The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Worst Evil In History Was Meant by God for Good

Clearly the torture and murder of Christ counts as the worst evil in human history. We know this because of who Christ is. He is infinite in value and worth. Therefore torturing and killing Him requires an infinite penalty to be paid. When Christ took on flesh He entered into a special union with humanity. This is how He took on our sin. Our sin put Christ to death and we therefore deserve an infinite penalty. The Bible says when you sin you break the whole law. Christ is the locus of moral value. Indeed, we killed Christ in virtue of our union with Christ. So, from God’s perspective all our sins are equal. In His eyes and courtroom. In another sense (in the human courtroom before man) our sins have different degrees of penalties. Some are worse than others. But what we meant for evil God meant for good. For in dying for our sins Christ paid the debt. He suffered and died spiritually. Seeing that He’s the God man and therefore, infinite in value and worth the atonement is infinite in value. Being infinite in value the penalty paid in the atonement is infinite. It’s when we enter into the second union with Christ through faith that we are pardoned for our sins. This is known as a mystical union. We are in Him and He is in us. All the infinities of our sin are swallowed up. As far as hell is concerned I think one of Robin Parrys views is the most accurate:

One could maintain that the devil will be punished forever, but that Lucifer will ultimately be saved. Paul is able to speak of how God saves humans through the putting to death of “the flesh” or the “old person”. The human in rebellion against God is “killed” so that there is a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). According to the tradition, the devil is a fallen angel. The devil, like the “flesh”, must be destroyed forever, because creation has no place for him. But he dies, and Lucifer is reborn as a redeemed angel. It would still be possible to speak of the devil being tormented forever and ever to symbolize this defeat even though no actual being is still in the lake of fire. This goes beyond anything taught in Revelation, but it is one way of trying to reconcile what revelation teaches with what Colossians teaches and I tentatively commend it to the reader. The Evangelical Universalist page 131

Of course all this only holds in a retributive model of justice. In the courts we are penalized with fines and such for breaking the law. But I don’t claim to have proven that this is true. Only that it’s reasonable within a certain framework. Other people will have different models. This is the penalty model I’m presenting. I claim it’s reasonable.

Presuming that the torture and murder of Christ IS the worst evil in human history (though I’m not certain that this is the case), and that God meant it for good, does that imply that God meant every evil act committed by man for some good purpose? I don’t think so.

Also that God demands an infinite penalty for sin, and that Christ “paid the debt”, although a prevalent idea, is, in my belief, a gross error, and maligns the character of God. God IS love. Not that love is one of His characteristics; it is His very ESSENCE!

The apostle Paul wrote:
And why not do evil that good may come? — as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just. (Romans 3:8 ESV)

If it is slander to accuse Christians of saying, “Let’s do evil in order to bring about good,” how much more is it slander to accuse God of doing evil in order to bring about good!

No, there is nothing in Scripture to indicate that God killed His Son in order to save mankind.
Rather Christ’s enemies were ENTIRELY responsible. But God, in His LOVE was somehow able to USE that evil to bring about the process of salvation from sin in the lives of His children.

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I never said that God directly causes evil. He permits it for morally sufficient and justifiable reasons. He doesn’t do evil but allows it for morally sufficient and justifiable reasons. His holiness therefore remains in tact. Just as when He allowed Satan to take jobs family and make him sick. Yet Job responds by saying “the Lord has given and the Lord has taken away” and “shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil?” To which the writer responds, “in all this job did not sin with His lips”. Your God is not the God of Jesus. The scripture you quote is referring to Christians committing evil acts. God doesn’t do this. We go by His revealed will. He is in a privilaged position. He is in the light.

Condemn not or you will be condemned.

Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns.

The Voice of Job in Unspoken Sermons by George MacDonald

The maker of Job was so much greater than Job, that his ways with him might well be beyond his comprehension! God’s thoughts were higher than his thoughts, as the heavens were higher than the earth!

The true child, the righteous man, will trust absolutely, against all appearances, the God who has created in him the love of righteousness.

God does not, I say, tell Job why He had afflicted him: He rouses his child-heart to trust.

pp 163-164

For this reason, God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie, in order that judgment will come upon all who have disbelieved the truth and delighted in wickedness ~~ 2 Thes. 2:11

For if God directly caused evil this would make Him the author of evil. Says Edwards:

Edwards says God is:

See: Edwards, “Concerning the Divine Decrees,” 534. and Edwards, “Freedom of the Will” 399.

