The Evangelical Universalist Forum

God does not create, commit, or allow evil!


#241

I have only begun to read it, but already, I agree with the main thesis—that God is WHOLLY GOOD, and in Him is no darkness at all. That has been my position now for decades. I am also inclined to accept his thesis that God is omnipotent only in that which does not conflict with His character (as well as that which is contradictory such as His inability to create a stone so large that He cannot lift it).

That God cannot lie (Titus 1:2) is a Biblical example of His inability to do that which is in conflict with His character. Thus Murray believes being cruel, coercive, destructive, and deceptive is contrary to God’s character, and therefore He cannot act in those ways. I am beginning to think that Murray is right about this. So Murray seems to believe that “the problem of evil” (Why does God allow the millions of atrocities that are constantly occurring?) is that God DOESN’T allow them in any sense of “allow.” The reason He does nothing to stop them is that he CANNOT stop them. Doing so would require coercion, and that is contrary to God’s character. This is the first satisfactory answer to the problem of evil that I have ever encountered.

There are some concepts that Murray brings up with which I disagree, but I am excited about his justification of his main thesis. Some people are violently opposed to this thesis. I presented it on another forum, and I was asked by the creator of the forum why Murray and I don’t write our own bible and instigate a new religion.


#242

The reason He does nothing to stop them is that he CANNOT stop them. Doing so would require coercion, and that is contrary to God’s character. This is the first satisfactory answer to the problem of evil that I have ever encountered.

If a plane flying over the ocean suddenly has all of it’s engines stall and it hurdles toward the ocean, how would God’s intervention to save everyone be coercion?


#243

Thanks paidion! I wonder if Murray has a theory on the verses that say God commanded Israel to slaughter children and infants. I have a hard time accepting the idea that God actually did, but I’ve yet to read a compelling theory that explains how these verses ended up in the Bible if God didn’t in fact command these slaughters.


#244

Qaz - I’ve read a number of compelling arguments re: the O.T. cherem and whether God commanded it and referenced them on this forum, I’ll try to find them and link to them.


#245

A good starting point is Bob Wilson’s very good paper 'Reading the Bible like Jesus Did". Here is an excerpt:

Using Violence (a major reversal) In the O.T., a common way to deal with evil people was to kill them. This was commanded for a rebel child, a sexual sin, doing Saturday work, etc. Even a spouse or a child teaching false ideas must be assassinated (Deut 13:6-11; 17:2-7; 18:20; 21:18-21; 22:22-4; Lev 20:9-13; 24:10-23; 27:29; Ex
31:12-17; 22:20; 2Kgs 2:23f; 23:30).
Violence & ethnic cleansing were also a key in delivering Israel from her pagan enemies. Being “holy” required, “Show them no mercy… kill everything that breathes… women, children, and infants.” Such calls for “vengeance” implied, “Blessed is the man who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” A variation was, “Kill all the boys, but (as war’s “spoils,”) save every virgin girl for yourselves!”
(Dt 7:1f,6; 20:14-18; 2:34f; 3:6; 1Sam 15:3; 27:9; Jos 6:20f; 8:24f; 10:28-40; 11:11-20; Ps 137:8f; Num 31:17f,27; 2Chr 15:13; Nahum)
Believing God had typically brought victory by violence, Jews must expect the Messiah, as a king like David, who had many military exploits (2Sam 7), would again “rescue us from the hand of our enemies” by slaughtering their Gentile oppressors (Lk 1:74). But Jesus boldly rejects the devout’s reading that God had promised to again show Israel belongs to Him, by violently conquering their pagan enemies (Jesus looks to non-violent texts: Ezek 45:9; Hos 2:18; 4:2f; 5:2; 10:13; Isa 1:15; 2:4; 9:5; 11:6-9; Mic 4:1-4; Zech 9:9f; Ps 46:9; Job 16:17).
Jesus never calls his followers to kill, but to renounce violence and repayment. He warns that violating his “path of peace” only leads to future destruction. For those “who draw the sword will die by it.” So when his men use a weapon, or cite Elijah’s way to “destroy” God’s enemies by fire, he rebukes it. He also explains that “clubs” were not needed to capture him. Because, “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight… but my kingdom is not” (Lk 1:79; 19:41-4; 9:51-56; Mt 26:51-56; Jn 18:36; cf 1Kgs 18:38-40;
2Kgs 1:10; Num 16:28-35).
He defined his mission by quoting Isaiah 61’s “setting free the oppressed” (Lk 4:16-30). But he eliminates the line Jews loved: another “day of God’s vengeance” on Israel’s oppressors. And he sensed this twist means, he won’t be “accepted as a prophet.” So, he seals their anger by adding that he will copy Elijah in healing hated enemies such as Nathan, a pagan general. Similarly, when John the Baptist stumbles because Jesus did not free him from their enemies, he cites his healings as fulfilling his view of Messiah
(Lk 7:22f; Cf Isa 35:5f & Jonah). For Jesus had radically redefined what it means for God’s Davidic King to win the battle that frees us from evil. Jesus’ Last Supper identifies him with Passover’s theme of liberation. But he ignores the Exodus victory’s reliance upon killing enemy nations. For the enemy that needs to be overcome is sin and the devil. Thus, he reveals that God’s true way to do this, is not as a warrior-king who sheds his enemies’ blood, but as a Servant who absorbs and defeats evil by letting his own blood be shed.
Indeed, Jesus’ way reverses Israel’s interpretation. The key to overcoming our enemies is love & mercy that returns good for evil. For imitating “God who is merciful” requires being “kind to the wicked” just like God! So, “Love your enemies so that you may be children of your Father.” For “peacemakers” are God’s true children, and it’s “the meek who will inherit the earth.” Indeed, Jesus’ only action toward the “Canaanites,” that Israel had tried to annihilate, was to “grant mercy” (Lk 6:27-35; Mt 5:5-9,38-48; 15:21-28; 10:38).
“Losing our life to save it” can mean, “Do not resist evil,” but “turn the other cheek.” It will mean no more “eye for an eye,” but “forgive everyone who sins against us.” For “Even pagans love those who love them.” But God’s way means the test is to “love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you.” For what looks like a way of loss is actually the way to “overcome evil with good” (Lk 9:23f; 11:4; Rom 12:21).

