Moral Issues, Determinism: The Greater Good Argument

The moral issue of God’s determinism arises when one person asks:

How can one believe that all that happens, including evil, is meticulously planned and its occurrence made certain by God, independent of any other considerations. It is hard to imagine that anyone could believe that such extreme deterministic ideas are even remotely Christian. They seem infinitely far away from describing the God of love revealed to us in Jesus Christ – or the God who condemns and says that we should avoid evil. Yet how can one condemn anything that God has predetermined ought to occur?

Thus, as we have seen, this kind of determinism abolishes the very concept of evil. The concept of evil becomes immaterially reduced to a facade of God’s plan disguised as injustice or evil actions. This entire concept cannot bear the weight of Scriptures, as we will see.

The Greater Good Argument
Some have argued that God instructs evil things in order to bring about a greater good. This idea is a short-cute route to the concept that God plays the evil doer in order to bring about a purpose rather than AUTHENTICALLY working out things for our good when evil does strike. NOTE: God’s sovereignty puts Him in authority over evil - this is the entire narrative of Christ’s second coming.

It is undeniable that we are taught in the New Testament that God does permit his people to suffer in order to learn of his grace. Paul was a case in point. But the use of that argument to say that God was the direct cause of the horrific abuse or murder of a child, as Dostoyevsky’s expresses in his writings, and so often in real life, goes far beyond this biblical teaching and, from a logical outlook, does not equate to the Biblical God. And what shall we say of those who try to vindicate God in such situations by suggesting that, although he causes people to do evil, they are in the end responsible for it – while, incredibly, God is not? How people can even get near to suggesting such things, without seeming to realize what a cruelty they are making of God, is beyond my will to tolerate. God is not a scapegoat of evil but the vindicator of it.

G. K. Chesterton was forthright in his assessment:

The Calvinists took the Catholic idea of the absolute knowledge and power of God, and treated it as a rocky irreducible truism so solid that anything could be built on it, however crushing or cruel. They were so confident in their logic, and its one first principle of predestination, that they tortured the intellect and imagination with dreadful deductions about God, that seemed to turn Him into a demon.

Therefore repentance is without meaning if God caused me to sin. In any case, as it has often been put to me very bluntly, how can we say that God loves the world if He created a good portion of it to go to hell? - Note, knowing that a good portion would deny Him is far different than determining it to be so.

Calvin states:

To sum up, since God’s will is said to be the cause of all things, I have made his providence the determinative principle for all human plans and works, not only in order to display its force in the elect, who are ruled by the Holy Spirit, but also to compel the reprobate to obedience.

It’s one thing to believe in the sovereignty of God as He is the supreme authority over everything but another thing to believe the same concept of “sovereignty” in what Gordon H. Clark says: “I wish very frankly and pointedly to assert that if a man gets drunk and shoots his family, it was the will of God that he should do so…” and yet Clark maintains that God is not responsible for sin even though he decrees it. And this applies to all facets of evil - Can this be the same God who says: You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13)?

Arbitrary Calls

This issue should be clear at this point that the God of Scripture calls men to follow in obedience the sovereign laws He has put forth to maintain justice. These calls of obedience are not arbitrary nor are the laws themselves. There is nothing arbitrary about God’s call of obedience from Genesis 1 to the end of Revelation.

The issue that arises here, and many of the Theistic Determinist have not understood, is that there is a massive Scriptural and Philosophical issue at bend here. If God in one instance makes the call to obedience (as we will look at in the coming articles) but on the other, whether secret or not, knows that He is just doing so in order to bring about powerful justice or His glory than it makes it arbitrary on the front and on the back you can state that every call to obedience is actually just anthropomorphic. That encompasses a vast majority of Scripture narrative and history - I do not think that any serious theologian wants to toss the narrative into that sea.