Ironic Twist to a Devastating Story

by Steve Ray on December 24, 2007

I am currently writing next year's Study Guide for Catholic Scripture Study – on Genesis. This section I wrote was so exciting and ironic I had to share it, especially since this is Christmas when God became Man. Here is a small section of what I wrote:

Satan.jpgBut why didn't God prevent Adam and Eve from sinning? Didn’t this disobedience ruin everything? Didn’t Satan win a great victory over God? Yes and no. It marred the creation of God for the immediate moment, but God always uses evil to bring about a greater good—remember, he is God!

The Catechism asks the same question: “But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? St. Leo the Great responds, ‘Christ's inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon's envy had taken away.’ And St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, ‘There is nothing to prevent human nature's being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”; and the [Easter] Exsultet sings, “O happy fault [of Adam],. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”’” (CCC 412).

Saints1.jpgBecause of the fall God would now become Man, the Ultimate Man who would crush the serpent’s head. And because God became Man, he could now raise Man up to truly be like God! (cf. CCC 460). Peter reminds us that we could now be partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

Satan had lied, but because of God's greatness, he actually fulfilled the empty lie of Satan in a more spectacular manner than could have been imagined. I suspect Satan is more furious than ever — his grand scheme backfired and man actually became what he had promised in his lie.

 Satan had tempted the first humans with the promise of being like God; now God, because of the fall and his infinite love has dramatically "upped the ante" and actually made it possible for us to really be like God!

What an ironic twist to a seemingly sad, but now magnificent story! Could any science fiction writer tell a more remarkable story—truth is stranger than fiction, and in this case much more cosmic, profound, and eternally real!

Meditate on THAT and have a Merry Christ-Mass!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Gail Buckley December 24, 2007 at 3:30 PM

Wow, Steve! How wonderful is our God and how great the commentary for Genesis is going to be judging by this one snippet from it and the other that you shared with me on the phone recently. I can’t wait for the Genesis study – it’s going to be great.
I was talking to my “spiritual daughter”, as I call her, just last night on this very topic – how God can use evil to produce an even better outcome than we could ever imagine. That’s how I was helping her to understand about hope. Even when things seem hopeless, nothing is impossible for God and He usually comes up with a solution or outcome that would never even occur to us. Like you’ve pointed out – He took the worse thing that ever happened in the world – the crucifixion of Jesus and brought the best thing in the world out of it – our redemption. Praise God!

Ray Suryadinata December 24, 2007 at 7:35 PM

Couldn’t wait to see the final product of your Genesis essay, Steve. God’s thought is not our thought and neither Satan’s. Nobody can fathom what God has in store for us. It will be interesting to see in detail how Adam’s happy fault has become a blessing for all of us when we study CSS’ Genesis under your instruction. God always has an infinite love for us in spite of our shortcomings and failures. That’s why He sends His only beloved Son to suffer and die for our sins. Without Adam’s original sin, we won’t have the grace to know Jesus. That is why Jesus is the Reason for the season. Yes indeed, it is Christ-mas (with a hyphen); a time to cherish the arrival of God made man, our Redeemer.

Have a blessed Christ-mas, Steve, and may the new year 2008 give you plenty of energy to finish the Genesis study in time for CSS’ new study year.

Terry Fenwick December 25, 2007 at 12:53 AM

I happen to love everything you have written, Steve!

I know Genesis, which is my favorite OT Book, will be another one of your best. You are such a people person! You make the people step off the pages when you write about these early men of the Faith. I have done three major Bible Studies on the Acts of the Apostles but none of them can compare with your Acts.

Also, Steve, when will we see a great study on the Deuterocanonical Books? No one seems to touch them. I was listening to the the story about Hanukkah from 2 Maccabees last night on EWTN. I am certain you know the person who did the program – he always wears a Yamaka. It was about the Jews’ revolt against Antiochus. We need to keep these stories alive! What do you think?

No matter what – keep on writing for us! You are much loved. I hear nothing but great things about Acts of the Apostles.

Terry Fenwick December 25, 2007 at 12:55 AM

One more quick thing!!! Listen to her exclaim as she goes off the site – “Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night.”

Blessings for these beautiful Holy Days. Terry Fenwick

Brother Ed December 27, 2007 at 4:05 PM

If I may put in my .02 here. I had often wrestled with this complex issue. After all, for all those who are going to spend an eternity in hell, the Fall was not exactly a “happy fault” and I often found that answer Pollyannish at best. We are talking about the destiny of billions and billions of eternal souls here who will not die, and for the majority of them, will spend an absolute miserable eternity separated from God. Surely, God who is Love and unlike the Calvinist paradigm, does nothing out of malice, would not permit the Fall to happen unless HE WAS BOUND BY THE CONSTRAINTS OF HIS OWN MORAL LAW AND CHARACTER!!!

