A History of Theodicy

GIORDANO,_Luca_fallen_angelsEditor’s note: Adapted from a paper for Gregg Allison’s class Historical Theology. I have reinserted extra unedited sections that were cut for the official submission. Sections indicated by an asterisk (*) will include a rougher transition and/or citation. Yet I have tried to cite sources as fairly as I could. If you see any flaws, please let me know and I will correct them promptly. Feedback is most welcome.

This study focuses on popular and influential writers, theologians, and philosophers throughout the church age. Not all figures here represent orthodox confession nor agreement with myself. They were selected largely due to their influence and as representative of the flow of Western thought.


Introduction

This paper traces the history of how influential leaders, writers, and theologians of the church have explained the problem of evil and suffering. Today, the problem of evil is usually expressed in a simple syllogism,[1] but this was not always so. Different eras of the church’s history display varying expressions of the problem of evil and suffering. Some are polemical, some are pastoral, some are pietistic, some are logical, and some are speculative or philosophical. Yet certain recurring themes arise throughout the ages. The church has historically taught that:

  • God is all good, wise, and powerful
  • God created good all that exists
  • Evil exists
  • God is sovereign over all things, yet is not the “author” or “cause” of evil
  • Man of his own will sinned and brought suffering and evil into the world
  • God brings good out of evil (and this is a source of comfort for believers)

All following figures will affirm most or all of the above statements. Yet, what one means by, for instance, God not “causing” evil may differ among them.[2]

I try to explain theodicy in the terms and thought-forms of the writer himself. I do not try to force his thinking into anachronistic forms commonly used in modern times. Some authors did not try to prove God’s existence in light of evil and suffering; others did not try to justify God’s goodness or power in the face of evil and suffering; still others did not think in purely theological and/or philosophical terms in their writings on evil and suffering. Thus, the presentations of each author’s ideas will not always follow the same outline. Some issue may be left out while others may follow different orders. I have tried to reconstruct the author’s thought as it seemed to flow in their minds.

The Early Church

Gnosticism*

was considered heresy by the early Church. Yet, since the early Church writers were often combating or reacting to Gnostic ideas, it is helpful briefly to describe Gnostic ideas as they relate to an explanation of evil and suffering.

Gnosticism in its various forms held to a dualistic view of the universe where a lesser god called the Demiurge created the physical material realm and where the supreme God resided in the spiritual realm. Since the Demiurge was inferior, his realm of physical creation was also inferior such that it was either inherently evil or retained no moral significance. Conversely, just as the supreme God was spirit and knowledge, so also was the realm of spirit and knowledge good, higher, and more desirable.

Thus, both man and the supreme God were removed from the problem of the existence of evil and suffering. Instead the blame was on matter itself as the inferior creation of an inferior deity. The supreme God did, however, provide an escape for humans from matter to the spiritual realm through secret, special knowledge given to certain individuals. Gnostic man could make this transcendent journey from the evil material realm to good spiritual realm because man was seen as partly a material and partly a spiritual being. Yet since, Gnostics are supposed to transcend this material realm for the spiritual, they on the one hand could look on indifferently at physical evil, while on the other hand could in physical passions. It simply did not matter.

As the reader will detect, early church writers combatted various Gnostic heresies in different ways.

Irenaeus (c.130-200)

Bishop of Lyons, lived during a time when Gnostic heresies claimed that an incompetent demiurge created an evil and poorly equipped universe in which evil, pain, and suffering are due to his impotence. Irenaeus argued instead that evil and suffering were part of God’s intentions to make the soul of man into the image of God, and that God created this world as the best possible environment to prepare us for the next world. Thus, for Irenaeus, a world with evil and the possibility of good is better than a world without any evil or good at all, as appeared the Gnostic dualistic view.

“The faculty of seeing would not appear to be so desirable, unless we had known what a loss it were to be devoid of sight; and health, too, is rendered all the more estimable by an acquaintance with disease; light, also, by contrasting it with darkness; and life with death.”[3]

Irenaeus held that humans were created in God’s image, but needed moral improvement and maturity to grow out of their animalistic instincts toward the likeness of God. To progressively grow into God’s likeness, God gave free will and mental power to choose between good and evil in an environment where we would experience the consequences of either choice.

“Just as the tongue receives experience of sweet and bitter by means of tasting, and the eye discriminated between black and white by means of vision, and the ear recognizes the distinctions of sounds by hearing; so also the mind, receiving of both (good and evil) the knowledge of what is good.”[4]

Thus, God allows or permits this evil and suffering to help man grow in his divine potential. Irenaeus’s theodicy has been known as “soul-making” and the “best of all possible worlds”. The latter will be seen throughout church history, but the former does not pick back up until modern times.

Origen 185-254*

followed Ireneaus’ idea of God’s intentions to refine man’s soul, yet he expressed this formula slightly differently. Origen said that the world is a school and a hospital for souls, with God as Teacher and Physician, in which suffering plays both an educative and healing role.

“In the same way in which physicians apply remedies to the sick, in order that by careful treatment they may recover their health, God so deals towards those who have lapsed and fallen into sin.” (On the Resurrection, and the Judgment, the Fire of Hell, and Punishments. Chapter 10, paragraph 6)

“There are also many other things which escape our notice, and are known to Him alone who is the physician of our souls.  For if, on account of those bad effects which we bring upon ourselves by eating and drinking, we deem it necessary for the health of the body to make use of some unpleasant and painful drug, sometimes even, if the nature of the disease demand, requiring the severe process of the amputating knife; and if the virulence of the disease shall transcend even these remedies, the evil has at last to be burned out by fire; how much more is it to be understood that God our Physician, desiring to remove the defects of our souls, which they had contracted from their different sins and crimes, should employ penal measures of this sort, and should apply even, in addition, the punishment of fire to those who have lost their soundness of mind!” (Ibid)

“Thus, for Origen, the soul’s creation, fall and descent into materiality now expect a  gradual purification and eventual divinization. The world, for Origen, functions as a school and hospital for the soul where it undergoes the necessary education and purgation. Origen carefully calibrates his cosmology and theology. He portrays God as a compassionate and judicious teacher, physician, and father who employs suffering for our amelioration.” (Source)

Athanasius (296-373)

formulated the problem of evil as a dilemma between God’s dual decrees: 1) that man should be incorruptible (live and enjoy God forever), and 2) that man should die for disobedience. Athanasius claimed that God would not be true, if, when He had said we should die, man did not die, which includes the degradation of evil and pain. Yet it does not become of God’s goodness that the things he had made should waste away, that is again, to suffer either temporarily or eternally.[5] The solution to evil and suffering was to be found in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. When Jesus saw our suffering and death

“He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own… liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death in place of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished.”[6]

Athanasius further defined “evil” in terms of the privation of good. God, as well as the knowledge of God, is the good. And since God created humans out of non-existence, to reject God is to move back toward that state. Thus, evil is the state of Godless non-existence.

