Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A.W. Tozer Quotes: God's Justice & Holiness


Justice of God


“Justice, when used of God, is a name we give to the way God is, nothing more; and when God acts justly He is not doing so to conform to an independent criterion, but simply acting like Himself in a given situation. As gold is an element in itself and can never change nor compromise but is gold wherever it is found, so God is God, always, only, fully God, and can never be other than He is. Everything in the universe is good to the degree it conforms to the nature of God and evil as it fails to do so. God is His own self-existent principle of moral equity, and when He sentences evil men or rewards the righteous, He simply acts like Himself from within, uninfluenced by anything that is not Himself.”


Holiness of God


“Since God’s first concern for His universe is its moral health, that is, its holiness, whatever is contrary to this is necessarily under His eternal displeasure. To preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it. When He arises to put down iniquity and save the world from irreparable moral collapse, He is said to be angry. Every wrathful judgment in the history of the world has been a holy act of preservation. The holiness of God, the wrath of God, and the health of the creation are inseparably united. God’s wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys. He hates iniquity as a mother hates the polio that take the life of her child.”



Quoted from Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Karla,
“Justice, when used of God, is a name we give to the way God is, nothing more"

This sets up nothing more than a teleology where justice is god and god is justice, so no matter what horrible evils god may do to us, it is justice by definition. I don't find this statement to be useful in the least.

"Everything in the universe is good to the degree it conforms to the nature of God and evil as it fails to do so."

How can something NOT conform to god's plans/nature if god is omni-max?

"God is His own self-existent principle of moral equity, and when He sentences evil men or rewards the righteous, He simply acts like Himself from within, uninfluenced by anything that is not Himself.”

Again, this is self-referential. If morality is defined as that which god deems moral, then god can deem murder to be moral and poof it would be, as one would have to argue in defending the Bible.

"Since God’s first concern for His universe is its moral health, that is, its holiness, whatever is contrary to this is necessarily under His eternal displeasure."

And he knows this how exactly? This is a common refrain from apologists, that god is necessarily looking out for the wellfare of the universe, but it has never been proven to be so. It is an assumption that is not borne out by the evidence.

"To preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it. When He arises to put down iniquity and save the world from irreparable moral collapse, He is said to be angry. Every wrathful judgment in the history of the world has been a holy act of preservation."

If destroying evil is a method of preserving the universe, then why does god not do away with evil entirely? You can't simultaneously argue that god won't destroy evil because he values free will and that he does destroy evil (in contradiction to free will) because he is trying to protect his creation. These are mutually exclusive claims.

Also, why would god allow evil in the first place if it threatened his creation? Why is god so incredibly inept at protecting his creation, considering that he has to constantly come back and send tornados and tsunamis at us? Finally, does Tozer really think that the evil of man, if left unchecked, is a threat to god or the universe? I thought god was omni-max, thus he can't be threatened.

OMGF

Karla said...

"How can something NOT conform to god's plans/nature if god is omni-max?"

Not conforming to God's plans, but to God's Nature.


"If destroying evil is a method of preserving the universe, then why does god not do away with evil entirely?"

Evil is only has a temporary existence. One day it will be overcome through the process God has ordained.

"You can't simultaneously argue that god won't destroy evil because he values free will and that he does destroy evil (in contradiction to free will) because he is trying to protect his creation. These are mutually exclusive claims."

No, He will bring an end to evil. The day is coming. Those in Him will be protected from that purging, but those who reject Him will not be under the grace of Christ.


"Also, why would god allow evil in the first place if it threatened his creation?"

It's working something greater out in us.

"Why is god so incredibly inept at protecting his creation, considering that he has to constantly come back and send tornados and tsunamis at us?"

He's not. He doesn't send tornados and natural disasters. He can use them for our good, but that is the working of nature in a fallen world and not the direct hand of God. However, He does give those who are in Christ the power to calm storms, heal the sick, and raise the dead. This is something happening in some Christians lives today and is available to all. Right now there is a major revival that's been going on for months down in Florida where people are being healed like crazy. He has given those who are in Him the power to overcome evil. We don't have to be moved by it. We don't have to be defenseless. The defense is in Christ.


"Finally, does Tozer really think that the evil of man, if left unchecked, is a threat to god or the universe? I thought god was omni-max, thus he can't be threatened."

No, nothing is a threat to God. He wouldn't be God if so.

Evil, by nature, is destructive. But the power that is in Christ and in those who are walking in Christ is far greater than any evil. Evil will never win the war.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"Not conforming to God's plans, but to God's Nature."

