|Arundel Castle, England-trekearth|
My friend and blog link Timothy posted an interesting article late 2012 which I commented on recently:
Evil and Suffering
My blog comment on the audio message by Dr. James White on the message 'Responding to Evil and Suffering' was:
'I think James White is one of the more enlightened theologians today.
In regard to the POE, I would agree a major problem with the public is a lack of education and I would add to what was stated in that official and unofficial lack of knowledge in Theology, Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion, is what leads to in part the emotional reactions to evil that he mentioned. Ignorance as well as sinful nature.
Look at my MPhil and PhD survey results and how important Reformed doctrines were rejected by those within the cultural Christian Church. How much more they would be by the general public.
Yes, God wills what occurs, or the more traditional Reformed language of decrees.
And note, even some that are educated in secular Philosophy, even with a PhD can be rather clueless in regard to Religious Studies treating it as pseudo-academic. Worldview education is absolutely needed at this point. My latest on S&T alludes, as you may have deduced, to the dangers of simply trusting in common thought in society.
I have pointed out many times on my blogs in regard to the POE and Theodicy persons are finite (and sinful) and as with Job this makes judging God impossible to do accurately.'
End Quote and Comment
In the audio presentation, Luke 13 is cited as an example of Jesus Christ discussing the universal sinfulness of human kind:
Luke 13: 1-5 New American Standard Bible 13
Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had [a]mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3 I tell you, no, but unless you [b]repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse [c]culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Luke 13: 1-5 English Standard Version Bible 13
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Porter in his Luke commentary explains the hearers of these events seemed to view the sufferers of these events as persons of exceptional wickedness and evil and this why God allowed this evil and suffering to occur to them. A view similar to that of Job's friends in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. And a view sometimes taken by the disciples. Porter (1986: 1210).
Jesus Christ rejects this understanding and instead states that the hearers need to repent or they too will perish. Porter (1986: 1210).
Matthew Henry-Luke 13
From Matthew Henry's Luke commentary:
'3. On these stories he founded a call to repentance, adding to each of them this awakening word, Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish, Luke 13:3-5.
(1.) This intimates that we all deserve to perish as much as they did, and had we been dealt with according to our sins, according to the iniquity of our holy things, our blood had been long ere this mingled with our sacrifices by the justice of God. It must moderate our censure, not only that we are sinners, but that we are as great sinners as they, have as much sin to repent of as they had to suffer for.
(2.) That therefore we are all concerned to repent, to be sorry for what we have done amiss, and to do so no more. The judgments of God upon others are loud calls to us to repent. See how Christ improved every thing for the pressing of that great duty which he came not only to gain room for, and give hopes to, but to enjoin upon us--and that is, to repent.
(3.) That repentance is the way to escape perishing, and it is a sure way: so iniquity shall not be your ruin, but upon no other terms.
(4.) That, if we repent not, we shall certainly perish, as others have done before us. Some lay an emphasis upon the word likewise, and apply it to the destruction that was coming upon the people of the Jews, and particularly upon Jerusalem, who were destroyed by the Romans at the time of their passover, and so, like the Galileans, they had their blood mingled with their sacrifices and many of them, both in Jerusalem and in other places, were destroyed by the fall of walls and buildings which were battered down about their ears, as those that died by the fall of the tower of Siloam. But certainly it looks further except we repent, we shall perish eternally, as they perished out of this world. The same Jesus that calls us to repent because the kingdom of heaven is at hand, bids us repent because otherwise we shall perish so that he has set before us life and death, good and evil, and put us to our choice.
(5.) The perishing of those in their impenitency who have been most harsh and severe in judging others will be in a particular manner aggravated.'
Porter makes reasonable points. Christ was definitely and definitively in disagreement with the hearers and was pointing out the universal sinfulness of humanity and the need for repentance.
With Henry (1) does not demonstrate that a greater suffering in death demonstrates greater sinfulness by the persons involved.
In regard to (2) because all persons are sinful universally (Romans-Genesis) there would be a need for universal repentance by persons involved. At the time Christ spoke this those in the Hebrew faith were awaiting the Messiah and therefore this was stated prior to the atoning work and resurrection of Christ, but it would still be a religion of faith through the grace of God, and not by works (Ephesians 2). I mention universal repentance but do not hold to universal salvation as only the elect, those chosen in Christ (Ephesians 1, Romans 8) shall be regenerated.
Certain types of perishing can be avoided (3), through repentance and the Lord meant what was stated.
But on the other hand because the resurrection work is not completed in this life (1 Corinthians 15) all persons do physically perish because of death. In his audio presentation, James White, in my view correctly states that God can therefore justly because of the fall of Genesis 3 take a person. God's commandment to not kill is a reflection of his character and morality, however, God being perfectly holy has the right to kill a sinful human being because of sin.
There is also a philosophical/theological argument to ponder on whether or not the infinite God that exists by necessity would also have the moral right to destroy his finite creatures that do not exist by necessity, if he so wished. Human beings and finite creatures instead being contingent. I cautiously think he would. But in love he chooses not to having an eternal plan for them. This would be strictly hypothetical...
As I stated in person many times God can justly take the life of a human being from embryo to elderly, in light of Genesis 3 and the fall/sinful nature.
I reason (4) is probably a strong reasonable candidate as an accurate understanding, in that the Temple did fall in Jerusalem in AD 70, and the same fate could befall many of the listeners too if they did not repent. This point (4) seems to make very good sense if tied to (3) as in something that can be avoided, as in to not perish with the Temple within that type of Hebrew belief system but to have repented in Christ.
Point (5) is speculative in nature, and I will leave that sort of judgment up to God.
HENRY, MATTHEW (1721), Complete Commentary on Luke.
PORTER, LAURENCE. E. (1986) ‘Luke’, in F.F. Bruce (gen.ed.), The International Bible Commentary, Grand Rapids, Marshall Pickering/ Zondervan.