There a two theories of justice. Consequentialist theories and retributive theories. It would only be unjust to punish the innocent in certain circumstances if one holds to a retributive theory of justice. Consequentialist theories say that the punishment of the innocent can be justified in certain circumstances because of the benefits that can be accrued like deterring crimes or reforming people. But even the staunchest of contemporary retributivists, Michael Moore, recognizes that the demands of retributive justice are prima facie demands that can be and are overridden in specific cases. This is why Moore is not committed to moral legalism Moore says that we must not confuse the intrinsic goodness of retribution with the categorical duty to carry out retributive justice on every possible occasion. He calls himself a threshold deontologist, that is to say, he abides by the categorical norm of morality until doing so produces sufficiently bad consequences to pass some threshold. So in the extreme case where one must punish an innocent person or else the whole world would be tortured forever one should punish the innocent person. By waiving the prima facie demands of retributive justice and punishing the innocent person he has mercifully saved the whole world from being tortured forever and was therefore acting compatibly with moral goodness. Nonetheless, I’m convinced that the justice at the cross was consequentialist as well as retributive. The Bible says Christ learned obedience through what He suffered. Thomas Aquinas held that at the cross Jesus suffered and bore the punishment for our sins. But this punishment was medicinal punishment. We know it was disciplinary because of Isaiah 53:5 -

The chastening for our well being fell upon Him.

The Hebrew word here is musar

musar:

discipline, chastening, correction

The punishment is one of medicine and well being. Therefore, God’s justice is consequentialist as well as retributive in nature at the cross. Punishing Christ for our sins is justified because it gives eternal life to the world. Punishing Christ prevents the lost from suffering forever and Christ learned obedience through what He suffered. Therefore the punishment was just on God’s part. Evil on mans part because of the evil intentions of man. But God’s intentions were holy and good. What Satan meant for evil God meant for good. Here’s 50 morally sufficient and justifiable reasons God had for the death of Christ. Seeing that logical explanations are infinite in number and God is infinite in wisdom and knowledge there are and infinite number. Nonetheless, here’s 50:

1 To remove the wrath of God
2 To free us from the slavery of sin
3 That we may die to sin and live for righteousness
4 To please His heavenly Father
5 To achieve His own resurrection from the dead
6 To show God’s love and grace to sinners
7 To cancel the legal demands of the law against us
8 To become a ransom for many
9 For the forgiveness of our sins
10 To provide the basis for our justification
11 To complete the obedience that becomes our righteousness
12 To take away our condemnation
13 To abolish circumcision and all rituals as the basis for salvation
14 To bring us to faith and keep us faithful
15 To give us a clear conscious
16 To make us holy
17 To obtain for us all things that are good for us
18 To heal us from moral sickness
19 To give eternal life to the world
21 To deliver us from the past evil age
22 To reconcile us to God
23 To bring us to God
24 So that we might belong to Him
25 To give us confident access to the holy place
26 To become for us the place where we meet God
27 To bring the Old Testament priesthood to an end
28 Become our High Priest
29 Free us from the futility of our ancestry
30 So that we would die to the law and bear fruit for God
31 To enable us to live for Christ and not ourselves
32 To make His cross the ground of all our boasting
33 To enable us to live by faith in Him
34 To give marriage it’s deepest meaning
35 To create people passionate for good works
36 To call us to follow His example of lowliness and love
37 To create crucified followers
38 To free us from the fear of death
39 So that we will be with Him after death
40 To secure our resurrection from the dead
41 To disarm the rulers and authorities
42 To unleash the power of God in the Gospel
43 To destroy hostility between the races
44 Ransom people from every tribe and nation
45 Gather His sheep from around the world
46 Rescue us from eternal torment
47 Gain His joy and ours
48 So that He would be crowned with glory
49 To show the worst evil in human history was meant by God for good.
50 To learn obedience and be perfected

