Can God Will Evil?

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If it is true that God’s providence governs all things, then we must attribute to Him both the good and the bad. Now, an infinitely perfect God could never will the evil of sin, but He could (and does) permit it.

A clarifying example. Perhaps a man has become wildly successful and wonderfully rich. He lets the riches go to his head, and his soul is now in grave danger of being lost. Seeing this, God knows it is best for the man to lose his riches, and He immediately effects His will. In what manner does God take the riches from the man? He could employ a near-infinite number of methods, but let’s suppose God uses a thief. God did not will the thief to steal the man’s riches, but rather God simply permitted the thief to carry out his own free will. The poor thief had already determined to steal, and God does not interfere with the free wills He has given us. But He does use them to His own purposes. God saw a man who needed his riches taken away, and He also saw a thief determined to take them.

Another example. Human actions, in and of themselves cannot be morally evil. God weighs only the intentions of man. So when a murderer pulls the trigger and ends an innocent life, he is not morally culpable for pulling the trigger of a gun. The sin is due to solely to his intention of taking an innocent life. Now all human actions have their root in and are governed by God. The evil intentions attached to our actions come from man. Thus we can say that our infinitely perfect God has willed this murder. He did not will any evil, for the evil arose only from the murderer’s bad intentions, but nonetheless it remains true to say that God has approved this action.

It is in this way that we can say God is responsible for both the good and the bad. His providence is not limited, but all-encompassing. Nothing happens to us–even seemingly bad things–without God first approving it. We must understand and embrace this truth, and our lives will be changed.

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