The Fallacies of Calvinist Apologetics – Fallacy #8: “Calvinism Doesn’t Charge God With the Authorship of Sin”

Related Fallacies:
Red Herring
Equivocation

“All I have tried to do here is show how clearly, succinctly and simply that Calvinism does NOT charge God with the authorship of sin and so (to employ the somewhat aggressive language of Scripture) to shut the mouths of the gainsayers. If any have a case against Calvinism, then let it be based on truth and not on falsehood and slander.” – Colin Maxwell, Do Calvinists believe and teach that God is the Author of Sin?

Colin Maxwell put up the page linked to above showing various quotes from prominent Calvinist sources indicating that they do not believe or teach that God is the author of sin. His point apparently, judging from the content and page’s title, is to stop non-Calvinists from ‘slandering’ them by claiming they teach such a thing.

Problems with this logic

This is something of a red herring, as it’s not widely claimed that Calvinists (apart from some exceptions) directly teach or are willing to connect the dots of their own doctrine to conclude that God is the author of sin. That’s probably the biggest hole in high Calvinism, why would they admit to it -much less openly teach it? Whether they’re willing to accept the ramifications of their beliefs is quite beside the point. The real problem is that making God out to be the author of sin is what their exhaustive determinist doctrine inescapably amounts to.

What is meant by ‘author of sin?’

The term ‘author‘ as employed by Arminians/Synergists in this case, is used in an originative sense to describe where the evil ultimately arose from. If we can identify, “whose idea was this?“, then we’ve found the author. Calvinists will often equivocate and say that it means “actually committing the sin,” or some such, but the ‘author’ of an action doesn’t necessarily describe someone directly committing that action, rather it denotes the one who came up with the action to begin with. A reasonable summary of how decree and authorship are related might be worded:

If a decree is made and its intentions carried out as a result, then the author of the decree is the author of the decree’s fulfilled intentions.

Looking at an example from scripture, this concept stands up quite well.

“So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born [to the Hebrews] you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.” (Exodus 1:22)

As a result, Pharaoh’s men went and carried out his cruel order. To be sure, such a devilish scheme was an inexcusable crime against the people of God; our question then is who authored this crime?

Let’s assume for sake of argument that Pharaoh didn’t actually do any of the dirty work himself. So who authored this crime? The Hebrews? Hardly. The soldiers carried it out. Was it then his soldiers’ idea? Whether they did so willingly or unwillingly under threat of death doesn’t make a difference; they weren’t the ones that came up with the order, Pharaoh was. His subordinates’ level of willingness is irrelevant. His not lifting a finger in helping them perform it is irrelevant. Pharaoh was the one who made the decree, and it was Pharaoh’s intent that was carried out as a result. Pharaoh was the one who ultimately masterminded the act. Pharaoh authored the crime.

High Calvinist Theodicy

It can be fairly said then that whoever makes a decree that is carried out is the author of its intended action. Without fear of being charged with oversimplification then, high Calvinist theodicy can be easily broken with the questions:

Did God author sin?
Did God decree sin?
Did God not author His own decrees?

It’s as simple as that. If God specifically decreed that people sin, then God is the one who came up with the idea and is therefore its author (and the de facto mastermind behind it). Trying to deny the problem by redefining ‘author’ amounts to nothing more than playing word games. One need not ‘charge’ God with being the author of sin to give just such an implication from one’s doctrine. Hence Maxwell’s attempts to put down supposed slander are wholly misaimed and inconsequential, since what he and other Calvinists aren’t directly teaching doesn’t change what they’re effectively teaching.

What About Arminian Theodicy?

The Calvinist might try to confuse the issue by claiming that God decreed that man have free will, which man then turns to sin; therefore for the Arminian, sin is also a result of God’s decree. The answer to this charge is simple. Sin did indeed result from God’s endowing man with free will, but that result hinged upon the creatures’ independent wills, not by necessity of divine decree. In other words, God created good but somewhat independent agents who add their own independent choices to the mix, so that some parts of the outcome (e.g. their sin) are not what God decreed specifically. Or to put it more simply, creatures independently choosing to rebel doesn’t make God the author of their rebellion by virtue of His giving them free will.

For a hypothetical example similar to that cited in Exodus, what if Pharaoh had instead ordered his men, “Make sure the Hebrews don’t start a rebellion,” yet one of the officers assumed he could then commit infanticide and so misused his power? Would Pharaoh have then been the author of the crime? No, had it happened that way, the author would have been the subordinate officer who misused his authority in giving the order. In the same way, God has given us free will, but not necessitated that we misuse it in rebellion against Him.

Didn’t God intend Christ’s death?

Yes He did. God fully intended to offer up His only begotten Son as a sacrifice for sin. This doesn’t imply that He authored every evil intent used to obtain that result. If for the sake of others, one were to deliver his child into the hands of wicked men to do with as they please (even knowing their murderous intent), this would only imply that he was the author of offering up his child, the authors of the wicked schemes carried out are the evil men themselves. And as all sides would agree, God can turn the results of mens’ self-authored wicked intentions to accomplish His own purposes.

Another Red Herring

Calvinists will often try to dismiss the problem by saying that sin is something man does of his own will and motivations. For instance, Maxwell on this page cites a quote by Calvin:

every evil proceeds from no other fountain other than the wicked lusts of man

This sort of defense by an exhaustive determinist is a subtle attempt to draw attention away from where they believe man’s choices and motivations arise: What they’re not telling you is that they also believe that every choice, motivation, ‘wicked lust,’ vice, and evil imagination is specifically and immutably decreed by God. If you want to know where they think the sin actually originated, just pose the question,

“Has any creature who has ever sinned (unbelievers, believers, Adam, Eve, Satan, the fallen angels etc.) ever made that choice with some degree of independence so that it could have chosen differently, or have they always chosen exactly as God irresistibly and immutably decreed they choose?”

Unless you’re talking to one of the very rare free will Calvinists (such as Greg Koukl), the answer will always be the latter (or “I don’t know / it’s a mystery” if they’re feeling squeamish). It always ends up being unconditionally due to God’s decree. Clearly, all the rhetoric about sin proceeding from man’s evil motives is simply an evasion of the real issue, since to the high Calvinist, even the evil motives themselves don’t come from man’s abuse of his independent will, but irresistibly arise from God’s decree.

Conclusion

Given this determinist dogma, Calvinists simply denying that they believe God is the author of sin is hardly relevant. That’s akin to someone claiming that he doesn’t deny the physical resurrection of Christ while at the same time claiming that Christ’s body is still dead and buried. The two claims are mutually exclusive, thus to make them simultaneously is self-contradictory.

The Bible doesn’t directly state that “God isn’t the author of sin;” but the fact that the wickedness that exists in our world didn’t originate from within Him barely even needs be stated.

“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

If one claims that God exhaustively and unconditionally predetermines every motive and thought, this is equivalent to saying that God is the originator every motive and thought, which inescapably includes God being the originator of every evil motive and thought. “A heart that devises wicked imaginations” is an abomination to God (Prov. 6:18), yet if high Calvinist dogma is to be believed, we’d have to conclude that God devised all of their depraved imaginations for them! Far better to believe the scriptures that testify both of God’s absolute Holiness as well as the choices that He in His sovereignty allows men to freely make, rather than Calvinism’s incoherent train wreck of a doctrine that (wittingly or no) makes Him into the mastermind behind every evil scheme.

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188 Responses

  1. I remember reading a quote from Calvinist theologian John Frame who said that he did in fact believed that while God did not cause sin, He no doubt decrees it for His glory. His reasoning follows the same as John Piper and many others who see that since God is sovereign (and by this they mean that He predetermines all actions) than it logically follows that He decrees sinful acts for His own purposes. Piper likes to point out the murder of Jesus as a case in point of sin that turned into an act for the glory of God that He decreed beforehand would take place.

    I think the battle, however, it tough for us Arminians in that we are not even speaking the same language as Calvinists. As Calvinist Dr. Sam Storms said, “Free will is a myth.” Since Calvinism rejects free will, it rejects the idea that men can freely commit sins against God who knows, controls, and determines all things (Eph. 1:11). Until we agree on terms and what they mean then we will always be debating our views.

  2. Even if a Calvinist grants everything you’ve said, I don’t understand how this is supposed to be a good point against Calvinism. So what if he is the mastermind behind every evil in the world? Doesn’t that give us a better theodicy? That there is some sufficient reason for every evil event that occurs in the universe, and none of them are entirely pointless? This view of God seems better to me than a view where God allows some evils to occur which no good will ever come from (evils from the misuse of free will).

    Secondly, how can a God with meticulous foreknowledge of future contingent propositions not also take those into consideration when deciding which possible world to actualize? Doesn’t he seek to make the best world he can, if he is a perfect being? And if he does take them into consideration, and some of them would no doubt be about certain agents committing evil actions, then how is he not also a mastermind behind the crimes in a certain way? He surely sets things up so that they certainly occur; he didn’t have to, either. That sounds like a mastermind or author of sorts to me.

