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Bibliosacra April 1976

God is morally Evil

God created man but He did not cause him to sin. Sin by definition is that which is contrary to the character of God. In order to create a sinful state of affairs God would have to rebel against Himself. Nonetheless, many have contended that God’s standard of goodness in the Bible is contrary to man’s social standards of goodness. John Stuart Mill held this position. More recently Ayn Rand went a step further and assailed the whole concept of God as “morally evil.”7  However, this ignores the fact that human morality, if it is to have any ultimate validity, must be derived from an absolute, and therefore external, base. C. S. Lewis argues for this point:
There is, to he sure, one glaringly obvious ground for denying that any moral purpose at all is operative in the universe: namely, the actual course of events in all its wasteful cruelty and apparent indifference, or hostility, to life. But then, as I maintain, that is precisely the ground which we cannot use. Unless we judge this waste and cruelty to be real evils we cannot of course condemn the universe for exhibiting them. Unless we take our own standard of goodness to be valid in principle (however fallible our particular applications of it) we cannot mean anything by calling waste and cruelty evils. And unless we take our own standard to be something more than ours, to be in fact an objective principle to which we are responding, we cannot regard that standard as valid. in a word, unless we allow ultimate reality to be moral, we cannot morally condemn it.8
If morality is to rise above the subjective sentiments and opinions of finite creatures, there must be an ultimate authority whose eternal character is the essence of goodness, truth, and love.
Two important conclusions follow from all this: (1) God is not responsible for the origin of evil, and (2) His character is the absolute upon which morality must be based. The Bible reveals God’s character and it also shows that all men have true moral guilt—they fall short of God’s standard. However, the Bible also reveals that God Himself has provided a solution to man’s moral dilemma through the substitutionary work of Christ. He offers release from sin’s dominion and provides a way of reconciliation with the holy God.
Christian theism unites duty and desire. The duty consists of a right relation to God and (consequently) a right relation to men. And Christ gives man a reason for carrying out this duty. He provides peace, security, joy, and a new quality of life to those who trust in Him. Thus the religious life and the moral life converge in a relationship with Jesus Christ. A genuine Christian does not regard God as an abstract concept or an impersonal Absolute. Instead, the believer desires to lead a life which is pleasing to God (that is, a moral life) as part of his gratitude and love for the God who first loved him. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10–11, NASB). Christians are to love God in response to His love for them, and they are to love each other as a result of their love for God.9  “We love, because He first loved us. If some one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:19–21, NASB).