Is God Both Good AND Evil?
NCW 53, March-April 1998
Q. An acquaintance of mine who is into New Age religion said that God is both good and evil, and said the Bible proved that in Isaiah 45:7. I thought God was only love?
Unfortunately the King James Version (KJV/AV) of the Bible can give that very impression because of the usage of words four centuries ago. For it says: "I [God] form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things" (AV).
Notice, however, that the KJV, for all its faulty translation, does not say that God is evil but that He creates evil. A better translation, conveying more of the original sense of the writer, would be: "I bring prosperity and I create disaster" (NIV) or "I bring bliss and calamity" (Moff.). Seen in the light of other Scripture (and we must always look at the whole and not parts separated from the organic whole) what this is saying is that God has allowed evil to co-exist in this sphere in order to test man as well as to perfect him. It is in the midst of such opposition, unpleasant though it often is, that man grows spiritually the most. Therefore, as Yahweh gave Satan permission to afflict Job, so He permits the same with us, unless our affliction is of our own making or the collective fault of unredeemed society.
Because God permits evil to co-exist with good in this sphere it is often tempting -- especially when we are in the thick of it -- to believe that God is somehow the author of all that is bad. He isn't. He could not, of His own free will, do evil Himself without undermining everything that He stands for.
But surely, someone might argue, He is guilty by association. Even though someone might not actually murder a person, he might be guilty as an accomplice. If God is permitting evil, is He not, in a way, an accomplice?
The answer has to be 'no' because He is not out to destroy man but save him. Satan wants only to destroy. An accomplice in a murder has the same end -- the death of an individual. God, in a way, recruits Satan (without him being aware) to do what He by His own nature could never do, in much the same way that Satan recruits good in order to effect evil.
This page was created on 9 May 1998
Last updated on 9 May 1998
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