  3. Doesn’t that give us a better theodicy?

    No…the point of a theodicy is to explain how God and evil coexist. I suppose that could be a theodicy, that God causes sin which He forbids, but then you’d run into scriptural challenges and questioning the character of God. But most theodicies don’t attempt to attribute sin to God.

    if he does take them into consideration, and some of them would no doubt be about certain agents committing evil actions, then how is he not also a mastermind behind the crimes in a certain way

    Really? I posted on this not long ago. See necessary and sufficient conditions. On this logic, the Wright brothers are the masterminds of 9-11.

  4. Secondly, how can a God with meticulous foreknowledge of future contingent propositions not also take those into consideration when deciding which possible world to actualize? Doesn’t he seek to make the best world he can, if he is a perfect being?

    I don’t know that JC denied that God sought to create the best world possible and took into considerations the contingencies created by human freedom, but He did not author the sins, humanity did through their freedom. There may be no feasible world where free creatures act better than they do in this one and where so many come to Christ.

  5. Is not the best possible world yet to be? The picture of eternity we are given in scripture is not a replication of Eden, nor do those who enter that realm look like Adam. So even though the pristine creation was pronounced very good by God, it’s not what he’s taking everthing back to in eternity. It seems to me an impossibility to truly understand what might be the best for this transitory world. I think it is what it has to be in order to accomplish His ultimate aims.

  6. Steven,

    “I don’t understand how this is supposed to be a good point against Calvinism.”

    See last point with 1 John 1:5.

    “This view of God seems better to me than a view where God allows some evils to occur which no good will ever come from (evils from the misuse of free will).”

    A God in whom all evil originates rather than a God who (possibly) allows wholly useless evil to be committed… how exactly is this supposed to be a better view of God?

    “And if he does take them into consideration, and some of them would no doubt be about certain agents committing evil actions, then how is he not also a mastermind behind the crimes in a certain way? … That sounds like a mastermind or author of sorts to me.”

    Because allowing a situation in which wrong can occur (including if it certainly will given the agent) isn’t akin to planning it out. I satirize that common misconception here.

  7. See last point with 1 John 1:5.

    That there is no darkness in God does not preclude his ordaining evil for good reasons. “In him there is no darkness” sounds like God is morally perfect to me.

    A God in whom all evil originates rather than a God who (possibly) allows wholly useless evil to be committed… how exactly is this supposed to be a better view of God?

    Because there is no evil in the world you can point to and say, “This happened for no reason; there are no redeeming reasons God had for allowing this specific evil.” All evils are explained rather than only some of them. That sounds good to me.

    Because allowing a situation in which wrong can occur (including if it certainly will given the agent) isn’t akin to planning it out. I satirize that common misconception here.

    Of course, this would work only if you deny God has any sort of ultimate end in mind in creating the world. But if God does have some kind of ultimate end (which he should if he is a most perfect being; a most perfect being would never do anything without some good end in mind), then he surely would have taken the means into consideration and chose to instantiate a possible world best fit to accomplishing his end. But then that involves some kind of planning and arranging evil events to occur, because the world he created has evil in it. Sounds like authorship, as you’re using the term, to me.

    Brennon: Really? I posted on this not long ago. See necessary and sufficient conditions. On this logic, the Wright brothers are the masterminds of 9-11.

    I replied to your post a long time ago; I’m not ignorant of it. Your point isn’t worth much.

  8. Mr Thibodaux,

    Whether Calvinists are said to teach God’s Authorship of directly or indirectly is, in the final analysis, neither here or there. The fact that you wrote: Whether they’re willing to accept the ramifications of their beliefs is quite beside the point. The real problem is that making God out to be the author of sin is what their exhaustive determinist doctrine inescapably amounts to. justifies the page which you condemn as a red herring.

    The sin in any action belongs entirely to the sinner. The Bible makes that clear, giving us the source of the sin in the wickedness of the human heart – the willingness to succumb to the Devil’s temptation – the various warnings against it and threatening from God – and the punishment inflicted for it. All the Calvinist commentators faithfully follow the Bible in doing so as well. It is not as if we go quiet on the matter and by our silence allow that man is a pawn without any responsibility.

    God, as God, and in keeping with His every attribute inc. holiness and wisdom etc., exercises His right to channel man’s sin for His own glory. If you read the various explanations again, you will see how careful the various Calvinists are to make that plain. Making use of sin is not the same as authoring it. If it were, then the “wicked hands” that crucified Christ upon the Cross must belong (if we can attribute human bodily parts God) to the One whose determinate counsel and foreknowledge ordained that the Cross take place. (Acts 2:23/4:37-38)

    As to Calvinists resorting to the cry of “It is a mystery” as to how God can do this – what else can we do? With Paul we are happy to stop where revelation stops and adore the mystery in Romans 11:34-36. It is not a blind mystery. We might not know why or how God makes use of this or that foul sin, but we know enough to say that He who is Light and in whom is no darkness at all cannot be the Author of sin and therefore cannot be indicted with any crime. If you have received extra revelation from God on the matter, you might be so kind as to share it with us. (I jest)

    I think that you get all frightened when we use words like “God ordaining this or that event” to happen and read into it more than is warranted. Fair enough to a point, but to read a page like the one I have compiled where, through various quotations, we show what we mean and then still attack it beggars belief. You seem determined to pin something on us that we do not believe, have clearly said so, and are horrified that another would insist that we believe it. I think that if I were an Arminian, I would sigh relief and say “Thankfully the Calvinists have been exceedingly careful not to go down that road. Fair play!”

    Regards,

  9. Please excuse my cut and paste with the following quote from the above referenced site. I give it here because it is so emphatic. It may be that many of your readers will not bother to visit the original site nor read the various exaplanations of how God can use sin to further His own holy ends without being author of those sins. The comments are Calvin’s. Note how that no less than 4 (four) times Calvin clearly states that God is not the Author of sin plus one statement that He is not its Originator:

    “But to draw out what is hid in our hearts is a far different thing from inwardly alluring our hearts by wicked lusts. He then treats here of inward temptations which are nothing else than the inordinate desires which entice to sin. He justly denies that God is the author of these, because they flow from the corruption of our nature.”

    “But there are two things to be noticed here: when Scripture ascribes blindness or hardness of heart to God, it does not assign to him the beginning of this blindness, nor does it make him the author of sin, so as to ascribe to him the blame: and on these two things only does James dwell.”

    “But since God blinds or hardens, is he not the author or minister of evil? Nay, but in this manner he punishes sins, and renders a just reward to the ungodly, who have refused to be ruled by his Spirit. (Romans 1:6.) It hence follows that the origin of sin is not in God, and no blame can be imputed to him as though he took pleasure in evils. (Genesis 6:6.) The meaning is, that man in vain evades, who attempts to cast the blame of his vices on God, because every evil proceeds from no other fountain than from the wicked lust of man. And the fact really is, that we are not otherwise led astray, except that every one has his own inclination as his leader and impeller. But that God tempts no one, he proves by this, because he is not tempted with evils. For it is the devil who allures us to sin, and for this reason, because he wholly burns with the mad lust of sinning. But God does not desire what is evil: he is not, therefore, the author of doing evil in us.”

    Regards,

  10. JCT, while I agree that determinism makes God the author of sin, I still think it important to acknowledge that this is what Arminians claim is the logical conclusion of Calvinism, rather than what Calvinists claim. Acknowledge what they claim, and show what that entails.

    I get frustrated when Calvinists talk about what Arminians think when what they should say is Arminians claim thus and logically it implies this.

    This is important to show where the dispute is, frequently the Calvinist is wrong about their logic, often because Calvinism creeps through is some unstated premise.

  11. […] a Comment Tags: Author of Sin argument, Calvinism, Foreknowledge, Theodicy J.C. says that Calvinism makes God the author of sin. How good his argument is, I am not sure. I have a suspicion that it is too far-reaching–that […]

  12. bethyada,

    I agree fully. I note in the second paragraph that most Calvinists don’t directly teach such a thing, and I’m convinced that many in fact don’t believe it to be true, despite their teaching its logical equivalent.

    Steven,

    “That there is no darkness in God does not preclude his ordaining evil for good reasons.”

    It would preclude the entirety of the wickedness He hates from originating within Him.

    “Because there is no evil in the world you can point to and say, “This happened for no reason….”

    This is something of a contrived standard, since, 1. free will does actually explain the origin of all evils, there’s not really a pressing need to view all of it as being somehow useful, as it’s an act of the creatures and not the Creator. 2. since God can incorporate wicked mens’ rebellion into His plans, how exactly would you know whether or which He allows to occur for ‘no reason?’

