If God made all things good, where does evil come from? This post focuses specifically on mankind's intentional evil, the plain evidence that mankind is not now thoroughly good. And if mankind is not now thoroughly good, how can we assert that mankind was created good?
As we saw when discussing goodness, the primitive natural things have some sign of God's goodness in them. They stir some memory of God or longing for him. Light reminds us of God; so do water and mountains and stars. But none of these things can fully reveal the glory of God. They are bound by their natures to certain courses; they have no direction except what necessity requires of them. They do not govern themselves. Stars and tides and things which thoughtlessly follow their courses have a beauty and cause no disruption. But they have no thought, no wisdom, no love, no desire to increase the good beyond themselves, no ability to lay a course other than that laid down for them.
Mankind, instead, is in the image of God. We were created with the capacity for thought and wisdom and love. Mankind alone is gifted with the management of the world, to govern himself, even to govern some of God's own creations placed under his care. A creature in the image of God carries great possibilities and great risks. There is great possibility in wisdom and love and the desire to increase the good. When we see a great artist, or scientist, or athlete, or a humble farmer who does great things with the land, we can only begin to imagine a world in which all people had lived out the possibilities of the image of God. At the same time fellowship becomes possible, a bond that we enjoy in the company of others of common purpose. But along with the great possibility there is also great risk. There is risk that mankind might make himself his own god, might try to force all things to love him and serve him and conform to his own image, might reverse right and wrong at every point. This is a possibility not because God desires evil, but because he desires such a great good as a creature in his own image.
Some would say that God created mankind with no freedom, but has bound us to a specific course by necessity of nature and decree. But being bound by necessity is not fully consistent with the image of God we are said to bear. Neither does it match the view given us in the Scriptures, which show God implementing his lordship in a way that still leaves room for our sub-lordship. A creature in the image of God will govern himself and govern what is within his stewardship. Still, mankind's direction now is not entirely free to turn back to God, not because God desires man to fall away, but because man does not fully desire to return. Scripture shows that mankind's turn away from God to enthrone ourselves in God's place has left us in a natural state where we now run from God and hide, and make excuses and pass blame, and justify ourselves at the expense of others. We are bound to do these things lest our god -- namely, ourselves -- should be dethroned. And so we have exalted ourselves at the cost of true glory as the crown of creation, and did not ourselves desire to regain the true image of God at the expense of being humbled.
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