Friday, October 29, 2010

Some More Answers

Here are some more answers to questions posed on my wife’s blog. By strictures of time and space these answers will not be exhaustive, but will hopefully give some thought and head the questioner in the right direction.

Question: God is all-knowing, so why did He put the tree in the garden?

Answer: This question presupposes that God not only wants us free from sin, but that He would make it impossible for us to sin. It’s the heart of the old free will controversy. We were the point of that exercise concerning the tree. It was a part of our moral development.

There’s no way to know what would have happened if Eve hadn’t taken the fruit. C. S. Lewis speculated a bit on that issue in his novel, Perelandra, but he made no pretense to knowledge on what would have actually occurred in the Garden Of Eden.

Even though God knew, we had to act. Foreknowledge does not equal foreordination as so many would have it. As an example, I could take a person to a movie which I had seen which they had not, and I could tell them everything that was going to happen, but my knowledge wouldn’t make it happen.

Further, every parent knows that a child is going to fall many times in learning to walk, but they have to let that be a possibility or the child will never learn to walk.

Question: Why do good people suffer?

Answer: It is true that some diseases, for example, are brought about by sin or unhealthy activities. This is because we live in a world of consequences, and I suppose in a sense that if “good” people do those things they cease to be in the category of good and are open to such consequences. The fact of the matter is that there is no one good but God. Our problem is mostly about those who suffer for no visible connection to a consequence producing act of their own?

Goodness is not a shield from the consequences of other’s evil actions or of the slings and arrows sent their way willy-nilly in our world. There is no way to be inoculated from these. The book of Job is very clear that in his case the suffering came about as a devil-provoked test. (This is not universally true of all suffering.) God allowed it, but the devil did all the work. God was not the source of it. His permission was not his ordination of the happening.

Ultimately, good people suffer, not because of some fault in them or because they are a special target of evil, but because such things come to all people in our universe. The only exemption comes at the judgment throne of God where no people who are in Jesus Christ will be made to suffer.

The real question is why do we have to wait to see the evil ones get their just deserts. The answer to that one is that God is not willing that anyone should perish, but gives as much time as possible for repentance.

Question: Where was Adam when Eve was talking with the serpent? What was he doing?

Answer: The simple answer is that no one knows. I would assume that each of them had separate duties in tending to the garden. We know that this was Adams purpose as stated in Genesis 2:15, although there is no similar work purpose statement connected with Eve prior to her temptation other than the fact that she was intended to be Adam’s helper as is implied from 2:20.

Several years ago someone wrote a whole book on the subject (I only heard a few passages read from it once at a preacher’s meeting and don’t know the title or author) in which the author’s premise was that Adam was right there when Eve was tempted, and he didn’t stop her and was thus culpable. There is no evidence of such a theory in the Genesis account, and that is the only one we have to go by. When in 3:6 she gives to her husband who is with her, that was at the time of the eating, not at the time of the tempting. The woman saw and took and ate. It was only later that Adam entered the story. In his blaming in verse 12 he makes no mention of the serpent, only of the woman. I conclude that he didn’t see the serpent or he would have blamed him. We don’t even know that she told him about the serpent. All we know is that she gave him the fruit.

I Timothy 2:14 tells us that Adam was not deceived. If he had been there with Eve, he would have been open to deception. He took the fruit knowing what it was. We can psychoanalyze his decision to eat, but all that is speculation. It is the deliberate, non-deceived nature of his act that makes the scriptures later say that through one man sin entered the world (Romans 5:12) and that in Adam all die (I Corinthians 15:22). There is no such mention made of Eve in the New Testament.

That’s all for now. I still have a few more for next time.


  1. Much appreciated! You've given me some fresh points to consider. Blessings!