Here are some additional thoughts from a conversation that ensued following my previous post on this subject:
God does not create states of affairs and thus such we are under no compulsion to claim such states of affairs as having to have some sort of “greater good”.
I think the greatest difference here is in how we view the will and sovereignty of God. You see, evil does exist but the person who holds to a “greater good theodicy” often does so out of a misunderstanding of God’s sovereignty wherein God MUST be the cause and initiator of all events that take place. Which, consequently, must be either directly or indirectly willed by such a sovereign God since, as this definition of sovereignty goes, God always gets his way and is always glorified in all that comes to pass).
Under this view of God’s sovereignty it is actually impossible to call anything evil since, if all is both willed by a God who is the definition of good and if all is for the glory of this God who is the definition of good, then it logically follows that nothing is really effectively evil. In this case we manage to not only destroy the language of good and evil but we end up rendering large swaths of Scripture completely incomprehensible as well.
Therefore, the reason I would side with Dr Little’s assessment that a greater good need not automatically and inextricably flow from every evil is because I believe evil actually does exist and is in no way compatible with a holy, just, and good God.
This does not negate God’s ability to use evil, but it does decouple good from evil and thus destroy the dangerous duality setup by adherents to the greater good theodicy wherein evil is rendered necessary (implicitly or explicitly) for the ultimate attainment of good.
Finally, I would reject entirely the notion that Ephesians 1:11 has as it’s focal point all events that have occurred throughout human history (including and especially all of the sinful ones). While God does account for and work into his plan the sinful actions and choices of men, to charge God as the initial or causal agent behind such sinful choices and actions is to do violence to God’s holiness.
Further, no amount of equivocating on the word “good” will allow you to escape the plain and simple fact that either 1. God caused sin/evil/death/unrighteousness and is therefore culpable and marred by it or 2. God created a world in which he allows other causal agents limited freedom in choosing either according to or contrary to his will thus rendering God blameless for the freely chosen sinful acts of his creation.