Shouldn't god's plans conform to his nature then? Since all that happens must be according to plan, then all evil must have been planned by god. Therefore, evil must be part of his nature, else it could not have been part of his plan.

"Evil is only has a temporary existence. One day it will be overcome through the process God has ordained."

Why one day? Why not now?

"No, He will bring an end to evil. The day is coming. Those in Him will be protected from that purging, but those who reject Him will not be under the grace of Christ."

Does rejecting god make me evil? More evil than someone who murders others but accepts god? Also, this does nothing to answer the objection I raised. You can't simultaneously argue that god allows us to be evil in order to preserve our free will and that he also destroys evil to preserve his creation, as that negates our free will.

"It's working something greater out in us."

Why is that necessary? Why is evil necessary to do this for us? Why would god even care? You seem to like CS Lewis's argument that evil is necessary so that we can be good, correct? To that, my response is this: do you need to eat dirt in order to know that steak tastes good?

"He's not. He doesn't send tornados and natural disasters. He can use them for our good, but that is the working of nature in a fallen world and not the direct hand of God."

Wait, because Adam and Eve "sinned" we have tornados and tsunamis and other natural disasters? Are you really going to argue that?

"However, He does give those who are in Christ the power to calm storms, heal the sick, and raise the dead."

Yeah? When was the last time any one of those happened? I know you think that the healing portion happens, but that's certainly not verified, and the other two haven't even been reported for about 2000 years now.

"Evil, by nature, is destructive. But the power that is in Christ and in those who are walking in Christ is far greater than any evil. Evil will never win the war."

Even when that power is also evil? Take the inquisition, the crusades, the genocides ordered and carried out by god, the bloodthirsty apocalyptic vision of events in Revelations, for examples.

Karla said...

"Does rejecting god make me evil? More evil than someone who murders others but accepts god?"

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. None are good without God. We are designed to live according to an order which we were created continually connected to our life line: God. God says in the Bible that if someone hates his brother (a fellow person) that He does not know God and the truth is not in Him. So if someone murders another He is living separated from God. He can still find grace in God and come to God or return to God because no sin is too great that God won't forgive it through Christ. The root problem of all sin is living our way instead of God's way. When we stop fighting to do things our way and we surrender to our loving good Maker is when a new birth occurs in our lives and we take on His nature in place of our nature. It's a moment by moment learning process that is lived out day to day to live a life that is always out of His nature and not out of our nature, but when we have Christ living in us we have the power and authority to live in this way.

Just because we have the freedom to live for ourselves instead of for Him doesn't end the consequences of a life lived in rejection of Him. When we live our way we live in rebellion to the way we were created like a wild animal trying to live in a zoo (it's life doesn't have the fullness of life in it's intended habitat). It has it's consequences. God uses those consequences to point us back to His way and to life.

If a child puts his hand on a hot burner on a stove he will experience pain and learn not to do that again. If he does not experience pain he will burn his hand off. (Some children are born with this pain deficiency and it is very harmful to them). If a person's choice is to play with fire, he's going to get burned and it's going to take a toll on his life. But if a person learns from the pain he experiences from living His way He may be saved from the path of destruction by looking for a better way -- God's way.

Also, yes Adam and Eve's sin did effect all of creation and not just humanity. But a plan of redemption was put in place in eternity before this happened and restoration is coming.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

It's unjust for god to hold imperfect beings to an impossible standard.

"So if someone murders another He is living separated from God. He can still find grace in God and come to God or return to God because no sin is too great that God won't forgive it through Christ."

I thought you said that if god is simply willing to forgive all that there can be no justice. It sounds like you just said that god will forgive anything, so therefore there is no justice in the world according to your argument.

"The root problem of all sin is living our way instead of God's way."

Really? What if my way is to treat others morally? Why would belief in god make me better or more moral?

"Just because we have the freedom to live for ourselves instead of for Him doesn't end the consequences of a life lived in rejection of Him."

We've already established that those who reject god, like me, are not inherently less moral than those who accept god, so why is rejection of god punishable by eternal torture?

"It has it's consequences. God uses those consequences to point us back to His way and to life."

And he allows those consequences to affect others, which is an unjust system. Further, the whole system is unjustly rigged from the start. It's set up so that the "consequences" of disbelief are more important than the consequences of moral behavior and thought?

"If a child puts his hand on a hot burner on a stove he will experience pain and learn not to do that again."