    “Of course, this would work only if you deny God has any sort of ultimate end in mind in creating the world.”

    That statement doesn’t follow, since what ends God has in mind has nothing to do with culpability for allowing evil to occur.

    “But then that involves some kind of planning and arranging evil events to occur, because the world he created has evil in it. Sounds like authorship, as you’re using the term, to me.”

    Not at all, since authorship involves specific decretal intent. This was already well-answered under the heading “What About Arminian Theodicy?”

    To Brennon’s point, foreknowledge doesn’t change the level of responsibility for another’s independent actions in the slightest, because one’s own actions are still wholly contingent upon himself.

  13. “It would preclude the entirety of the wickedness He hates from originating within Him.”

    Originate in what sense? Causally? He would never plan evil? Or what? Because both of those are wrong; I don’t see why that text implies that.

    This is something of a contrived standard, since, 1. free will does actually explain the origin of all evils, there’s not really a pressing need to view all of it as being somehow useful, as it’s an act of the creatures and not the Creator. 2. since God can incorporate wicked mens’ rebellion into His plans, how exactly would you know whether or which He allows to occur for ‘no reason?’

    (1) “Free will” doesn’t explain the specific goods to come out of some specific case of evil. Why did Jeffrey Dahmer kill and eat women? You can’t say “because it was necessary that x came about” with the free will theodicy; for all you know, nothing good will ever come about from the Jeffrey Dahmer incident. And the existence of evils of that sort seems terrible to me.
    (2) The epistemological question is irrelevant. The whole point is that there are some evils from which no good will ever come, on the free will view.

    That statement doesn’t follow, since what ends God has in mind has nothing to do with culpability for allowing evil to occur.

    No one is arguing about culpability. We’re arguing about whether or not God was the first to conceive that there should be evil in the world, which is your usage of the term “author of evil”; whether it was “his idea”.

    Not at all, since authorship involves specific decretal intent. This was already well-answered under the heading “What About Arminian Theodicy?”

    Of course, God is not doing the same thing as “Go make sure the Hebrews don’t escape”. The analogies to Pharaoh are imperfect in that Pharaoh isn’t actualizing possible worlds with complete foreknowledge of future events. If God actualizes one world over another, where the worlds contain inconsistent sets of evil states of affairs, that suggests to me that God has specific evils in mind. God doesn’t just leave it up to chance which evils occur in the universe, he selects them over one another. That suggests specific intent.

    To Brennon’s point, foreknowledge doesn’t change the level of responsibility for another’s independent actions in the slightest, because one’s own actions are still wholly contingent upon himself.

    Yes it does. If I *know* my dog will freely kill a small child if I take it to the local park (or if you don’t like the idea of a dog with free will, then replace “my dog” with “my psychopathic older brother”), and I freely decide to take him to the park, how is it that I am not at least in part responsible for what happens?

  14. Steven,

    “Originate in what sense?”

    Thought it up, dreamed it up, came up with the idea apart from anything external. By the necessitarian view, we’d be forced to conclude that all we know as spiritual darkness proceeds wholly and unconditionally from within Him in whom is no darkness at all.

    ““Free will” doesn’t explain the specific goods to come out of some specific case of evil.”

    Nor need it, as implied above.

    “…for all you know, nothing good will ever come about from the Jeffrey Dahmer incident.”

    Which isn’t relevant, since I don’t know everything.

    “And the existence of evils of that sort seems terrible to me.”

    Which of course reduces this standard of theodicy to subjective preference.

    “…there are some evils from which no good will ever come, on the free will view.”

    How do you know?

    “We’re arguing about whether or not God was the first to conceive that there should be evil in the world….”

    I would say He allowed it contingent upon the creatures’ wills, but didn’t dream up their evil schemes Himself.

    “God doesn’t just leave it up to chance which evils occur in the universe, he selects them over one another. That suggests specific intent.”

    Certainly God knowingly made a world in which specific evil events such as Christ’s betrayal were certain, but this wouldn’t imply authorship of the events it entailed since the outcome was contingent upon agency of created beings, not necessitated by decree.

    “Pharaoh isn’t actualizing possible worlds with complete foreknowledge…”

    See below.

    “Yes it does.”

    No it doesn’t. That knowledge coupled with your civil responsibility would make you culpable. God is under no such obligation.

  15. You keep going back and forth on two different uses of “authorship”. On the one hand, you say authorship involves dreaming it up, thinking of it, conceiving of it, and on the other, you say God isn’t an author because the evils in the world aren’t necessitated by divine decree. It’s one or the other, J.C., and you have to stick with it.

    I would say He allowed it contingent upon the creatures’ wills, but didn’t dream up their evil schemes Himself.

    I gave an argument that suggests he thought up their evil schemes, because he actualizes a world where one evil scheme is done rather than another. You replied with “he’s not an author because he didn’t necessitate it by decree”. I can’t argue with a person who changes his use of the key phrases of the debate when it is convenient for him.

    No it doesn’t. That knowledge coupled with your civil responsibility would make you culpable. God is under no such obligation.

    Even if I lived in a lawless land, I would still be responsible (not necessarily culpable–you keep conflating the two). So the fact that God has no civil obligations doesn’t relieve him of responsibility (or culpability).

    Thought it up, dreamed it up, came up with the idea apart from anything external. By the necessitarian view, we’d be forced to conclude that all we know as spiritual darkness proceeds wholly and unconditionally from within Him in whom is no darkness at all.

    Your language is ambiguous and obfuscatory. “Proceeds” is not exactly clear.

    Besides, if the arguments for occasionalism I recently wrote about are good (which do not presuppose Calvinism or anything of that sort), then you as a Christian theist would have to say that evil events are directly caused by God, and in some equally unclear sense, all that is evil and dark “proceeds” from him in whom there is no darkness.

  16. Steven,

    “You keep going back and forth on two different uses of “authorship”. “

    Incorrect, the ideas go hand-in-hand, since coming up with an idea independently and necessitating it by decree aren’t at all mutually exclusive. When speaking of God’s unconditional (i.e. in no way affected by His creations) decrees, we’re necessarily talking about what God has come up with independently.

    “I gave an argument that suggests he thought up their evil schemes, because he actualizes a world where one evil scheme is done rather than another.”

    Which won’t hold, since the scheme is the contingent result of the creature’s independent will, then we couldn’t rightly say God dreamed it up for him.

    “Even if I lived in a lawless land, I would still be responsible

    True. Even beyond civil law, you’re still under general obligation by God to preserve human life; the sovereign God holds power of life and death for His creations, and therefore has no obligations to stop evil from being committed or prevent His creations from destroying each other, and is therefore not responsible for their actions in any moral sense.

    “Proceeds” is not exactly clear.

    “Came up with the idea apart from anything external” is quite unambiguous, unless you’re into pettifoggery….

    “Besides, if the arguments for occasionalism I recently wrote about are good ….”

    Not sure how you’d be applying that to what I believe.

  17. Even if I grant that God is not the author of the specific schemes of men (though I don’t grant this actually, and your response to my argument wasn’t good, I don’t think) on Arminianism/Molinism, I don’t see how this is supposed to be much better than God’s being the author of evil in some more general sense. So what? It was God’s idea that there be a world with evil in it. It may not have been God’s idea that there be a world with the specific evils we find in the actual world, but why does that matter? How does that suddenly relieve God of any responsibility; any authorship?

    True. Even beyond civil law, you’re still under general obligation by God to preserve human life; the sovereign God holds power of life and death for His creations, and therefore has no obligations to stop evil from being committed or prevent His creations from destroying each other, and is therefore not responsible for their actions in any moral sense.

    You don’t understand. Moral responsibility is irrelevant to the question of whether or not you have moral duties, etc. Moral responsibility is a matter of your action (or its consequences) “belonging to you” or “originating from you” in the right sense. That God does not have moral duties with regards to keeping his creatures from hurting each other doesn’t suddenly relieve him of responsibility for their crimes.

    “Came up with the idea apart from anything external” is quite unambiguous, unless you’re into pettifoggery….

    Fine, fine, I will grant all that. You say being the author of sin is bad, because all that is dark and evil would proceed from God. It is bad that God’s original idea for the world contained some sort of evil schemes that he came up with independently of any considerations about the wills of his creatures.

    I don’t see why that is supposed to be bad. Ultimately, the idea that God came up with is good; it is on the whole a good idea, even if it has bad parts. I don’t understand how this is supposed to paint God in a bad light? It isn’t an argument against the moral character of Mark Twain that his stories have some evil in them; neither is it an argument against God that the stories he dreamed when deciding to create the world contain evils in them; even if he wanted specific evils to occur and made sure they did. I don’t see why all this is supposed to be a good point.

