Posted by Chris McKinny | Posted in God's Supremacy , Problem of Evil | Posted on 6:55 AM
Standing on the top of the Austrian Alps in the Tyrol of Austria is one of the most amazing experiences of my 23 years on this earth. Looking out at a magnificent canvas painted with the deep greens and vibrant reds of the expansive fertile valleys that give way to the monumental Alps that are splashed with sharp silvers and grays and stained with light greens and blues. There is no better term for this sight than “awesome.” I have been very blessed in my life to see some of what this globe has to offer (Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, the California Coastline, the Rocky Mountains, the Pyramids in Cairo, the Valley of the Kings and the Karnak Temple in Luxor, the Coliseum in Rome, Pompeii, Mt. Sinai on a moonless night, and of course South Texas during the summer harvest (I guess that one doesn’t quite fit – although it is more dear to my soul than all the others)), few sights have come close to the natural majesty of what was before me (and I was looking at the Alps during the summer I can’t imagine what they would look like in the winter or in the spring). While standing atop one of these mountains my thoughts were forced to ponder the Maker of these rocky risings.
How incalculable He must be who can form this out of nothing?
How creative He must be who can cut these mountains out of water?
How in control He must be who built these immovable objects with only a thought?
As I looked out at the depths of the valleys and the heights of the mountains I began to understand from a completely new perspective the depths of the skill and the heights of the genius of the Creator.
This led my thinking into a pondering of God’s purpose in and for creation. That is to say I began to ponder two questions: one broad the other narrow. The broad question was this, “Why did God create the world the way he did?”
The complete answer to that question is difficult, even impossible for my finite mind to fully grasp, moreover, if I knew the full answer to that question it would take a millennia, a renewed mind, and a vocabulary the size of the Alps to record its intricacies. I don’t have the kind of time, mind, or lexis required in order to convey the answer to that most important question. So I will simply say that I believe God’s ultimate purpose in creation was and is to glorify himself through his creation by magnifying his infinite goodness and worth through his craftsmanship. If that then is the purpose then how does the fall of Adam and Eve relate to it? Does the Fall nullify the purpose of the Creator? Was he taken off-guard by the awful disobedience of his creation? The answer to these questions is quite-obviously, No! God is sovereign. In eternity past he had planned these events and set them in order to bring him glory. But why did he do allow the Fall? Why allow sin, suffering, death, abortion, murder, rape, physical deformity, etc.? In the words of my archaeology professor here in Israel, (imagine Israeli accent) “There are two questions that we must always ask in reference to remains of civilization…(1) what is it? (2) and what is it for?” These questions are entirely relevant to the discussion that I was having with myself atop the Alps.
I already answered the first question “what is it?” now I must attempt to answer the question “what is it for?” Based on my understanding of Scripture and my understanding of God’s purpose in Creation I believe that God’s purpose in allowing the Fall is this: to show his infinite goodness, mercy, and forgiveness against the backdrop of the hideous effects of sin. This produces an understanding that humans would never have been able to grasp had there not been a Fall. This understanding allows created humans to worship and magnify God for his redemptive attributes and thus bring Him glory through an aspect that would not have existed without original sin. So then the purpose of the Fall is the magnification of God’s glory for his name’s sake from a perspective that would never have been known apart from the fall. On account of this all evil, all sin, and all other negative effects from the fall exist in order to magnify the Creator’s grace and mercy in light of the horrid ugliness of man’s sin. This purpose finds its physical and spiritual apex in the atonement of sin through the murder of the sinless, beautiful Savior for the sins of the murderous, spiritually hideous creatures whose grave could not hold the sinless One.
With the broad question now answered in my mind I asked myself the narrower question. “How do these majestically high Alps and deep valleys magnify the Creator?” As I looked out at the mountains I was amazed at the height of these Alps they seemed higher than the Rockies, higher than the mountains around Tahoe, higher than Mammoth, higher than Mt. Whitney. But as I thought about it I realized that these Alps were not any higher than some of the others that I had seen before, so the sheer height of the mountains could not be the source of my amazement something else had to be the culprit. Something else besides the peaks, which extended into the clouds, had to be blamed for the wonderment that I felt at seeing this sight.
Finally, it hit me! It was the valleys! It was the deep wide valleys that surrounded these mountains on all sides that showed the stark contrast between peak and plain. If the valleys were not surrounding these majestic risings of the earth there would be no distinction, and while they Rocky Mountains, Yosemite Valley, and Lake Tahoe are all amazing and beautiful and have their own set of majesty none of them match the sheer contrast in elevation from the eagle’s nest to the rabbit hole. So at this revelation experience (to be sure it was more common sense than a “revelation”) I thought of this world that we live in. If this world had never experienced pain, death, murder, kidnappings, hurricanes, car accidents, adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, pornography, physical deformity, martyrdom, the Holocaust, mental retardation, stubbed toes, and all other types of evil and sin, this world would never know the gross ugliness of its sin nor would it ever know the extent of the ultimate, complete sacrifice that the Son of God endured on Calvary.
A world that does not know despair, evil, and deformity is like looking at the Alps and not seeing the valleys. It is looking at the God of the universe without comprehending his mercy, grace, forgiveness, atonement, unconditional love, steadfastness, faithfulness, self-control, etc. and while that picture of God maybe utterly amazing it would fail to grasp the depth of his character. With the advent of sin and evil into the world came the advent of mercy and forgiveness. Thank the Lord for the Fall, thank the Lord for Hurricane Ike, thank the Lord for your sin because without them it would be impossible for us to understand the beautifulness of the Savior without the ugliness of sin just as it would be impossible for me to see the massive height of the Alps without the depths of the valleys.