1223) If God Could…

By Dallas Willard in The Allure of Gentleness

     The classical argument from antiquity is, “If God could and is good, he would” prevent the death of this child (or whatever situation is at hand).  This is the only argument of status against the existence of the Christian God.  As with pain, many insist that if God were both all-good and all-powerful, he would not permit the evil things that do happen to occur at all.  In the face of this problem, one is prone to think the deadliest of thoughts, namely, that God is not good or that he is not able.  But if moral evil exists, aren’t we forced to let go of one or the other?

     To deal with this effectively, we need to understand the level of God’s daily interaction in the realm of human affairs.  Does God do everything there?  Did He butter your toast this morning, drive your kids to school, write checks to pay your bills?  No.  Of course not!  Human beings act too, and nature moves along in some degree on its own.  All of this must be taken into consideration.  So what we must look at is the question:  Did God do well to create a world in which there is free personality and natural law, such that it includes the possibility of a kingdom of God as well as the possibility of evil?

     Can we agree that many things ought not to be, without holding that the general framework that permits them to exist was a mistake on God’s part?  This returns us to our discussion of God’s purpose within human history, which is to create for himself a living abode— a community of free, conscious, living beings.  Could God have done this in a better way?

     The world that contains the possibility of evil is the one that also contains the greatest possibility of good.  And the question of why God allows evil to happen has to be put against the question of what a world where evil could not happen would be like.  It’s by working on those questions that people can come to some resolution in their minds about the reality of evil and what it means.

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Isaiah 29:16  —  You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay.  Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”?  Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”?

Ezekiel 18:25  —   (God says)  “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’  Hear, you Israelites: Is my way unjust?  Is it not your ways that are unjust?”

Isaiah 45:9…11b-12  —  (This is what the Lord says), “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground.  Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’  Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?…  Do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?  It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it.  My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.

Jeremiah 18:1-6  —  This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:  “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.”  So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel.  But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.  Then the word of the Lord came to me.  He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord.

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You, Lord, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.

–Isaiah 64:8

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Gracious God, I know that you are my potter.  You made me.  You redeemed me…   I thank you, dear Lord, for not giving up on me when I’m less than you intend.  Thank you for your patience and mercy.  Thank you for continuing to shape me even when I resist you and your work.  Help me to live each moment of each day for you and your purposes.  May I acknowledge you as my potter, not only through my words, but also through my works…  All praise be to you, O God, Sovereign Lord, my potter.  Amen. 

–Mark D. Roberts

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