“For if, out of a former normal state of non-existence, they were called into being by the Presence and loving-kindness of the Word, it followed naturally that when men were bereft of the knowledge of God and were turned back to what was not (for what is evil is not, but what is good is), they should, since they derive their being from God who is, be everlastingly bereft even of being; in other words, that they should be disintegrated and abide in death and corruption.”[7]

It is not certain that the idea of evil as the lack or privation of good began with Athanasius. However, this idea will become one of the greater recurring themes in the historical theodicy of the church.

Gregory of Nyssa 330-395*

confronted the Manisheean heresy of dualism and an impotent creator/deity, and in this respect foretold a few of Augustine’s explanations for evil and suffering. Manicheism held that evil existed on earth because God was impotent in various ways, especially in his battles against Satan, who represented and enacted evil. Gregory responded by stating that God is good and that he created intending for his creation to share in that goodness. Gregory claimed that Lucifer became jealous that God created humans in His image, and thus he mingled evil into humans’ free wills. Satan “mingled evil with man’s free will and so quenched God’s blessing.” (Gregory of Nyssa, An Address on Religious Instruction, edited by Edward R. Hardy, Christology of the Later Fathers (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1954, pg. 281)

Yet, Gregory affirmed that evil and sin came about also because of man. Satan’s activity does not alleviate man of responsibility. “For nothing evil lies outside the will as if it existed by itself. If a man in broad daylight of his own free will closes his eyes, the sun is not responsible for his failure to see” (282). Gregory also held that evil is the privation of good; that is, that evil does not actually positively exist but is only the lack of choosing or the existence of good: “(E)vil in some way arises from within. It has its origin in the will, when the soul withdraws from the good. For the origin of evil is not otherwise to be conceived than as the absence of virtue…Just as darkness follows the removal of light and disappears in its presence, so, as long as goodness is present in a nature, evil is something nonexistent” (278).

Gregory does not view death as evil but rather as God’s intended design for the “draining away of evil through final suffering.” Thus, evil and pain in this life are merely a lighter judgment that we may be corrected from our error (284). He included a treatise entitled “On Infant’s Early Deaths” where he argues for God’s allowance of suffering due to his knowledge of possible and unrealized future contingent events – what is today called middle knowledge.

“it is reasonable … to expect that He Who knows the future equally with the past should check the advance of an infant to complete maturity, in order that the evil may not be developed which His foreknowledge has detected in his future life, and in order that a lifetime granted to one whose evil dispositions will be lifelong may not become the actual material for his vice.”

Pelagius 354-420*

Pelagius also responded to Manicheism as Gregory of Nyssa; yet, Pelagius focused on Manicheism’s belief that evil was an actual existing substance in the person of Satan, or at least a reality exerted by him. This was, at least in part, why Gregory of Nyssa denied evil’s existence, and accounted it as merely the lack of the existence of good. Pelagius and Augustine (and others to follow) trace this same thought.

Pelagius held that evil did not exist in reality because God was good and had created man good as well. God would not have made man, for instance, unable to choose and will and do good. Thus, man must have free will and ability, even in his fallen state to do good if he so chooses (Source). Yet, the catch for Pelagius was that just as evil did not actually exist and influence people, so grace also was reduced, not to non-existence, but to mere external commands and helps of God. Pelagius denied original sin, saying humans born after Adam were not born necessarily choosing or tending to evil. Thus, his explanation for the evil choices of humans was that they were lazy, lacking proper instruction, or being in an environment unfavorable to righteousness. How does this integrate into his idea that evil doesn’t positively exist? In one sense, it appears that just as evil does not exist in reality, so an evil propensity does not exist in the human soul or will.

(Admittedly, more research is needed in this section of Pelagius’ thought. For better or worse, scholarly material is hard to come by for the heretics of the church’s past.)

Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

is perhaps the most profuse early Christian writer on the problem of evil and its orbiting tangentials. Through his many writings, Augustine has influenced much of Christian thinking down to this day. He lays the problem of evil on the Fall of humanity through man’s free will in the Garden of Eden. Augustine claimed that God created everything good, including humans with their free will.

“God had threatened him (man) with this punishment of death if he should sin, leaving him indeed to the freedom of his own will, but yet commanding his obedience under pain of death; and He placed him amid the happiness of Eden, as it were in a protected nook of life, with the intention that, if he preserved his righteousness, he should thence ascend to a better place.”[8]

Augustine also taught that all humanity was present in Adam in seed form, and that “by (Adam’s) sin the whole race of which he was the root was corrupted in him, and thereby subject to the penalty of death. And so it happens that all descended from him…was condemned at the same time with him (and) were tainted with original sin…”[9] Yet, just as all in Adam suffer his fate, so all who are in Christ likewise suffer (or rather enjoy) his fate. This is nothing less than Augustine’s explanation and solution to the problem of evil:

“No one goes to death otherwise than through Adam, and that no one goes to life eternal otherwise than through Christ. As all men, by their first, that is, their natural birth, belong to Adam, even so all men, whoever they be, who come to Christ come to the second, that is, the spiritual birth.”[10]

As did Athanasius and Gregory, Augustine defined evil as the perversion or privation of the good. “For what is that which we call evil but the absence of good?”[11] And again, “Therefore, whatsoever is, is good. Evil, then, the origin of which I had been seeking, has no substance at all; for if it were a substance, it would be good.”[12]

Augustine also affirmed, along with Irenaeus, that though this world is besought with evil, God in his goodness deemed it better to have evil and possible good than no good or evil at all. “And in the universe, even that which is called evil, when it is regulated and put in its own place, only enhances our admiration of the good; for we enjoy and value the good more when we compare it with the evil.”[13] Though Augustine used a similar best-world argument, he did not follow Irenaeus into a “soul-making” design.

