Southern Evangelical Seminary President Dr. Richard Land: What Was Intended for Evil, God Intended for Good
May 19, 2020
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—According to a new poll regarding COVID-19, “almost two-thirds of American believers of all faiths … feel that God is telling humanity to change how it lives,” the Associated Press reported Monday.
The survey by the University of Chicago Divinity School and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicates that people may also be searching for deeper meaning in the devastating outbreak.
Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) President and Evangelical leader Dr. Richard Land says that while is it understandable that people of faith would seek to discern a Divine Hand in catastrophic events like the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a huge difference between “God caused” and “God allowed.”
“We must always be very cautious in assuming that we can completely know the mind and purposes of God,” Land said. “As Romans 11:33-35 reminds: ‘Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”’ No less a spiritual giant than the Apostle Paul assures us that we cannot know the ways of God. One thing we don’t want to do is ascribe evil to God. It may well be like Joseph told his brothers who betrayed him and sold him into slavery in Egypt, ‘What you intended for evil, God intended for good’ (Genesis 50:20).
“Looking at it from our limited, human perspective here on Earth,” Land continued, “clearly the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the overconfidence of millions of our fellow Americans, who assumed, given the tremendous economy and the wonderful technological advances in American health care, that they had insulated themselves from economic deprivation and critical and perhaps fatal illness. After all, if you are a reasonably affluent American who practices sound health habits—such as not smoking, not drinking, maintaining a healthy weight, not taking illicit drugs, who exercises and gets regular checkups—you have drastically lowered the odds of getting the diseases that are the most likely to end your life prematurely. With a mysterious and incredibly contagious virus coming out of the Orient, however, there is relatively little you can do to protect yourself. And, of course, the economic dislocation is the greatest we’ve seen since the Great Depression of the early 1930s.
“Certainly, more Americans are thinking about spiritual things and the relatively delicate, transitional nature of human life than prior to the pandemic,” he concluded. “I, for one, would be far more comfortable using a Genesis 50 interpretation—that what Satan intended for evil, God has redeemed for good—in that it is causing people to think about eternal things. Again, I would be uncomfortable ascribing to God something as pervasively destructive as this pandemic. It is one thing to speculate on the potential results of an event; it’s another thing entirely to presume that we can, with any confidence, discern its origin and purposes as Divine.”
Land explores topics like these in his daily radio feature, “Bringing Every Thought Captive,” as well as in his weekly column for The Christian Post, where he serves as executive editor. Last week, Land taught a one-week livestreaming Ethics class at SES, where he discussed these issues along with many others with his students from the perspective of a biblically based ethic. Learn about SES classes here or visit ses.edu/apply.
SES has announced its 2020 National Conference on Christian Apologetics (NCCA), set for Oct. 16-17 in Charlotte. The seminary will focus on the theme of “Hold Fast” for the 27th annual conference by welcoming some of the nation’s top apologetics speakers. The early bird deadline for tickets is Aug. 1, and SES is offering a free apologetics Bible to early ticketholders.
To interview Dr. Richard Land of Southern Evangelical Seminary, contact Hamilton Strategies, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or ext. 102.