  18. I replied to your post a long time ago; I’m not ignorant of it. Your point isn’t worth much.

    Or perhaps this is hand waving and you don’t have a good response. As I recall, when you commented on my post you didn’t even address the issue I was addressing. You went off on to the transfer of necessity stuff.

  19. No, I had a pretty good response. Good enough to be linked to by the Triabloggers, who are serious business. And I didn’t bring up transfer of necessity at all, so your memory is not perfect.

  20. have i been banned???

  21. I guess they’ve had enough of you Mitch!

  22. Steven,

    “That God does not have moral duties with regards to keeping his creatures from hurting each other doesn’t suddenly relieve him of responsibility for their crimes.”

    If the agents commit their crimes due to their independent agency, it very well does.

    “…but why does that matter? How does that suddenly relieve God of any responsibility; any authorship?”

    It matters because God is Holy. You’ve not established how man doing something independently of necessitation by God would suddenly make God the author of man’s crimes.

    It isn’t an argument against the moral character of Mark Twain that his stories have some evil in them…”

    Mark Twain was largely a fiction writer. I’m not talking about fictional worlds or people.

    “…it is on the whole a good idea, even if it has bad parts.”

    God is purely Holy. His creations may abuse their independence and do things that are evil, but regardless of His fully knowing them, His own thoughts and intents remain purely and absolutely Holy. Thus I see a major problem with someone claiming that the things that He utterly abhors and are contrary to His very nature are His own inventions.

    “Good enough to be linked to by the Triabloggers”

    Funny.

    Mitch,

    After your last series of irrational outbursts etc., I don’t care to interact with you further on these topics.

  23. fair enough

  24. If the agents commit their crimes due to their independent agency, it very well does.

    Say I had no moral duties with regards to allowing innocent children to be killed. Could I still not be responsible in part for their deaths if I took my psychopath older brother to the park where I knew he’d freely decide to kill? I may not be blameworthy–if I have no moral duties, it’s hard to see how I could be blameworthy for anything–but that is not the same as being responsible.

  25. I didn’t mean to press “Submit” when I did…

    God is purely Holy. His creations may abuse their independence and do things that are evil, but regardless of His fully knowing them, His own thoughts and intents remain purely and absolutely Holy. Thus I see a major problem with someone claiming that the things that He utterly abhors and are contrary to His very nature are His own inventions.

    Why does God’s planning evil events preclude his own intents remaining holy? If he intends them for good, how does this taint his own intentions?

    Mark Twain was largely a fiction writer. I’m not talking about fictional worlds or people.

    How does that affect my example? Why does that matter?

  26. Steven, that wasn’t the post I was talking about. This is. Hence the reason I said “my post.”

    Could I still not be responsible in part for their deaths if I took my psychopath older brother to the park where I knew he’d freely decide to kill?

    You’d be responsible for one thing, bringing a psychopath in contact with people (aka negligence) and the psychopath would be responsible for another (the actual murder). There isn’t just one thing happening here, there are two.

    Now if you want to try to say God is negligent in allowing sin, I would say He has morally sufficient reasons to allow sin and there is no feasible world of free creatures in which there is no sin.

  27. Why does God’s planning evil events preclude his own intents remaining holy? If he intends them for good, how does this taint his own intentions?

    It taints His character, in that He is committing evil acts and then holding others responsible. People aren’t a means to God’s end, they are ends in themselves. And if one holds to the mixture of deontological and virtue ethics it seems the Bible promotes, then the consequences of God creating evil acts in no way undoes the evilness of the acts themselves.

  28. Steven,

    “Could I still not be responsible in part for their deaths if I took my psychopath older brother to the park where I knew he’d freely decide to kill?”

    If you mean responsibility simply in the sense that you permitted it; whether God permits evil isn’t at issue.

    “Why does God’s planning evil events preclude his own intents remaining holy? If he intends them for good, how does this taint his own intentions?”

    Wicked thoughts and intents are inherently against God’s nature. So to say He Himself doesn’t just plan, but meticulously produces all of them is far beyond problematic.

    “How does that affect my example? Why does that matter?”

    Because fictional characters aren’t real, and fictional events don’t really happen, making them entirely disanalogous.

  29. Mr. Maxwell,

    “The fact that you wrote: …The real problem is that making God out to be the author of sin is what their exhaustive determinist doctrine inescapably amounts to. justifies the page which you condemn as a red herring.”

    Unless of course my analysis is correct.

    “The sin in any action belongs entirely to the sinner. The Bible makes that clear, giving us the source of the sin in the wickedness of the human heart – the willingness to succumb to the Devil’s temptation…. God, as God, and in keeping with His every attribute inc. holiness and wisdom etc., exercises His right to channel man’s sin for His own glory. … Making use of sin is not the same as authoring it.

    I agree on those points and indicate as much in my post, but those facts aren’t the point of contention.

    “I think that you get all frightened when we use words like “God ordaining this or that event” to happen and read into it more than is warranted.”

    I’ve discussed this issue with high Calvinists several times now, I know quite well where the doctrine inevitably leads.

    “You seem determined to pin something on us that we do not believe, have clearly said so, and are horrified that another would insist that we believe it.

    As to Calvinists resorting to the cry of “It is a mystery” as to how God can do this – what else can we do?”

    The logic is pretty inescapable really; appeals to mystery can’t solve outright contradictions. You don’t have to explicitly say something to unmistakably imply it. You don’t need to say “one” if you say “a positive integer that’s less than two,” because the longer statement rules out all possibilities other than one.

    A creature that has no independent agency can’t truly ‘author’ anything of its own, all of its thoughts etc. are externally predetermined or authored for it. So if we state that no created being has free agency, then we’ve ruled out the idea of sin being authored by them. So if to the question of sin’s authorship/origin we categorically exclude all created beings, then the only alternative left is an uncreated being, the only one of which is God.

  30. The statements in this article are so far from true Calvinism that I do not know where to start to form a proper rebuttal. First get your facts straight, and then we can discuss the Theology of Calvinism

  31. Mark, my facts about mainstream Calvinist doctrine are quite straight. If you see something specific that’s wrong, you’re welcome to point it out.

  32. Steven(1),

    I can appreciate that you question the concept of “if God is the Author of all of this, why does that necessarily paint Him as evil”, but you really end up arguing with not only the Arminian, but many Calvinists as well. As Maxwell pointed out earlier in the dialogue,

    “…Calvin clearly states that God is not the Author of sin plus one statement that He is not its Originator…”

    So apparently there is a recognized issue with tracing sin back to God. Even issues that Calvinists have distanced themselves from. That is the sole point of the article. It seems to be a logical conclusion, whether stated or otherwise. Whether it is a good argument or not is left up to the minds of men to decide.

    I do think you are fighting the wrong battle however.

  33. And just to add my half-cent to the discussion, I do not agree with the idea that God being the Author of Evil enables there to be a positive outcome to the event.

    I do not think the Bible teaches that there is always a positive outcome for the sins of men. In some cases, God only appeals to the judgment as the time when all will be made right through his Divine Justice.

  34. I want to spring off Steven(2)’s point about there not needing to be a positive outcome for evil. It seems quite arbitrary to think that there needs to be, and to accept God as the author of sin and evil because it can provide for that arbirtrary standard makes little sense.

    But having said that, the Arminian *can* obtain the same result simply by arguing that God will turn all sin and evil to a good outcome. He doesn’t have to be the cause of it to take it and turn it to good result. And there is no reason to think that he could not turn it to good result. Indeed, most of the reasons Calvinists cite as good outcomes from evil could easily be cited by Arminians as good outcomes God caused to come about out of evil he did not cause. He can use it to show forth his justice and so glorify himself; he can use it to sanctify his children; he can use it to draw people to him; he can use it to magnify his grace, etc. etc.

    So the Calvinist position holds no advantage here. It holds all the disadvantage for marring God’s character with evil, and it can’t even grasp some semblance of positive value that Arminianism cannot already provide.

  35. Brennon: You said “On Necessary and Sufficient conditions”, not “Is there trauma in sovereignty”. It’s not my problem if you referenced the wrong post.

    You’d be responsible for one thing, bringing a psychopath in contact with people (aka negligence) and the psychopath would be responsible for another (the actual murder). There isn’t just one thing happening here, there are two.

    This is stupid. It is clear as day that I’d be held responsible for the immediate foreseen consequences of my action, whether I was blameworthy for them or not. (You don’t seem to grasp the distinction between blameworthiness and responsibility, as your next bit indicates).

    You might as well argue that if God causally determined S to kill S’, then God is responsible for the creation of S, but not the murder of S’, because those are two different things there.

    Now if you want to try to say God is negligent in allowing sin, I would say He has morally sufficient reasons to allow sin and there is no feasible world of free creatures in which there is no sin.

    No one is arguing that God is blameworthy for the sins he allows. It is annoying as bananas when you bring up irrelevant points. We are arguing whether or not he is responsible, which I think it is clear he is.

