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God and Dualism

14 Aug
Good and Evil

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Before we discuss Jesus’ temptations (Luke 4:1-2), it might be a good idea to consider the problem of evil in our world and how this affects God. One of the problems of traditional Christian thought about God and evil spirit beings, including Satan, is that the doctrine makes out like God and an evil-spirit-world are in conflict, a conflict in which God seems to be losing. In fact, Jesus, himself, was asked if there would be only a few people saved (Luke 13:23). This idea is a product of dualism, which is a philosophy or, in our case, a theology that claims God (the good) is in conflict with Satan (the evil), and these entities are equal or nearly equal in power.

Although Christianity would never agree that Satan is equal to God in power, the picture painted of their apparent or theorized conflict, seems to show Satan is at least equal, perhaps even more powerful than God, since the evil seems to be winning the overall battle with the good. How else could we conclude such a thing?

If God represents the good, but the evil has gained the victory in terms of power over the world, how could God be more powerful than the evil? It seems to me that, if God is more powerful than evil, our interpretation of what we see in the world, in terms of a good and evil conflict, must be redefined.

Simply put, if God created all things, and all things continue to exist by the power of God, then God cannot lose anything. Even if evil could somehow gain an upper hand in a battle against God, all God would have to do is cease to empower the evil (or the evil people or the evil spirit beings) to exist. In such an event, both the evil and the opposition to the good would immediately cease (Psalm 75:3; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). God would win the battle, and who or what could cause events to transpire differently?

The Judeo-Christian God is all powerful! Nothing, absolutely nothing, could oppose his will successfully. Therefore, the fact that evil exists in our world[1] tells us that it must exist for another purpose. It cannot exist as something that opposes God. God is above all things, and he accomplishes his purpose through all things (including evil).

From the very beginning the Scriptures show us that God is not in conflict with evil (Genesis 3:22). The Scriptures simply conclude God knows both the good and the evil, and his knowledge of evil existed before any sin was committed. If the act of sin was an act of rebellion against God, then before evil was committed, it existed as part of God’s knowledge and as a possible direction for man to choose. That is, God created the possibility of man coming to know evil (Genesis 2:9, 17; 3:5, 22). Therefore, the existence of evil in our world today is due to God’s own power to continue to allow its existence (Colossians 1:17).

The problem of evil has been a question man has pondered throughout the ages. Epicurus is recorded to have mused:

“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?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

The problem with such a philosophy is that it presumes evil exists under its own power or the power of another besides God. Nevertheless, the Judeo-Christian God shows himself in the Scriptures to be the **only** power in existence. All other powers or authorities exist by the permission of this Almighty Creator God. All things serve him, absolutely nothing could ever oppose him. To entertain such a thought is like pondering if God would ever commit suicide. God does not oppose God. If he created all that exists, then all that exists continues to exist to serve his purpose.

______________________________

[1] Ultimately our world is a product of God’s creation, and the evil in our world continues to exist with his permission. God could at any moment abolish evil by simply now empowering it to exist.

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8 Comments

Posted by on August 14, 2016 in Gospel of Luke

 

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8 responses to “God and Dualism

  1. cliffordjonessr

    August 14, 2016 at 23:30

    Wow, well that’s certainly an interesting perspective, I must say. And I appreciate how you set scriptural foundation for all of your assertions.
    I found your blog doing research for a novel that I am trying to write. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Eddie, and since I have subscribed, I look forward to keeping up with you. Thanks!

     
    • Eddie

      August 15, 2016 at 05:35

      Greetings Clifford, and let me say it is always a pleasure for me to discuss what I believe with folks as friendly as you. I am so glad you stopped by. May the Lord bless you in your decision to write a novel, and I hope your diversion to my website didn’t hurt your concentration on your research. You are welcome here anytime.

       
  2. cliffordjonessr

    August 14, 2016 at 18:54

    Yes, I would agree, because the scripture states it, that Eve was deceived and Adam succumbed to sin, but where does it say that Satan was not an actual entity but rather a facet of Adam. If that is what you are saying?
    It’s an interesting thought that evil preexisted the Fall. Of course, the sin was to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so evil did exist. But before they ate, they had no conscience of what it was. That knowledge is passed on to all of us. Jesus told us that being evil, we still knew how to give good to our children. I am given to think that in the new heaven and earth, we might be somehow purged again of that knowledge. As it is put in Hebrews, no more consciousness of sin.
    Thank you.

     
    • Eddie

      August 14, 2016 at 20:10

      I wouldn’t use the word “succumb”, because I don’t believe Adam was overpowered. Paul claims he wasn’t deceived, and Genesis says Eve simply gave the “fruit” to her husband and he ate–no overpowering, no temptation; he simply took it from his wife and ate. Later, of course, he blamed God for the whole event.

      The living “entity” which was Satan, was, in fact, Adam. If death and sin entered humanity through Adam, he had to have rebelled before Eve, otherwise sin and death would have entered through her. Real serpents don’t speak, but evil men who plan wickedness are compared to and even called serpents in Scripture. As I see it, and of course you are free to disagree, Adam was Eve’s tempter. He seems to have given her wrong information about God, when we consider her response about “touching” the tree. God never told Adam not to “touch” it. He was told not to eat of it. So, at least the possibility of Adam setting Eve up for her “fall” can be found in the Scriptures. Throughout the Old Testament it seems sin / rebellion against God begins with a lack of faith / trust. Adam simply didn’t trust God and wanted to find out about good and evil on his own.

