Theodicy: Is God a Sadist?

I was reminded of a Christian father whose son died from a car accident saying in front of the many people, “God killed my son for His glory and honor!” Is this biblically correct? Did God really cause the tsunami directly? How about the earthquake and the flood? I believe that God is sovereign, but does God doing this directly represents His divine attribute of love and goodness?

There are many Christians who thought some passages states the Lord is “directly” responsible for the bad things in this world and the lives of many people including believers. Did the Lord directly do it? This manner of interpretation does not show the orthodox attribute of God, but degrades His very being as God, who is the source of all goodness and where all good gifts, nature, and providence originates (see James 1:17).

In the Old Testament, prior to what happened to Job we have no idea how things are happening behind the scene. Since then, the Lord gave us a peek of Job’s testing, we now have an idea how the Lord does things under His divine sovereignity (see Job 1). These are permitted by God at times to directly cause certain things on the believers life to test them. Is this possible? Yes, it is possible.

How about consequences for erring believers? Allow me to use an illustration so you will better understand what I mean. If a person says to a robber, “I will bring you to prison,” it does not mean that he will literally drag that person to jail, but will permit or allow the police and the judge to act on his behalf so there would be a consequence for his ungodly action.

So when the Lord says, “I will put none of the diseases on you” that simply means the Lord will not allow Satan and his demons to put these diseases on them (see Exo. 15:26). When erring believers are “judged by the Lord” it may seem God is directly responsible but one needs to check behind the scene. The passage does not literally mean God directly does it, but allows Satan to do His judgment (see 1 Cor. 11:32). You may want to check 1 Corinthians 5:5 where a sinning believer was handed over to Satan for him to be judge.

“… you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 5:5

The apostle Paul directly said “I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing”, but it is not him who judge the erring believer but Satan himself (see 1 Cor. 5:3). If the enemy thinks they are successful in their wicked ways, then wait till they learn that God allows them to do such things so His glory would be revealed (see Jn. 9:3; 13:31) There are cases where Satan’s evil works also happen as a consequence of human wickedness (see Luke 13:4). If we will continue to embrace the kind of interpretation wherein God is directly responsible for the evil things, then this view would surely go against the very attribute of God being good (see Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). God is not a sadist nor a moral monster.

The Lord at times allows or permits Satan and the demons to directly harm our world by catastrophe, killings, and sickness for a reason which we could not truly fathom. God has a purpose but He is not a sadist. Many times, humans around the world are the ones who contribute to the ill effects of our environment because they give in to their fleshly nature.

But despite the fact that we know about this truth, Dr. Erwin Lutzer’s advise to many is very insightful. He wrote, “Glib answers can be hurtful, not helpful. Sometimes we just need to sit beside those who grieve, letting them know we care rather than talking to them dispassionately about God’s promises and purposes. I’ve found out that it’s often better to say nothing than to say something that appears to trivilaize the horror.” (Erwin Lutzer, “Where Was God,” ©2006)

“A potter has the right to do whatever he wants with his clay. He can make something for a special occasion or something for everyday use from the same lump of clay. If God wants to demonstrate his anger and reveal his power, he can do it. But can’t he be extremely patient with people who are objects of his anger because they are headed for destruction? Can’t God also reveal the riches of his glory to people who are objects of his mercy and who he had already prepared for glory? This is what God did for us whom he called-whether we are Jews or not.” – Romans 9:21-24, God’s Word

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