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In Which Jamsco Finally Brings the Argument 

For those of you who aren’t here as linked from Vox Day , you may wonder why I have his blog linked off to the side there. If you have clicked there (as I see that more than a few of you have) you may have been offended by some of the more, shall we say, coarse entries that you have found there. But one of the reasons I created this blog was to, over time, attempt to deal with the criticism that he and others have made of people who believe that God controls the world. So here we go.  

In his blog, just under three years ago, Vox Day wrote a blog entry entitled “The Problem of Evil.” (Let me just state that it is possible that he has changed or softened some of the following views in the intervening time, but he has, of late, given me good reason to believe that he still holds to most of them.) In this entry, he gave his answer to the “oft-asked question of why bad things happen to good people” posited to him in this way: 

The Bible is a beautifully written work of fiction. I always wonder where was this caring, all powerful God or Supreme Being when the Nazis were in power? When slavery was taking place? Where was he? 

Vox started out well, saying:I am not a theologian and I am not particularly well-versed in theology. I postulate that human understanding cannot fully comprehend or explain God, and so my conclusions are, at best, barely educated guesses. I do not know the fullness of the truth and neither does any other human being, past or present, with one notable exception. . . . . In other words, argue with me all you like, but there’s no point in getting upset about it – save that for something on which we can have a more substantive debate.  

This humility is wise, as it is certain that no human fully understand the nature of God. He also tends to keep to his word and doesn’t get overly disturbed by someone bringing a criticism to him in a non-offensive manner. And I appreciate his willingness to tackle reasons that people give for unbelief. He does this often, and it is my strong belief that he has done good in this regard. But he continues- 

With that out of the way, let me state that I believe the common Christian notion that God is in complete control of the world, that He has a specific plan for our individual lives, that He guides our every step and orchestrates every incident we encounter is one of the most Satanically damaging concepts ever invented by the forces of darkness. I believe that this notion is logically and Biblically flawed, and has an evil effect on both Christians and nonbelievers alike.  

Strong words. 

My reasoning is as follows: 1. Neither omnipotence nor omniscience imply omniderigence, or to put it more casually, uber control freakdom. If you inquire as to why most Christians believe that God is in control, they will state that He is all-powerful and all-knowing and has made the Heavens and the Earth.  

This is, of course, not all that a competent Calvinist debater will state. In fact, I have not heard these truths given as proofs, but perhaps Vox has. 

They sometimes cite the verse relating to knowledge of sparrows. But knowing when a sparrow falls does not imply striking it dead, nor does the possession of power indicate its use. Nor does making something imply active maintenance – does
Toyota change your oil?

 Vox sounds a little deistic here. My Bible (NIV) says the sparrow won’t fall without the WILL of the father (Matthew 10:29), but perhaps Vox uses a different translation (and the Greek is a little vague in this verse.) It is also true to say that having strength does not imply continually using it. But, again, it is a poor debater who would only bring up the sparrow verse. 

2. Jesus Christ would not have taught us to pray that God’s Will be done here on Earth as it is in Heaven, unless God’s Will was not being done here on Earth. 3. There are numerous instances in the Old Testament where
Israel and others go against God’s Will. Therefore, it is possible for humans to act in opposition to God, without him dictating their actions. Furthermore, the very notion of Lucifer’s Fall indicates strongly that God is not in control of all things.

 Now we get to the crux of the matter. 

If Vox has not heard of the concept of the two (or more, but for the purposes here, we can keep it to two) kinds of Wills of God – His Permissive will and his Perfect will, I can attend to this subject later, or point him to others who have said it better than I could. But for now I will state that there are clear passages in the Bible which state that God has willed (caused, or to put it less strongly, ordained) an occurrence of something that he disapproved of. 

This is very challenging and often not very palatable, but still Biblically provable. 