[tag]Bob Wilson[/tag]


#246

Allow me to repost a pertinent post:

"Thus says the LORD of hosts: “I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (I Samuel 15:2-3, spoken by Samuel to King Saul)

If you read the rest of the chapter, you will see that Saul fulfilled this command, except that he spared some animals and the Amalekite king, Agag. Saul “utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword” (verse 8). Shortly thereafter, the prophet Samuel himself killed Agag (verse 33).

So I guess there were no more Amalekites left in the world after Saul and Samuel finished their job, right?

Wrong.

About 15 to 20 years later (according to some timelines I consulted), David went to war with the Amalekites (as recounted in I Samuel 30). David defeated them, and of the Amalekites “not a man escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled” (verse 17).

Umm…

How can we go from ZERO Amalekites to well over 400 Amalekites in two decades or less? I know where Amalekite babies come from, and so do you. Amalekite babies require Amalekite parents! But there weren’t any Amalekites at all, because they were all slain by Saul and Samuel, right?

Wrong.

We have here biblical proof that the language which, when literally understood, sounds like genocide, means anything but. Whatever Saul did, he left enough Amalekites alive that less than 20 years later 400 of them ran away from David.

We have here an example of an idiom. When God told the Israelites to kill all the men, women, and children, nobody at the time interpreted it literally. (Similarly, I’ve heard many Americans talk about “bombing such-and-so back to the Stone Age”, though nobody understands that literally.)

So next time someone is troubled about God commanding genocide in the Old Testament, you can assure him that God never did any such thing. He merely used language which has been ignorantly interpreted in a literal manner not intended. Can you imagine what people speaking a language yet unborn 3,000 years from now are going to make of our American documents that speak of “bombing X back to the Stone Age”? They’ll make a hash of it, even as we have of God’s supposedly genocidal commands.

It’s ridiculous. We grossly distort the Bible, then blame God for commanding something (i. e., genocide) that He never commanded.

link: Don't worry. The Amalekites are fine.


#247

Who’s saying that God’s intervention WOULD be coercion? Not Richard Murray and not I. I have not said that God cannot save a believer from harm regardless of Steve Gregg’s false accusation that I have. I was mistaken, however, in saying in the above post and also on the other forum that Richard Murray’s explanation solves the problem of evil. I should have said “partially solves the problem of evil.”

Murray has strongly affirmed that God is completely good, that in Him is not darkness at all, that He does not violate people in any way, does not coerce them, does not kill them, etc. Here is how Murray explains why it is written in the Old Testament that He did such evil things:


#248

#249

qaz wrote:
I wonder if Murray has a theory on the verses that say God commanded Israel to slaughter children and infants. I have a hard time accepting the idea that God actually did, but I’ve yet to read a compelling theory that explains how these verses ended up in the Bible if God didn’t in fact command these slaughters.

In his book “Don’t blame God” John Schoenheit gives examples of how the OT writers used certain literary devices like “metonymy.” The White House decided that dogs s/b granted the right to vote! Obviously the White House is a building but this method of substituting one noun for another is a common device OT writers used in relation to God and Satan according to this book,


#250

Awesome sauce??? I’ve never heard of that expression before, but I like it, Steve!! :smiley:

LLC, It’s a teenage girl expression but if the shoe fits i’ll wear it!


