Thursday, July 17, 2014

there is no evil in God, but some evil is good.

St. Paul writes:

“Therefore He has mercy on whom he wills, and whom he wills He hardens. You may say to me, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction…” (Romans 9: 18-22)

Here’s what I find utterly baffling about this passage. Let us assume that the phrases ‘vessels […] for dishonor’ and ‘vessels of wrath prepared for destruction’ coextend to evil unbelieving persons.  Let us assume too, that regarding these evil unbelieving persons, that they are evil and unbelieving because God made them both unbelieving and evil.  Further, let us assume, as the potter to clay-pot analogy suggests, that God made evil unbelievers evil and unbelieving on purpose and that, as a pot cannot help but be the way it is, the evil unbelievers whom God made cannot help but be evil and unbelieving.  Finally, Let us assume, with the Psalmist and St. Paul, that “…there is no unrighteousness in [God]”  (Ps. 92:15, Rom. 9:14), and that “[God] is good” (Ps. 136:1).  Putting this altogether, according to the St. Paul and the Psalmist, we get something like the following:
[!] It is not unrighteous but rather wholly good that God purposely made unbelieving evil persons such that they cannot help but be evil and unbelieving.

My problem with  [!] is that it entails either a contradiction or Manichaeism. [!] is tantamount to saying that evil unbelievers are good with respect to being evil. But if being good entails not evil and being evil entails not good, we’re left with either “evil unbelievers are not evil” or that  “not good unbelievers are good”—which are contradictions. One might avoid contradictions here by saying that good and evil are not contraries and that some evil is good. The problem for me is that I simply don’t understand what it means to say that some evil is good. But, alas, perhaps God’s evil good ways are not my good evil ways.



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