    Steven (2): What the bananas do I care if Calvinists in times past have distanced themselves from what I’m saying? The thoughts that have occurred to me (and other Calvinists like the Triabloggers, I am thinking) suggest that ultimately God is the source of everything, evil or good. What does it matter what Calvinists in time past have defended? I’ll defend what I think is correct.

    JC:

    If you mean responsibility simply in the sense that you permitted it; whether God permits evil isn’t at issue.

    I already defined responsibility above. I mean morally responsible. I mean he is an eligible candidate for blame if he lacks morally sufficient reason for doing it. If I am responsible for bringing my psycho brother to the park and allowing that he kill little children, regardless of whether I am blameworthy for it, then so is God responsible for the evil that the sinners he permits commit.

    Wicked thoughts and intents are inherently against God’s nature. So to say He Himself doesn’t just plan, but meticulously produces all of them is far beyond problematic.

    Why is God planning a good story that contains some justified evil his thinking wicked thoughts? having wicked intents?

  36. Brennon said: It taints His character, in that He is committing evil acts and then holding others responsible. People aren’t a means to God’s end, they are ends in themselves. And if one holds to the mixture of deontological and virtue ethics it seems the Bible promotes, then the consequences of God creating evil acts in no way undoes the evilness of the acts themselves.

    On Calvinism, why is God committing evil acts and then holding others responsible for them? Give one example of such an act that Calvinists say God does which is evil, then holds others responsible for them.

    Further, I don’t understand why God can’t use people as means? Doesn’t he use people as means to bring the gospel to the elect? Doesn’t he use the reprobate as means to display his justice?

    Don’t *you* use people as means when you order pizza, or buy a hamburger, or get satellite TV installed in your home?

    And you will have to elaborate big time on your last sentence about deontology and virtue ethics if your point is going to be worth anything.

  37. Brennon: You said that you dealt with this issue in your post “On Necessary and Sufficient Conditions”, which is evidenced by your referencing the analogy you tried to draw with the Wright bros. You said I had no reply to it. I said that I did, good enough that it was linked to by the Triabloggers, and you replied with: no no, wrong post, I was talking about this one, but you don’t mention the Wright brothers at all in that post. Now which are you talking about?

  38. Steven,

    “I mean morally responsible. I mean he is an eligible candidate for blame if he lacks morally sufficient reason for doing it.”

    Then I would have to conclude that definition of moral responsibility can’t be applied to God for allowing evil. He isn’t an eligible candidate for blame simply by His allowing the event to occur regardless of His reasons, as He has no obligation to keep it from occurring, and hence there’s no basis on which He can be blamed.

    “Why is God planning a good story that contains some justified evil his thinking wicked thoughts? having wicked intents?”

    What’s diametrically opposed to God’s Holiness is never justifiable. Hence I say that inherently unholy thoughts and intents being produced (and from those decreed) in the mind of the Holy God is impossible. As Steven(2) pointed out, Calvin saw the extremely serious problem with this and attempted greatly to avoid it. While Mr. Maxwell and other more moderate Calvinists (including possibly Calvin from the quotes Maxwell offered) hold an incoherent view with “God decrees everything, but isn’t the author of sin,” they’re correct in their latter notion with not attributing sin’s origination to God. That would, to borrow Calvin’s phraseology, make Him the less-than-holy fountain of every vile imagination.

    Think about it for a moment Steven: If every lie the devil ever told wasn’t really his own idea that was rooted in his own heart and will, if instead each lie were really just God’s invention that He decreed the devil tell, to say that, we would literally (contra John 8:44) be calling God the father of lies rather than the devil.

  39. Then I would have to conclude that definition of moral responsibility can’t be applied to God for allowing evil. He isn’t an eligible candidate for blame simply by His allowing the event to occur regardless of His reasons, as He has no obligation to keep it from occurring, and hence there’s no basis on which He can be blamed.

    That he can’t be blamed doesn’t exclude his responsibility. I don’t see how you don’t know what I’m talking about.

    Being responsible for your actions is necessary but not sufficient for your being blameworthy for your actions. That he isn’t blameworthy doesn’t entail that he isn’t responsible.

    What’s diametrically opposed to God’s Holiness is never justifiable. Hence I say that inherently unholy thoughts and intents being produced (and from those decreed) in the mind of the Holy God is impossible. As Steven(2) pointed out, Calvin saw the extremely serious problem with this and attempted greatly to avoid it. While Mr. Maxwell and other more moderate Calvinists (including possibly Calvin from the quotes Maxwell offered) hold an incoherent view with “God decrees everything, but isn’t the author of sin,” they’re correct in their latter notion with not attributing sin’s origination to God. That would, to borrow Calvin’s phraseology, make Him the less-than-holy fountain of every vile imagination.

    You didn’t answer my question. I asked, how is God’s devising a plan for the world that includes some evil his thinking evil thoughts? Of course, I can see how God’s thinking purely evil thoughts is contrary to his nature; but I don’t see how God’s devising a story for the world that contains evil which is justified is his thinking thoughts that are inherently evil.

  40. Steven, I never said the post was about the wright bros. I used the Wright bros as an example HERE. The post I was referring to was the response to James Swan. I’ve not seen your response to that to my recollection. But if it’s anything analogous to what you’re presenting here, then I’m not impressed, because you’re not dealing with the major point.

    And if you think that being linked to by Triablogue is some major accomplishment, then more power to ya.

  41. What exactly is the major point that I’m not dealing with? I’m still not sure why God’s being the author of sin, as J.C. has defined the term, is such a bad thing, even granting all that he has argued. And I posted an argument on my blog that suggests that God would be the author of sin on Molinism, Arminianism, or Calvinism, as J.C. has defined the term, that has gone ignored and untouched.

    I do think grabbing the attention of the Triabloggers is a big accomplishment. Don’t you think they are pretty smart guys? Don’t you think they know what they’re talking about when they discuss various issues?

  42. Don’t you think they are pretty smart guys?

    I think some of them are. Other is just a logical fallacy machine.

  43. I didn’t mean to push send until I said that I don’t think any of them are stupid.

    On your recent blog post, all you’ve done is say that God has a reason for sin in His plan, and then jump to “which means that on any of those views you adopt, God will be the author of sin, on J.C.’s terms.” This is a non sequitur, and is clearly wrong, since the foreknown sins in Arminianism and most forms of Molinism are chosen by separate wills other than God. The people that originate/come up with the ideas are separate than God. He didn’t plan evil, He planned for the evil He knew would happen. If you can’t make that distinction, you aren’t addressing the issue.

  44. One more thought, I think that if we begin to accept the possibility that God is the author of evil, we have moved beyond acceptable philosophical conjecture.

  45. Steven (1) is light on scripture, and heavy on philosophy, which he has declared is his standard of truth on a previous thread.

    He failed to deal with the Bible on that thread, and he is repeating the same thing here.

    “The thoughts that have occurred to me (and other Calvinists like the Triabloggers, I am thinking) suggest that ultimately God is the source of everything, evil or good.”

    So you think God is the ultimate source of evil? Read the following passage from 1st John 2:15-17:

    “Do not love the world nor the things in the world If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

    For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

    The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

    So if you attribute evil to God, you are denying scripture. You may think you are blazing a new philosophical trail, but when you leave the Bible, you’ve left Christianity.

    It’s obvious from your posts you’ve got a lot more studying to do, outside of the philosophy classes.

  46. On your recent blog post, all you’ve done is say that God has a reason for sin in His plan, and then jump to “which means that on any of those views you adopt, God will be the author of sin, on J.C.’s terms.” This is a non sequitur, and is clearly wrong, since the foreknown sins in Arminianism and most forms of Molinism are chosen by separate wills other than God. The people that originate/come up with the ideas are separate than God. He didn’t plan evil, He planned for the evil He knew would happen. If you can’t make that distinction, you aren’t addressing the issue.

    The fact that they are chosen by separate wills than God (as if people don’t make choices on Calvinism?) has nothing to do with authorship. God is the author of sin because he is the first that devised that there should be any sin, by J.C.’s use of the phrase. Whether he determines those sins to occur or only actualizes those possible worlds where the right sins are committed freely doesn’t make a difference–the fact that he actualizes ɑ (this possible world) rather than W (any other), where ɑ and W contain inconsistent sets of evil states of affairs, suggests to me that he prefers those in ɑ to occur over those in W, which suggests that he had in specific sins in his plan prior to creating any world.

  47. The fact that they are chosen by separate wills than God (as if people don’t make choices on Calvinism?) has nothing to do with authorship.

    Um, if I authored a decision, it began in my will separate from alternate authorship…

    God is the author of sin because he is the first that devised that there should be any sin

    Prove that. That’s not what the Bible indicates. And there is no philosophical reason to think so. He devised to allow sin, but that doesn’t at all point to Him being the author in any way.