I've seen this argument before, and it always amazes me. Why does god have to allow pain for this? Why not a signal in the brain that simply compels us not to do things that hurt us, but doesn't cause physical discomfort? That would be better than causing pain. Also, didn't you just argue that these things are consequences of living our way? I think pain would be included in that, right? So, if Adam and Eve had never sinned, we wouldn't feel pain?

"Also, yes Adam and Eve's sin did effect all of creation and not just humanity."

So, you are blaming tornados on Adam and Eve? I'm sorry, but it's hard for me to take this argument seriously.

I also note you failed to touch on many questions that I posed to you. Perhaps you are planning posts to address them?

OMGF

JayBird said...

Hi Karla,

I found/stumbled across your blog and find it interesting and encouraging, I also see that you post/refute on other blogs. I urge you to continue your work...it is a blessing. Lord bless you.

"Why does god have to allow pain for this? Why not a signal in the brain that simply compels us not to do things that hurt us, but doesn't cause physical discomfort?"

God created Humans in His own image. He didn't create robots. This image is intellect, emotion, will, self-perception, self-direction. We have the ability to choose and experience the consequences of our choosing.
God chooses not to "simply compel us" in many ways. We live in the sinful world that we have chosen and that God "allowed" us to choose.

"So, you are blaming tornados on Adam and Eve? I'm sorry, but it's hard for me to take this argument seriously."

We blame it on the sin that Adam brought into the world.
For more info on this you can read the Scripture for yourself.

Karla said...

Welcome jaybird. Thank you for your encouragement. You are welcome to join the conversation.

Karla said...

"Really? What if my way is to treat others morally? Why would belief in god make me better or more moral?"

We are created. He is uncreated. He is the giver of life. How could we ever thing that we could live a life and not need Him who created us? He created us in such a way that we need communion with Him for fullness of life. We cannot find holiness apart from Him. We cannot find goodness apart from Him. He is the standard of Good. We cannot judge what is good without Him as the standard. I've said this as many different ways as I know how. My next post is going to include Scripture of what God has said about it all for while I know you don't accept the validity of the Bible. He has already addressed this topic far better than I can in the Bible and Scripture has life in it and I do you a diservice really not to quote from it.

Anonymous said...

Jaybird,
"God chooses not to "simply compel us" in many ways. We live in the sinful world that we have chosen and that God "allowed" us to choose."

Thank you for the response, which simply boils down to, "Because god said so." This does nothing to counter the claim that god did not have to create the universe in this way - a universe whereby we suffer pain. If you could create a universe where your loved ones didn't have to feel pain and could still function quite well, wouldn't you? Why wouldn't god if he supposedly loves us?

And, if we are made in his image, does god feel pain?

"We blame it on the sin that Adam brought into the world."

So, Adam and Eve "sinned" and that caused plate tectonics to happen which causes tsunamis and earthquakes that kill thousands of people? I'm sorry, but this is non-sensical. We know the physical phenomena that occur to create earthquakes and tornados, and it has nothing to do with sin or god.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
You didn't answer my question. Additionally, you seem to be positing (again) that Xians are better people because they get their goodness from god. We've already been over this and you agreed that Xians are not necessarily better people, so belief in god does not make one a more moral person.

"He is the standard of Good. We cannot judge what is good without Him as the standard. I've said this as many different ways as I know how."

It's not in how you say it. I fully understand what you are asserting. The problem is that you aren't backing it up with either evidence or logical argument. You can continue to simply assert this, but it won't make it true. I've already presented you with Euthyphro's dilemma and you attempted an answer, but have not attempted to answer the rebuttal I gave you. I've presented you with myriad real world examples that refute your points, yet you continue to ignore them and simply continue to make your assertions as if I've said nothing. This is vexing and it makes me feel as if you don't actually wish to discuss or debate anything so much as you are really just looking to convert heathens with platitudes and repetitious sound-bytes.

JayBird said...

God "allowed" us to choose hardly boils down to "Because god said so."

Rethink that one.

"god did not have to create the universe in this way - a universe whereby we suffer pain."

Reconsider who we should blame. He originally created a world that was not to suffer...we chose it instead...who should we be blaming again?

"And, if we are made in his image, does god feel pain?"

Nope, and we are not omnipresent.

"We know the physical phenomena that occur to create earthquakes and tornados, and it has nothing to do with sin or god."

