This post serves as a sort of “running list” of theologians who have commented and written about the relationship between the Scriptural account of God and the existence of evil. The initial eight entries below were offered to me by my professor of Systematic Theology, Dr. Bruce Rosdahl, a man very dear to me and a true asset to the Kingdom. I will periodically update this post with other theological responses as I encounter additional approaches to this subject. This is not an exhaustive list, just a tally of what I have read.
1. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (1941)
“God cannot be regarded as its [i.e., sin] author. God’s eternal decree certainly rendered the entrance of sin into the world certain, but this may not be interpreted so as to make God the cause of sin in the sense of being its responsible author…. In light of this it would blasphemous to speak of God as the author of sin. And for that reason all those deterministic views which represent sin as a necessary inherent in the very nature of things should be rejected. They by implication make God the author of sin, and are contrary, not only to Scripture, but also to the voice of conscience, which testifies to the responsibility of man” (220).
2. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (1989 Reprint)
“He makes no pretense of not willing what he wills, but while in himself the will is one and undivided, to us it appears manifold, because from the feebleness of our intellect, we cannot comprehend how, thought after a different manner, he wills and wills not the very same thing (I:XVIII, 203).
“Nay, when we cannot comprehend how God can will that to be done which he forbids us to do, let us call to mind our imbecility, and remember that the light in which he dwells is not without cause termed inaccessible (1 Tim. vi. 16), because shrouded in darkness” (I: XVIII, 203).
3. Millard Erickson, Christian Theology (1985)
“The Bible makes quite clear that God is not the cause of Sin” (399).
“There are several ways in which God can and does relate to sin: he can (1) prevent it; (2) permit it; (3) direct it; (4) limit it” (399).
4. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (1994)
“First, we must affirm that God himself did not sin, and God is not to be blamed for sin. It was man who sinned, and it was angels who sinned, and in both cases they did so by willful, voluntary choice. To blame God for sin would be blasphemy against the character of God” (492).
“God certainly does not take pleasure in sin: nonetheless, for his own purposes, and in a way that still remains largely a mystery to us, God ordained that sin would come into the world” (492, n. 5).
5. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (1997 reprint)
“The decrees of God are certainly efficacious, that is, they render certain the occurrence of what He decrees. Whatever God foreordains, must certainly come to pass. The distinction between the efficient (or efficacious) and the permissive decrees of God, although important, has no relation to the certainty of events. All events embraced in the purpose of God are equally certain, whether He has determined to bring them to pass by his own power, or simply to permit their occurrence through the agency of his creatures” (I: 540-41).
6. Roger Olson, Arminian Theology (2006)
“The only thing the Arminian view of God’s sovereignty necessarily excludes is God’s authorship of sin and evil. Faithful followers of Arminius have always believed that God governs the entire universe and all of history. Nothing at all can happen without God’s permission, and many things are specifically and directly controlled and caused by God. Even sin and evil do not escape God’s providential governance in classical Arminian theology. God permits and limits them without willing or causing them” (116).
7. Henry Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (1979)
“Though God is not the author of sin (James 1:13f.), nor did he necessitate it, he did, on the basis of his wise and holy counsel, decree to permit the fall and sin to come” (103).
8. J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology (1996)
“Finally, sin could not have occurred without God’s permissive will. It was a matter both of God’s permission and of His will. God permitted it to happen, yet also through its occurrence He purposed to make it an instrument to manifest His grace and glory” (229).
“There is undoubtedly a strange paradox here. God surely did not will the sin of man, else He would have been the author of evil; yet He did will that through sin and the fall His purpose should be fulfilled” (229).