When the orthodox Reformer says that God ordains something He means: either God directly causes something or that He permits something (evil) to happen. This is a truth taught in scripture. God doesn’t directly cause evil. For this would make Him the author of evil. Rather He permits it (for morally sufficient reasons) to bring about His overall plans and purposes. His permitting evil it is a kind of indirect causing. That is, His permission is a kind of secondary causing not a direct causing. For example, Satan gets permission from God to torment Job. God allowed Satan to take Job’s family and make Job sick. Yet Job says, “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”. As Theodore Beza has stated:
Nothing happens anyhow or without God’s most righteous decree, although God is not the author or sharer in any sin at all. Both His power and goodness are so great and so incomprehensible, that at a time when He applies the devil or wicked men in achieving some work, whom He afterward justly punishes, He Himself none the less effects His Holy work well and justly.
When God permits evil He has morally sufficient reasons for doing so. That is, God’s intentions are good, Satan’s intentions are evil. One act - two intentions. What Satan means for evil God means for good. Nonetheless, God is in control. This is also the Catholic view. I hold to the Catholic view that God is indeed control. But I also hold to the paradox that man has free will. I don’t use the term libertarian free will though but human responsibility or free will as defined by R.C. Sproul and Jonathan Edwards. More specific, I hold to the view of Jonathan Edwards in that God PERMITS evil but doesn’t directly cause evil. For if God directly caused evil this would make Him the author of evil. Says Edwards:
If by ‘the author of sin,’ be meant the sinner, the agent, or the actor of sin, or the doer of a wicked thing…it would be a reproach and blasphemy, to suppose God to be the author of sin. In this sense, I utterly deny God to be the author of sin.
Edwards says God is:
the permitter of sin; and at the same time, a disposer of the state of events, in such a manner, for wise, holy and most excellent ends and purposes, that sin, if permitted…will most certainly and infallibly follow.
See: Edwards, “Concerning the Divine Decrees,” 534. and Edwards, “Freedom of the Will” 399.
God has established a world in which evil comes to pass by His permission not His positive agency. Edwards uses an analogy of how the sun brings about light and warmth by it’s essential nature, but brings about cold and dark by dropping below the horizon. Evil is not the fruit of any positive agency or influence of God but arises from the withholding of His action and energy. Why does God allow evil? There are different views and many different reasons God could permit evil. But I go along with R.C. Sproul here:
I have to say that I have no idea why God allows evil to besmirch His universe. However, I know that when God ordains anything, His purpose is altogether good…In terms of His eternal purpose, God has esteemed it good that evil should be allowed to happen in this world. - Does God Control Everything, page 50
This is only reasonable. For God is infinite in wisdom and knowledge and sees all of reality while I am finite and limited. His justifiable reasons are infinite. When it comes to logical explanations they are infinite. Especially when we are dealing with infinite wisdom and knowledge. Moreover, relationships are based on trust. Being infinite in wisdom and knowledge, God’s ways are infinitely above mine. I don’t know His sovereign will until it comes to pass. His sovereign will is His business alone. My job is to trust Him and do mercy and justice. And because of the suffering death and resurrection of Christ I have good reason to trust Him. For He brings beauty out of ashes and works everything together for my good because I love Him. My faith is in Him. I therefore have hope. The past is gone and my future is secure. I’m free to live in the present moment.
I’m glad you liked the holy hatred thing. I go along with Robin Parry in “Four Views on Hell” when he quotes John A.T. Robinson:
“His is a love of cauterizing holiness and of a righteousness whose only response to evil is the purity of a perfect hatred. Wrath and justice are but ways in which such love must show itself to be love in the face of it’s denial, page 113”
As I already explained, if love is the disposition to seek the good of someone else and hate is opposition to the values and plans of someone then it is possible to both love and hate the same person. I can hate someone like Adolf Hitler for example in the sense of opposing his plans and being disgusted by his character and actions, while at the same time desiring his conversion or change of heart. Thus, I can both love and hate Hitler at the same time. I don’t think Jesus wants us to merely hate someone like Hitler. For He tells us to love everyone including our enemies. He speaks against mere hatred by telling us to love. Indeed, it tells us in Romans love is to be genuine, hate that which is evil, cling to that which is good. If God is love then He must hate evil. God’s holy hatred destroys the reprobate but after judgment comes resurrection or restoration. This is a holy hatred. God kills but makes alive. This is what happened at the cross. Given Christ’s substitutionary atonement this must be what happens to those in hell. After judgment comes resurrection or restoration. Just as the heavens and earth undergo a fiery judgment but there is a new heavens and earth.