4. Jesus Christ does not argue with Satan when Satan offers him the nations of the world. Instead, he rejects the offer. The clear implication is that the nations of the world were Satan’s to give. This is supported by Jesus and Paul’s later references to the god of this world being distinct from the God that is the Heavenly Father.  

Agreed (Largely) but I don’t see how this adds to his point. 

5. Jesus Christ says that Satan has no hold on him, presumably because he has not sinned. Therefore, Satan does have a hold on everyone who has sinned, namely, the rest of us on the planet.  

Again, agreed. We are fallen. Satan can tempt us. Satan failed to tempt Jesus. 

6. Jesus Christ’s command to follow his own example of healing the sick and raising the dead indicates that neither sickness or death are God’s Will for individual humans or humanity as a whole.  

At the very least, Vox needs to add here the phrase “in certain situations.” Because it is clear that God causes sickness as punishment in many cases in the Bible. But again, when a person becomes diseased for reasons other than punishment, this is against God’s perfect will, but not his permissive will. 

7. For reasons beyond our ken, God requires humans to act as conduits for acting on this planet. This is why Satan hates Christians so passionately, as they represent the beachhead of divine power which will eventually overthrow his rule of this fallen world.  

Again, agreed. And this has been God’s will from before creation. 

Based on these and other reasons, I have concluded that it is a massive error to blame God for evils such as National Socialism, slavery and the designated hitter.  

Wait now, I thought Vox didn’t care about baseball. But he continues . . 

These are human creations, enthusiastically cheered on by the reigning ruler of the planet, who seeks nothing less than the total destruction of mankind.  . .  Satan is not only evil, but he is a deceiver. And what deception could be more useful than to lead people into believing that all the evil of the world is caused by the only power that can ameliorate their suffering?  

One deception that could be useful to Satan (more so than this Truth) is that God sees bad things happening to people, thinks of them as bad and is powerless or unwilling to stop them. 

In summary, I believe that these evils exist because the world is ruled by a sadistic supernatural serial killer who is vehemently opposed to God. Only those who turn to Jesus Christ have the ability to stand against this terrible usurper and his minions, which is why despite all of the many shortcomings of the Christian church, some of the greatest evils of the world have been brought to an end – temporarily, I suspect – by Christians, including the two examples that you cited. This is why prayer matters, why faith is so massively important, and why Jesus Christ said his sacrifice would set us free.  

Again, I agree with all of this. But it says nothing about whether or not it is God’s will that evil happens. 

My understanding is without question incomplete, but I believe that it is more in accordance with both the world and the Word than the shallow, ominously-smiling Sunday School teaching that God wants little Bobby to go through chemo, little Susy to be born addicted to heroin and little Schmuly to die in a gas chamber because it’s good for them. Where was God? My guess – and that’s all it is – is that He was watching with tears in His eyes and waiting for someone to stand in the gap between Divine Heaven and Fallen Earth to be a conduit for His power to end the evil.  

A few comments here. (A) Vox appears to think that showing that Satan is very powerful and that the world is in his grip is enough to show that there is a biblical case that God is not in control. But He has not made this case. (B) No one argues that these bad things happen because they are, of themselves, good for the victims. (C) God never ‘waits’ in the way Vox puts it here. God is not passive. He orchestrates. He works. His creation is continual. (D) Vox doesn’t need to guess. It’s all there in the Bible, if he is willing to look at it. 

Now, I should make it clear that I have also, here, not (yet) made a good biblical case for what I am arguing. I have not really shown that Vox is wrong as much as I have shown that he may be wrong. But there is more to come. And in any case, that’s what this blog is for. So . . . more bible verses are on the way. 

In conclusion, I want to ask Vox, and those who are of his bent, two questions:


(1) Do you think there are as many as two hundred bible that speak of the majesty of God over all creation (as King, Ruler, etc.) or do you think there are only one hundred verses? 

(2) What would it take for you to believe that God is in control to the degree that I am arguing? I hope you are not thinking – I won’t believe it until it feels right.

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February 2007