How do you understand the existence of evil in a world in which God is sovereign? Herman Bavinck contrasts consistent Christianity with the view of Pelagius, the British monk and opponent of Augustine, who taught that God’s power was subordinate to man’s free will:
“Present in this world there is so much that is so much that is irrational, so much undeserved suffering, so many inexplicable disasters, such unequal and incomprehensible apportionment of good and bad fortune, such a heartbreaking contrast between joy and sorrow, that any thinking person has to choose between interpreting it – as pessimism does – in terms of the blind will of some misbegotten deity, or on the basis of Scripture believingly trusting in the absolute, sovereign, and yet – however incomprehensible – wise and holy will of him who will some day cause the full light of heaven to shine on those riddles of our existence. . . . Pelagianism scatters flowers over graves, turns death into an angel, regards sin as mere weakness, lectures on the uses of adversity, and considers this the best possible world. Calvinism has no use for such drivel. It refuses to be hoodwinked. It tolerates no delusion, takes full account of the seriousness of life, champions the rights of the Lord of lords, and humbly bows in adoration before the inexplicable sovereign will of God Almighty. As a result, it proves to be fundamentally more merciful than Pelagianism.”
Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2, p. 394.
(Used as a bulletin insert in connection with a sermon on Romans 8:28. My thanks to Mark Garcia for pointing me to the Bavinck quote.)