I’m probably having a brainfade so am hoping some wiser heads will help me out here. Had a great chat with one of my kids tonight and she asked “When Adam and Eve sinned, why didn’t God just click his fingers and eliminate the sin straight away?” I was sort of stumped. I was going to say “because the consequence of sin is death” etc etc, but I wasn’t overly happy with that.
So, why didn’t God fix it straight away? Could he have done so? Was he bound by some law not to?
He fixed it before the foundations of the world. The problem seems to me to be that we have this conception that God was taken completely surprised. I believe that He allowed (caused ) it to show us grace, which was His plan all along. Where sin abounds, grace does super-abundantly more abound.
Hmmm. I’m not sure that’s enough for me and I’m fairly sure it won’t be for my daughter!
That seems to be saying “God wanted to show how much grace he had, so he created beings even though he knew they’d have to go through massive pain, sin, separation, alientation, etc to get the grace”. Have I understood this correctly?
Well I’m not claiming to be wiser, however, I’ll have a go at helping out.
I look forward to my kids being old enough to have these discussions. I’ll start with what I’m confident about:
]God knew & knows what He’s doing/] ]Ultimately all God’s actions are good & loving/] ]Real love is connected to freedom, it involves the making choices, otherwise, we are merely puppets./]
So weighing everything up, God must’ve determined that creating Adam & Eve was good & loving. He must’ve known that they would choose to do something contrary to what He wanted, something that wasn’t good & loving. However, fixing it in a good & loving way, must be a long process, otherwise, He would’ve done it sooner. I don’t think He is bound by anything other than Himself. I think that He wouldn’t have created us, if He didn’t know how to completely fix the relationship, when we inevitably sinned.
I agree that God can’t be taken by surprise. I also believe God knew what was involved in fixing it before He started.
I agree He allowed choice (& hence sin) because ultimately, having non-puppets is more good & loving, than just puppets. I don’t believe He can sin or causes sin. I believe grace is shown, but He didn’t set out to show off (not that you’re necessarily saying that, but I’ve heard it said).
How funny I was thinking of Romans 11:32 just like everyone. God’s purpose is to have mercy on us. I guess it doesn’t really satisfy. I’m just thankful that I can trust that even as it looks grim God has a good purpose in mind, that’s really a lot more hope than a lot of theological folk have that believe God could have predetermined one of their children to hell to benefit a few. At least we can believe God really is out to have mercy on all. Seems like somewhere I’ve seen Talbott argue that in order to produce the kind of world he wanted, with the end he wanted, certain things were unavoidable?
If he just “made it happen” then the perfection of everything wouldn’t be true, or real. It would be fake, an illusion.
“If I told you to clean your room, but you only hid it all under the bed, would your room really be clean?”
“If God had to clean up even the possibility of the room being messy, would it be clean if he only hid the very ability for the room to be messy with a click of his fingers? If he didn’t actually take the time to clean up Adam and Eve and Sin out of the world, the same way you have to take the time to actually clean your room - then nothing would actually be clean, it’d just be “said” to be clean, and that would make God a liar.”
A poor example, but it is the only way I could probably present it to a little girl…I’m not exactly able to talk to children very easily…Maybe someone can make a better parable?
The basic idea is that in order to make every thing perfect in truth, not just in statement - it has to be worked with in a real way…not just “forced” to be that way, because that would make God a liar - saying something is clean when in reality it isn’t clean at all, because the ability to be imperfect still remains, having not been overcome by Creation through the Creator who makes Creation to overcome through him - that which would make Creation imperfect, or imprisoned to the ability to become imperfect.
I’d say it’s about freedom. [It was for freedom that Christ set us free. ~Gal 5] Because there is no such thing as just magically reprogramming people. God is raising children, and He wants us to have freedom–so that we are good because we want to and are wise enough to chose good instead of evil, and strong enough to conquer our impulses so that we live by what we know is true, and loving enough to treat others as we would like to be treated.
We have to grow up into the image of Christ–into maturity–just like a baby has to grow up. Adam and Eve were made with grown up bodies, but they had baby souls. That’s still how it is with all of us–even if we look grown up on the outside, we’re still God’s little ones on the inside.
And I think there’s much more to the story than I understand.
Scripture says that at the right time Christ came and died for us. (Rom 5:6) Through all of history God has been working toward His goals. When the time was right, Christ came. God is doing a great work in the world, and we must trust that He knows how best to carry it out.
Rline would we appreciate how wonderfully clean God is if we never knew what a mess is? Or appreciate how wonderfully merciful he is if we never knew evil? I haven’t thought this out enough. I’m sure there is a rebuttal somewhere.
I like this a lot. I’ve been trying to repeat to my kids that God wants us to be more like Jesus, which would certainly include doing and being good because we really want to do so rather than because we feel like we have to or something else.