#251

Steve7150 wrote:
If a plane flying over the ocean suddenly has all of it’s engines stall and it hurdles toward the ocean, how would God’s intervention to save everyone be coercion?

Who’s saying that God’s intervention WOULD be coercion? Not Richard Murray and not I. I have not said that God cannot save a believer from harm regardless of Steve Gregg’s false accusation that I have. I was mistaken, however, in saying in the above post and also on the other forum that Richard Murray’s explanation solves the problem of evil. I should have said “partially solves the problem of evil.”

OK Paidion so why then wouldn’t God intervene and save the folks on the plane? I don’t see any free will issue, do you?


#252

I don’t think this one instance in 2 Samuel/1 Chronicles can be extrapolated to support the non-violent God hypothesis. Right in 1 Chronicles we also read:

1 Chr 14
9 Now the Philistines had come and made a raid in the Valley of Rephaim. 10 And David inquired of God, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up, and I will give them into your hand.”


#253

It was not meant to support the non-violent God hypothesis (unless possibly indirectly). It was meant to support the progressive revelation of God’s character and purpose. The earlier Hebrew view was that Satan was an agent of God who couldn’t act without God’s permission, and so when Satan acted violently, it was considered tantamount to God acting violently. But many years later when 1 Chronicles was written, and right through to New Testament times, Satan was considered to act independently and in opposition to God.

So in earlier Hebrew times, when Satan brought about an evil, it was said that God brought it about, since it was believed to amount to the same thing since God “allowed” Satan to do it, supposedly for a higher purpose. But Richard Murray believes that God doesn’t “allow” evil in any sense of the word. The most effective way to understand Murray’s position is to read his book.


#254

One more thing to ponder concerning the Tree of Life. If Jehovah knew of their turning as a fact before He created them, then the creation of this tree is a superfluous act of creation at best, and a deliberately misleading act at worst, because, for His knowing as a fact of their turning, He would also know that He would have to ban them from eating its fruits! So, why create it in the first place, unless He always intended for them to have access to it? This idea then makes the creation of this tree an act of optimism that their trust in Him would prevail! Thus, it is indicated that He could not have fore-known their turning when He created them, exactly because He created this tree alongside the other one.

Eli,
Putting aside a couple of references that Jesus sacrifice was pre-ordained before the foundation of the world and granting that “Open Theism” is true i find it hard to believe God had no idea what would happen. Additionally why not just forgive them, why curse Eve, why curse the ground with thorns and thistles, why appoint Adam as our representative and in effect punish us for Adam’s transgression? We are told we need to be more then conquerors, we need to be overcomers, we need to put on the full armour of God. So it sounds to me like we sorta want Heaven on earth right now but God himself has decided we need to develop our spiritual muscles by overcoming evil. To overcome evil it has to exist in this age. Not a popular message but to me it seems to line up with reality and with scripture better then any other idea.


#255

Just came across this sentence in Richard Murray’s book:

.

Here are my thoughts. I believe God did intend them to eventually eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil—but not while they were immature. That is the reason He forbade it. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with knowing the difference between good and evil. In fact the writer to the Hebrews indicates that it’s a sign of maturity:

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:14 ESV)

God God never forbade them from eating from the Tree of Life, but there is no evidence that they ever did so. My thought is that God wanted them to mature through receiving life from that Tree.

But the Serpent wanted them to do it the other way around; eat right away from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It’s not always with bad things with which Satan tempts people, but He often tempts them to use good things in the wrong way—money, sex, food, etc.They acted according to the Serpent’s suggestion and ate from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil , but were not mature enough to handle that knowledge. They were mature physically, but not mentally and emotionally. So God drove them out of the Garden, and prevented them from returning so that they would not eat from the Tree of Life and perpetuate their lives in their fallen condition.


#256

So God drove them out of the Garden, and prevented them from returning so that they would not eat from the Tree of Life and perpetuate their lives in their fallen condition.

Well i have asked before but why couldn’t God simply forgive them, explain to them the error of their ways, warn them about Satan and press the reset button and start over? Also why do we pay for Adam’s transgression when we were not involved?


#257

Do you think Genesis was written to answer all those question? At the time it was ‘written’ - which you understand was looong after the tradition had been orally passed down - the story used other sources from older pagan myths, and changed them to display the vast difference between Yahweh and the multitude of other and older ‘gods’ and heroes.

I think we ask too much out of a few chapters that were not intended to address our 21st century concerns.
Ach, just $.02


#258

Do you think Genesis was written to answer all those question?

No , but i think people can form questions and have thoughts and opinions about it. Plus other parts of the bible reference it so it kinda forms a thread going all the way to Revelation! (Paradise lost & paradise restored).


#259

Never mind.


#260

You are right about the relationship between the Genesis account and us today. I’m with you there. :smiley: