Philippine President Rodrigo Roa-Duterte, recently kicked up a lot of rhetorical dust when he declared that the God of most people who profess to be Christians is a “stupid God.” Pres. Duterte has refused to apologize for his now infamous statement.
How do we make sense of all the flak that has followed in the wake of the hard-talking president’s pronouncement?
The “foolishness” of God
His assessment of God, Pres. Duterte explains, comes from his perception that it is stupid of God to allow His good creation, man, to be destroyed by sin. The president is not alone in questioning why God didn’t make man perfect and incapable of sinning in the first place, [thus “the original sin” would not have occurred], thereby preventing or making unnecessary man’s death or destruction. Some ask, “Why did God place the forbidden tree – the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”—in the Garden of Eden? And “Why did God allow the Devil to tempt the first woman, Eve, into eating the fruit of the forbidden tree?” “Why didn’t God stop man from eating the toxic fruit, so that man would continue to live and perhaps eat the fruit, instead, of the “tree of life,” which would have given man everlasting life? [See: Is There Ever any Good in Man? and A Law-abiding Universe — But Man!]
We can imagine all sorts of “what if” scenarios, and fail to understand God’s perfect design and “strategy,” if you will. If we examine closely His divine scheme of things we will come to understand that God has made everything in His often inscrutable wisdom. The psalmist wrote of God: “O LORD, How manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all” (Psalm 104:24).
Honest eyes looking at plant or animal tissues and cells through a microscope will admit that some ingenious and clever structures and mechanisms have been put in place by some intelligent Maker to make them cohesive and life-sustaining. The same goes with the precision of the movement of the planets and the heavenly bodies.
God’s “wisdom” is often too profound for mere men to grasp. The apostle Paul wrote that the “wisdom” of God is often mistaken for foolishness or, if you will, “stupidity.” “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Greeks foolishness. But to those who are called [of God], both of Jews and Greeks, Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness [what some would consider the ‘stupidity’] of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:22-25). Paul also wrote: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out” (Romans 11:33)).
Despite this, however, God promises to His people and those who have reverent fear of Him: “The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant” (Psalm 25:14). God will give understanding to them as to why He does the things He does.
Why a “hell-fire?”
Among the things which Pres. Duterte criticized as the “stupidity” of the God whom most “Christians” profess to believe in is the teaching about “hell-fire” or the “lake of fire” reserved for all unrepentant wicked people (Luke 13:3, 5; Revelation 21:8).
Mr. Duterte posed a question about how God could still throw him into hell-fire if he had been cremated after his death, as is his wish. Unknown to the president, and to many other people, is the true Bible teaching about God’s judgment.
The Bible reveals that God has set apart three judgment periods: our present age [from the creation of Adam and Eve up to the return of Christ from heaven to earth, the first 1,000-year reign of Christ, and after that reign. [See: Predestination and This Is not the Only Day of Salvation.]
All who have died not having received salvation in Christ, since Adam up to Jesus’ return, will be resurrected or brought back to a physical life at or toward the end of the 1,000 years [also called “millennium”] of Christ’s rule on earth (Revelation 20:5).
God has power then to resurrect these dead people who have become dust or ashes — yes, if ever, including Pres. Duterte! They will have their time to understand God’s plan for creation, especially human life, to truly accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord, and finally receive everlasting life (Revelation 20:11-12).
After that judgment period [however long God will extend it], those who will prove to be still wicked and unrepentant and therefore whose names are not found written in The Book of Life, will be cast into the “lake of fire” or the “second death” (Revelation 20:13-15; 21:8).
That God would forever destroy the wicked and give everlasting life to the righteous is based on His perfect and unfathomable wisdom — not stupidity or foolishness! [See: The Universalism (“All Saved”) Issue.]
Back to Eden
Let’s take, for example, why God placed the forbidden tree [which was really the “tree of death”] at Eden, and why God allowed Satan, in the guise of a serpent, to deceive Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, and convincing her husband Adam to do the same (story found in Genesis 3). [See: “Your Eyes Will be Opened!” and The Flaming Sword East of Eden.]
To begin with, why did God “make” a Devil? Many Bible students understand that Satan the Devil was originally a cherub, a powerful angelic being who once covered God’s heavenly throne. He is described in Ezekiel 28. He was “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty…Perfect in [his] ways from the day [he was] created, till iniquity was found in [him]. (Verses 12, 15). [See: Where Did the Devil Come From?] God created a perfect angel, not a Devil. [See this link: http://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the booklet titled “Did God create the Devil?]
Isaiah 14:12-15 takes up the story of this cherub, apparently named “Lucifer [meaning “bringer of light”], whose sin or iniquity was exalting his throne above all the angels and attempting to overthrow God from His throne so he could take over as “God” or “the Most High.” But the Almighty God threw Lucifer and his angels down to earth, which was the domain God gave them (Jude 6). Revelation 12:3-9 shows that Satan and his angels [he was an “archangel” leading fully one-third of all God’s angels, as Michael was or is (Jude 9)] are cast down to earth. At Christ’s return Satan, with his demons, will be bound in some dark prison, thus making them unable to deceive mankind as they do today (Revelation 20:1-3). [About Satan’s fate, see: Two Goats Together.]
That God found iniquity in a perfect angel shows that Lucifer had a choice to obey God or not. Lucifer chose to rebel and disobey. God also gave Adam and Eve the choice between obeying Him or not. The Genesis story shows that our first parents chose to disobey God and listened to the Devil instead. If God had not given man freedom of choice or free will, man would merely become an automaton or robot, unable to do nothing but what his Maker tells him to as an automatic thing and not through the exercise of the will or volition. This is the wisdom of God that may appear foolish or stupid to some people. [See: “My Brain Made Me Do it!” and What Is This Thing Called Will?]
As Paul said, God’s wisdom is to give sinful mankind a Savior in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross. This was intimated by God, when He told Satan (in the guise of a serpent): “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). Paul wrote about this, in Romans 16:20: “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. Revelation 12:7-10; 20:1-3 elaborates on how Christ will do this.
God’s wisdom and knowledge to fill the earth
When Christ returns to earth to claim all rule and authority over all of mankind, only the truth and knowledge of God will be taught. Nations will come to Christ’s throne in Jerusalem to learn about God’s law (Isaiah 2:2-3). “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain [symbolic of God’s kingdom, which will occupy the whole earth (see Daniel 2:44-45; Revelation 11:13)], for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). [See: “The Next Chapter of History” and World Peace – at Last!]
Finally people all over the earth will appreciate God’s wisdom and knowledge. They will acknowledge that God’s thoughts and ways are different from and are higher than man’s thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). God tells unrighteous man to forsake his thoughts and ways and return to God (Verses 6-7). [See: Switching Positive and Negative and Spiritual Dyslexia.]
Someday men will understand the depth and breadth of God’s love and wisdom [See: The Four Dimensions of Christ’s Love]. No one will think or declare God to be “stupid” or “foolish.” As Paul wrote: “Be not deceived, God is not [– and cannot be –] mocked [without some dire consequence]; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Defiant mankind cannot, and will not, prevail against God (Psalm 9:19).
Men will, instead, fear and worship God as All-wise and perfect in His thoughts and ways (Revelation14:7). We are commanded to become perfect as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48). [See: True Worship.]
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.