Is God A Murderer?

If God is now in complete control of the world, then He is ultimately responsible for all human suffering — either by causing it or allowing it. Doesn’t that make Him very hard to love? Maybe that’s why you hear so many Christian euphemisms designed to take the edge off what, if people did to other people, would be called destruction of property, stealing, torture, or premeditated murder, and would result in jail time. To say that God “called someone home” sounds so much better than saying that He “wasted” the poor soul.

As usual, the question is: What does the Bible say? Does God’s Word say that He is in control of everything that happens in the world? Absolutely not. In fact, Scripture states that it is the Devil who is exerting a controlling influence over the affairs of mankind.

1 John 5:19
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

The Word of God also says that Satan is the one who now holds the power of death, that is, he is the ultimate cause of death. This is either directly, via evil spirit intervention, such as a spirit of murder causing one person to murder another, or indirectly, via one of the countless diseases he has introduced into the world.

Hebrews 2:14
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil.

Some typical examples of misguided euphemisms about God ending people’s lives are found in Roger Steer’s otherwise inspirational book titled J. Hudson Taylor, A Man In Christ. Taylor was one of the most influential Christian missionaries ever to work in China, which he did between 1854 and 1905. Drawing upon Taylor’s diary, Steer writes of his conversation with his eight-year-old daughter Grace, as she lay dying of meningitis: “Back at her bedside, he said to Grace, ‘I think Jesus is going to take you to Himself. You are not afraid to trust yourself with Him, are you?’” [1]

After her death, Taylor wrote:

Our dear little Gracie! How I miss her sweet voice in the morning, one of the first sounds to greet us when we woke— and through the day and at eventide! As I take the walks I used to take with her tripping at my side, the thought comes anew like a throb of agony, ‘Is it possible that I shall nevermore feel the pressure of that little hand, nevermore hear the sweet prattle of those dear lips, nevermore see the sparkle of those bright eyes?’ And yet she is not lost. I would not have her back again… the gardener came and plucked a rose [Emphasis ours]. [2]

Later, his 33-year-old wife Maria became gravely ill, and Steer writes that Taylor “could not pray unreservedly for her recovery.” [3] How heartbreaking that with his misunderstanding of Scripture, he could not resolve whether it was God’s will to heal his wife, and therefore he had no basis to pray with faith. Perhaps had he been able to, she might have recovered. After her untimely death, which left him with four children, Taylor wrote:

From my inmost soul I delight in the knowledge that God does or deliberately permits all things, and causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him. He, and He only, knew what my dear wife was to me. He knew how the light of my eyes and the joy of my heart were in her… But He saw that it was good to take her; good indeed for her, and in His love He took her painlessly; and not less good for me who must henceforth toil and suffer alone— yet not alone, for God is nearer to me than ever. [4]

Taylor’s journal entry leaves an obvious question: “Where is God’s love for those whom He does not ‘take’ painlessly?” It must pain God to see someone who obviously loved Him so much be so misguided and so practically hindered by such debilitating error. How sad that it is rampant throughout Christendom. If the truth of God’s Word were taught, such semantic sidestepping would be unnecessary, and the blame would be laid where it belongs— on the one-day-to-be-ashes shoulders of the Devil (Ezek. 28:18).

Endnotes

[1] Roger Steer, J. Hudson Taylor: A Man In Christ (OMF Books, Robesonia PA , 1990), page 208.
[2] Ibid., page 209. True, Gracie is not “lost.” She will spend eternity with her father. Note how Taylor’s feelings of sadness accurately reflect the teaching of Scripture: Death is an enemy and it stings.
[3] Ibid., page 241.
[4] Ibid., page 245.

3 comments

  1. Thank you for addressing this troublesome issue. Considering the verses on the power and control that the devil has in this world, what do think about these from Lamentations 3:37,38?

    37 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass,
    Unless the Lord has commanded it?
    38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
    That both good and ill go forth?

    1. Hi Colin, We don’t think the quote from Lamentations indicates that God is behind or the source of evil. An alternate view is that the words that come out of the mouth of God are either good or ill, depending on the perspective of the hearer.

      1. Dan, do you have any support for your interpreation?

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