By Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)
No! God cannot perform evil. In fact, it is logically impossible for God to perform objectively evil actions. From within the Christian worldview, God is good and is the epitome of good (1 Chronicles 16:34). Indeed, God is the standard of goodness itself, and all other things are judged good on the basis of whether it conforms to the character and nature of God Himself.
It is logically impossible for a perfect, holy, righteous and good God to perform that which is not perfect, holy, righteous and good. God always and can only act in ways that are consistent with His own nature. It is for this reason that it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). God cannot lie because He is the truth (John 14:6). God cannot perform evil because He is good (Matthew 19:17). To speak of a God who is the foundation of goodness itself as performing that which is evil is equivalent of speaking of a square-circle, it is a logically incoherent concept.
Basically, to ask if it is possible for God to perform evil is to ask if it is possible for God not to be God? The answer to that question is an emphatic no! It is not possible. We need to always remember that to call something evil presupposes an objective standard of good by which to measure whether an action conforms to that standard or not. On the Christian worldview, God is that standard. For God, there is no standard of goodness “outside” of Himself to which He must appeal and act in conformity with, He is the standard, therefore, anything that God does is by definition good because it flows necessarily from his perfectly good character.
God does not arbitrarily define certain actions as good or evil as though tomorrow God might call stealing good and sharing evil. It doesn’t work that way. Something is good because it necessarily reflects the nature and character of God.
Now just because God cannot perform evil by definition does not mean that God cannot act in ways that we “perceive” or “interpret” to be evil. For sure, many an atheist would claim that God flooding the earth in the days of Noah was an “evil” action on God’s part. But of course, they would be wrong, both biblically and logically. Biblically, the unbeliever would be wrong because when God executes judgment, He always does so righteously and for good reason. Logically, because it is logically impossible for a perfectly good God to perform that which is evil, and hence, His decision to judge a sinful world with a flood was the “good” thing to do even though certain human beings might deem it evil. So our perception and limited judgments of God’s actions cannot adequately make the case that any of God’s actions are “evil”, and indeed, to call them evil would have to already presuppose God as the standard of goodness which would cause the objector to God’s actions to shoot themselves in the foot logically speaking.
So can God perform evil? No! Can God perform actions perceived to be evil by sinful, finite human beings? Yes! But there is a clear difference between these two questions. In the final analysis, God is good, He is always good, and is the foundation for goodness itself.