My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth, all generations will call me blessed.

In Genesis it is Eve who is the main actor of the epochal event named the fall. In God’s recreation that is redemption the second Eve, Mary, is front and center. Mary, is the antithesis of Eve. Mary bows to God’s word (Lk. 1:38) where Eve questioned God’s word (Gen. 3:6). Eve bears sin into God’s garden temple, while Mary is the Christ bearer in God’s work to re-make His garden temple. Eve’s action leads to curse for all who belong to Adam while Mary’s actions leads to blessing for all who belong to the second Adam. The first Eve was taken out of the first Adam and was the source of life for all Adam’s seed. The second Adam is taken from the second Eve and is the source of life for all His people.

It is also interesting as we examine the Magnificat that Mary understands all that is happening as the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham (vs. 55). Hence we see that there is covenant continuity between Genesis 12, 15 & 17 and what is happening to and through Mary. Mary, like Zechariah, does not see discontinuity between old covenant promise and new covenant fulfillment.

Finally, a brief word regarding Mary herself. Protestants typically don’t do the saint thing and for good reason. Still, Mary should be esteemed no differently then any other saint in the Scripture. Certainly she is no co-redemptrix as some Roman Catholics believe and praying to Mary (or any other saint) would be sin but respecting and honoring Mary for her faith is perfectly fitting and proper.

** — An interesting ‘for whatever its worth’ observation.

Most scholars believe it very likely that Mary was very young (between 14-16) when all this happened. Obviously Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s Mother, was well advanced in years (Lk. 1:7). It must have been quite a study in contrast to see this young girl and this older matron both pregnant at the same time. God takes a child who has never known a man and a dried up prune who is past child bearing and takes the things that are not and makes them to bear the greatest prophet in the Old Covenant and the Messiah who gives life to the world.


It is interesting that Luke bookends a similar idea in his gospel. In Luke 2 Luke records Zechariah’s prophecy and in verse 70 Zechariah can say, in reference to the advent of the Messiah, ‘As He (God) spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the World began.’ Clearly Zechariah is teaching us here that the Scriptures of the Old Covenant spoke of and taught Jesus the Messiah, and that from the very beginning.

Luke makes this same observation again at the end of His gospel (24:27) when he records Jesus, following His resurrection, leading a bible study on the road to Emmaus with two disciples who had missed how the redemptive events were spoken of in the Old covenant Scriptures.

It is obvious that Luke is telling us that the old covenant Scriptures, were, in the phrase of the Puritans, ‘the cradle where one would find Christ.’ All the Scriptures, from Genesis 3:15f are first and foremost about Christ and tell God’s story of how He does all the work in redeeming a people of His own choosing to be their covenant faithful God. We do a great disservice to Scripture when we use it to cram God into our story instead of seeing that God uses Scripture to tell His story — a story that the redeemed are swept up into as so many leaves are swept up into a tornado. God’s story is objective but as men, in each generation, are placed into its storyline by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, that objective story continues to change everything in its path in each generation.

Zechariah was part of Redemptive History. His prophecy was part of God’s objective story of God’s raising up a horn of salvation for His people (2:69). His recognition that all of Scripture was teaching the story of Christ is our good news. BUT Zechariah also understands that this good news is done for a couple of purposes. The first purpose was so that God would be seen as faithful to His promises and covenant (vs. 72). The second purpose was that God’s people might serve Him without fear (vs. 74).

In God’s story when God provides salvation, one purpose of that provision is that God’s people might live in a covenantal faithfulness that echos back God’s covenantal faithfulness to His name and His people. When God’s elect are swept up into His story it is always with the consequence of having been freely saved they will now freely serve according to God’s standards.

Calvin can say at this point on this idea,

“Zechariah’s point was, that, being redeemed, they might dedicate and consecrate themselves entirely to the Author of their salvation. As the efficient cause of human salvation was the undeserved goodness of God, so its final cause is, that, by a godly and holy life, men may glorify his name.”

Calvin then goes on to talk about our responsibility to live a life of service to God, citing the abundant scripture that teaches this truth and ends by saying,

Scripture is full of declarations of this nature, which show that we “frustrate the grace” (Gal. 2:21) of Christ, if we do not follow this design.”

So Zechariah’s Benedictus (Luke 2:67-79) teaches us that God does all the saving but also that those who are saved serve God in every area that God has dominion over. We do disservice to this idea when we do one of three things,

1.) Forget that the Scriptures are first and foremost about God’s work of doing all the saving.

2.) Forget that Scripture do not end with souls saved but rather speak clearly of what the redeemed life looks like in every area of life.

3.) Invert the order so that we do not realize that #2 is always the consequence of #1 being rightly set forth and so speak as if #1 is dependent upon number 2.

