supernaturally appearing and communicating to everyone [effective negation of volitional choose] (akin o what the angels of God experience, yet 1/3 choose to rebel anyway. Likewise, did most of the Hebrews who through Moses saw irrefutable supernatural evidences, effectually acting like as unbelievers.
  • 5. Akin to #4 provided the ability to choose, and alternatives to choose btwn, but immediately punished unbelief and disobedience, relative to the degree of offence, thus being a perpetual classic concentration camp world.
  • 6. Allowed created beings a negative alternative to faithfulness to the creator, and the ability to choose evil, but immediately reversed any negative effects of man’s disobedience and not penalized such [effective negation of consequences of choices].
  • 7. Allowed us to do bad, but restricted us to a place where it would harm no one but ourselves [isolated negation of judicial and eternal consequences of choices].
  • 8. Allowed the whole world to become one giant North Korea, or let man terminally destroy himself by misusing his God-given ability to make choices, to break the good laws God gave them for their own good, misusing and abusing the good things God gave man, thereby greatly corrupting the earth. [Unhindered freedom, negation of mercy]
  • 9. Allowed us to choose between good and evil, and to affect others by it, but not ultimately reward or punish sin accordingly [negation of judicial and eternal consequences, positive or negative].
  • 10. Given us the ability to choose, and alternatives to chose between, and to face and overcome evil or be overcome by it, with the ability to effect others and things by our choices, and to exercise some reward or punishment in this life for morality, and ultimately reward or punishment all accordingly [pure justice].
  • 11. Instead of just letting all mankind go his merry miserable way to Hell, provided for the salvation of sinners at His own expense, sparing not His own dear Son who died and rose for them as mankind's scapegoat and savior (thank God). While restraining evil to some degree, yet making the evil that man does to work out for what is ultimately Good, with justice toward those who reject the Light (the Christ), having sinned away their day of grace, yet with mercy, and grace towards those who want what is Good above all else, seeking and choosing the One who is supremely Good,
  • 12. In accordance with $11 the Creator could have and did choose to manifest Himself in the flesh, and by Him to provide man a means of escaping the ultimate retribution of Divine justice, and instead receive unmerited eternal favor, at God's own expense and credit, appropriated by a repentant obedient faith in the risen Lord Jesus, in addition to the loss or gaining of certain rewards based on one's quality of work as a child of God. And eternally punish, to varying degrees relative to iniquity and accountability, those whose response to God's revelation manifested they want evil (John 3:16-18; 1 Co. 3; Rev. 20) [justice maintained while mercy and grace given].

Arminian response

Christian responses include the Arminian position that argues that evil is a consequence of God giving man freedom to choose, and that, if choice means anything, man must have something to choose from, this being turning away from the good to do the opposite. As angels or man have chosen to do evil, this results in suffering. While God knows what man will do, that is not the same as ordaining or decreeing it.

Calvinist response

The Calvinist position is that of "determinism", which holds that man has a more limited extent of free will than in the Arminian position, and that God has determined all things that will ever come to pass, as the Westminster Confession of Faith states. (3:1 5:2, 4) The Confession essentially states that God in His sovereignty is the first cause of all things, though many of the things which occur are through the "free" actions of man, which God influences. As one authority wrote, God "does not arrange things or control history apart from second causes...", and He uses such as instruments, so as to make all things work together to accomplish His plan, which is for the good of those who love Him. (Rom. 8:28)[1]

Some object to the further conclusions of Calvinism related to this.[2] While Armianism believes God has the right and the ability to ultimately determine all things, it seeks to reconcile the actions of God concerning the basis for the predestination of the lost with God's own statements about justice, (Dt. 24:16; etc.) while the Calvinist tends to appeal to God's sovereign right to do as He pleases, as Scripture does, (Rom. 11:20) in which not all things are revealed. (Dt. 29:29)

Non-Christian

Non-Christian attempts to resolve this problem range from denying at least one of the omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence of God, to denying the reality of evil, to making God consist of a dual nature. However, the Bible upholds that God is both almighty and all-knowing, and of a consistent character, and that evil does exist as a reality, and is in opposition to the character of God.

Anti-theist response

Typically in the West, it is by railing against the God of the Bible under the premise that He is negligent in allowing evil (due to enabling men to make choices, and thus effect consequences) and evil-doers, while condemning Him when He does send judgments upon generationally wicked societies, based upon the premise that such judgments should not have killed animals and innocent children (which were actually saved from becoming like their culture. And by condemning God for allowing any of the innocent to suffer, as if the choices of man should not have such consequences.

Which means that the accusing anti-theist is effectively presuming omniscience in sitting in judgment upon a Being who alone knows what every effect of every thought and action (or non-action) will be - including His own - and reveals, not only in this life but for eternity.

And who can and will make all work out for Good, with justice as well as mercy, (Romans 8:28) based upon what they choose. With those who, by God's grace, wanted God and what He represents, (John 3:19-21; Acts 10:36-47) and thus come in repentance and faith to the very Son of God, Jesus Christ, for salvation, on His account, by His sinless shed blood, (Col. 1:14; 1 Peter 3:18) to the glory of God.

See also

References

  1. http://www.leaderu.com/theology/theodicy.html W. Gary Crampton, A Biblical Theodicy
  2. http://www.gospeltruth.net/foster_on_cal/otc_2.htm