    Your logic still doesn’t follow.

  48. You are confused Brennon. I only used J.C.’s definition of the phrase; why would *I* have to prove it?

    And I have been giving you reasons to suppose that it’s true.

    He devised to allow sin, but that doesn’t at all point to Him being the author in any way.

    You’re all over the place. If he devised to allow sin, before there was any sin, then that is his devising that there should be sin, and is therefore the author by J.C.’s definition of the phrase.

  49. Obvious and undeniable non sequitur (quote of Steven):

    “If he devised to allow sin, before there was any sin,

    [watch for it; here it comes:]

    then that is his devising that there should be sin”

    What? Huh?

    Steve said: “as if people don’t make choices on Calvinism?) ”

    **** Of course people don’t make choices if Calvinism is true. That’s one among many reasons to reject Calvinism. it is inconsistent wit hthe very conceot of “choice”, and if true means that no human beings ever have a choice nor choose. Calvinism claims to believe in people making choices. But its tenets are incompatible with that position. See Ben’s excellent article: https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/the-reality-of-choice-and-the-testimony-of-scripture/ ( also at SEA: http://evangelicalarminians.org/Henshaw-Determinism-Free-Will-The-Reality-of-Choice-and-the-Testimony-of-Scripture).

  50. How is that a non sequitor, exactly? If I devise that I’m going to allow my psychopathic brother to kill a toddler at the park, then I devised that a murder is going to happen.

  51. Steven N,

    “That he can’t be blamed doesn’t exclude his responsibility. I don’t see how you don’t know what I’m talking about.”

    I was going off your wording: “I mean morally responsible. I mean he is an eligible candidate for blame if he lacks morally sufficient reason for doing it.” I maintain God isn’t a candidate for blame at all, as there’s no basis upon which to blame Him for not stopping something.

    “God is the author of sin because he is the first that devised that there should be any sin, by J.C.’s use of the phrase.”

    Incorrect, since my use of the phrase involved the intent of God’s decree, and sin was not the intent thereof. God’s plans make use of the sins that men freely commit, but that’s hardly akin to Him decreeing the sins for them.

    “Whether he determines those sins to occur or only actualizes those possible worlds where the right sins are committed freely doesn’t make a difference…”

    Makes a massive difference, since knowingly allowing people to commit specific sins on their own wouldn’t imply God authoring their sins, because their sins proceed from within themselves apart from necessitation by God; whereas God decreeing those specific sins would imply authorship.

    “…which suggests that he had in specific sins in his plan prior to creating any world.”

    God using sins in His plan isn’t tantamount to Him authoring them, since they’re not necessary by His decree, but rooted in the contingencies of free agency. Just as in a sting operation scenario, creating a situation with a known outcome based upon another person’s independent choices doesn’t constitute the one who made the scenario authoring his crime for him. One anticipating the opponent’s move ahead of time and employing it in one’s own strategy can hardly be labeled ‘authoring’ his move for him.

    “How is that a non sequitor, exactly? If I devise that I’m going to allow my psychopathic brother to kill a toddler at the park, then I devised that a murder is going to happen.”

    The murder itself is devised by the psychopath; you’re not devising his crime for him by allowing it. You would be culpable of endangerment because of your moral obligations, which as I’ve pointed out, falls short of being analogous to God since He isn’t under any obligation to stop us from destroying each other.

    “You didn’t answer my question.”

    Nor need I, as it’s not a requirement to my case; I only need to show that wicked thoughts proceeding from God isn’t a viable option, which I did by reductio in that it would make God the father of lies, and which Steven (2) did as well.

    “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father”

    [awesome reference btw Steven(2), I’m going to remember that one]

    I believe we can safely say that God knew of these evil things, and allowed them in that He created a world in which His creatures would independently choose to do them and for His own reasons didn’t prevent all of them, but that’s quite a far cry from denying the scriptures and saying that they were imagined by God and came from Him by decree.

  52. Hey J.C.T.,

    Thanks for the post.

    I think it is worth keeping in mind that there are indeed things which, precisely because of His own Holy nature, God cannot do. He cannot lie (Titus 1:2), He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13), He cannot be tempted by evil (James 1:13) etc. And since in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5) it should be little wonder that all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father. (1 Jn. 2:16).

    Since all evil and sin are completely opposed to God’s entire nature, it does seem quite more than a stretch to imagine that all such things contrary to His being were invented by Him and predestined to occur by divine and immutable decree before time was.

  53. JC has answered Steven’s response to my most recent post (the one from May 25, 2010 at 1:28 am). So I will leave them to carry on about the point. Now I just want to point out something that seems obvious but perhaps has gotten lost in the shuffle. Has not Steven basically conceded JC’s point that Calvinism does make God the author of evil? His response seems to be, “but that’s no big deal and I think Arminianism makes God the author of evil too.” Am I missing something? I certainly could be. But if not, are we not arguing with a hyper-Calvinist here, which mainstream Calvinists regard as heretical? That does not necessarily speak to the the validity of Steven’s argument, but it does help put it in some perspective. With this tack that some Calvinists have been arguing, perhaps it supports this suggestion posted at the Society of Evangelical Arminians (http://evangelicalarminians.org/Hyper-Calvinism%20Is%20the%20Logical%20Conclusion%20of%20Regular%20Calvinism):

    Calvinist Phil Johnson has said, “History teaches us that hyper-Calvinism is as much a threat to true Calvinism as Arminianism is. Virtually every revival of true Calvinism since the Puritan era has been hijacked, crippled, or ultimately killed by hyper-Calvinist influences” (http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/hypercal.htm).

    Might this be because hyper-Calvinism is the logical conclusion to the distinctive doctrines of Calvinism? Perhaps regular Calvinism simply refuses to go where its own doctrine logically leads because where it leads contradicts the Bible so blatantly.

  54. Arminian: I don’t think I am a hyper-Calvinist.

    God using sins in His plan isn’t tantamount to Him authoring them, since they’re not necessary by His decree, but rooted in the contingencies of free agency. Just as in a sting operation scenario, creating a situation with a known outcome based upon another person’s independent choices doesn’t constitute the one who made the scenario authoring his crime for him. One anticipating the opponent’s move ahead of time and employing it in one’s own strategy can hardly be labeled ‘authoring’ his move for him.

    Why is it that only necessitating them makes for authorship, but not using knowledge of contingent actions? Why is it that necessitating X occur implies that you first thought up the idea that X should occur, but simply arranging things so that X occurs on the basis of your knowledge of contingent free actions doesn’t imply that you were the first to think up the idea that X should occur? How is this even logical?

    You keep going back and forth between two senses of authorship, as I pointed. You say the author is the one who thought it up, the mastermind; then you say the author is the one who determined it. Until you stick to strictly one definition of the word, I don’t want to continue the discussion. It becomes tiresome.

    As if using knowledge of contingent free actions suddenly means you didn’t think up that it should happen! I *really* don’t see how this is. If I know Paul Manata will break your neck if I tell him you called him a sissy girl on Arminian Radio, and I know that you’ll call Paul Manata a sissy girl if you get a chance to be on Arminian Radio, and I arrange for you to get a chance to be on radio show, how is it that I have not authored this crime? How is it that I have not been the first to think it up? Imagine neither of you two have ever thought about breaking each other’s necks or going on any radio shows; the first time I bring it up is the first time you’ve ever considered it. How is it that I am not the one who devised that this sinister mismatch should have occurred?

    Anticipating an opponent’s move ahead of time and using it in strategy is not authorship, unless of course the fact that your opponent will make that move is totally within your control. If God knows S will A at t and decides to plan in response to that, that is one thing; but if God knows S will A at t if left alone, but the fact that S A’s at t is perfectly within God’s control–he can prevent it from occurring–then I can definitely see authorship there, especially because no event occurs unless God willed that it occur–either actively or permissively. So there are disanalogies.

  55. Steven N.,

    “Why is it that only necessitating them makes for authorship, but not using knowledge of contingent actions?”

    Because one person can’t rightly be called the author of what another person independently chooses to do, foreknown or not.

    “You keep going back and forth between two senses of authorship…

    Again, the author being the one who thought up the idea and predetermined it aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. High Calvinism affirms both with regards to God and sin.

    “…how is it that I have not authored this crime?”

    You’re conflating 2 related but distinct crimes. You wouldn’t be authoring the attacker’s intent, so his actually committing the murder is his own doing. The ‘crime’ you’d be committing involves you facilitating the loss of life you’re not authorized to take. God can take any life He wishes, so He’d be doing no wrong if He let the event take place, and wouldn’t be authoring the attacker’s criminal intent any more than you would.

    “As if using knowledge of contingent free actions suddenly means you didn’t think up that it should happen!”