There is no ‘I’ in Ego

“Plagued by anxiety, depression, vague discontents, a sense of inner emptiness, the ‘psychological man’ of the twentieth century seeks neither individual self-aggrandizement nor spiritual transcendence but peace of mind, under conditions that increasingly militate against it. Therapists not priests, or popular preachers of self-help or models of success like the captains of industry, become his principal allies in the struggle for composure; he turns to them in the hope of achieving the modern equivalent of salvation, ‘mental health.’ Therapy has establish itself as the successor both to rugged individualism and to religion; but this does not mean that the ‘triumph of the therapeutic’ has become a new religion in its own right. Therapy constitutes an anti-religion, not always to be sure because it adheres to rational explanation or scientific methods of healing, as its practitioners would have us believe, but because modern society ‘has no future’ and therefore gives no thought to anything beyond its immediate needs. Even when therapists speak f the need for ‘meaning’ and ‘love,’ they define love and meaning simply as the fulfillment of the patient’s emotional requirements. It hardly occurs to them — nor is there any reason why it should, given the nature of the therapeutic enterprise — to encourage the subject to subordinate his needs and interests to those of others, to someone or some cause or tradition outside himself. ‘Love’ as self-sacrifice or self-abasement, ‘meaning’ as submission to a higher loyalty — these sublimations strikes the therapeutic sensibility as intolerably oppressive, offensive to common sense and injurious to personal health and well being. To liberate humanity from such outmoded ideas of love and duty has become the mission of the post-Freudian therapies and particularly of their converts and popularizers, for whom mental health means the overthrow of inhibitions and the immediate gratification of every impulse.”

Christopher Lasch
The Culture Of Narcissism — pg. 13

Several things to note regarding this quote,

1.) Lasch’s point denying that the triumph of the Psychological, while replacing religion, is not a religion, is based upon the observation that Therapeutic man has no teleology. Whereas religions and ideologies speak of future conditions to which man is moving (be it Heaven, or Nirvana, or Utopia, etc.) therapeutic man embraces a substitute religion whose goal is not some future state, but rather, teleologically speaking, only has the modest goal of making its worshipers properly adjusted to the here and now. Now, Lasch is correct about Therapeutic man having no teleology, classically speaking, but He is wrong in suggesting that the absolutization of the Therapeutic is not a religion or is, in his words, an anti-religion. Lasch would have been more correct to note that ‘Psychologicalism’ is the anti-religion religion. Because it has no transcendent, its teleology is completely imminent with the results that man needs not to move towards a higher and better destination because this life is the higher and better destination. Teleology has not been removed from the religion of Psychologism, but rather it has been realized. Psychologism is the religion of modern man, it’s Priests, as Lasch notes, are the ubiquitous therapists, it’s Temples masquerading as local Schools, Universities, Corporate Headquarters, area Churches and Government buildings, it affords its sacraments in its confessional booth and in its personality tests, it provides catechism sessions to countless Freshman orientation classes across the country, as well as the employee meetings that corporate Human Resources organizes for its company employees, and its salvation — the same salvation that the serpent offered to Eve, is found in the ascendancy of the sovereign self.

2.) Lasch subtly suggests that Psychologism is not as rational nor as scientifically grounded as it holds itself to be. Indeed, Psychology is a faith discipline that originally, in its modern embodiment, was developed in order to provide insights into the individual quite apart from the reality of God. The denial of God is the presupposition that it was originally rooted in, and any rationality that it aspires to, is only the rationality of a system that defines the beginning of rationality as being apart from God. Except in a few rare cases, Psychology remains a anti-Christ discipline, to often propped up as legitimate in the Church by Christian practitioners who have not understood the anti-theistic basis of their chosen discipline. The real danger of Psychologism is that it is ever seen as being ‘scientific.’ It’s lifeblood of existence is its sundry personality tests which by their very design makes man, in his corporate expression, the measure of what is normal, which is a most curious thing for any Christian to accept. The Science of Psychologism amounts to taking subjective surveys and turning those subjective results into objective measuring standards by reifying the abstract numbers and pretending that they have concrete existence and that they mean something. In short, the tests and their results become the transcendent point of reference by which Psychologism measures people. This is nothing but finding truth by counting noses, and it is an embarrassment to God’s people that the church has so readily glommed on to this idolatrous humanistic methodology as seen by the introduction of Psychologism into the ordination process and the missionary candidate schools. Lasch was correct to hint that Psychologism is neither rational nor scientifically driven. It remains today as legitimate as it was when it started with phrenologists feeling the bumps on peoples heads in order to gain personality insights.

