Why didn’t God protect the children he created from an evil being like Satan?

This question was asked in a comment on my post about “Why did God create Satan?” It reflects the same concern as the person who asked the question I originally addressed in that post: If earthly fathers would do everything they could to protect their children from evil people, why didn’t God protect the children he created from an evil being like Satan?

Q. Even as an earthly father, if I had the ability to place my daughter in a perfect environment and allow her to be spotless and live forever, why would I ever create something evil to tempt her, all the while knowing she would give in?

I don’t believe that God deliberately and intentionally made a creature whose role would be to tempt humans to do wrong and so forfeit their innocence and their place in an earthly paradise. As I tried to explain clearly in my original post, I believe that God created Lucifer, not Satan, an angel with great powers and the awesome responsibility of choosing how to use those powers. There was as great potential for good as there was for evil. Unfortunately Lucifer fell through pride and so became Satan.

I also don’t believe that God knew in advance that Eve and Adam would inevitably give in if they were tempted and deceived. I believe they were given freedom that was so genuine that what they would ultimately choose was unknowable in advance.

I am aware of a stream within theology (technically known as “infralapsarianism”) that says God ordained the fall so that it would become the occasion for redemption. This is the felix culpa or “happy fall” idea expressed in the traditional Latin mass for the Easter vigil:
O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem =
“O happy fault that merited such and so great a Redeemer.”
I personally see such serious implications for the character of God that I don’t celebrate the fall in these terms.

I’m rather what’s known as a “supralapsarian.” God did not ordain the fall, but once it happened, God worked from “above” it, not from “within” it, to bring about our redemption. For me this idea preserves God’s love and human freedom even while it correctly portrays God as the sole agent of our salvation.

I hope these further thoughts are helpful.

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is a writer and biblical scholar who is also an ordained minister. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the Scriptures that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He has an A.B. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

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