|Does the Bible teach that God is the source of evil?|
Isaiah 45:7 "I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things."
Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?
Lamentations 3:38 "Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?"
Jeremiah 18:11 "Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you."
Ezekiel 20:25,26 "I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live. And I polluted them in their own gifts...
Is God the source of evil, according to these passages?
In the first four verses, the word "evil" is ra. This word does indicate moral evil elsewhere. But there are meanings for this word like "adversity" and words of similar nature. Ra can therefore be used in both senses.
Now with this in mind, how do we determine the proper translation of ra in this case?
The answer is simple, once we consider the literary parallel in the verse in question. Note the antithesis in the first part of the verse from Isaiah: light/darkness. The second part of the verse must also be therefore reckoned as an antithesis. The word we translate "prosperity" is a familiar one: shalom. We commonly translate this word "peace" - but it is NEVER used to indicate moral goodness, the antithesis of moral evil. We must therefore translate "ra" in terms of its specified antithesis, and that is why it is thoroughly proper to give it the meaning of calamity/disaster/adversity here.
Presumably Skeptics would "argue by outrage" and say that God has no right to cause us adversity. For more on this, see Glenn Miller's article on this verse.
The verse from Amos offers a similar parallel, to the blowing of a trumpet -- a sign of calamitous judgment, not moral evil. The same is the case for Lamentations, where ra is placed in opposition to a word that means "beauty" or "bounty" or joy, and the verse after which asks, "Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?" The verse prior in Jeremiah ("If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.") uses the same word for "good" in opposition.
The verses in Ezekiel tell us that God handed the Israelites over to their sinful desires when they refused to obey him. God allowed the Israelites to govern themselves by pagan statutes as part of their punishment -- in other words, they "asked for it". God is not the source of this sort of evil; we are.