3.) It’s ascendancy, as Lasch hints at, is to create a culture of self-centered, childish, whiny and weak people whose greatest goal in life is to be seen as a victim. Out of its concern for personal health and well-being it has contributed to our culture of political correctness where the apex of propriety is to be sensitive and so not offend anybody by saying anything that anybody would find offensive for any reason. Those who will not play by its rules will discover that like all Worldviews it will destroy others in order to protect itself.

Anyway … I have only finished the first few chapters of Lasch’s work, and already I would recommend it for those who desire insights into our current culture. I have read several of Lasch’s work, and I have not found him yet to be disappointing.

“In various forms, the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist is that the Christian worldview is true because of the impossibility of the contrary. When the perspective of God’s revelation is rejected, then the unbeliever is left in foolish ignorance because his philosophy does not provide the preconditions of knowledge and meaningful experience. To put it another way: the proof that Christianity is true is that if it were not, we would not be able to prove anything.”

Dr. Gregg Bahnsen
Always Ready — pg. 122

Ask the Pastor — The Problem of Evil

15 year old Freddy Foote asks,

“If God created the heavens and earth why did he create sin?”


“If He didn’t create sin then why did He allow the possibility of sin?”


Dear Freddy,

You’ve asked an excellent question that shows that you are thinking. This is most excellent! Your question is one that hones in on the timeless problem of evil. Since your question is so excellent I want to give it a thorough answer, but you must be faithful to this process by being willing to do the work of thinking through the answer.

This is a question that every person (not just Christians or even Theists in general — but EVERY PERSON) must face. Typically the problem is reduced to the question of how belief in a God that is both all powerful AND all benevolent (kind and good) can be sustained in the light of evil, sin, and wickedness. It seems Freddy, that the reality of evil must destroy either the omni-benevolence or the omnipotence of God — or so the protestations of the god-haters proclaim. God haters, with mindless glee catcall our problem w/o realizing their own (a subject for another time perhaps). The God haters say,

“If God is good and wants to eliminate sin, but cannot, He is not all powerful; but if God is all powerful and can eliminate sin, but does not He is not good.”

How do Biblical Christians approach this? The best answers for this Freddy that I have found during my years in the ministry come from Dr. Gordon Clark and from Dr. Greg Bahnsen. You need to know that anything I write here is from my learning while sitting at their feet.

First, we must note that any answer we give must, in the end, retain both God’s goodness and God’s Sovereignty. Resolutions of the problem of evil that leave God less than good, or less than absolutely sovereign are answers that leave us with a god who is not God. I note this Freddy, because many of the answers to the ‘problem of evil’ that you find in the Church today reduces God to a being that men must pity due to God’s lack of ability of stopping that which He doesn’t want to happen. For example, I remember going to a funeral once where the deceased had perished in a car accident and the first thing out of the minister’s mouth was “God didn’t have anything to do with this.” The implication was that, ‘God didn’t want the accident to happen but sometimes you got to feel sorry for God, because poor God doesn’t always get what He wants.’ So, whatever answer we come up with can’t end with some kind of sophistry that says that ‘God is sovereign enough to not be sovereign.’ No, our answer to the problem of evil must leave God to be that which the Scripture portrays Him and that is all good and all sovereign.

Another answer we need to avoid is the answer that posits some kind of dualism. This position, which is typical of many ancient Eastern religions holds that good and evil are equally equipoised and that they are in battle and that the good god and the bad god neither ever are triumphant. Sometimes you hear this kind of reasoning in the Church when people say speak of the Devil as if He were a being that somehow was God’s equal in the celestial WWF Wrestling match. The Christian faith has never embraced dualism if only because such a position denies the teaching that there is only One God.

Another bad answer, as we suggested above, is that God is a finite and limited deity. The advocates of this position would say that God does the best He can but darn it you can really expect only so much from a deity. If the advocates of wimpy Christianity are correct that the presence of evil in this world rules out a all powerful God we might ask them if, instead of a limited good God ruling us why it might not instead be the case that we are ‘ruled’ by a limited evil god who in reality tries to get all the evil he can but being limited sometimes good sneaks in every now and then. After all, limitedness could work in both directions.

Yet another bad answer that many offer in the Church today to the problem of evil Freddy, is that God gave man free will and that God is sovereign right up to the point of fallen men’s free will. This ‘answer’ once again, limits God’s godness by suggesting that God’s godness is checkmated by man’s godness. God wants certain things or doesn’t want certain things but sometimes man is more powerful than God and so uses his free will to trump God’s free will. Many people in the Church teach this idea trying to rescue God from from the lack of goodness and the perceived problem of God being charged with being ‘not nice’ for being in complete control of sin and evil. Often you will hear people using this kind of argumentation when they say things like, “Well, God didn’t want that to happen but He allowed or merely permitted it to happen. God gave man free will and so He can’t be blamed for evil.’ Free will in human agents has been put forth to clear God of the responsibility for sin and evil. It sounds so pious but it really is nonsense, and what is worse is that it doesn’t exonerate God in the least from the charge of being ‘not nice.’ Let’s examine why.

