Question 8: What is the “Evil God Challenge”? Is God malevolent?

***DISCLAIMER*** The following is far from an exhaustive post. Instead, it simply makes a best effort to sufficiently answer the question.

The Evil God Challenge is essentially a question. This “challenge” requires a person to explain why an all-good god should be more likely than an all-evil god. The only way an all-evil god is more likely than an all-good god is if the all-good god cannot provide a definite way of salvation. Thankfully, this is not the case. This all-good god, who is the God of the Bible, has made a definite way of salvation.

One need only look to the Scriptures to answer this “challenge.”

This way of salvation is known as eternal life. 1 John 5:13 states, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Eternal life is not something one merely thinks or hopes that he/she has. Instead, it is something someone can know for certain. It is essentially a “know-so” faith in this “hope-so” world.

It is also important to know that eternal life (or heaven) is a free gift that is not earned or deserved. Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD.” Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” A free gift cannot be both free and earned at the same time.

Unfortunately, mankind cannot simply inherent eternal life outright because man is a sinner. Romans 3:23 states, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Furthermore, God’s standard is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Nobody in his or her own power can meet that standard.

Thankfully, God is a loving God who does not want to punish us (1 John 4:8). That is definitely a good thing. However, He is also just and holy. As a result, He must punish sin (Exodus 34:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10).

If the story ended with God’s punishing sinners (and all have sinned), then obviously an all-evil god would be more likely than an all-good god. Thankfully, the story does not stop there.

God solved this “sin” problem in the person of Jesus Christ. John 1:1, 14 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In those verses, the word “Word” is capitalized. This signifies another name or title for Jesus. If you substituted “Jesus” for the word “Word”, you would get, “In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God…and Jesus became flesh.” Jesus Christ is the infinite God-man. Jesus’ primary purpose on earth was to die on the cross and rise from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins and purchase a place in heaven for us (Isaiah 53:6; John 1:29; 1 Timothy 1:15). He is the only way by which mankind may be saved (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; Isaiah 43:11; Hosea 13:4).

In order to receive this free gift of eternal life, one must have a trusting, saving faith in Jesus Christ alone. This is neither head knowledge (James 2:19) nor a temporal faith. Instead, it’s trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:1-21).

After understanding that God is all-good, one can easily see that God is not really malevolent. Webster’s Dictionary defines “malevolent” as, “having, showing, or arising from ill will, spite or hatred.” Ill will and spite are not part of God’s character. God is also not hateful. As mentioned, God is love. However, God does have a hatred for sin. For example, He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). In Revelation 2:6, Jesus Christ states He hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans, a sect that taught that spiritual liberty was a license for them to commit gross sins (which is heresy). Webster’s Dictionary’s definition of “malevolent” could view God as malevolent based on God’s hatred for divorce and heresy. After all, hatred is involved there. However, given the majority of the “malevolent” criteria (ill will and spite) do not fit his character, it is more appropriate and accurate to say that God is just and holy instead of malevolent. God’s holiness requires that He hate sins such as divorce and heresy, among others. To describe Him as malevolent is to miss more important aspects of who God really is.

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