Exodus 21:28 states:
When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner of the ox shall not be liable.Now an ox is an animal, and as such it as a rudimentary will. It is not an inanimate object, in other words, and it will often do things that the owner does not wish for it to do. Anyone who has ever owned livestock—or even pets, for that matter—knows of the frustration of wanting an animal to do something and the animal not doing it.
What is clear from this verse is that the owner of the ox is not held responsible for the actions of the ox. Presumably, this would be due to the fact that the ox’s will is not the owner’s will, and that is why the owner is not liable. The owner did not wish for the ox to kill anyone, the owner did not plan for this, therefore the owner is not culpable.
Thus far, it looks like this would be evidence for the position that if God permits something evil to occur He is not culpable for that. However, the very next verse reads:
But if the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not kept it in, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death.And here we see that the escape to “permission” cannot remove culpability from God. For we see that it is still the case that the owner of the ox does not will that the ox gore anyone, and we still see that the owner does not plan this event to happen, yet nevertheless the owner is held responsible with the same penalty imposed as if he had murdered the man himself. Why is the owner culpable? Because he did not take measures needed to reign in an ox “accustomed to gore.” He is negligent for not stopping that which he knew was dangerous, and therefore he receives the same penalty as if he had personally acted instead of the ox.
It seems to me that this verse neutralizes not only all Arminian arguments designed to exculpate God, but it even neutralizes Open Theist arguments. For the Arminian is now in the unenviable position of acknowledging that God has exhaustive foreknowledge and knows not only which ox will gore which person, but also which person will murder another. And if the owner of an ox is culpable when he knows full well that he has a dangerous ox, then God surely must likewise be culpable if He knows full well that a created being He put on Earth is a danger to others. Likewise, the Open Theist is not let off the hook because even if God did not know at first the human beings were going to commit evil, once they did and He did not take measures to restrain that evil, then this verse would show God is just as guilty as if He Himself did the evil. So clearly, the argument that “permission” exculpates is invalidated by the Law itself.
Now for the record, and because I know that some will misread what I write here, I am not saying that it really is the case that God is culpable for evil and that Arminians will just need to learn to deal with it like we icky determinists do. Rather, I am only saying that one cannot escape to “permission” to get God “off the hook” given the typical starting point of morality that most Arminians (and not only Arminians, mind you) have. Since I am a Divine Command Theorist, then my own position doesn’t start where theirs does. Indeed, I don’t have to use “permission” to get God “off the hook” because God is never on the hook to begin with under DCT.