Hi Legoman, you said: 'it was not God's direct purpose' - this is what I have been trying to convey. God knew evil would have to be part of His plan for a limited time and He uses 'evil' to accomplish His judgments etc (He doesn't use things like rape, abuse etc). The evils mankind and angels have 'created' are not directly intended by God, but He knows that every conceivable type of evil will be 'tried' if you like.
A lot of Ray Smith's article combines UR and eternal torment in with the 'evil' stuff and this mixes things up somewhat. I have no problem with the idea of UR and hope it is true but I'm not fully convinced as yet. I already know for sure there is no literal hell and hell's flames. These are not issues for me. The big issue at the minute is understanding where you guys come from with this 'evil' stuff. I'm not sure why only Universalists have come to this conclusion, although I'm sure not all of you believe this.
The reason universalists have come to this conclusion (at least I have anyway) is because they have read it in the bible.
When reading Ray's stuff, you have to go and double check everything he says in the scripture. In one of your post's you said "isn't EVERYTHING (according to Ray Smith) meant to be purposed by God?" This is not according to Ray Smith - he doesn't just make this stuff up out of his head you know. It actually says this in the bible:Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
There are many other verses that confirm this fact - some of which I posted before (ie. Isa 46:10-11, 2 Cor 5:18, etc). So ask yourself this. Do you believe you have been predestined according to God's purpose? Do you believe everything is according to the purpose of Him (God) who works all things after the counsel of His (God's) will? Because that is what the scriptures say. Now ask yourself this: what would "all things" include in the above verse? Good? Evil? How about what you had for breakfast, where you were go to work, and where you live?
How about this: Do you believe God works all things after the counsel of OUR FREE WILL? No that is not what the scripture says. Everything is worked after the counsel of GOD'S WILL!
Cat, I noticed in several of your posts that you believe we have free will. I recommend you read Ray's papers on free will (side note: with all of Ray's stuff, you should read it several times, and look up all the scriptures - it took me many months of study to begin to comprehend it all).
Anyway here is my take on it, which I believe is 100% supported by the scriptures. We absolutely do not have free will. However we do make choices, and we do the things we do. No one FORCES us to do anything. Now we may be influenced or caused to do some things, but we always do it ourself of our own will.
(Mind you it is not a free will).
Here is part of the problem of understanding this. When someone says we don't have free will, the automatic reaction seems to be then we must be "machines" or "robots" or "puppets", and that doesn't make sense so it cannot be. Hmm - what do the scriptures say? Well we already know that God works everything according to whose will? Oh yeah: HIS OWN WILL. Our will doesn't enter into it.
Are we a robot? In many ways there are similarities. We respond to input and can make choices based on that input, just like a robot or computer can. But we are superior to a robot or computer in many ways. We can learn. We can feel emotion. We can love! It is likely no human will ever make a robot that can compare to a human.
However - here is the real humbling part - what do the scriptures call us? Are we called robots? Or puppets? NO. We are actually something much lower than any of those creations. WE ARE CALLED CLAY!
God molds us and breaks us and molds us again as He sees fit. We cannot do anything by ourself anymore than a lump of clay can do by itself! Read all of Romans 9 and see what you think.
So how does evil fit into this? Is God running around all day making some people rob banks and murder each other, while making others go to work and have boring lives? Not exactly.
Ever wonder why you are the way you are? Take me for instance: Why do I go to work?
I have a pretty decent job that I don't mind doing and it pays pretty well so I can support my family.
But how did I get that job? Well I went to university and got decent grades.
But why did I go to university? Well I had decent grades in high school (but sucked at sports) and got a scholarship.
But why did I get good grades in high school? Well my parents raised me a certain way and certain subjects (math/computers) came naturally which helped me with all my studies.
But why was I good at math/computers? Well it was my own free will. NOT! (Sorry had to throw that in there
The real answer of why I am here today is that God gave me certain abilities & gifts, he chose my parents, where I would live, and the circumstances I would endure. These all shaped my life (like the potter molding clay) which led me to the point I am at right now in my life. Its all by God's grace, and I am thankful for what he has given me.
Now because of my experiences, gifts, and character, etc. I would never consider robbing a bank (or other nefarious crimes).
But what about someone else? Why does a bank robber rob a bank? Does God FORCE him to do this evil? Not exactly. So why does he rob a bank? Perhaps he is lazy. Perhaps he lusts after some easy money. Perhaps he had a poor childhood. Perhaps he had bad parents. Perhaps he had an addiction. The list could go on and on... but there is some reason that CAUSED him to rob a bank. Was it his free will? Well just like in my life, NO! And again it is only by God's grace! Think about that next time you need some humbling. It is only by God's grace that you are not a bank robber, or a murderer, or worse...
We all make choices and do the things we do, because of some REASON or CAUSE. If you trace the causes back far enough, you will see the ultimate cause of everything is God. Even with the case of the bank robber - you might say it was the lusts of his own heart that caused him to rob that bank. BUT who put those lusts in his heart? Who designed his heart - was it not God? But then you might say it was Satan who tempted his heart. But wait - who created Satan? God! It always comes back to God!
And Eph 1:11 confirms it: God is operating ALL according to his purpose.
Sorry that was so long - this topic is so broad we could write an encyclopedia about it. Never mind Ray Smith already has
- just read his stuff a few times...