The Bible teaches that "The Whole Creation Groans and Suffers from the ripple effect of man's sin. (Romans 8:18-27)

"I'm sorry, but this is non-sensical. We know the physical phenomena that occur to create earthquakes and tornados, and it has nothing to do with sin or god."

Please, explain how we know it is not God.

Anonymous said...

Jaybird,
"God "allowed" us to choose hardly boils down to "Because god said so."

Rethink that one."

Or, maybe you can go back and actually answer the question. I asked why god created pain instead of a better way of producing the same results. You gave a non-answer. You are the one that needs to rethink your original answer and actually try to answer the question instead of trying to side-step it.

"Reconsider who we should blame. He originally created a world that was not to suffer...we chose it instead...who should we be blaming again?"

god is the one that created pain, so god is the one to blame. Regardless of whether Adam and Eve actually did something wrong, the punishment was made by god. You can not escape this. You also can't escape the determined nature of a universe created by an omni-max entity.

"Nope, and we are not omnipresent."

Then, when I question why we have to have pain and you answer that we are made in god's image, you are really just making a red herring that has nothing to do with the question - hence the reason that it is not I that has to rethink things.

"The Bible teaches that "The Whole Creation Groans and Suffers from the ripple effect of man's sin. (Romans 8:18-27)"

Just because the Bible says it don't make it so. What evidence do you have that the Bible is true? What evidence do you have that human sin created plate tectonics?

"Please, explain how we know it is not God."

We know the physical workings of things that cause natural disasters. Perhaps some god is out there messing around with things or set up the initial rules, but the most parsimonious answer is that not god is to be found, considering we need not invoke god to answer any of these questions.

Karla said...

Why pain? Pain is part of the curse man brought upon ourselves for living life apart from God. Pain and suffering actually draw us back to Him versus pulling us away from Him. Pain also protects us from doing things that harm us like touching fire. Some pain is a direct result of doing something that's harmful to you like a hang over the morning after being drunk. Other pain is a natural part of living life in the world. Other pain is from the dark supernatural forces of Satan and not from God. Demons can torment people and cause pain and problems as well.

Yes, God gave us the ability to feel pain and allowed pain and suffering to exist for a time. But He also gave us the ability to feel pleasure and joy and peace and love. And I think the latter are sweeter in contrast to the former than if we never had any pain and suffering.

Now the dark supernatural forces work to distort what is good and pleasurable and take the joy out of the sacred and good. There is a supernatural war going on around us and it effects us. There are forces at work that wish to keep people away from knowing Christ and the freedom in Christ.

The cause of pain and suffering is not God. Pain is actually a self-defense mechanism to protect us that the enemy distorts to hurt us. However in Christ we have authority over those dark forces and the Church is coming into more and more understanding of how to take authority over sicknesses and pains and such.

There is so much to the Christian life. There is so much available. It's an exciting life full of amazing wonders of God.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"Why pain? Pain is part of the curse man brought upon ourselves for living life apart from God. Pain and suffering actually draw us back to Him versus pulling us away from Him."

Make up your mind. Is pain good or bad? Also, this doesn't answer the question. god being omnipotent could have set up a system that didn't involve pain that would work just as well, but he didn't. Why not?

"Yes, God gave us the ability to feel pain and allowed pain and suffering to exist for a time. But He also gave us the ability to feel pleasure and joy and peace and love. And I think the latter are sweeter in contrast to the former than if we never had any pain and suffering."

Have you ever eaten rocks? If not, then I suggest you do so that you can taste how good a steak is. That's the implications of your argument. And, no, god giving us the ability to feel joy doesn't absolve him of also giving us pain, and again he could very well have set up a system where we could feel joy without pain...in fact, you already believe in it; it's called "heaven." Your beliefs are self-refuting.

"Now the dark supernatural forces work to distort what is good and pleasurable and take the joy out of the sacred and good. There is a supernatural war going on around us and it effects us. There are forces at work that wish to keep people away from knowing Christ and the freedom in Christ."

Um, OK, so god allows all these demons to lead us astray because? Don't you realize that this is not a helpful argument for your god? Not only is he pretty passive in letting us "decide" to follow him, but he actually allows active elements to thwart that? If he truly loved us and wanted a relationship, he would not allow that to happen.

"The cause of pain and suffering is not God."

Actually it is and you can't possibly argue against it. If it is inherent to our nature as humans, then it is so because god created us that way. If it is because of the fall, it is so because god made that the punishment. You have no wiggle room here, pain comes from god. If you deny these simple facts, it will be highly disappointing and I will have to question your intellectual honesty and integrity.