The Medieval Church

Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

is perhaps best known for his unique explanation for the existence of God as a “…being than which no greater can be conceived.”[14] In similar philosophical musing, Anselm addressed the problem of evil in itself as the lack of positive good or a positive just cause. “And evil is not anything other than not-good, or the absence of good where it is required or fitting that good should be. Now that which is not anything other than the absence of what is something is certainly not itself something. Therefore, evil is truly nothing…”[15]

Anselm put this abstract idea of evil into concrete terms as the lack of justice. He explained that the evils that we fear (and that are problematic) are the “disadvantages” or consequences of this lack of justice as they materialize in men’s actions and in the natural causes of the physical world.

“When we say that injustice causes robbery or that blindness causes a man to fall into a pit, we should not at all understand that injustice and blindness cause something. Rather, we should understand that if justice were in the will and sight in the eye, then neither robbery nor the fall into the pit would occur.”[16]

As he did elsewhere with the existence of God, here we see Anselm using causation, or lack of causation, to explain the existence of evil: evil is the lack of a just or good cause.

The first evil or injustice, which was sin, did not come from anywhere, for it is no positive existing thing. Rather “when justice departs from where it was, we say that injustice approached.”[17] Why did the first angel and the first man will to depart from justice into sin and evil? Anselm answers that “only because he willed it. For this willing had no other cause…it was an efficient cause of itself and its own effect.”[18] This efficient cause was a good thing given by God, yet angel and man alike have both twisted its form. Therefore, evil in itself and “disadvantage” or suffering in the world is the fault of the creature; both angels and humans.

Anselm’s solution to evil (injustice, lack of good, etc.) is found in Cur Deus Homo –  why God became man. The reason God became man was to put away death and suffering. “For when death had entered the human race through man’s disobedience, it was fitting that life should be restored through the obedience of man.”[19]

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

took his queues on evil and suffering from Augustine. Like Anselm, Aquinas had wonderful arguments for God’s existence which ultimately necessitated God’s goodness and omnipotence. Thus, Aquinas tackled the logical existence of God and evil. He posed these ideas in his Summa Theologica in question-and-answer form that displayed the recovery of classical methods of dialogue:

“Objection 1: It seems that God does not exist; because if one of two contraries be infinite, the other would be altogether destroyed. But the word “God” means that He is infinite goodness. If, therefore, God existed, there would be no evil discoverable; but there is evil in the world. Therefore God does not exist.”[20]

Aquinas quoted Augustine and offered commentary in order to answer this objection:

“Reply to Objection 1: As Augustine says (Enchiridion xi): “‘Since God is the highest good, He would not allow any evil to exist in His works, unless His omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil.’ This is part of the infinite goodness of God, that He should allow evil to exist, and out of it produce good.”[21]

Note well this last sentence: evil displays God’s infinite goodness. This is a marvelous and eloquent thought, one that continues through church tradition even into the Reformation and Modern church.

Aquinas also held, like those before him, that evil is the privation of good. Evil does not exist as a thing, but as a lack of a thing; i.e., the good. “Evil is the absence of the good, which is natural and due to a thing…evil has no formal cause, rather it is a privation of form (existence).” Thus, God cannot be the cause of evil because “God is not the cause of tending to not-being” (God doesn’t cause non-existence.)[22]

Since God created everything that exists, and evil is merely a lack of existence, God cannot be the creator of evil. Rather, Aquinas explained how God and human free will cause evil through primary and secondary causes, and through necessary and accidental causes respectively. “Whatever there is of being and action in a bad action, is reduced to God as the cause; whereas whatever defect is in it is not caused by God, but by the deficient secondary cause.”[23] Thus, Aquinas explained evil as a result of human free will. God permitted evil to exist by allowing human freedom. And ultimately, God allows evil to exist in order to bring good out of it.

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Church

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

is one of, if not the, most influential writers of the Reformation period. Luther did not attempt by Reason to explain or to justify God’s actions or to absolve him of evil, since it is not man who justifies God but God who justifies man. “Reason praises God when He saves the undeserving, but accuses Him when He damns the undeserving” because the “flesh does not think God worthy of so great glory, that it should believe Him to be just and good, while He says and does those things which are above that.”[24] True faith and repentance requires that reason must bow before the Divine Majesty of God rather than try to grasp all the purposes of God.

Accordingly, Luther held that the “will and reason (are) accounted a captive of this sin, and condemned before God. Wherefore, as long as it is ignorant of Christ and believes not in Him, it can will or attempt nothing good.”[25] Therefore, instead of attempting to justify God in the face of evil, Luther viewed the significance of evil in the light of the infinite and compassionate God who entered into our human suffering and who in our place suffered to the point of death in order to save us from ultimate suffering. In a sermon entitled “On Cross and Suffering”, Luther said,

“Christ had no need at all for this suffering, but we and the whole human race needed this suffering…..Therefore we must note in the first place that Christ by his suffering not only saved us from the devil, death, and sin, but also that his suffering is an example, which we are to follow in our suffering.”[26]

For Luther, God is God and does as he pleases with men, and man can neither justify nor condemn Him. Yet, Luther does offer an explanation for evil: the Gospel – where God suffers evil alongside us and ultimately for us in his death under God’s wrath.

John Calvin (1509-1564)

explained the problem of evil by declaring that all things come about by God’s will, and that God has not revealed his will entirely to humans but only in part. For instance, God has revealed that “Whatever happens in the universe is governed by God’s incomprehensible plans.”[27] This includes evil: “(God) testifies that he creates light and darkness, forms good and evil (Is. 45:6); that no evil happens which he has not done (Amos 3:6).”[28] Nor does God merely permit evil, but rather God both holds the reigns and commands evil to do his bidding:

“The devil and the whole train of the ungodly, are, in all directions, held by the hand of God as with a bridle, so that they can neither conceive any mischief, nor plan what they have conceived, nor how much soever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless in so far as (God) permits, nay, unless in so far as he commands; that they are not only bound by his fetters, but are even forced to do him service.”[29]

However, Calvin claimed that God has kept hidden why or how He willed such things. For instance, “Adam fell, not only by the permission of God, but by His very secret counsel and decree; and that Adam drew all his posterity with himself, by his Fall, into eternal destruction.”[30] Although God ordained Adam’s fall – and its ensuing evil – Calvin explained that all of God’s purposes are entirely good and right. “There is a cause which lies hidden in Himself, and that according to it He has decreed nothing but that which is wise and holy and just.”[31]

Calvin said that the godly should think on God’s sovereign, even secret, control of all evil as a source of great comfort. “This is rather the solace of the faithful, in their adversity, that every thing which they endure is by the ordination and command of God.”[32] In his 159 sermons on Job, Calvin further expounded on taking comfort in God’s sovereignty over and through evil.

