Calvin: on Providence and the Thief and Murderer

I deny that they [i.e., robbery and murder and that sort of evil] serve the will of God. For we cannot say that he who is carried away by a wicked mind performs service on the order of God, when he is only following his own malignant desires. He obeys God, who, being instructed in his will, hastens in the direction in which God calls him. But how are we so instructed unless by his word? The will declared by his word is, therefore, that which we must keep in view in acting, God requires of us nothing but what he enjoins.

If we design anything contrary to his precept, it is not obedience, but contumacy and transgression. But if he did not will it, we could not do it. I admit this. But do we act wickedly for the purpose of yielding obedience to him? This, assuredly, he does not command. Nay, rather we rush on, not thinking of what he wishes, but so inflamed by our own passionate lust, that, with destined purpose, we strive against him. And in this way, while acting wickedly, we serve his righteous ordination, since in his boundless wisdom he well knows how to use bad instruments for good purposes.  — John Calvin

Not really a solution to the problem, is it?  Good effort though.  And, no, I don’t have a solution to the problem of providence and theodicy either.  I call it an unfathomable mystery:

  • God is in control.
  • Evil happens by his permission.

One thought on “Calvin: on Providence and the Thief and Murderer

  1. John Smith 21 Feb 2018 at 12:25 pm

    It’s always The Infinite’s test : Isaiah 45:7 (kjv) and the soul does not sleep.


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