I don’t claim rational certainty for the argument from Christs glory. Only plausibility. It’s reasonable. It can be rationally resisted. It only holds within a retributive model. But this is the most reasonable explanation from scripture. Penal. It doesn’t say everything though. Since mortal sin belittles and scorns God’s infinite worth and value then committing a mortal sin has the consequences of paying an infinite price. This is why Christ could atone for the sins of His people because He is infinite in value. He payed the infinite price. The old identity (self) is tormented forever and ever in hell while the new self (spirit) is reborn. The Greek word for soul in the New Testament is psyche. The Bible defines it as the mind, will, and emotions (self). The Bible also tells us that as a baby up to and through the time He was a man Jesus had to learn and grow. He didn’t know everything as a man. This was His human soul. This is the soul that would die and be tormented forever as Jesus was nailed to the cross and descended into hell. The Bible is pretty clear that Jesus died for sinners. As God, Jesus didn’t have to learn and grow. He was infinite in wisdom and knowledge. This is His Divine Spirit. This is what entered His new body when He was resurrected. On the cross He said to the Father, “Into Your hands I commit my spirit.” The human soul is tormented forever. The Divine Spirit lives forever in God’s glory. Man is body soul and spirit. Soulish (natural) is the Biblical Greek psyche. A natural body is transformed into a spiritual one. Our true inner self is the spirit. We put to death the soulish or natural man (false self) and walk in the spirit (True Self). The psyche (natural man) is tormented forever in hell - The soulish (soul body).

I agree that Christ is love. The greatest infinite love. That’s why I say rejecting and torturing Him is the greatest evil. The more loving ones overtures the more morally reprehensible it is to reject them through torture. Christ is the greatest. Therefore torturing and murdering Him is the greatest evil. Again the argument here makes it reasonable not certain.

I also believe Christ paid the penalty for our sins but it wasn’t God who punished Jesus. Seeing it was the worst evil in history Jesus drank from the cup of demons. This cup for us becomes the cup of salvation.

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Christ voluntarily took upon Himself the suffering that would have been the punishment for our sins, had it been inflicted on us. He willingly paid the penalty for our sins. Our justice system permits people to pay penalties like fines on behalf of other persons without moral protest. Since God did not punish Christ for our sins, His voluntarily suffering on our behalf cannot be said to be unjust on God’s part.

The cup of Jesus drank was probably the wrath of sin not God’s wrath. In Revelation in reference to Babylon in says:

It goes on to say:

Since the sins of the world were laid on Christ, the cup He would drink from is referring to the cup of wrath of the sins of the world. This would cause His suffering. Not God’s wrath.

Again, this is just one view. I claim it’s reasonable. There are other views. You can rationally resist the conclusions I’ve come to here.

I go along with Greg Boyd in his Christus Victor model:

Along the same line, in the Christus Victor view, Jesus was afflicted by the Father not in the sense that the Father’s rage burned directly towards His Son, but in the sense that God allowed evil agents to have their way with Him for a greater good. This is how God’s wrath was usually expressed towards Israel In the Old Testament (Judges 2:11-19; Isaiah 10:5-6). … God the Son, bore the Father’s wrath, expressed through the powers, for the greater good of demonstrating God’s righteousness against the powers and sin (Romans 3:25) while defeating the powers and setting humans free from their oppression.

We must also understand that man’s system isn’t God’s system. God is holy. Holiness when applied to God not only refers to moral purity but to everything that separates Him from His creation and His creatures. He’s distinct. He alone is God. Therefore, His justice is a holy justice. There’s an infinite distance between us and God. There are ways we are like God and ways we are not. We see this justice in Rev.:

It goes on to say:

God punishes them DOUBLE for their sins. This seems unjust according to human standards of justice. But we are finite. God is Holy. His justice is Holy.

I believe the glory of God is the going public of his infinite worth. I define the holiness of God as the infinite value of God, the infinite intrinsic worth of God. And when that goes public in creation, the heavens are telling the glory of God ~~ John Piper

The public display of the infinite beauty and worth of God is what I mean by “glory,” and I base that partly on Isaiah 6, where the seraphim say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of his—” and you would expect them to say “holiness” and they say “glory.” They’re ascribing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of his—” and when that goes public in the earth and fills it, you call it “glory.”