Although Calvin acknowledged that God is responsible for evil and suffering, he also claimed that God is not accountable or indicted for evil.

“For these ends it will be desirable to consider, in the first place, that the will of God is the great cause of all things that are done in the whole world; and yet, that God is not the author of the evils that are done therein.”[33] Treatises on ‘The Eternal Predestination of God’ and ‘The Secret Providence of God’ elaborate further on this theme.

Jacobus Arminius 1560-1609*

was constantly seen as a completely different voice during the Reformation, outside of its tradition. He often found himself clarifying and defending his views; especially on matters of Divine Providence and human free will. Arminius’ theodicy grows out of his clarifying replies and the defenses of his ideas. Arminius made a concerted effort to affirm the absolute sovereignty of God by describing his providence as that which “preserves, regulates, governs and directs all things and that nothing in the world happens fortuitously or by chance.” (Source lost)

Arminius went further even to put man’s “free will” and sinful rebellion underneath God’s sovereign control.

“Beside this, I place in subjection to Divine Providence both the free-will and even the actions of a rational creature, so that nothing can be done without the will of God, not even any of those things which are done in opposition to it;” (Works of Arminius, 251)

If we stop there in mid-sentence, Arminius may appear to affirm God as either the direct cause and Author of sin and evil, or as tending to some Calvinistic leanings. Arminius here claims that even actions against God’s revealed will are ultimately not “done without the will of God.” Yet, here and throughout his writings, Arminius was consistently quick to qualify his assertions of God’s sweeping sovereignty:

“only we must observe a distinction between good actions and evil ones, by saying, that ‘God both wills and performs good acts,’ but that He only freely permits those which are evil. (Ibid)

And again, “Still further than this, I very readily grant, that even all actions whatever, concerning evil, that can possibly be devised or invented, may be attributed to Divine Providence Employing solely one caution, ‘not to conclude from this concession that God is the cause of sin.’” (A Declaration Of The Sentiments Of Arminius On Revision of the Dutch Confession and Heidelberg Catechism. Ch. 5.1)

So Arminius distinguished between what God wills and what he permits. God is in control of good as well as evil, yet not in the same way. If anything good comes about, it is because God willed it so in an “immediate” sense; and if anything evil comes about, it is because God brought it about in a “mediate” sense by permitting the free rational creatures under his providence to bring it about (Source). Thus, God is not the Author of sin, yet he is soveriegn over sin and evil.

Arminius also said that man is free to commit evil since God: “permits a rational creature to do what He has prohibited, and to omit what he has commanded.” Thus, sin, evil, and suffering came about from man’s free willed choice which was permitted by God: “Man, therefore, sinned by his free will, his own proper motion being allowed by God, and himself persuaded by the devil.” (Source)

It is important to remember that Arminius wrote his theology in light of Calvin’s writings. His exclusion of divine ordination, then, shows that while Arminius did agree with Calvin that God permits evil, yet he disagreed that God also ordains and does evil. Elsewhere in his writings Arminius makes this point time and again.

SeeW. Stephen Gunter, Arminius and His Declaration of Sentiments and Keith D. Stanglin and Thomas H. McCall, Jacob Arminius: Theologian of Grace. Both writers claim some form of molinism middle knowledge in Arminius’ writings in how he deals with theodicy, which leads us to consider the supposed founder of Molinism.

Luis de Molina 1535-1600*

was a Jesuit theologian and founder of what later became known as “Molinism.” De Molina attempted to wed Augustinian ideas of divine grace with the Renaissance view of the free will. Molina’s writings are more philosophical than theological, thus his position can be both succint and complex. Molina’s view on God, evil, and man may be summarized as follows:

“God as the First Cause has an immediate efficient influence on the bad actions of created free choice in such a way that the whole action in question is from God and the whole action is from (man’s) free choice, nonetheless the viciousness and deformity of that action is attributed not to God but to created free choice.” (Disputatio 32).

Here can be seen de Molina’s philosophical sophistication and careful precision to balance Augustine’s thoughts of divine sovereignty and the Renaissance’s devotion to free will. De Molina worked out this careful philosophical system of thought by appealing to “scientia media” or “middle knowledge”, which is God’s knowledge of what humans would freely choose or do in all possible and contingent situations, realities, or worlds.

God knowledge of future human choices which are free led De Molina to claim that God knows future contingencies:

“Even if the conditional is necessary (that God foreknows something to be future and that the thing does not turn out that way), and even if the antecedent is necessary in the sense in question (because it is past-tense and because no shadow of alteration can befall God), nonetheless the consequent can be purely contingent.” (Disputatio 52, sec. 34)

In other words, God necessarily knows all possible future events, but this does not make them necessary. De Molina noted that Jesus knows that if the gospel were preached in “Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” But as with Peter’s denial of Jesus, His foreknowledge of it does not make necessary.

In light of God’s middle knowledge of what humans will or won’t choose or do in given situations, de Molina held that God’s intentions in creation were to make the “best of all possible worlds” where the most possible good will attain. Thus, God looked out upon all possible realities and “counterfactual” human free decisions, and he brought that world and set of human experiences and free choices which he thought would render the most amount of good possible (and good choices; ei., salvation).

Yet, Molina taught that good is not possible without evil, since free will is better than no free will and yet free will requires a real possibility of both evil and good choices and consequences. In other words, good requires evil. Evil makes for a world that is better than if there were no evil. Yet, “ it is not God but created free choice alone which is the cause of sin” (and evil and suffering, though Moline did not use these terms exactly). Molina showed this through lengthy philosophical abstractions on first and second, primary and secondary causality.

