Does God Have the Capacity for Evil?

I’m currently experiencing what I believe to be an incredible time of refreshment from the Holy Spirit.  There are many circumstances that have led up to this point but the results have and continue to be awesome and I’m left feeling very grateful.  One of the fruits that’s come from this season (of which I hope and pray to be perpetual) has been the desire to go deeper in varying areas of personal devotion.

In the past couple days, I’ve listened to several podcasts debating the age-old topic of determinism vs. free will.  It’s an intriguing argument and has many theological and practical implications but there was one facet of the discussion I found to be more intriguing than the rest.  It’s the idea of the origin of evil.

The topic surfaced in the discussion in the following way.  This is more simplistic than it was laid out in the argument but it will better serve our purposes here as a concise snippet.  If our actions are predetermined, isn’t God then responsible for any evil that happens in the world?  However, if God is ultimately good, then He’s not capable of evil.  I want to preface the following thoughts by saying I’ve not arrived at any conclusions (as to avoid being called heretical).  The ideas that follow are merely my ideas being worked out in text and real time.

I think everyone would readily agree that humans have the capacity for evil.  And it would seem to me regardless of whether God predetermines our actions to be evil or whether we choose evil on our own does not negate our ability to participate.  And if we believe we’re created in the image of God, it seems to follow that God would then contain the same capacity.  Given, even opening my mind to that possibility induces chills at the onset.  However, when I begin to unpack it and think of the implications, it’s not nearly as terrifying.

In the garden, Adam and Eve had no influence other than the serpents persuasion when indulging in original sin.  He had no ability to make them step outside of God’s will.  So, the capacity to act out evil was something intrinsic in their nature.  If we’re made in God’s image and what we know of Him through both experience and the written Word is good then it seems to imply God has the capacity for evil but ultimately chooses good. The best example I can provide is Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.  If he didn’t have the ability to sin, he couldn’t be tempted.  But among the many promptings from the Enemy, Jesus chose to abstain from evil.  It brings me great comfort to think: 1.  We have a God that although He has the capacity for evil, He chooses to conduct Himself otherwise.  2.  It gives me hope that the same possibility exists for me as well.

Like I said earlier, these are certainly more ideas than beliefs at this point.  I’ll also concede that this could be fairly old news that falls into the category of new revelation for me.  But then again, what are blogs for if not for this very purpose?  🙂


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