In his sermon titled “Post-Christian Christianity” —R. C. Sproul addresses the capitulation of many churches and ministries that change the message of Christianity to suit the culture.  

You Can’t Claim a Promise – I appreciate how Barnabas Piper deals with this issue.

Ten Words of Advice for Seminarians – Kevin DeYoung has provided some good advice for those in seminary.

Why I Wear Black Suits All The Time – H.B. Charles Jr. explains his rationale for wearing the same thing most of the time.

$5 Friday – Ligonier always has good books for $5 on Friday.  Enjoy.

Get Ready: Two and a Half Hour Long Dividing Line – James White addresses Andy Stanley’s statements about the Bible.  The section on Andy Stanley begins at 41:30.

Humanitarian Organization Drops Crates Of Prosperity Gospel Books Into Ethiopia – Something to make you laugh…and weep.  Yes, it’s satire, but as always with Babylon Bee…with a twist of truth.

You probably don’t need a $3,200 gold-plated Walkman – Sony is going “all in” in the competitive market of tech devices with a gold plated Walkman.

Theology word of the week:  Theodicy

Theodicy (from Gk. theos, ‘God’, and the root dik, ‘just’, seeks to ‘justify the ways of God to man’ (Milton), showing that God is in the right and is glorious and worthy of praise despite contrary appearances. Theodicy asks how we can believe that God is both good and sovereign in face of the world’s evil—bad people; bad deeds, defying God and injuring people; harmful (bad) circumstances, events, experiences and states of mind, which waste, thwart, or destroy value, actual or potential, in and for humankind; in short, all facts, physical and moral, that prompt the feeling, ‘This ought not to be’.

All theodicies view evil as making for a good greater than is attainable without it. Thus, Leibniz (who coined the word ‘theodicy’ in 1710) argued that a world containing moral and physical evil is better, because metaphysically richer, than one containing good only, and that God must have created the best of all possible worlds. Hegel, a closet pantheist, held that all apparent evil is really good in the making; it looks and feels bad only because its character as good is as yet incomplete. Process theologians picture their finite God struggling against evil in hope of mastering it some day. Biblical theists, however, reason differently. Affirming with Augustine that evil is a lack of good, or a good thing gone wrong, they begin by agreeing that:

1. Pain, though it hurts, is often not really evil. The stab of pain acts as an alarm, and living with pain can purge, refine, and ennoble character. Pain may thus be a gift and a mercy.

2. Virtue (choosing good) is only possible where vice (choosing evil) is also possible. An automaton’s programmed performance is not virtue, and lacks the value of virtue. In making man capable of choosing the path of grateful obedience, God made him capable of not doing so. Though not sin’s author, God created a possibility of sin by creating the possibility of righteousness.

3. Moral growth and maturity are only possible when the consequences of action are calculable. Since God means this world to be a school for moral growth, he gave it physical regularity so that conseouences might be foreseen. Frustrations through miscalculation, and natural events called disasters because they damage humans, are therefore inevitable. Unfallen man would have experienced them. In fact, we mature morally through coping with them.

Beyond this point in theodicy, speculations intrude. John Hick posits universal salvation, arguing that nothing less can justify all the evil that God for soul-building purposes permits in his world. Advocates of the ‘free-will defence’ (of God, against the charge of being the source of evil) speculate that God cannot prevent humans from sinning without destroying their humanity—which would mean that glorified saints, being still human, may sin. Some Calvinists envisage God permissively decreeing sin for the purpose of self-display in justly saving some from their sin and justly damning others for and in their sin. But none of this is biblically certain. The safest way in theodicy is to leave God’s permission of sin and moral evil as a mystery, and to reason from the good achieved in redemption, perhaps as follows:

a. In this fallen world where all have turned from God and deserve hell, God has taken responsibility for saving individuals and renewing the cosmos, at the cost to himself of the death of Jesus Christ his Son (see Atonement; Redemption; Substitution). The cross shows how much he loves sinners (Rom. 5:8; 8:32; 1 Jn. 4:8–10), and induces responsive love in all whom he calls to faith. b. God enables believers, as forgiven sinners, to relate to all evil (bad circumstances, bad health, bad treatment, even their own bad past) in a way that brings forth good—moral and spiritual growth and wisdom, benefit to others by example and encouragement, and thanksgiving to God; so that facing evil becomes for them a value-creating way of life. c. In heaven, where the full fruit of Christ’s redemption will be enjoyed, earth’s evils will in retrospect seem trivial (Rom. 8:18), and remembering them will only increase our joy (Rev. 7:9–17). Thus through God’s sovereign goodness evil is overcome; not theoretically, so much as practically, in human lives.

This unspeculative, confessional, pastoral theodicy leaves with God the secret things (cf. Dt. 29:29), justifies and glorifies God for what is revealed, calls forth wonder and worship, and resolves the feeling, ‘This ought not to be,’ into the contented cry, ‘He does all things well!’—which is a supremely positive declaration that God is in the right, and is to be praised. Meantime, logic declares it possible, and faith, reasoning as above, thinks it certain, that the final state of things will demonstrably be better than anything God could have achieved by taking a different course at any stage. [1]

  1. Sinclair B. Ferguson and J.I. Packer, New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 37.
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Author DBG Weekend Spotlight (9-2-16)

Josh Buice

Pastor Pray's Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He is married to Kari and they have four children, Karis, John Mark, Kalli, and Judson. Additionally, he serves as Assistant Professor of Preaching at Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors, including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.