The Problem of Evil, Part 3 – Misconceptions About God’s Power

By | January 26, 2016

So far in this series I have assumed that evil does exist and that we as Christians want to believe that God is both all powerful and all good. However, it seems like we can have at most two of these three options. I want to argue that we tend to hold two misconceptions as to what it means for God to be all powerful.

The first misconception about God’s power is what I would call a magical view of God. This is the view that God’s power means that he can simply “snap his fingers” and anything he wants happens instantly. I don’t believe this view is either necessary nor most inline with the Bible and reality. But if you hold to the second misconception, it is implied.

The second misconception is that God’s being in control (all powerful) requires him to micromanage the universe. The idea that God either causes or specifically allows all evil hinges on this belief. This is the position of Calvinism: If even one small thing happens which isn’t specifically God’s perfect, ideal will, then God isn’t sovereign (all powerful). Therefore all evil must be part of his will so the thinking goes. I already discussed the danger of this position. (Now people can hold to a version of this belief which isn’t quite so extreme. In reality however, this may well be because they haven’t fully thought though their belief to its logical conclusion.)

Many Calvinists are very passionate about their position. They seem to feel that to say anything else somehow takes away from God and his power. Yet I’m not sure why this needs to be the case. I don’t see a need to emphasize God’s power, control, and authority so far beyond his other attributes. And I don’t believe it is necessary to think that God must micromanage the cosmos in order to be in control.

In my next post, I describe why God doesn’t need to micromanage the world in order to be in power, in control, and to have his will done. In fact, I will argue why it must be this way.

photo credit: Boko Haram via photopin (license)

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