Roger Olsen of Baylor University said in an article, “The God of Calvinism scares me; I’m not sure how to distinguish him from the devil.” Contextually, he argues that it is impossible to say that God is good if He ordains evil and calamity in the world. Instead, he finds the God of Scripture to be one who limits himself “so that much of what happens in the world is due to human finitude and fallenness”. God is “in charge but not in control”.
Such statements sound nice and make us humans feel more important in the world, but it flies against much of the spoken testimony of the Scriptures. Consider these words:
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God
meant it for good, to bring it about that many people are alive, as they are
today” (Gen. 50:20)
“Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him dumb, or
deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” (Ex. 4:11)
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I
shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the
name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong (Job
And the king of Assyria brought people from
Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of
Samaria instead of the people of Israel. And they took possession of Samaria and
lived in its cities. And at the beginning of their dwelling there, they did not
fear the LORD. Therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which killed some of
them (2 Kings 17:24-25)
“The One forming light and creating darkness,
Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these” (Is.
“Truly in this city there were gathered together
against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius
Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your
hand and Your purpose predestined to occur” (Acts 4:27-28)
We cannot ignore these statements on God, along with others, like God’s sending a spirit to deceive Ahab (2 Chron. 17); God’s hurling of a storm toward Jonah’s getaway boat, potentially killing him and all who were on the boat (Jon. 1); God’s sending the Chaldeans to ransack Judah, despite their incredible depravity (Hab. 1);
The comfort is not found in ignoring these passages. Nor should one speak near-blasphemies as to compare God to the devil. Instead of correcting God as if we are his P.R. manager, one should instead humbly consider the Scriptures and allow God to speak for Himself. Instead of denying what God has clearly revealed concerning himself, we must seek him for wisdom to see how he magnifies his goodness by including evil in his plan.
I have also observed that we tend to define “good” outside of the nature of God. We tend to think of goodness as an abstract concept, and try to see how God fits within that definition. But this is not appropriate. “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18). We must not attempt to fit God into our own definitions of goodness, nor should we assume our positions in the judgment seat and accuse God of wrongdoing in his arranging of history. We must humble ourselves before God, allowing him to correct our understanding of goodness, as God is the definition of goodness. May we rejoice in the God who is both in charge and in control, the God who works all things after the counsel of his good will, for the good of his own and the glory of his good name.