For there is nothing in reality–either the action or the action’s effect–which is from God influencing through His general concurrence and not from the secondary cause simultaneously influencing through its own particular influence. Nor can there be any such thing; for these two causes influencing in this way unify both the effect and the action in reality, and for this reason they mutually depend on one another in acting in such a way that the influence of the one cannot, even by the divine power, exist by itself without the influence of the other. (Source)

For further study, see Molina, Luis de. On Divine Foreknowledge: Part IV of the Concordia. Translated by Alfred J. Freddoso. Ithaca: Cornell, 1988. See also, Liberi Arbitrii cum Gratiae Donis, Divina Praescientia, Providentia, Praedestinatione et Reprobatione Concordia, ed. J. Rabeneck, Oña and Madrid; trans. A.J. Freddoso (1988) On Divine Foreknowledge: Part IV of the Concordia, Ithaca: Cornell. These sources include translation of and introduction to Molina’s theory of middle knowledge, including references to twentieth-century discussions. De Molina’s thought was not taken seriously as it was out of tradition with Catholicism and the Reformers. His ideas would not resurface in strength again until the 20th century for reasons beyond speculation here.

Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716)[34]

is known for coining the term “theodicy.” Leibniz also postulated a “best of all possible worlds” theodicy. Yet, his differs from previous writers in the sense that Leibniz was a man of the Enlightenment which colored his view of God as a harmonious and calculating mathematician who created a perfect “system.” Thus, Leibniz very rationally formulated the problem of evil into its modern day syllogism:

  • Whoever does not choose the best course is lacking either in power, or knowledge, or goodness.
  • God did not choose the best course in creating this world.
  • Therefore God was lacking in power, or knowledge, or goodness.[35]

Leibniz affirmed with others before him, although in his Enlightenment terms, that God allowed for flaws (evil) in his system (the universe) for greater purposes of harmony (good). Quoting Aquinas, Leibniz claimed that “God permitted evil in order to derive from it a good, that is to say, a greater good; and…that the permission of evil tends towards the good of the universe.” Leibniz also made use of Augustine in that “the fall of Adam was termed felix culpa, a fortunate sin, because it had been expiated with immense benefit by the incarnation of the Son of God.”[36] Thus, Leibniz neither denied evil’s existence nor did he rationalize it away. Rather, God made evil on purpose with greater designs of good in the world; namely, the salvation of many.

This modicum of evil in God’s system is the result of permitted human free will, which is limited under God’s freedom, yet genuinely exists and is not deterministic. Leibniz rejected the idea “that everything predetermined is necessary; taking ‘necessity’, say the necessity to sin, or the impossibility of not sinning, or of not doing some action…A necessity (which is) essential and absolute, destroys the morality of action and the justice of punishment.”[37] Leibniz explained, therefore, that God planned for man’s evil-bearing freedom in his “system”, yet is not the author of sin.

“God being the only cause of pure and absolute realities, or perfections; but when one includes limitations or privations under the name of realities one can say that second causes co-operate in the production of what is limited, and that otherwise God would be the cause of sin, and even its sole cause.”[38]

Thus, Leibniz appeals to primary and secondary causality regarding God’s ultimate freedom and man’s limited freedom. Man brings about evil with his sinful voluntary actions, and God causes all things, yet He is not the author of sin. Though God designed evil as a flaw in his system, it was only so that He might also bring good out of it.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

was an American theologian, missionary, philosopher, and pastor who wrote extensively on God’s absolute sovereignty and man’s responsibility. At the core of his theology, Edwards held that since God knows all that comes to pass, God therefore wills everything that comes to pass.

“(I)t is self-evident, that if (God) knows all things beforehand, he either doth approve of them, or he doth not approve of them; that is, he either is willing they should be, or he is not willing they should be. But to will that they should be, is to decree them.”[39]

Again*, “The foreknowledge of God will necessarily infer a decree: for God could not foreknow that things would be, unless he had decreed they should be; and that because things would not be future, unless he had decreed they should be. If God, from all eternity, knew that such and such things were future, then they were future; and consequently the proposition was from all eternity true, that such a thing, at such a time, would be.” (Source)

Thus, for God to know anything is for God to have willed that it should be; and for God to have willed that a thing should be is for God to have wanted it to be. This extends even to the sinful and evil actions of men.

“That we should say, that God has decreed every action of men, yea, every action that they do that is sinful, and every circumstance of those actions …and yet that God does not decree the actions that are sinful as sinful, but decrees [them] as good, is really consistent. We do not mean by decreeing an action as sinful, the same as decreeing an action so that it shall be sinful; but by decreeing an action as sinful, I mean decreeing [it] for the sake of the sinfulness of the action. God decrees that it shall be sinful for the sake of the good that he causes to arise from the sinfulness thereof, whereas man decrees it for the sake of the evil that is in it.”[40]

God decrees man’s actions in a good way, even if those actions are in the mind and will of men for evil purposes and effects. However, it should be noted that the “good” that Edwards has in mind for God’s allowance of evil is primarily God’s own happiness. “If God is infinitely happy now, then every thing is now as God would have it to be now; if every thing, then (even) those things that are contrary to his commands.”[41]

Edwards speaks of a secret will of God in his decress, however it should be noted that the highest good that Edwards has in mind for God’s allowance of evil is primarily God’s own happiness.

“If it will universally hold, that none can have absolutely perfect and complete happiness, at the same time that any thing is otherwise than he desires at that time it should be; so thus, if it be true, that he has not absolute, perfect, infinite, and all possible happiness now, who has not now all that he wills to have now; then God, if any thing is now otherwise than he wills to have it now, is not now absolutely, perfectly, and infinitely happy. If God is infinitely happy now, then every thing is now as God would have it to be now; if every thing, then (even) those things that are contrary to his commands.” (Jonathan Edwards [1722], The “Miscellanies”: (Entry Nos. a-z, aa-zz, 1-500) (WJE Online Vol. 13), Ed. Harry S. Stout. pg. 243)

Yet this is not to say that God merely cares for himself without a view to humans. Rather for Edwards, God sought his own glory by showing mercy to humans in giving them to enjoy and praise God himself.

“God glorifies Himself toward the creatures also in two ways: 1. By appearing to…their understanding. 2. In communicating Himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying, the manifestations which He makes of Himself.… God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but byits being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it.… He that testifies his idea of God’s glory [doesn’t] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation of it and his delight in it.” (Jonathan Edwards, “Miscellanies,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 13, ed. Thomas Schafer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 495, miscellany #448. See also #87 (pp. 251–2); #332 (p. 410); #679 (not in the New Haven volume).