    For authorship, we’re talking about where the action arises from, one thinking it should happen is immaterial. As I alluded to above (given a chess player for instance), his contingent knowledge of what his opponent will do given the player’s own moves doesn’t make the player the author of the opponent’s move.

    “Anticipating an opponent’s move ahead of time and using it in strategy is not authorship, unless of course the fact that your opponent will make that move is totally within your control.”

    This is manifestly flawed reasoning. I can stop the opponent from making the move by announcing my strategy beforehand, advising him how to counter it, making a different move, or just quitting. It doesn’t make a difference if I have power to change the outcome or not, he’s still the author of the moves he independently chooses to make. To hold otherwise is a fundamental confusion of terms.

  56. Because one person can’t rightly be called the author of what another person independently chooses to do, foreknown or not.

    Then don’t define authorship in terms of “whose idea it was”, because it is annoying as bananas when you go back and forth between senses of the word when it is convenient for you.

    Again, the author being the one who thought up the idea and predetermined it aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. High Calvinism affirms both with regards to God and sin.

    I don’t understand how this is a reply to what I wrote. When did I say they were mutually exclusive? When did I say anything about what you’ve written here? It is plain that you are going back and forth between different vague senses of the word “author”, and you only gave one definition: the guy who thought it up, who conceived that it should be, the mastermind, etc. Now you start using the term to mean determiner, or active party, or whatever the hell. Stick with one definition of the phrase and make your argument, because I am tired of the pointless back and forth.

    You’re conflating 2 related but distinct crimes. You wouldn’t be authoring the attacker’s intent, so his actually committing the murder is his own doing. The ‘crime’ you’d be committing involves you facilitating the loss of life you’re not authorized to take. God can take any life He wishes, so He’d be doing no wrong if He let the event take place, and wouldn’t be authoring the attacker’s criminal intent any more than you would.

    Why does authoring (in a different sense of the word, I’m sure) the attacker’s intent matter? Is it not true that if I never bothered, Paul would never have broken your neck? Isn’t there some perfectly fine sense of the word “author” such that it applies to me in that situation? And isn’t this sense of the word “author” much more intuitive and easily understood than your ultra-obscure meaning?

    I may not be the author of any specific action that took place in the hypothetical exchange, but am I not nonetheless the author of the state of affairs that obtained?

    For authorship, we’re talking about where the action arises from, one thinking it should happen is immaterial. As I alluded to above (given a chess player for instance), his contingent knowledge of what his opponent will do given the player’s own moves doesn’t make the player the author of the opponent’s move.

    Then don’t define authorship in terms of “whose idea it was”, because it is annoying as bananas when you go back and forth between senses of the word when it is convenient for you.

  57. Steven N.,

    “Then don’t define authorship in terms of “whose idea it was”…It is plain that you are going back and forth…”

    Exactly whose idea would it be except the one who independently chose to do it? God may employ men’s wicked idea within His plans, but it doesn’t change the fact that those ideas are our own. You’re welcome to try and point out where I’m switching terms / employing contradictory language, but as it stands you simply appear confused.

    “Isn’t there some perfectly fine sense of the word “author” such that it applies to me in that situation?”

    Of the attacker’s intents, no.

    “…am I not nonetheless the author of the state of affairs that obtained?”

    We’re discussing who authors sin, not who brings about a state of affairs by using that sin.

    And again, you aren’t dealing with what the scriptures say: 1 John 2:16 and 1:5 plainly contradict your idea of all evil originating from within God. When one’s philosophical viewpoints contradict scripture, it’s time to toss said viewpoint out.

  58. We’re discussing who authors sin, not who brings about a state of affairs by using that sin.

    Let me see if I can reword what you mean, because I am starting to see it. God is the author of sin on Calvinism because God is the one who makes true propositions about what agents would sin in certain circumstances. That Paul will break your neck is made true by God, not by Paul, and so therefore he is the “author of sin”. God is the truthmaker for propositions about evil actions of agents, be them conditional or otherwise.

    Is that what you mean?

  59. Steven,

    Maybe you will address my comments this time.

    How can God claim to not be the source of sin, yet the obvious creator of everything in existence?

    God created Satan, but is God the cause of Satan’s actions?
    We create children, but are we the cause of their actions?

    Knowing all sin, when we bring children into the world, don’t we do so knowing they will sin? Yet God in Ezekiel 18 says that the soul that sins will die, and that father’s aren’t going to bear the guilt for their childrens’ sins.

    It’s what the Bible teaches. You haven’t addressed the fact that you disagree with the plain language of the Bible. You aren’t arguing with me, you are arguing with Him.

  60. I’m not addressing your pointless prooftexting.

  61. I’ll take that as you can’t.

  62. Steven (2) wrote:

    “God created Satan, but is God the cause of Satan’s actions?
    We create children, but are we the cause of their actions?
    Knowing all sin, when we bring children into the world, don’t we do so knowing they will sin? Yet God in Ezekiel 18 says that the soul that sins will die, and that father’s aren’t going to bear the guilt for their children’s’ sins.
    It’s what the Bible teaches. You haven’t addressed the fact that you disagree with the plain language of the Bible. You aren’t arguing with me, you are arguing with Him.”

    Steven (2) makes some very good points which the determinist Steven completely ignores and refuses to deal with.

    Steven (2) makes the point that parents know that their kids will sometimes sin and yet bring them into the world anyway, do not abort them to prevent them from ever sinning. Steven (2) also makes the biblical point that the parents are not responsible for the sins of their children: each is responsible for his own actions and his own sins. Determinists such as Steven seem to ignore this biblical truth clearly presented by the Ezekiel passage which Steven (2) cites.

    I have shared it before and share it again: there is a joke circulating in the prisons that goes like this: A guy is caught and arrested for doing some criminal actions. When arrested he responds: “don’t arrest me, arrest my parents, they brought me into the world and if they had not done THAT I never would have done what I have done. So arrest them not me!”

    Now most people understand this joke and what it points out about responsibility for one’s own sins. But some determinists apparently do not understand (or perhaps better: intentionally refuse to accept) this principle. If you **can** understand this joke and the principle being stated then you can also understand why determinist appeals to God being responsible for a person’s sins because he brought them into the world or created them, when he supposedly should have aborted them or prevented their existence fall flat. Most people have the common sense to understand that the criminal **is** mistaken in saying arrest his parents: apparently determinists just don’t want to accept common sense on this.

    Each person is responsible for their own actions. This is a clear biblical principle extremely clear in the Ezekiel passage that Steven (2) cites. And yet many seek to avoid responsibility and want to blame God, their genes, their environment, their parents, their neurology, etc. etc. etc. ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING except for themselves, for their wrongful actions, instead of taking personal responsibility. Each will stand at the final judgment and give an account for their own actions: actions that were not necessitated which they freely chose to do. And no false idea or system, including theological determinism is going to change this fact.

    Robert

  63. Arminian wrote:

    “Calvinist Phil Johnson has said, “History teaches us that hyper-Calvinism is as much a threat to true Calvinism as Arminianism is. Virtually every revival of true Calvinism since the Puritan era has been hijacked, crippled, or ultimately killed by hyper-Calvinist influences” (http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/hypercal.htm).
    Might this be because hyper-Calvinism is the logical conclusion to the distinctive doctrines of Calvinism? Perhaps regular Calvinism simply refuses to go where its own doctrine logically leads because where it leads contradicts the Bible so blatantly.”

    I believe that Arminian makes a good point here, that it is the so-called hyper-Calvinists who are most consistent with their own deterministic beliefs.

    They end up where logically consistent calvinists would end up.

    Most calvinists cannot stand or handle the logical implications of their own deterministic beliefs regarding double predestination (see especially the various attempts at spin to get away from Calvin’s gruesome doctrine of reprobation) so they end up being inconsistent with their own calvinism and attack the so-called “hypercalvinists” as extreme. I don’t think the “hypers” are extreme at all, logically speaking, rather they **are** logically **consistent** with calvinistic beliefs. These “hypers” then end up with some strange practical out workings of their beliefs, which are clearly false and unbiblical.

    However, it is not their logic that is off, again they are fully consistent with the logical implications of calvinism. Rather it is what they then **choose** to do practically in light of their beliefs that is really way off.

    If you want to see where calvinistic beliefs logically lead, examine the hyper calvinists. They better represent what Calvin himself held regarding the reprobates, than their more “moderate” brothers. The less consistent calvinists will attempt to distance themselves from the “hypers”, and in doing so actually end up distancing themselves from the logical implications of their own Calvinism. If you want to see this for yourself read what Calvin says about reprobation and compare THAT with what modern “moderates” say about reprobation.

