Chapter Four

During the first part of the 20th Century, sin was treated lightly. It was called "ignorance," only a growing pain of the human race. The prevailing theory then was to give man a bit more education, let him become a little more civilized and he will evolve out of his sin, leaving evil behind him. But now we are not so sure. The heinous events of World War II (12 million murdered, leveled cities, gas chambers), followed by the continuing senseless acceleration of war, crime and violence (old people killed for kicks, 80-year-old women molested) and other immoralities have forced man to take a second look at the problem of evil.

A fresh look at sin is pointedly stated in the words of Dr. Cyril E. M. Joad, who was a noted Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of London, and listed by the editor of The American Weekly as one of the world's great scientists.12Joad said:13

For years my name regularly appeared with H. G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, and Aldous Huxley as a derider of religion.... Then came the war, and the existence of evil made its impact upon me as a positive and obtrusive fact. The war opened my eyes to the impossibility of writing off what I had better call man's 'sinfulness' as a mere by-product of circumstance. The evil in man was due, I was taught, either to economic circumstance (because people were poor, their habits were squalid, their tastes undeveloped, their passions untamed) or to psychological circumstances. For were not psycho-analysts telling me that all the regressive, aggressive, or inhibited tendencies of human nature were due to the unfortunate psychological environment of one's early childhood?

The implications are obvious; remove the circumstances, entrust children to psycho-analyzed nurses and teachers, and virtue would reign.

I have come flatly to disbelieve all this. I see now that evil is endemic in man, and that the Christian doctrine of original sin expresses a deep and essential insight into human nature.

As Dr. Joad, we must take another look at evil. It can no longer be considered a growing pain. It is too deadly a disease to be explained away by environment. Standing at the closing of the 20th Century and looking back, the sad history of this century confirms that Dr. Joad was right.

In his book OUT OF CONTROL, written in 1993, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor and professor of American Foreign Policy at John Hopkins University, notes that the 20th Century began amid great hope and promise, but it became the century of insanity. In elaborating on his observation of 175 million slaughtered in the name of the "politics of organized insanity," he says:

Contrary to its promise, the 20th Century became mankind's most bloody and hateful century of hallucinatory politics and of monstrous killings. Cruelty was institutionalized to an unprecedented degree, lethality was organized on a mass production basis. The contrast between the scientific potential for good and the political evil that was actually unleashed is shocking. Never before in history was killing so globally pervasive, never before did it consume so many lives, never before was human annihilation pursued with such concentration of sustained effort on behalf of such arrogantly irrational goals.

Dr Joad is right, sin is not just ignorance—a temporary experience in man's evolution. Evil is a basic flaw in human character that can only be explained by the Biblical account of original sin.

Speaking collectively of the human race, the Psalmist said, "In sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalms 51:5). The Apostle Paul in Romans 5:12 says, "By one man sin entered the world and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."

Since father Adam sinned, justice required that he die. Before he died, Adam had children who were born in sin—they inherited Adam's imperfections. Thus, the whole human race is born dying. This is how it is learning the consequences of evil. However, the permission of evil is a brief controlled experience when compared with eternity.

What are some of the grim lessons? God permits evil to demonstrate that man without God results in:

q possible extinction through the science which created the H-bomb, and chemical and biological warfare;

q affluence that spends one billion dollars a year in the U.S. for pet food while 5 million humans starve to death;

q religious institutions whose assets total billions of dollars while millions live in poverty;

q technology and its deadly tentacles of pollution encircling the globe;

q towering cities that are concrete jungles of crime and violence, filled with faceless people experiencing life without meaning and with terrible loneliness.

God permits evil to prove that man's existence without God can only result in man's inhumanity to man.

In our era of permissiveness, the justice of God seems to be an offense to the rationalist. Perhaps the problem is one of communication, which can be shown in the simple illustration of an argument. All of us at some time have been engaged in an argument in which we really never objectively listened to the other party. We were too busy thinking up our answers to hear their logic. Similarly, the rationalist is carrying on a debate with God. If he would only stop and listen to what God has explained in the historic account of Eden (Genesis 3), he would catch a glimpse of the wisdom and justice of God that guarantees man's eternal happiness in due time.

Some question the severity of God's justice in the death penalty. Could not a penalty other than death have been a just recompense for Adam's disobedience? No doubt another penalty would have been just; however, God chose this penalty because it best suited His overall plan for mankind. Once Adam was informed that death was the penalty for disobedience, then the penalty was fair.

A basic fact to always remember is that God in His foreknowledge knew Adam would disobey. Therefore, long before the creation of Adam, God's wisdom devised a plan of recovery and ultimate happiness for the human race that would require the death of His only begotten Son. Thus I Peter 1:19,20 and Ephesians 1:4-7 speak of the blood of Christ as foreordained before the world began for the redemption of mankind. The Creator used man's experience in Eden to demonstrate the dependability of His justice. It is vital for man to know that "justice and judgment [just decisions] are the habitation of thy [God's] throne" (Psalms 89:14). Justice is the foundation of the government of the universe, the basis of all God's dealings. Judgment is also spoken of as part of this foundation. The Hebrew here means "a just decision." We can take comfort in the realization that throughout eternity all of God's decisions will be just.