Those who thump for this answer will (usually) concede that while God’s power is checked by man’s free will what is not checked is this same God’s ability to know all things from the beginning (sometimes called omniscience). But those who contend that the free will of man clears God of the charge of the problem of evil, still have a problem with a ‘not nice’ God, for this God who from eternity past knew all that would happen throughout the history of mankind still decided to create despite knowing all the evil that would result from giving men ‘free will.’ God permitting evil by way of Man’s free will does not solve the problem of evil for a being giving man that free will, knowing before hand how it would be used, AND creating all the circumstances wherein it would be used, remains responsible for the actions of those using that free will. Besides, it is more than an open question whether or not, if in the end, any being who can’t do other then what God has always known he will do has free will but that is another subject for another day.

So, ‘Free will’ and ‘permission’ or ‘God allowing something’ is really irrelevant to the problem of evil.

So far we have eliminated from our consideration answers to the problem of evil that include the theories of dualism, limited god, and free will. Likewise we have poked fun at the notion of a God who is sovereign enough to not be sovereign. Now let us turn our attention to a positive answer.

First, though we won’t take the time to go into the historical precedents we should note that what is going to be given here for the answer to the problem of evil has long legs throughout Church History. It is not the only answer that has been given (we’ve just examined the others) but it is an answer with a long and storied pedigree in Church History stretching far behind the Reformation.

Second, we would say that belief in the doctrine of creation forces us to accept the reality that God is the cause (though not the author) of Sin. Creation ex nihilo implies God’s complete control over ALL things since such a creation eliminates any notion of any forces that are independent of God. Independent forces cannot be created forces since a created force would make it dependent upon the one who created it and created forces cannot be independent since their createdness would make them dependent to the one who created them. So, Freddy, if we introduce a power in the universe that can trump God’s will we have at the same time given up on the idea of God as the alone creator.

Obviously the answer to the problem of evil for the Biblical Christian is that God is sovereign over all things, which I take to include evil.

Scripture teaches that

Ephesians 1:11 in whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who worketh ALL things after the counsel of his will;

Romans 11:36 For of him, and through him, and unto him, are ALL things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen.

Specifically Scripture teaches that God is in control over evil,

Isaiah 45:7

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.

Amos 3:6

Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

So Scripture teaches that God is Sovereign over all that happens and from that we hold that God is the cause of evil without being its author. More on that in a bit.

Before we turn to how it is that God remains good while insisting that all that happens, including evil, is God’s will we want to help clarify an apparent contradiction. Those who oppose the Biblical position on this issue will accuse me of advocating that evil things are God’s will when in point of fact Scripture teaches that evil things aren’t God’s will. For example, Scripture clearly teaches that murder is not God’s will but here I am saying that all murders that happen are God’s will. How is that objection answered?

The objection is answered by being more precise in the usage of language. God’s word gives us precepts and commands that state what ought to be done by us and we often call that ‘God’s will.’ God’s word also teaches all that happens, happens according to God’s predestining will (see the texts above) and we call that also ‘God’s will.’ Consequently we confuse matters by using the same phrase ‘God’s will’ to communicate both God’s commands and God’s decretive will. We would be better served instead to speak of ‘God’s commands’ for His Law-Word to us and restrict the use of the phrase ‘God’s will’ to refer to His predestining will. In doing so we could say that it was against God’s commands for the Jews to crucify Jesus but it was the exact desire of God’s will. Now, some will object that God decreed an evil act and we will turn to that in a second, but for now we must say that is exactly what the Scripture’s teach (Acts 2:23, 3:14-18, 4:27-28). For our purposes now, it is enough to see that there is no contradiction between saying that God’s Law Word commands certain things while God wills other things and that the violation of God’s commands by the human agent, even though acting in harmony with God’s will, does not deliver the human agent from being held responsible for his actions.

Well, Freddy, this first part is long enough for you to work through. I will return to this tomorrow, Lord willing and will try to untangle a few of the problems that I have set for us thus far. These might include,

1.) How can God be the cause of evil but not the author of evil?

2.) How can humans be held be responsible by God for those things they have done that God has predestined?

3.) How can humans fail to be puppets on a string if all they do is predestined by God?

4.) And most importantly, we will answer your original question, “Why did God create sin.”

See you tomorrow,

Pastor Bret