Is God the Author of Evil?

Is there any sense in which God can be said to be the author of evil? In the quote below one author answers yes. See if you agree.

  1. God is the author (is in sovereign control) of everything that happens.
  2. Evil is something that happens.
  3. So God is the author of evil.

If this is correct, then even if God is not the author of any evil “thing,” would He not still be the author of evil events? In which case, God would still be the author of evil.1

The author then quotes several Scripture passages involving God’s sovereignty. He further explains how God authors evil.

Nevertheless, note that the word author is being used in two different senses. Yes, God is the author of everything, including evil, in the sense that He permits it, but not in the sense that He produces it. Evil happens in His permissive will, but He does not promote evil in His perfect will. God allows evil yet does not encourage it. Just like parents give limited freedom to their children to learn from their mistakes, even so God does with His children. But in no way does God “author” evil in the sense of producing, promoting, or performing it.2

Here I blog…


  1. Norman L. Geisler, If God, Why Evil?: A New Way to Think About the Question (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2011), 23.
  2. Ibid.

tagged as , in apologetics,Culture,morality,theology

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andrew July 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I rarely like the permissive vs. perfect will argument…generally because it is not equally applied. If God permissively authors evil, why do He not also permissively author election/salvation? I know this is a rather ad hominem argument (and I believe Geisler does apply this logic to both situations), but I just feel that there is a better solution to the problem.

PS- I also tend to bristle at purely logical explanations for God without Scriptural scaffolding.

2 Cathy M. July 22, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Calling evil good is a sin. Calling good evil is a sin. God is good. God has ordained that evil exists. Everything that God ordains is good… even if it’s a mystery to me; but, to claim God is the author of evil is untrue, and a sin.

3 Christiane July 22, 2011 at 1:32 pm

God is good.
Evil is the absence of good.
God cannot ‘contradict’ Himself, so God is not the author of evil.

Some people take their description of a wrathful god too far.

Was Jesus Christ the creator of evil ?
Or was He the answer to evil.

Satan is alive and well in the souls of puffed-up theologues.

4 threegirldad July 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm

“Author of evil” is a metaphor, and as such, not much use with strict definition.

5 Mark July 22, 2011 at 10:31 pm


Isn’t that the issue with God’s sovereignty no matter how one works it out? Unless, of course, it is believed that God is passive in the history of humankind not effecting the outcome of anything.

6 Mark July 22, 2011 at 10:33 pm

All, Geisler’s position here is similar to Jonathan Edwards’ position. He did clarify what he meant by “author” as well as mention the two wills of God position.

They who object, that this doctrine makes God the Author of Sin, ought distinctly to explain what they mean by that phrase, The Author of Sin. I know the phrase, as it is commonly used, signifies something very ill. If by the Author of Sin, be meant the Sinner, the Agent, or Actor of Sin, or the Doer of a wicked thing; so it would be a reproach and blasphemy, to suppose God to be the Author of Sin. In this sense, I utterly deny God to be the Author of Sin; rejecting such an imputation on the Most High, as what is infinitely to be abhorred; and deny any such thing to be the consequence of what I have laid down. But if, by the Author of Sin, is meant the permitter, or not a hinderer of Sin; and, at the same lime, a disposer of the state of events, in such a manner, for wise, holy, and most excellent ends and purposes, that Sin, if it be permitted or not hindered, will most certainly and infallibly follow: I say, if this be all that is meant, by being the Author of Sin, I do not deny that God is the Author of Sin, (though I dislike and reject the phrase, as that which by use and custom is apt to carry another sense,) it is no reproach for the Most High to be thus the Author of Sin.
[1.Edwards, Jonathan (2009). The Works of Jonathan Edwards, volume 1 of 2 (Samizdat Edition with Active Table of Contents), improved 2/5/2011 (p. 63). B&R Samizdat Express. Kindle Edition.]

7 Mark July 22, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Christiane, that is another part of Geisler’s argument. He seems to agree with Augustine that evil is not a “thing” but an absence of good.

8 TurretinFan July 22, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Does that mean Geisler is a “moderate Calvinist” after all?

9 Mark July 22, 2011 at 10:47 pm

You know, on this issue he might be, if this can be said to be the Calvinist position. 🙂 Let me finish the book to see where he ends up. Of course, this also doesn’t tell where he lands on the five points.

But you all ready know all that.

10 Dave Candel July 30, 2011 at 3:10 am

I have so very much enjoyed reading the whole book, “If God, Why Evi?” by Norman Geisler! I’m notetaking a second read because it’s so edifying. You can confirm and infer He is Biblical if you read it through thoroughly and isn’t especially Calvinist or in five points TULIP but is cal-am as I believe is true. When I consider the timeliness of such a book as He writes I’m humbled by recognizing the good it can do. I used to read Jonathan Edwards in Bible College. A book by Barnhouse, “Invisble War” was a view I took for many years also but Dr. Geisler is a very intelligent read convincingly so comparatively speaking! He has in my mind the persuasive skill to bring many into Christ as Savior and Lord with the help of the Holy Spirit. May it be ever so.

11 Mark July 30, 2011 at 9:48 am

Dave, I’m finishing the book and am finding inconsistencies. It is a decent overview of the problem of evil though. Some of the analogies explaining purposes of evil I found wanting. And his presentation of free will as the reason for evil were unsatisfying and inconsistent. Anyway, I hope to point this out in my review.

12 Dave Candel August 5, 2011 at 6:14 am

Mark I can appreciate how you find the book as I find it intellectually a lot of stimulating logic to follow. However, I appreciate the sheer numbers of reasons for evil he mentions and a few he omits. Apologetically though I feel his points are taken well and his defense of perhaps Paul in Romans eight is fair, “The sufferings we endure for Christ, are not worth mentioning in comparison to the weight of glory in Heaven!” I want to err on the side of caution being that I’m not a critic who can bargain being less talented myself at explaining ironies and cause and effect, and such! Such is the existance of a depraved sinful sinner as I. All of grace.

13 DavidCandel July 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm

God uses evil disasters to judge or bring judgment. Floods and earthquakes abound. God can restrain sinners from sinning and He can allow restraint to look like He permits sinning when depravity abounds. But where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.


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