In other words, our Triune God is not “free” in the sense that we human beings define “free”, which is to say that we believe that if we are free we can do anything we want to. No, God’s character limits Him in the responses He must make to a situation, for His response cannot violate His character, which is Love. He also cannot respond in a way which would be injust. In this and other ways, His responses to man are bound by Who He is.

It would be highly injust of God to permit (in the sense of wanting it to happen) the Fall to happen knowing that this “happy fault” would actually result in a greater calamity for the majority of mankind, i.e., an eternity in hell. I find the idea that God would permit the Fall so that a priviledged few could enjoy Heaven forever at the expense of a vast amount of human beings suffering eternally to be obnoxious. Therefore, there had to be a very serious purpose to allowing the temptation of Adam and Eve, and permitting the Fall. A serious purpose which bound God to the outcome of Adam’s choice. I reject the idea that God allowed the Fall so that man could, by the work of Christ, become a partaker of God’s nature. I reject it for the following reason, which shows that it was entirely possible for Adam and Eve to have become partakers of God’s nature without the Fall:

In the Creation, God created a son and daughter who were made “in His image and likeness”. But Adam and Eve were not yet perfected, that is, they had to undergo a process of growth into righteousness. Without this growth into righteousness, they would remain ever spiritual babies, not what the Father desires at all, either for them or for us. In order that a human being may grow in righteousness, that human being must be tested. Sacred Scripture says

Rom 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, [was] not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Faith is righteousness. The deeper our faith in our Father, the more righteous we are as human beings. While most Protestant sects I attended would define righteousness in terms of deep Bible knowledge, going to church whenever the doors are open, and other outward observances, it is really our faith which is righteousness.

Faith is more than mere mental assent to a bunch of facts. Anyone can have that. But real faith is ACTIVE, according to James. And this is exactly what the Evil One was testing in the Garder. “Oh, yes, I know you can quote back to me what God said to you……BUT…..do you REALLY believe that?” Adam was being tested in order that he might exercise faith and by doing so, GROW IN RIGHTEOUSNESS. There is simply no other way to grow in righteousness. You can sit on your duff thinking nice thoughts about God, read your Bible till your fingers ache from turning the pages, but unless there is a TEST where you MUST TRUST GOD (Faith), you are not growing in righeousness. You may be growing in intellectualism, but not in righteousness. Righteousness is where the “rubber meets the road of life”

If Adam had succeeded that day, if he had quoted back in rebuke the words his Father had told him, exercising faith in God, then at the end of that day, Adam would have retired for sleep much more deeply righteous than when he woke up that morning. And as he grew, he would have become more and more deeply a partaker of the divine nature as he matured and was perfected.

You think this is far fetched? This is EXACTLY what Jesus went through in His fully human nature. How else do you explain a verse like this?

Hbr 2:10 For it became him, for whom [are] all things, and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Jesus the man was the Last Adam (1 Corin. 15:45). As man, He picked up the fallen mantle of humanity forfeited by Adam. Immediately upon His baptism, He was driven out into the wilderness to pick up where Adam left off. Just like Adam, the Evil One appeared to Him and severely tested Him. But unlike Adam, He sent the Evil One packing in defeat through His faith in His Father, expressed by quoting correctly His Father’s words to the Evil One.

Each one of us must undergo these tests so that we can grow into righteousness. The Protestant idea of “imputed righteousness” is a joke. The whole concept, if it were true, leaves us ontologically unchanged, when the very goal of our salvation is that we become “partakers of the divine nature” (which is called “theosis” in the Eastern Church) through our suffering and our faith filled response to our Father in the time of testing. When I suffer and offer it up to God, I, by my actions, say “I trust you, Father (faith) so that I believe that even though I cannot see it in my limited earthly vision, I know you are good and this has purpose.”

Such a reaction is an act of faith, and increases your righteousness by your joyful submission to the will of God over your will.

No! God did neither directly cause the Fall (as I have heard some wretched Calvinists state) nor did He desire the Fall. He desired that His newly created son would pass the test and begin to mature as a son of God. But bound to the character of His love and justice, He had to permit the test of Adam, which He desired to have His newly created son grow in righteousness, run its full course. It is the love of our Father that after His son failed, He made the promise the in course of due time, He would come and fix it all up through the work of the One Who would come to save us.