So God’s glory is the radiance of his holiness, the radiance of his manifold, infinitely worthy and valuable perfections. ~~ John Piper

God’s courtroom isn’t the human courtroom. Finite sins are only against other finite beings. There are sins that don’t lead to death. Not all sins are equal. Only the mortal sins separate one from God. They scorn and belittle the infinite worth of God. Torturing the infinite valuable requires a penalty that is infinite. These sins are serious. Because they are serious God doesn’t just sweep them under the rug. If someone tortures and murders my son I can forgive them while justice is still being done by punishing them in prison. God is just and He must punish sin even if He forgives it. Remember there were a whole host of things Christ and the Father were doing at the cross. Yes Jesus forgave, but considering the seriousness of sin, God must execute justice because He is just. Since God is just He doesn’t sweep these serious sins against Him under the rug. Not to punish would be unjust and the demeaning of God would be endorsed. A lie would reign at the core of reality. This will make no sense where God is small and man is big. It will only make sense where people see God as great, as He really is, and see man, see ourselves, and see our outrageous God-belittling self-centeredness for what they are.

The final rejection of Christ is a hardened heart that separates one’s heart from His restraining influence. Because of this separation they hardened heart will not want forgiveness. Because of their rejection of Christ they commit the eternal sin. It’s eternal because Christ is God.

Hebrews 6

4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

i guess not all sins are a rejection of God. Only the mortal sin separates ones heart from the Spirit. It’s a total rejection of Christ. Other sins are also against God but they are only a partial rejection. Different sins have different degrees of seriousness. But the one eternal sin is separation from the Holy in a total rejection of Christ. The heart hardens. You will hate and not want to have anything to do with the Holy. When you hate the wrath of God you hate a Holy God.

What do you mean by “punish”? Is it like, “You did sin A, and so you’ll have to pay for that by being punished with consequence B”?

God isn’t like that. All of God’s judgments are remedial. So it’s like, “You have been sinning. Therefore I’ll have to correct you.” The means of correction may not be pleasant. But God does it out of love—not so-called “justice”.

A good human father is the same. He corrects his erring son. Not punishment, but correction. Again that correction is out of love, but may not be pleasant.

A not-so-good human father punishes his son. “You have done wrong, therefore you’ll pay for that by being strapped and kept in your room for a week.”

What I mean by punishment is correction. The Lexicon says this as well for “eternal punishment”

Kolasis

  1. correction, punishment, penalty

From the English Dictionary (online)

Correction

  1. punishment, especially that of criminals in prison intended to rectify their behavior.

synonyms:

punishment · reform · reformation · discipline · chastisement · castigation · admonition · reproof · reprimand

To God a ‘Day" is as a “Thousand years” and a “Thousand years” are as a “Day.” A “Thousand Years” and “Day” aren’t literal here. This is why the Bible tells us that Jonah was in the belly of a whale for 3 days yet the text says He was there forever. Likewise Christs atonement is eternal yet He was resurrected. The justice can be eternal yet come to an end. It’s relative. Either way we have infinite justice manifested. Moreover justice would come to an end and therefore, justice would be served. It’s never served if people suffer an infinite stretch of time.

God is perfect in holiness. He’s infinite in value and worth. Torturing and murdering Him is the worst evil imaginable and therefore deserves the worst penalty imaginable. This will make no sense where God is small and man is big. It will only make sense where people see God as great, as He really is, and see man, see ourselves, and see our outrageous God-belittling self-centeredness for what they are. Because of the infinite torment over a finite time people in hell would be transformed “In a Twinkling of an Eye”

in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. ~~ 1 Cor. 15:52

There are actually many different sizes or levels of infinity; some infinite sets are vastly larger than other infinite sets.

Thus each person is punished with different levels of infinity. But they all transform instantly.

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This makes sense of the ages upon ages passage. It’s literally describing multiple levels of infinity. But to God a “Day” is as a “thousand years” and a “thousand years” as a “Day”. Day and 1000 years aren’t literal here. Multiple levels of infinity could be a twinkling of an eye to God. He’s a paradoxical Deity.

God would be more glorified if all creation were glorifying Him in the end. One would just have to look to the cross and see the greatest manifestation of the glory of infinite mercy and infinite justice. His grace would shine all the brighter. Indeed, it’s the cross that reconciles all. It’s at the cross that the glory of God is fully manifested. We look to the cross for the knowledge of the glory of God. If Christ is lifted up He will draw all to Himself. Universalism gives God the most glory and is therefore the true view.

Bull hocky

Why translate “aiōnios” as “eternal”? The Greek word does NOT mean “eternal”. It means “lasting”.

The Greek word for “eternal” is “aidios”. It occurs in just two verses in the New Testament:

(Romans 1:20) Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

(Jude 1:6) And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day;

Note that in Jude 1:6, it states that the chains are eternal. It does not state that these angels will be kept in those chains eternally, but only until the judgment day.