5 Unpopular Questions About God’s Love

Mark of Proud Atheists has a post entitled “5 Unpopular Questions About God’s Love,” which presents 5 questions that are designed to make theists squirm. Of course, they are misunderstanding things as per usual. Let me try to clear things up a bit.

Why did God create evil? There are so many types of “evil.” I will assume that Mark is talking about moral evil. The verses that are cited (Is 45:7 and Jer 25:29) do not support the idea that God creates moral evil. This is an example of selective use of Bible translations, something that even Christians are guilty of doing (e.g. Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life). The word that the KJV renders “evil” in these verses actually means “disaster” or “calamity.” I can certainly agree that God creates calamities or disasters, but not moral evil. These verses do not have moral evil in mind.

Why did God cause bears to maul 42 children for poking fun at a man’s baldness? Read the text. Verse 24 says “forty two of them,” which means that there were more than 42. If a mob of over 42 youths were coming at me shouting epitaphs, I’m going to wildly assume that they don’t have my best interests at heart. This was likely the equivalent of a modern street gang, and they were certainly old enough to recognize a prophet of God for what he was–and that means old enough to know better.

Why would Jesus command his followers to hate their families? He doesn’t. This is an example of hyperbole. What Jesus means is that you should love him so much, that everything else looks like hatred in comparison. Look at the same verse rendered in The Message: “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple.”

Why would Jesus bribe his followers to abandon their families? This is a nitpicky question coming from a skeptic who doesn’t believe in eternal life, which is essentially what Jesus is promising his followers in this verse. What he’s really doing here is preparing his followers to lose family over following him, which is a potential cost of discipleship. Look at Muslims who convert–they risk death at the hands of their own family for converting to Christianity. Those people who lose the most stand to gain quite a lot in the hereafter. It isn’t a case of bribery at all. It’s a reward for living a tougher life than others.

Why would a loving God command Moses and others to slaughter children and eviscerate pregnant women? Are skeptics still on this one? I thought I had answered this before. The assumption here is that these are innocent people, but the Bible teaches us the opposite. There are no innocent people. We have all sinned (Rom 3:23; 5:12), and all deserve death (Rom 6:23). Therefore, God, the just and fair judge, is not doing anything wrong by commanding the deaths of these people–they are not innocent!

About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on September 27, 2009, in Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, God and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I’m in your camp on #’s 2-5, but not #1. I guess, though, first we should figure out why we’re both still Lions fans…perhaps putting James 1:2-3 into action, eh? You look a lot younger than me – I remember Milt Plum from my youth….

    In defining our terms, we would have to agree on “create.” It would seem hard to deny that God is active the “creation” of moral evil, especially looking at passages such as Joshua 11:20, Is. 45;7 (I have a friend who was an Orthodox Jew and fluent in Hebrew who is now a Christian. He adamantly maintains that “ra” in 45:7 should be translated “evil.” Even if we don’t agree on “evil” in that verse, would it not be safe to assume that the point being made is through contrasts – light/darkness, well-being/calamity – and that those contrasts do not necessarily exclude moral evil?), and then the census with David. The census account shows God’s active role as well as Satan’s and the census was certainly an act of moral evil for which David confessed his sin and for which 70,000 people died, no?

    We could also look at Isaiah 10:9-23 where God says he is going to use the Assyrians as His tool to punish a rebellious Israel and then He holds the Assyrian king accountable for the evil desire in his heart. Now, one could say that the hearts of these people were already evil (which they were – or had the capacity for it) but that still doesn’t solve the problem. We have two issues – either God has “allowed” the evil to manifest itself in a certain manner (e.g., Is. 10) by “withdrawing His grace,” as Sproul would describe it, or the evil intent occurred first in the mind of man and then God “saw it” and permitted it to happen. The second issue then gives us this problem – man has thoughts prior to God’s knowledge of them, which then denies His eternal omniscience. The first doesn’t get God “off the hook” either, because He still is ultimately responsible for actively deciding to “withdraw His grace” and enable evil to occur.

    It would seem the more biblical response would be to acknowledge that God has from eternity past somehow decreed that evil exist (How? While maintaining His goodness and holiness and righteousness? The Scripture doesn’t tell us HOW, just that He does) and that is an active decree – as are all events, including our thoughts and intentions, in time and space – and praise Him and trust Him because He is good and He is God.

  2. These questions would phase a theist. Would phase anyone but the most dunder-headed of fundamentalist loons.

    N1. God doesn’t create evil. But evil was considerd cool back in ancient times so the prophets thought they’d make God sound coller by saying he does create it.

    N2. Just propaganda by the priesthood to defend themselves from criticism. Don’t criticize or god might make a bear eat you. They also had to keep up with pagan stories about how this or that god killed people in gruesome ways.

    N5. Cruel men did what cruel men do and then blamed it on God. Again, another ‘my god is cool too’ type of scenario. The more grizzly a crime your god commanded you to do in ancient times the cooler he was thought to be around the incence bowl. As to Cory’s answer, what could be worse than that?!!? Even children in the womb aren’t innocent in the minds of these abortionists called Calvinists. Talk about Satanism.

    Good thing God isn’t like those cave-men thought he is.

  3. Somehow the “not” dropped out of my statements here “These questions would [not] phase a theist. Would [not] phase anyone but the most dunder-headed of fundamentalist loons.” Weird.

  4. On my blog I’ve reposted an old post due to all this resurregence of Calvinism: Do the non-elect hate God because he first hated them? All Calvinists need to read it. John says “we love God because he first loved us” and “he who does not love knows not God, for God is love” Well, in Calvinism that can only apply to the elect, because in Calvinism God only loves the elect. Thus the converse must be ‘true’ for the non-elect in Calvinism, i.e. “The non-elect hate God because he first hated them” and “he who does not hate knows not God for God is hate.” This is a great disproof of Calvinism, and one they cannot even dare touch. They’ve got nothing to say against such sheer logic. All they could do in reply is admit that they believe the non-elect DO hate God because he first hated them, and where will that get them in the eyes of true Christians??? Not anywhere they want to be.

  5. Herein lies the danger of holding to a denomination, a movement or a man. The redeemed are IN Christ alone for He is well enough.

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