NOW — If this is in any way heretical, I recant beforehand. I am not here to try to prove that I am some sort of great theologian, nor will I take Luther’s stand and dig my feet in and refuse to acknowledge my error. Just let me know where I have erred.

And that’s my .02 on the subject!

John December 30, 2007 at 11:50 PM

I'm not sure I agree with your account of Genesis. God loves us so much he gives us a free will to do anything. Adam had to prove his love for Eve. Would Adam have the ability to give his life for Eve? God showed Adam all the animals he had created ,and by this, showed Adam how great Woman was. Adam should have defended Eve by giving his life for her to show his ultimate sacrafice. Satan was in the Garden as a serpent dragon in order to force Eve to eat of the the tree. "You will not die if you eat of the tree." The serpent would not kill her if she ate of the tree–You will not die because I will not kill you! God does not use evil to create something good, but God uses Good to rectify what has become evil.

STEVE RAY HERE: I did not say that God creates evil but that God uses what is intended for evil and turns it around for good. Notice this in Genesis 50:20. Yes we have free will and when we use it for evil God can ultimately use it for our good. The death was not going to be at the hand of the serpent, it would be literal death that came about by sin. They ate and death come into the creation.

John December 31, 2007 at 12:17 AM

I’m not sure I fully understand your account of Genesis. God loves us so much he gives us a free will to do anything, even if it is the wrong thing to do. Adam had to prove his love for Eve. Would Adam have the ability to give his life for Eve? God showed Adam all the animals he had created ,and by this, showed Adam how great Woman was. Adam should have defended Eve by giving his life for her to show his ultimate sacrafice of death. Satan was in the Garden as a serpent dragon in order to force Eve to eat of the the tree. “You will not die if you eat of the tree.” There was no tendency to commit sin on both Adam and Eve. The serpent would not kill her if she ate of the tree–You will not die because I will not kill you! God does not use evil to create something good, but God uses Good to rectify what has become evil. When it comes to understanding what God has done for us we need to go to The famous saying in Hebrews Chapter 2 Verse 14 and 15 “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that through his death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is to say the devil, and free those who through fear of death were subject to life long bondage.” When we go to Baptism, we are a new creation and our Nature is elevated. This creation is where Adam would have gone if he would have layed down his life for his bride just as Christ layed down his life for his bride the church. Adam failed and all his children were to dwell in this death until (and this is the most important thing to remember) we can prove ourselves worthy of his love. Genesis closed the door on us and made us enemies of Christ, but through our oath–Baptism– we regain this nature that Adam had taken away. We have to oath ourselves to Christ’s Martyrdom because we will never be able to suffer martyrdom. Abraham loved God and would have given up his life for him, but God still wanted him to prove his love by having him sacrafice his son! Our martyrdom is a lifelong martyrdom because we oathed ourselves to the cross.

Thank You,
John

Susan F January 5, 2008 at 10:33 AM

I enjoyed Borther Ed’s comment. Thank you for posting it.

sf

Cynthia G. January 11, 2008 at 11:01 PM

I enjoyed Brother Ed’s comments as well. God is love and he uses evil as a means to His ends. Evil can only do so much though, that is, the devil can only tempt us. It is up to us and our free will to respond to this temptation, as Eve did. Once we fall we can show remorse and beg forgiveness, or blame everybody else and stay in a state of sin which keeps us seperated from God, as Adam and Eve did (a good reason to be a frequent visitor to the sacrament of confession). Now humanity is banished from Eden and pain and suffering, at many levels begins. God follows His people throughout His-story until he finds the right time to become human and opens back the gates of Eden. Without Genesis we would not grow or develop into the humanity that we are today, God/Jesus/The Holy Spirit have been there every step of the way and will be there in the end of times. How blessed are we to have such a wonderous God.

Dave December 24, 2008 at 11:12 AM

So evil is from God?
You must not have kids
God did not give Adam a test… He told him NOT to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This not a test God gave him very clear instructions.
I give my kids very very clear instruction.. Guess what?? They do disobey…da
God gave us the give of free will, so when we say we love him it is from the heart and not a robotic choice.
God set forth his plan before the foundation of time.
We not are to follow his plan spelled out in his word/bible and we do this by FAITH.
Love you all
Jesus is Lord

STEVE RAY HERE: I read back over what I wrote and I see nowhere where I say that God created evil. He did not. He created men with free will and they disobeyed and brought evil into the world. Original sin and the sin nature was inherited from our first sinful parents Adam and Eve and it continues down to this day. Yes he has a plan and we have to cooperate in his plan. that is what I was saying. And yes, Jesus is Lord.

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