The way Edwards taught that God caused humans to sin was by withdrawing himself from them. Thus, evil comes when God (or the good) is removed, much like light withdrawn creates darkness:

“Thus ’tis easy to give an account, how total corruption of heart should follow on man’s eating the forbidden fruit, though that was but one act of sin, without God’s putting any evil into his heart, or implanting any bad principle, or infusing any corrupt taint, and so becoming the author of depravity. Only God’s withdrawing, as it was highly proper and necessary that he should, from rebel-man, being as it were driven away by his abominable wickedness, and men’s natural principles being left to themselves, this is sufficient to account for his becoming entirely corrupt, and bent on sinning against God.”[42]

However, Edwards denied that this made God the author of sin. Rather, 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 it be permitted will most certainly and infallibly follow.”[43] In Edwards’s theology, then, man was free to do according to his nature and God ordained and caused all things to happen, including evil, sin, and man’s actions, for His happiness and glory.

The Modern Church

Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834)

the father of liberalism, focused on himself experience over doctrine. In his understanding of evil, Schleiermacher followed Irenaeus in holding that God created humans in nature intending them to grow into God’s likeness, but Schleiermacher recast “soul-making” in relational terms known as “God-consciousness.” “The merely gradual and imperfect unfolding of the power of the God-consciousness is one of the necessary conditions of the human stage of existence.”[44]

Thus for Schleiermacher, evil is our natural lack of God-consciousness and moral perfection. “If the predominant factor is not the God-consciousness but the flesh, every impression made by the world upon us and involving an obstruction of our bodily and temporal life must be reckoned as evil.”[45] Indeed, the proportion of evil we commit individually and experience socially is directly related to how “God-conscious” humans are. “God has ordained that the natural imperfections are regarded by us as evil in proportion to the God-consciousness is not yet dominant within us.”[46]

Schleiermacher claimed no Augustinian Fall or original sin. Rather, it was God’s plan all along that man experience evil and suffering as he grows from consciousness of self and flesh toward full, mature God-consciousness. “God has ordained that the continually imperfect triumph of the spirit should become sin to us.”[47] Therefore, God is in a sense the cause of sin; although, this sin and evil is supposed to produce perfection and blessedness in us.

Subsequently, Schleiermacher held that God is doing all he can to ensure man grows into the realization of Himself and the corresponding cessation of evil. He does this by “attracting men to Himself and making them one with Himself” by communicating his perfection to man.[48] Since Christ was the full maturity and completion of a God-conscious man, God therefore gave men an “impression of the sinless perfection of Jesus, which becomes for (them) at the same time the perfect consciousness of sin and the removal of the misery (of evil).”[49] Thus, for Schleiermacher, evil is our natural state of being apart from consciousness of God. And Jesus, as the perfect God-conscious man, draws us back toward an experience of God.

Karl Barth (1886-1968)

was a theologian of the twentieth century whose theodicy may simply be summarized: “Whatever evil is, God is its Lord.”[50] Beyond this, Barth’s understanding of evil is complex and verbose. He held that God creates all things, but he does not create “non-being”: “God in His foreknowledge is the Lord and source of being (that which exists), and He is also the Lord but not the source of non-being (that which does not exist; i.e., evil).”[51]

Barth explained his ideas on evil and suffering in his use of the biblical account of Job. Barth showed that God has freedom to do as he pleases and that man is both right and wrong in blaming God for evil. He claims, for instance, that it was indeed God who allowed, and so in some sense caused, the evil that befell Job: “God would not be God if He were not free to both give and take away.”[52] Thus Job was right to attribute his suffering, not to Satan, but to God. It is only “in the name of God that he complains against God.”[53] Finally, although it is right to mourn evil and to attribute God as the ultimate cause, God “does not ask for our understanding, agreement or applause. On the contrary, He simply asks that man should be content not to know why and to what end he exists, and does so in this way and not another.”[54]

It seems that Barth left unanswered the questions he believed the Bible left unanswered. However, Barth did give an answer elsewhere as to why God allows evil: it is so he may save us from sin and death. “If God is greater in the very fact that He is God who forgives and saves from death, we have no right to complain but must praise him that His will also includes a permitting of sin and death.”[55] This is chiefly seen in that God entered our world as the Son of God – Jesus – in order to suffer the greatest evil for us so that we might suffer no more for eternity. God’s answer to the human experience of evil is to experience evil himself as a human, in order to reverse the process and bring restoration.[56]

Gordon Clark (1902-1985)

was a Christian philosopher and professor who focused on presuppositions, logic, and on divine revelation as the sole source of absolute knowledge. Clark critiqued Augustine (and everyone who followed him) for claiming that evil was virtually non-existent and for appealing to man’s free will as the explanation for the existence of evil and suffering. Clark replied rather that “free will is not only futile, but false…the Bible consistently denies free will.”[57] Clark rejected the view that the will was free only if it had no external influences determining it between decisions. He instead accepted “free agency”, which he claimed “goes with the view that all choices are inevitable.”[58]

Clark also claimed that all choices are inevitable and predetermined by God who with absolute sovereignty causes all things.[59] We might ask two questions: 1) is then God the author of sin (and therefore evil), and 2) how then is man responsible for sin? Clark responded that God is indeed the ultimate cause of sin but is not the author of sin. Indeed, God cannot be held responsible for his actions since he has no one over him to whom he is held accountable, and no external law by which his actions are to be judged as right or wrong – “whatever God does is just.” Therefore, “God’s causing a man to sin is not sin. There is no law, superior to God, which forbids him to decree sinful acts. Sin presupposes a law, for sin is lawlessness.”[60]

Man, however, though only able to do whatever God commands him, is the immediate cause of sin much like Macduff is the one who murdered Macbeth, though Shakespeare is the ultimate cause. Man is also responsible for the opposite reason to why God is not:

“Man is responsible because God calls him to account; man is responsible because the supreme power can punish him for disobedience. God, on the contrary, cannot be responsible for the plain reason that there is no power superior to him; no greater being can hold him accountable; no one can punish him; there is no one to whom God is responsible; there are no laws which he could disobey. The sinner therefore, and not God, is responsible; the sinner alone is the author of sin. Man has no free will, for salvation is purely of grace; and God is sovereign.”[61]

Thus, instead of excusing God by disclaiming evil or by positing man’s freedom, Clark claimed that God was absolutely sovereign and caused all things, even evil and sin, without becoming evil and sinful Himself because, by definition, God is good and just. Man is held responsible because he is under authority, and there is no higher authority than God. Therefore, whatever God does is good and right and just.