      Before the Fall, God seems to have been teaching Adam about good and evil through animal behavior. In Genesis 2 Adam was given the responsibility of naming the animals. In the Old Testament giving names not only expressed authority over the one / thing named, but it also expressed identity or definition (cf. Genesis 27:35-36). The point is Adam “named” the animals according to how they behaved. The serpent was cunning, the lion and wolf were ferocious. The rabbit was non-threatening etc. Here in nature is seen how “evil” is able to overpower a victim like a rabbit or a sheep. It seems to me, that God was a good Parent, teaching Adam the difference between correct behavior and wrong behavior. It was all there in nature. Of course some well meaning folks today will deny this, saying death didn’t exist even in the animal kingdom before Adam’s rebellion. However, I don’t think this can be supported by Romans 5:12. There Paul is speaking not of all creation, because all creation doesn’t sin, only mankind is able to sin. Paul is speaking of sin and death entering our “world” the “world” of humanity–our race. Adam is responsible, because he was the generator of all who came later.

      Knowledge of “evil” (actually corrupt knowledge of “evil”) has been past on to the rest of mankind from Adam. Nevertheless, Genesis 2 seems to indicate, or at least an implication can be derived from there, that God was teaching Adam about good and evil by commanding him to name the animals.

      I agree about the new heaven and new earth. I long for that day, because there are so many things I regret saying and doing. I understand I’ve been forgiven, but the knowledge of my sin is still with me.

      Lord bless you, Clifford, in your study of his word.

       
  3. cliffordjonessr

    August 14, 2016 at 11:19

    To summarize, evil is still allowed in the earth because of the forbearance of God, awaiting the full harvest of souls into his kingdom.
    There appears no other reason other than his desire to not lose a single soul whose name is written.

     
    • Eddie

      August 14, 2016 at 17:43

      Greetings Clifford. Please note that I made the typo correction, and deleted your double post and your references to the same.

      There was “evil” in the world before Adam sinned, but there wasn’t any wickedness. The Scripture claims God creates “evil” (Isaiah 45:7). It is like dynamite. One can use it to build bridges or make war. One may use it to serve life or to take it. God made a very powerful universe, a dangerous universe, but he gave mankind a mandate to learn about him by discovering the innate power he placed within everything he created. With knowledge there comes power and authority, so in order to rule properly, we need to discover how our universe works. This is implied in Genesis 1.

      Concerning the harvest of mankind, we agree God doesn’t wish to lose a single one of us (2Peter 3:9), but the innate power or raw power of the universe will still be there even after all things are brought under God’s authority (cf. 1Corinthians 15:28).

      Lord bless you Clifford and thanks again for reading.

       
  4. cliffordjonessr

    August 14, 2016 at 11:16

    What of the notion, which I subscribe to, that God originally gave authority in the earth to Adam?
    As Paul wrote, the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. Therfore, since he gave the earth to Adam and his descendants, and his calling on Adam was to have dominion, therefore God does not rescind this gift and calling.
    Furthermore Adam gave that authority in the earth to satan, thus becoming his slave.
    Therfore , God himself became a/the Second Adam in order to first have authority again in the earth, and secondly to win back freedom for Adam’s race while in the flesh. Freedom from both sin and from the dominion of satan.
    After having accomplished this, he ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father, awaiting the perfect time when Father manifests that victory once and for all.
    I believe that time is awaiting the final harvest of those appointed to the new kingdom, whose names are written in the book of life.

     
    • Eddie

      August 14, 2016 at 17:44

      Greetings Clifford, and thank you for reading and for taking time out to comment.

      We agree both that God originally gave authority over the earth to Adam and that he says through Paul that he doesn’t repent of the gifts he gives nor the calls he makes to men. However, we disagree that Adam surrendered his authority to anyone. Men seem to be still in command of the earth. In fact, David remarked in Psalm 8:6-8 that mankind still enjoyed the gift of dominion over the earth and everything in it. So, I don’t agree that Adam surrendered his authority to anyone in the Garden or anytime after that.

      Once more, we agree substantially that God became the second Adam in order to win back mankind’s freedom. However, we probably would not agree with our choice of vocabulary to define what was done. For example, “satan” means enemy, and we probably both agree to this, but if you mean an evil spirit being tricked Adam and Eve into rebelling against God, I would have to disagree. I believe Adam made himself God enemy (satan) by rebelling in the Garden. Paul concludes that sin entered our world through Adam (Romans 5:12). Furthermore, he wrote again that Eve was confused and tricked, but not Adam. Adam knew exactly what he was doing (1Timothy 2:13-14). It seems to me that the whole rebellion in the Garden was born in the heart of Adam. He simply didn’t trust God.

      So, yes God became the second Adam in order to win back mankind’s freedom from sin (rule of the flesh) and the rule of Adam (God’s “satan”) who rebelled in the Garden and took the whole human race with him—just like an evil ruler who takes his whole nation with him to war against another nation (whether the ruler’s subjects agree with him or not). God simply provided a way out of Adam’s race and into the race of the God /Man (Jesus), and because of this change we not only have our human nature, but we share in divine nature as well (2Peter 1:4). This by no means makes us God, but it does make us more than we were in Adam.

      Concerning Christ’s position at the right hand of God and his return to earth in the future, we agree here as well.

      Lord bless you, Clifford in your efforts to please him.

       

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