Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bringing good out of evil

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today (Gen 50:20).”

If God is good, then we’d expect whatever God has made to be good. Whatever he creates is good because it’s the handiwork of a good God. That comes as no surprise.

Not that this logical correlation should blind us to the miraculous power of his creative fiat.

But by the same token, there’s a sense in which it’s even more impressive when God brings good out of evil. We’d expect good to come from good. Creaturely goods from a good Creator.

But for good to come from evil is counterintuitive. How can one thing yield its antonym?

Theodicy is obsessed with the question of how evil can come from good. And that’s a worthwhile question to address.

But obsession with that narrow question can blind us to the reverse question–which is equally profound: how good can come from evil?

That question is no less important. And the two questions are interrelated. To bring evil out of good, there must be evil. There must be evil in the first place for God to bring good out of evil.

And that, of itself, is a partial answer to the problem of evil. Why is there evil? So that God can bring good out of evil.

To bring good out of evil is a greater demonstration of divine omnipotence than bringing good out of good. We expect like from like. Good from good and evil from evil. That’s logical. Almost predictable.

But this is unlike from like. Turning something evil into its polar opposite.

If creating good is a miracle, then recreating good from evil is an even greater miracle. The creation of Adam and Eve was a testament to God’s almighty power. But the new creation of Adam’s elect posterity, by redemption, regeneration, sanctification, and glorification, is a greater testament to God’s almighty power.

Making the garden of Eden is a testament to God’s almighty power. But making the Church is a greater testament to God’s almighty power. Greater by far.


  1. How do we respond to those who would say that evil, then, must exist for God's full goodness and omnipotence to be seen?