“It Never Entered My Mind”: The Problematic Theodicy Of Theistic Determinism -- By: Edward P. Meadors

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 19:2 (NA 2009)
Article: “It Never Entered My Mind”: The Problematic Theodicy Of Theistic Determinism
Author: Edward P. Meadors


“It Never Entered My Mind”: The Problematic Theodicy Of Theistic Determinism

Edward P. Meadors

Taylor University

Author’s note: I would like to dedicate this article to Jay Kesler, President Emeritus of Taylor University and Senior Pastor of Upland Community Church.

This article evaluates contemporary expressions of compatibilist theodicy that identify God as the primary agent of evil. The author questions this conclusion by appealing to God’s sovereignty in Scripture, the basic semantics of רָעָה, exegesis of crux passages, biblical theology comprehensively understood, and historical theology accurately quoted. In each arena, the author exposes invalid arguments and presuppositions expressive of theistic determinism. The author then arrives at a different conclusion.

Key Words: רָעָה, πονηρός, κακός, theodicy, God as primary agent of evil, compatibilism, theistic determinism, hardening, Jeremiah 32:35, 1 John 3:5

“Is he [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, Part 10)

What question could be more relevant in our post-9-11 world? And what question should Christians be more eager to address? For Christianity robustly answers David Hume’s quotation of Epicurus’s famous trilemma: “God is both willing and able!” In the birth of Christ, sinless, holy God has become man to defeat Satan and solve the problem of human sin. As Heb 2:14 explains: “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death he might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (cf. 1 John 3:8). Yes, God is both willing and able. He has conquered sin, death, and Satanic evil through the saving sacrifice of his Son Jesus Christ (cf. John 12:31, 16:11; Rev 21:11).

The purpose of this article is to evaluate arguments that assert that God is able but unwilling to prevent evil because he wills it and is in fact evil’s primary a...

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