Hi Amy. Your questions are spot on, and I agree with your answers, but…
If God made us, then allowed sin to enter the world, and then his plan was to deal with our sin problem (rather than just leave us stuck), are we then implying that God allowed the full effects of sin to take place (over years and years) because it was the only way we could truly appreciate his amazingness? (Having experienced sin, we would marvel at his solution.) And if we are saying that, then in anyone else, wouldn’t that seem arrogant or egotistical?
Son gets caught by police.
Father visits jail cell.
Son expects father to bail him out.
Father leaves him there to experience full effects of his crime.
Would the son be any more in awe of his father’s amazingness if his father leaves him to sit in a jail cell for years, or if his father delivered him from jail straight away?
I’m thinking as I type so it’s quite possibly not coherent.
I’m starting to wonder whether there’s some of MacDonald’s justice somewhere. Maybe I need to go watch TV.
You are too funny! I know what you mean, but I think you are onto something. It’s funny how difficult it is to think of all the ramifications of our line of reasoning. Reminds me a little of when Arminians say God wants us to have choice because it’s not a real relationship otherwise. Gene always points out that our children don’t make choices about whether they would love other parents and our relationship/love is real. We would never risk sending our kids off to the neighbors to see if they’d actually like to stay over there. They love in the way they do, completely dependent on us/knowing nothing else, and we are quite content with the relationship as it is.
I wonder, too, if there isn’t something here violating justice, that MacDonald couldn’t shed light on? If it hadn’t been for my husband and others I would never have questioned anything.
But surely God didn’t leave us to experience the full effects of our sin? (I’ve heard people talk of hell being like a world where God doesn’t intervene… I’m not sure of that argument, but I think it’s an interesting thought.)
I know what you mean, and I’ve heard that line of thought a lot (even used it myself sometimes), but I don’t think the argument holds. For example, I’ve never taken drugs (the illegal kind). And yet I would argue that I fully appreciate life without them: I don’t need to experience it to appreciate being “clean.”
I’m not exactly sure where I stand on the issue. If God just “clicked his fingers” to get rid of sin, I think it starts to sound a bit like Gregory MacDonald’s argument about Jesus being tempted but not being able to sin (see the bottom of his post [The Trinity and why it is a big issue)). I must confess that I’m not convinced by that argument.
For us, if God could just “click his fingers” to make it all right again, then it takes away the consequences - and I don’t think consequences are always bad (even negative consequences). As a youth worker, I get annoyed with policies (“child protection”; “health and safety” etc) taking away all the possible chances of committing an act which might have a negetive consequence (trip hazards, etc). Thus we prevent learning and growth. We create a cotton wool world… but God could have had a different method, thus voiding my argument. [Added to which, if the “cotton wool world” worked, then we wouldn’t know any different and we’d live in harmony… eternity? In which case, we’re basically asking why we can’t have God’s Kingdom here on earth now… which I think is part of our job as Christians… this is an awkward argument, so I’ll stop!]
(In my opinion) Evangelical Universalism gets 1-up for that! I’m blatantly stealing that comment…
It happens that I’ve been chewing through this topic with some thoroughness for the past several BSM series (starting back around here), and will be continuing to do so for the next two (including today’s, which isn’t up yet.)
Ultimately I think the answer involves devils–and God’s hope for their own salvation! (A topic hinted at during the prologue and climax of the Book of Job in the OT.)
Children are innocent about good and evil (or should be).
I used to think that walking with the Lord takes us back to the garden, but now I think that “the kingdom of heaven” relationship with God is superior to the Garden relationship. Could it be that having had our eyes opened from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil has brought about some maturity?
Is tested love truer love?
If it were my children, I would bring it into the here and now and talk to them about how we have the same choice to make as the first man and woman.
There are two trees: “The Tree of Life” and “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”. I would ask them what they think those trees mean? WHO is “The Tree of Life”? WHAT about “knowledge of GOOD” can bring about death? WHY did they not instantly keel over dead when they ate it (after all, God said “in the day you eat of it, you shall surely die”)? How can we choose the Tree of LIFE instead of the death Tree?
And I would listen to their answers because sometimes they have some amazing insights!
Wow. I’m surprised no one’s explained it with “free will” in mind. I’m not talking about in the sense that we have ultimate control over our decisions (non-compatibilism) but that God isn’t the kind of person to give us something without us willingly taking it.
The issue of why sin wasn’t eliminated right away is that God can’t take it away from us! We have to willingly give it up. That’s the whole point of love and creating conscious, independent beings. That’s the whole point! God wanted to create beings like himself who could choose to be like himself or to make an otherwise impossible choice - to go against the flow and try to be something different!
Of course that latter choice must always miserably fail, thus God allows that decision to play itself out until we see that it is nothing but futile. It’s only a matter of time (and remember, the ages of earth are nothing in comparison to an infinite resource of time!)
So why wouldn’t he leave it be? It seems that it would serve the purpose much better - and our purpose, too, so long as we insist on using our choice (even if it’s to use that free will to complain against our ability to choose! )