Man was placed in the Edenic paradise to thoroughly enjoy the love of God. Suppose that after Adam and Eve had lived obediently for a while, God changed His mind and expelled them from the garden condition into the thorns and thistles of the unfinished earth. His love would be worthless, whimsical, because it was not based on justice. It would be changeable.

Another hypothetical situation: If when Adam disobeyed, God said, "Oh, I will overlook your disobedience this time, I will not punish you as I promised to do." Adam might say, "Wonderful! I am surely glad God is more loving than just."

Wonderful? No! This, too, would have been whimsical, capricious, arbitrary. The Creator and Ruler of the whole universe could never be trusted throughout eternity. At any time, in any place, with any order of intelligent creatures, God might at the slightest whim change His mind and turn on His creatures. Eden proved the unchangeableness of God's justice. Thus God declares in Malachi 3:6, "I am Jehovah, I change not." And James 1:17 states, "The Father of lights in whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

How unchangeable is God's justice? It is so unyielding that God's court of justice required the payment of the costliest fine ever stipulated in a court of law. What judge has been willing to give up his own innocent son to death in order to cancel the criminal debt of the defendant?

Our Creator wants us to know the depths of His love, that He is the most loving Being in the universe, but how can God communicate this to our finite minds? In human relationships words of love can be quite meaningless. Actions speak louder than words. How did God show His love? With tender fatherly emotions of sorrow, God took the dearest treasure of His heart, His only begotten Son, and sent him to earth to suffer and die at the hands of man. At great cost to Himself the wisdom of God formulated a plan which reveals that He is both just (unyielding justice) and the justifier (benefactor) of mankind (Rom. 3:25,26).

The simple events of Eden and Calvary tell so much about our God. Calvary is the greatest manifestation of love and mercy in the history of the universe. The combination of Eden and Calvary stand as a pledge throughout eternity that there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning in God's justice (James 1:17).

Many natural calamities are not a question of "Where is God?" or "What's wrong with God?"—rather, "What's wrong with man?" Take for example, the train of catastrophes around the world spawned by El Ñino. A monster El Ñino could not exist without a large hole in the ozone layer. There would be no hole in the ozone layer without pollution. From whence came pollution? It came from diverse sources that are all rooted in man's greed for profit. Many natural disasters before and after the 1997 El Ñino also find their cause in global warming—the mischief of ultra-violet rays escaping through this hole in the ozone layer.

The extreme toll of human life accompanying other natural catastrophes have often been aggravated by man's selfishness. Over 4,500 lives were devoured in the 1988 Armenian earthquake. Such high casualties were due largely to shoddy construction of high-rise apartments over a well-known fault area, again illustrating human callousness. Californians dwelling over a huge fault area are hoping it won't happen in their lifetime. When the "BIG ONE" does strike, you will hear the cry, "Where is God?", but it will be man's gamble and loss, not God's.

Man has long observed and recorded the patterns of natural calamities such as floods, monsoons, hurricanes, etc., yet frequently he chooses not to respect the danger of these killer patterns. It's well documented that certain rivers will periodically—every 10, 15, 25 or 50 years—swell over their banks into an ocean of destruction. Yet thousands continue to rebuild in the path of the inevitable ruin. Hurricane paths have temporarily obliterated shorelines and coastal isles. Yet the vanity quest for the ultimate in ocean front luxury and prestige continues to provide a path of future victims.

Some disasters could have been eliminated or minimized if the recommendations of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had been followed. Yes, the killer force of natural catastrophes spirals numerically thanks to human selfishness and greed. This is one of the many lessons man is learning from the permission of evil.

Another observation must be made on the destructive forces of nature. Since the days of Voltaire (1790s), atheists and agnostics always seized on nature's catastrophes to loud-mouth "Where is God?" What a distortion of proportions. Numerically, the victims of natural disasters pale into insignificance compared to man's inhumanity to man. Actually these atheists and agnostics need the lessons of the permission of evil to explode their naive view of evil. At the turn of the century they were predicting that Darwinism and social evolution would usher in a 20th Century utopia. What has happened?

Remember, Zbigniew Brzezinski's book notes that the 20th Century became the century of insanity. In which a 175 million were slaughtered in the name of the "politics of organized insanity."

It's horrific—"175 million slaughtered" because of mankind's most bloody and hateful century. Total all the deaths from natural disasters in the 20th Century and what do you have? It is a drop in the bucket compared to man's killing machine of our insane century. This is what the schooling of the permission of evil is all about.

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