Of all my blog entries, this is the simplest, yet the most difficult. All my other posts spin in my head for days or weeks before I get them in writing. This one is much different.
In 1996, after going through catastrophic and life changing events, I read the book of Job in the Bible, and by the end I decided “God is God and gets to do whatever He wants to do”. I saw God as sovereign, but not necessarily good. One way the Greek philosophers considered this problem could be phrased in a monotheistic way as “Does God do an act because the act itself is good, or is an act good because God does it”. After the the changes in my life, I decided an act is only good because God does it. The logic behind this path is scary, as it leads down the path of believing that God is capable of evil acts, but He can do evil because He is God and gets to do whatever he wants to do. I used this logic to say that I do not understand God’s nature, but I believe that since He is soveriegn, all His acts are good by definition, even if they do not seem good to me.
Reading the book of Job, and especially the last chapter, leads me to believe Job had come to the same conclusion. My paraphrase of God’s statements is “I am God, and I get to do whatever I want to do”.
Here is Job’s response in Job 42:2-6 (NIV)
““I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job seems to accept God’s sovereignty, and for 14 years I lived my life accepting God’s sovereignty.
But, without logic, without even much thought, a thought came in my mind. What if God is not sovereign in the way we think of sovereignty? What if, in a paraphrase of the Greek’s question, “Does God do an act because the act itself is good” What if it is true than an act is intrinsically good, and God is only capable of doing that which is good. In a sense then, God is limited because He is only capable of good. Where does that leave my sovereign God?
Back to the book of Job. Job is a very old book, perhaps the oldest story in the Bible. What if it is wrong to stop at the same place that Job did and decide that an act is good only because God does it? What if there is much more to the story of the Bible, leading us to understand that God is only capable of good?
Where does this leave the problem of the origin of evil? If God is only capable of good and created all things, who created evil? This is a mystery I will never understand, but understanding God as sovereign does not provide a satisfactory answer either.
In a way I can not understand or explain, a sense of peace came over me this week. I realized God is only capable of doing good. I do not know where my sovereign God went, but my God is good.