John Hick (1922-2012)

followed Irenaeus and Schleiermacher in claiming that God made the world for the development of the human soul in moral perfection, and that one chief means to this end was evil and suffering. Hick’s reasoning was that moral goodness requires freedom and the possibility of moral evil (and its natural consequences).

Indeed, “God could have instead created some other kind of being, with no freedom of choice and therefore no possibility of making wrong choices.”[62] But this would have negated freedom and possible good, for “the idea of the creation of personal beings who are not free to choose wrongly as well as to choose rightly is self-contradictory and therefore does not fall within the scope of divine omnipotence.”[63]

To have true freedom and possible good, evil is inevitable for moral persons. Thus, God of necessity created a world with possible evil, yet with the intention that man would cooperate with, choose, and become good:

“One who has attained to goodness by meeting and eventually mastering temptations, and thus by rightly making responsible choices in concrete situations, is good in a richer and more valuable sense than would be one created ab initio in a state either of innocence or of virtue. In the former case, which is that of the actual moral achievements of mankind, the individual’s goodness has within it the strength of temptations overcome, a stability based upon an accumulation of right choices, and a positive and responsible character that comes from the investment of costly personal effort.”[64]

Hick’s system is one of moral perfectibility as the highest aim of the Christian faith and of human experience in life. Man becomes good by continually choosing and practicing it and with an accumulation of goodness becomes righteous in God’s sight: “human goodness slowly built up through personal histories of moral effort has a value in the eyes of the Creator which justifies even the long travail of the soul-making process.”[65] *”There are greater moral goods to be achieved in this way than could ever be achieved by God’s simply giving them to us at creation. Our trials and afflictions do serve a good purpose, the betterment of our souls” (John Hick, Evil and the God of Love. Palgrave Macmillan; Revised edition (December 26, 2007)Evil only serves to make human souls good. Humans who experience various evils and pains in their lives are to learn from them and become better in the process.

Alvin Plantinga (1932-present)

is a philosophy professor at Notre Dame who has not offered a full blown theodicy so much as he has sought to show the logical compatibility of the existence of evil and of an all-good, wise, and powerful God. Plantinga goes beyond merely claiming human free will as the reason for evil. He instead claims that it is logically impossible for God to create beings with real freedom who only and always choose good. In other words, it is logically impossible to create a world where there is only good and no evil, since the possibility of good necessarily implies the possibility of evil. Such is the nature of moral freedom.

“Now God can create free creatures but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so.”[66]

Freedom for good necessitates freedom for evil. However, Plantinga goes further than mere logical necessity to state that, “A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all.”[67] Not only is it logically necessary that evil exist, but it is more valuable that it exists. Thus, God created the best of all possible worlds; namely, one where freedom exists and good is possible, but where evil is also possible.

Although God created a world of possible good and evil, it is yet man who brought the evil about: “As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil.”[68] As previously stated, Plantinga’s purpose is not to provide an explanation and solution to evil, but rather merely to show that God’s existence and evil’s existence are mutually compatible.

Conclusion

The history of theodicy in the Christian Church is wide and more complex than this paper has reported. Until recently, the explanations by Irenaeus and Augustine were the two dominating positions. Irenaeus essentially claimed that God created a world with evil and suffering so that man would learn to grow into the image and likeness of God. This is commonly called the “soul-making” theodicy. Augustine rejected this in favor of God’s good design and providence over evil, bringing good from evil, evil being not actually a thing but only the lack of good, and of the original sin and fallenness of man which requires redemption in Christ. Most orthodox figures have followed Augustine’s answers to evil and suffering; though, in modern times Schleiermacher resurrected Irenaeus’ ideas and John Hick has developed them further.

Two other recent developments mentioned in this paper are Molinism (popularized by William Lane Craig) and Open Theism. Molinism claims that God created the best of all possible worlds by use of his middle knowledge. It tries to synthesize Calvinist ideas of sovereignty and renaissance ideas of free will. Open Theism seeks to alleviate God of responsibility of evil by declaring that he does not know the future and indeed he cannot. These ideas are growing in popularity today and should be studied further, but were left out for space.

The Church has historically held that God is all good, wise, and powerful; that all God made was good; that evil exists and God is in control of it, yet that God is not the cause or author of evil. The Church has held that man of his own will sinned and brought suffering and evil into the world, and that God in his grace and wisdom brings good out of evil, chief of which is salvation through the death of Jesus. Historically, the Church’s theodicy has not merely been an apologetic for God’s existence but a source of great comfort for believers in a fallen world.


 

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End Notes

[1] Stated famously by David Hume: “Is (God) willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?” (David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co. Inc., 1970. page 88). See Stanford’s entry on “evil” for a more updated version here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evil/.

[2] Another key theme is that evil is the privation or lack of good. That is, evil does not positively exist as a thing but rather as a lack of existence. As we shall see, this does not mean that there is no evil, but rather that evil exists only by perverting or detracting from the good that God created.

[3] Irenaeus,. Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 37). New Advent, accessed April 1, 2014, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103437.htm.

[4] Ibid. Chapter 39, accessed April 1, 2014, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103439.htm.

[5] Athanasius. On the Incarnation: the Treatise De Incarnatione Verbi Dei. Crestwood.: St Vladimirs Seminary Pr, 1998. 21.

[6] Ibid. 24.

[7] Ibid. 18.

[8] Augustine. The Enchiridion. (Chapter 25). Christian Classics Ethereal Library, accessed March 2, 2014, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf103.iv.ii.xxvii.html.

[9] Ibid. Chapter 26.

[10] Augustine. The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustine, with a Sketch of his Life and Work. Christian Classics Ethereal Library, accessed March 2, 2014,  http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf101.vii.1.CLXVI.html.

