Made in the Image of God? Why cruelty and evil then?

Dear hijas,

We’ve been speaking of the ‘personal’ answer to the philosophical question of moral necessity. That on the ‘personal’ side of the equation in contrast to that which is ‘impersonal’, there is an answer in the infinite-personal God of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures who has made man in His image. It is in this infinite-personal God that morality is rooted and has meaning because God’s character is the standard by which to measure absolute right and wrong, nobility and cruelty.

But this leaves us with a question, doesn’t it? On the noble side of things we can see that man is noble, cares for his fellow-man and the things in the world around him because this is how we envision God to be. We envision God to be a good God, a caring God, a loving God, but on the cruelty side we find we are somewhat perplexed, quite greatly perplexed perhaps, and the question becomes “If man is created in the image of God, and yet is so cruel to his fellow-man, then doesn’t that imply that God Himself is cruel also?” In other words, if this personal-infinite God was the one that brought everything that exists into being, including man, and man is made in God’s image, then because we find man cruel it must follow that God is cruel as well.

How would you answer that question? It’s a very legitimate and logical question from the premise.

To answer this question, we might break it down into a couple of follow-up questions. Has man always been this way, or was there a change in God or man that brought about the current cruelty of man we see today and read in our history books?

The Judeo-Christian answer is that man as he is now, is not what he always was. Man has not always been cruel and evil. There was indeed a change in man, not God. God has never changed, but man in fact changed quite drastically. Who changed man then? Did God change man, or did man change himself? If it was God who changed man, then He must still be a cruel God.

Schaeffer answers it this way, “…man created by God as personal has changed himself–he stands at the point of discontinuity rather than continuity not because God changed him but because he changed himself. Man as he now is by his own choice is not what he intrinsically was. In this case we can understand that man is now cruel, but that God is not a bad God. This is precisely the Judaeo-Christian position”(Francis A. Schaeffer, He is There and He is not Silent, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL, 1984).

As to what that change was, and how it was that man changed himself, we’ll need to wait for our next post.

As always, I remain,

Dear ol’ Dad

Vaya con Dios mis hijas


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