by Bill Nugent
Any introductory college course in philosophy will at some point discuss what is commonly referred to as the “Inconsistent” Triad (IT). The IT consists of three statements that appear to be inconsistent with each other but the degree of consistency or alleged nonconsistency is the subject of many lively classroom debates.
The three points of IT are as follows:
The debate rages around how an all good God who has all power can allow evil to exist anywhere in the universe. Some philosophy students use this discussion to claim that God is not good because He allows evil to exist. Others claim that God is all good but not all powerful and lacks the power to restrain evil. A third position is that evil doesn’t really exist and the term “evil” is simply a subjective, arbitrary cultural construction. The Bible believing Christian position is that the three points of the triad, once properly understood, are not inconsistent.
Let’s take the three points one at a time to define them. Point oneis that God is all good. How do I prove that God is all good? I believe that the way to prove that God is good is to start by focusing on the fact that He created the universe. If God created the universe then from the perspective of the universe He is good because He gave the universe its existence. Existence is the most fundamental of all needs and God has met that need. Since God gave the universe its existence He therefore owns the universe and the universe is His personal property. Since He owns the universe He is free to do as He pleases with his property. God has chosen to speak to human beings (that He created in His own image) and to tell human beings what is good and evil. Only God can define good and evil in the ultimate or absolute sense. God can make any moral laws that He wants because He owns the universe. The Bible which is the written record of God’s speaking to humanity is vindicated or proven by over 2,000 predictive prophecies and their fulfillments. Most other sacred writings of other faiths contain no prophecies at all and the few that do simply do not match the Bible’s record of fulfillment of prophecy. In this article I will argue from the standpoint that the Bible is inspired by God and is true. God has defined good and evil in His law given in the Bible. The Ten Commandments are a part of God’s law. Furthermore God has chosen to declare that He Himself is good. God defines Himself as good. The universe, since it is a created object and totally dependent on God for its existence, must accept God’s definition of Himself as good. God’s behavior, no matter what it is, is righteous behavior. God’s character, no matter what that character is, is perfectly righteous character. Let me say a few things to those who refuse to serve God because they think that God is bad. First, you think God is bad because you don’t have all the facts. God’s justice is far above any human concept of justice or fairness. Second, and this may sound a bit silly, if you think God is bad isn’t that all the more reason to serve Him? In other words, if God is good you want to serve Him but if you think God is bad then out of terror of what God can do to you, you should be even more motivated to serve Him! Rest assured though. God is good.
Point two is that God is all powerful. In several passages in the Bible God states that He is all powerful or omnipotent. It is at this point that atheists make the claim that omnipotence is logically impossible and say “Can God make a stone so big that He cannot move it?” or “Can God make a number so big that it can’t be made bigger by adding one to it?” These logical sidetracks are easily refuted by saying that God’s declaration that He is all powerful is implicitly confined to the realm of logic. The term “omnipotence” like all words is simply a definitional handle and all words and all definitions are implicitly limited by the confines of logic. No, it is not logical for God to make a stone so big He cannot move it. God never claims to break the laws of logic but He does claim to have all power as defined within the laws of logic.
Point three is that evil exists in the world. Since God is the creator of the universe and the universe depends totally on Him for its existence and since God transcends and is exalted above the universe only God can define evil in the absolute sense. A human being cannot define good or evil in an absolute objective sense. A child may define ice cream for breakfast as a “good” thing. A drunk may define getting another drink as a “good” thing. The same drunk may define the actions of a police officer who restrains him from getting another drink as doing something “evil.” God has declared in the Bible that evil exists in the world. The Bible also teaches that God is not the author of moral evil. God has merely allowed people to commit acts of moral evil. God has lived for all eternity and He has allowed evil to proliferate for a very short time frame that the Bible calls the“eons.” The word “eon” is a transliteration of the Greek word“aion” which means “age.” An eon is an undefined but usually long stretch of time. God has only allowed evil to exist for the eons which to Him is a very short stretch of time. The length of time of the eons seems long to us but is not long from the perspective of the eternal God. The Bible declares that in the future God will abolish all evil.
God did not cause the evil but He gave His creatures the ability to choose or reject evil and sadly all people have chosen to do that which God calls evil. It is not evil for God to allow His creatures to choose evil. God is still good. God expresses wrath against people who choose to do evil. God has also provided redemption through His Son Jesus whom He sent into the world. Jesus suffered and died, taking upon Himself all the punishment that was due us for our sins. It is important to remember that Jesus fulfilled over 300 Old Testament predictive prophecies when He came to die for our sins. Since Jesus suffered in our place we don’t have to be punished for our sins. We must turn to Christ, who died for our sins, to receive forgiveness of sins.
To sum up let me conclude that the “Inconsistent” Triad is not inconsistent at all. It is not a contradiction that an all good, all powerful God can allow His creatures to choose or reject evil. God did not make robots. God gave human beings the ability to think and the ability to choose. The fact that His creatures choose evil does not make God evil.