[11] Augustine. The Enchiridion. (Chapter 11). “In the bodies of animals, disease and wounds mean nothing but the absence of health; for when a cure is effected, that does not mean that the evils which were present—namely, the diseases and wounds—go away from the body and dwell elsewhere: they altogether cease to exist; for the wound or disease is not a substance, but a defect in the fleshly substance,—the flesh itself being a substance, and therefore something good, of which those evils—that is, privations of the good which we call health—are accidents. Just in the same way, what are called vices in the soul are nothing but privations of natural good. And when they are cured, they are not transferred elsewhere: when they cease to exist in the healthy soul, they cannot exist anywhere else.”

[12] Augustine. Confessions. (Book 7, Chapter 12.).

[13] Augustine. Enchiridion. (Chapter 11). Augustine continues, “For the Almighty God, who, as even the heathen acknowledge, has supreme power over all things, being Himself supremely good, would never permit the existence of anything evil among His works, if He were not so omnipotent and good that He can bring good even out of evil…God judged it better to bring good out of evil, than to allow no evil to exist.”

[14] Anselm. Medieval Sourcebook Proslogium: Anselm (1033-1109). Fordham University, accessed April 6, 2014, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/anselm-proslogium.asp#CHAPTER II.

[15] Anselm. Three Philosophical Dialogues: On Truth, on Freedom of Choice, on the Fall of the Devil. Hackett Pub Co Inc, 2002. 73.

[16] Ibid. 98.

[17] Ibid. 99.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Anslem. Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. 368.

[20] Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica, Treatise On the One God. Q2, A3. Christian Classics Ethereal Library, accessed March 16, 2014, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/summa.FP_Q2_A3.html.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid. Treatise on The Distinction of Good And Evil. Q49, A2

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/luther/bondage.xii.xxxi.html.

[25] Ibid. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/luther/bondage.xiii.xxix.html

[26] Luther, Martin, and John Thornton ed. Faith and Freedom: An Invitation to the Writings of Martin Luther. London: Vintage, 2002. 142. Luther continues, “Though our suffering and cross should never be so exalted that we think we can be saved by it or earn the least merit through it, nevertheless we should suffer after Christ, that we may be conformed to him. For God has appointed that we should not only believe in the crucified Christ, but also be crucified with him… ‘He who does not take his cross and follow me,’ he says, ‘is not worthy of me.’”

[27] Calvin, Jean. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 2009. 1.17.2.

[28] Ibid. 1.18.3.

[29] Ibid. 1.17.11.

[30] Calvin, Jean, and Paul Helm. The Secret Providence of God. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010. 65. Again, “For although Adam destroyed both himself and all his offspring, yet the corruption and the guilt of that Fall of one man must necessarily be ascribed to the secret counsel and decree of God!”

[31] Ibid. 64. “Although man was created weak and liable to fall (sin), yet that this weakness contained in it a great blessing, because man’s Fall immediately afterwards taught him that nothing out of God is either safe, or secure, or enduring.”

[32] Calvin. Institutes. 1.16.3.

[33] Calvin, John. Calvin’s Calvinism: Treatises on ‘The Eternal Predestination of God’ and ‘The Secret Providence of God’. Jenison: Reformed Free Pub. Association, 1987. 255-256, 305.

[34] Leibniz may better be classified as a Modern, but I have arranged him chronologically. It seems better that even Edwards remain in the Post-Reformation era in comparison with Schleiermacher who ushered in modernism’s distrust of divine revelation.

[35] Leibniz, Gottfried. Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil. Chicago: Open Court, 1998. 377.

[36] Ibid. 378.

[37] Ibid. 380-381.

[38] Ibid. 390.

[39] Jonathan Edwards. Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume Two. Christian Classics Ethereal Library, accessed March 31, 2014, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/works2.xi.iii.html. Edwards continues, “The foreknowledge of God will necessarily infer a decree: for God could not foreknow that things would be, unless he had decreed they should be; and that because things would not be future, unless he had decreed they should be. If God, from all eternity, knew that such and such things were future, then they were future; and consequently the proposition was from all eternity true, that such a thing, at such a time, would be.”

[40] Jonathan Edwards. Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume Two. Christian Classics Ethereal Library, accessed March 31, 2014, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/works2/Page_527.html. “We do not mean by decreeing an action as sinful, the same as decreeing an action so that it shall be sinful; but by decreeing an action as sinful, I mean decreeing [it] for the sake of the sinfulness of the action. God decrees that it shall be sinful for the sake of the good that he causes to arise from the sinfulness thereof, whereas man decrees it for the sake of the evil that is in it.”

[41] Ibid. “If it will universally hold, that none can have absolutely perfect and complete happiness, at the same time that any thing is otherwise than he desires at that time it should be; so thus, if it be true, that he has not absolute, perfect, infinite, and all possible happiness now, who has not now all that he wills to have now; then God, if any thing is now otherwise than he wills to have it now, is not now absolutely, perfectly, and infinitely happy.”

[42] Edwards, Jonathan and Clyde A. Holbrook (ed.). The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 3, Original Sin. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970. 383.

[43] Edwards, Jonathan. Freedom of the Will. Mulberry: Sovereign Grace Publishers, Inc., 2008. 228.

[44] Schleiermacher, Friedrich. The Christian Faith. Berkeley: Apocryphile Press, 2011. 338.

[45] Ibid. 316.

[46] Ibid. 340.

[47] Ibid. 33.

[48] Ibid. 438.

[49] Ibid. 364.

[50] Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics, IV/1. Peabody: Hendrickson Pub., 2010. 408

[51] C/D II/1, 560. Parentheses mine.

[52] C/D IV/3.1, 387

[53] Ibid. 405-406.

[54] Ibid. 432.

[55] C/D II/1, 595

[56] C/D II/1, 406., IV/1, p. 44.

[57] Clark, Gordon. Religion , Reason, and Revelation. Unicoi: Trinity Foundation, 2012. 206

[58] Ibid. 227.

[59] Ibid. 237-238.

[60] Ibid. 239-240.

[61] Ibid. 241.

[62] Hick, John. Evil and the God of Love. New York: Macmillan, 2007. 266.

[63] Ibid. 266.

[64] Ibid. 255

[65] Ibid. 256.

[66] Plantinga, Alvin. God, Freedom, and Evil. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974. 30.

[67] Plantinga, Alvin. The Nature of Necessity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979. 166.

[68] Ibid. 166.

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