Christian Relaunch

The "Happy Fault" Theory

"Man's defection and the presence of evil in the world are part of God's plan, intended to make possible, through salvation, a spiritual life higher than anything that could have occurred if man had complied all along."

This is called the Happy Fault (felix culpa) theory. It sometimes quotes statements like the following.

"You meant evil against me but God meant it for good."

Genesis 50.20.

The theory arises from the mistaken idea that God's omnipotence means that everything that occurs is part of God's plan. Its adherents tend to refer to 1st Corinthians 15 but this describes the original and proper, divinely intended order of things, including man's natural graduation to the spiritual. It does not suggest that this required wickedness to arise.

When, as in the Genesis passage, the Bible speaks of God bringing about an evil in order to achieve a good it does not mean that he has brought about evil as a whole. It means that, since people will do evil, God arranges things so that they do what turns out to be the least harmful evil. God is achieving his purposes in spite of our wickedness, not with the help of it.

This theory plays down our task to develop the world, and instead emphasises an imaginary spiritual realm that is disconnected from the world we see around us. So it entails a fundamental departure from Christian belief, not a mere detail. If its adherents are logical they will have parted company with me in the Creation section of this Creed, but addressing this objection had to wait until after wickedness had been explored.

This theory leads naturally to the kind of preoccupation with Christ's suffering called passion mysticism, and logically to the idea that God made the world so that Christ could suffer and that the meaning of life is especially associated with that suffering. Very silly, at best.

A system which rests all its weight on a piece of treachery makes that treachery not only inevitable but sacred."

D. H. Lawrence, Aaron's Rod, Chapter 8.

This theory is often attributed to Augustine of Hippo, e.g. "God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist" (Enchiridion 8). But this may be a mistake."For we never say to them, what this opponent has opposed to himself, that sin was necessary in order that there might be a cause for God's mercy. Would there had never been misery to render that mercy necessary! " (De Natura et Gratia 28).

Back to God's way to save us.