In a recent conversation on a Calvinistic friend’s Facebook page1 I read a comment by a lady who claimed assurance and comfort in the midst of loosing her child2 through the notion that God causally directs all events that come to pass.
In other words, she holds the belief of many reformed folk that God killed her child.
Sadly, this belief is the logical outcome of an a priori commitment to the philosophical presupposition of causal determinism, the notion that God maintains meticulous causal control over His world so that all events that come to pass are not only indirectly attributable to God (He is, after all the creator and sustainer of all things) but directly attributable to God3.
Another variation of this line of reasoning can be seen whenever a reformed person contracts a disease especially a life-threatening disease like a tumor and/or cancer. Almost immediately they are “comforted” by the notion (usually reinforced by others who are desperately looking for a way to comfort their grieving friends) that God gave them4
But is the view that God causally controls everything that comes to pass really comforting (much less true)?
While God certainly is sovereign5 and while Satan may or may not have had a direct hand in the death of a child or the contraction of a disease6, one thing we do know is that God is not in league with the sin and death he came to defeat through resurrection.
If he did, God would quickly become a monster to be feared, for the wrong reasons, and loathed rather than worshiped and loved.
Blessed assurance does not come from the notion that God causes and directs the evil He purports to stand against in both character as well as action. No, blessed assurance comes from the truth that God is wholly opposed to sin, death, and destruction. Indeed, our hope in the resurrection is but a foretaste of the completed victory over all death we look forward to when Christ reigns supreme.
So the answer to the question we started with is; No. God did not kill your child. God didn’t give you cancer. God doesn’t tempt anyone with evil and God is not tempted by evil. Evil is not necessary for good. Death, is evil, an enemy of God.
God is good. God is love. God is genuinely opposed to evil and He really will make sin, death and hell end one day. Just not today.
Until that day we are to have faith that God really is good and opposed to evil and that He really will defeat it in the future, and what we are given until that day as evidence of the truth of these claims is the resurrection of Christ.
- Who subsequently banned me for the conversation described here. In his mind, it is far better to call one of your brothers in Christ a devil for saying God didn’t kill someone’s child for no reason than it is to admit your pet theological system may have a flaw in it. Gotta love those ‘doctrines of grace’! [↩]
- Not recently mind you. From what I gathered, this happened a few years ago giving her time enough to get the reflection stage of grief which allows for a more objective and rational analysis of events and circumstances. [↩]
- Many who maintain a belief in the 5 points of Calvinism also humorously deny the existence of any other causal agents in God’s universe [↩]
- Or permitted in some milder forms, though He causally controls everything else which serves to merely abstract the ugliness of the underlying assumption of causal determinism. [↩]
- It’s also helpful to note here that sovereignty does not necessarily entail complete causal control over all events. Otherwise, where would we assign the guilt of sin and evil we see all around us? [↩]
- Sometimes our suffering is the result of the pain we find in a broken world [↩]