    Robert

  64. There are disanalogies between humans bringing other humans into the world, and God bringing people into existence. In the first place, two humans don’t have any control over whether or not their mating is successful–they don’t have perfect power over it. Secondly, humans don’t select which sperm mates with the egg, and even if they did, they wouldn’t know what kind of child would come out of it all. Thirdly, they don’t have the power to ensure that the child stays in existence after birth. Fourthly, we don’t know what specific sins our children will commit and what the effects of their sins will be.

    God, on the other hand, can infallibly bring someone into existence with complete foreknowledge of their sins and their sins’ effects, and can ensure that the person stay in existence and can bring them out of existence at any point. God is in complete control over what he creates, whereas human parents are not–so God is responsible whereas human parents are not; God has a level of control that human parents do not which confers responsibility upon him.

  65. God has a level of control that human parents do not which confers responsibility upon him

    Why?

  66. Should not an Arminian be able to accept God’s forensic responsibility for sin (i.e. He knew that if he made free moral agents they would go against his will and so bears responsibility for that contingency) without being the proximate cause (or author) of sin? If I give my kid a baseball and he throws it through the neighbors window, I’m going to have to pony up for the cost, but that doesn’t translate into it being my idea or my fault.

  67. Why?

    Why, what? Why does his level of control confer responsibility on him?

    I don’t know to argue for that except say that it’s intuitive. If my friend leaves me in charge of his daughter while he and his wife go on a date, he’d probably hold me more responsible for what she does after I’m at his house and able to control her than for what she does while I’m still on the road, where I have no power over her. I imagine further that I’d be more responsible for the bad effects of a computer program I wrote if I knew that it would infect numerous White House computers and created it anyway than if I all did was turn on the computer of a friend who wrote it. My level of control over the existence and behavior of X determines my level of responsibility for the consequences of X’s behavior.

    Don’t you think that’s true?

  68. Should not an Arminian be able to accept God’s forensic responsibility for sin (i.e. He knew that if he made free moral agents they would go against his will and so bears responsibility for that contingency) without being the proximate cause (or author) of sin? If I give my kid a baseball and he throws it through the neighbors window, I’m going to have to pony up for the cost, but that doesn’t translate into it being my idea or my fault.

    An Arminian should accept God’s moral responsibility for the sin in the world while not holding that God is blameworthy for it.

  69. He can only be not blameworthy if he did not decree it.

  70. He can only be not blameworthy if he did not decree it.

    Let me see an argument.

  71. If God is not the cause of sin, then we wouldn’t hold Him blameworthy. If He is the cause, why wouldn’t we? We blame Him for the creation of the universe, because He caused it.

    Why should God take responsibility for what free creatures choose to do? Let’s see something beyond “it’s intuitive” because it’s clearly not. What’s intuitive is if you have no say in if you sin that you shouldn’t be culpable for it.

  72. Let me see an argument.

    1) If you make something happen, then you are morally responsible.

    2) In decreeing sin, God is the one who makes it happen.

    3) Therefore, God would be morally responsible for it.

    Arguments from scripture have been given, yet you refuse to acknowledge them…

  73. I can’t imagine the depths of skepticism and rational blindness a dogmatic adherence to libertarian free will would reduce a person to, Brennon. It must be terrible being you. If you don’t find the above intuitive, then you’d have to deny I have any responsibility over what my friend’s daughter does while she is in my car, or what my computer program does if I program it to indeterministically infect White House computers. Do you *really* believe that?

    If God is not the cause of sin, then we wouldn’t hold Him blameworthy. If He is the cause, why wouldn’t we? We blame Him for the creation of the universe, because He caused it.

    We don’t hold God blameworthy for anything, because he always has upright reasons for acting. We hold him *responsible*, and there is a difference.

    And how is God not the cause of sin? What is your theory of causation?

    Why should God take responsibility for what free creatures choose to do? Let’s see something beyond “it’s intuitive” because it’s clearly not. What’s intuitive is if you have no say in if you sin that you shouldn’t be culpable for it.

    You keep conflating responsibility and culpability, which are not the same thing. How many times do I have to make the distinction and correct your confusions? Why won’t you get it?

    And God *does* have a say in whether or not I sin–he is in complete control over my existence, he foreknows the complete consequences of all of my actions, and has a perfectly free choice in whether or not I’ll exist to make them. How is he, then, not responsible for any of them?

  74. 1) If you make something happen, then you are morally responsible.

    False in the case of accidents.

    3) Therefore, God would be morally responsible for it.

    This argument is a failure on three counts: (i) it is unsound; (ii) it doesn’t establish that God is culpable for sin, only that he is responsible for it; (iii) it doesn’t establish that only if God decrees sin he is culpable for it, which is what I asked an argument for.

  75. It must be terrible being you

    So now, as your mentor Hays has taught you, you descend into ad hominem? You clearly are in a bad way, Steven.

    If you don’t find the above intuitive, then you’d have to deny I have any responsibility over what my friend’s daughter does while she is in my car

    So you cause her actions in your car? It must be hard to function when you’re constantly thinking you’re causing someone’s actions who happens to be in your care.

    Or do you *really* believe that?

    We don’t hold God blameworthy for anything, because he always has upright reasons for acting

    So you’re utilitarians? An act has no moral value within itself? If God makes someone rape someone else, then He’s not morally culpable? Oh the disgusting depths of determinism.

    You keep conflating responsibility and culpability

    No I don’t. You are unwarranted in separating the two. Why should I accept this blatant card stacking?

    1) If you make something happen, then you are morally responsible.
    False in the case of accidents.

    So, does God make accidents. Also, this isn’t correct, because even in the case of an accident, the one who made the accident happen is held responsible for it. The level of culpability changes, but not the aim of culpability. What abject ridiculousness.

    his argument is a failure on three counts: (i) it is unsound

    It’s modus ponens. Show where the premises are incorrect.

    ) it doesn’t establish that God is culpable for sin, only that he is responsible for it;

    A silly, unwarranted distinction.

    it doesn’t establish that only if God decrees sin he is culpable for it, which is what I asked an argument for.

    The only way to be culpable for a specific action is to make it happen. Refute the argument. Don’t just ridicule it.

  76. And if you’re saying God has some duty that He is constrained to take care of His human pets in light of Him having great power, that completely and utterly undoes the whole idea of unmerited mercy and grace from a loving God. It is precisely because God has no duty to take care of us that His intervention is so amazing. He could have just destroyed us, or left us in a state of hopelessness, and we would have deserved it. But He CHOSE to show us grace and mercy. Get your Biblical theology straight.

  77. So now, as your mentor Hays has taught you, you descend into ad hominem? You clearly are in a bad way, Steven.

    Of course, I offered arguments—I didn’t just start out guns blazing against you as a person. (Which neither does Steve Hays.) But when you deny the obvious, free of remorse or shame, because of a radical adherence to some very strange philosophical doctrine, it is only natural that I find your subjective existence somewhat miserable.

    But, more importantly, you shouldn’t take too seriously what others say in jest.

    So you cause her actions in your car? It must be hard to function when you’re constantly thinking you’re causing someone’s actions who happens to be in your care.

    Or do you *really* believe that?

    What the hell could you possibly be talking about? This is confusing to understand. I said that if I have a decent amount of control over what a person does, then I have that much responsibility for what they do. Bu what does that have to do with causing anyone’s actions?

    Car was a typo; it should have been “in my care”, but you could have inferred that from what I wrote earlier.

    So you’re utilitarians? An act has no moral value within itself? If God makes someone rape someone else, then He’s not morally culpable? Oh the disgusting depths of determinism.

    I don’t see why that makes us utilitarians. I don’t know enough of the relevant ethics, but the “greater good reason for acting” defense has *always* been given by Christians throughout all of history, and I don’t see why that makes someone a utilitarian, necessarily.

    What about someone asking why does God allow evil? If you answer “he has greater reasons to allow the evil that he does”, does that make you a utilitarian? Or does it suddenly make you “disgusting”?

    If it works for Calvinists, it works for all Christians. And it works for anyone who thinks that allowing their children to suffer a bit of evil (say, slipping and falling on the wet tiles in the kitchen after not listening to your warnings) is justified by some greater good (say, their learning to obey you and to not do it again).

    Besides, why not say that decreeing that a good state of affairs which contains some evil is itself an act which has intrinsic positive moral value?

    And God doesn’t “make” people do things on a determinist view. That is emotionally loaded language that it is dishonest to use. “Make” carries emotional baggage and ideas of manipulation and coercion, which are not what is going on in causal determinism. That’s not very mature of you, Brennon.

    No I don’t. You are unwarranted in separating the two. Why should I accept this blatant card stacking?

    Because it is clear that you can be responsible for an act while not being blameworthy for it—like if it is a good act, or if the act is morally neutral, or if it is something bad but you have good reasons to do it.

    So, does God make accidents. Also, this isn’t correct, because even in the case of an accident, the one who made the accident happen is held responsible for it. The level of culpability changes, but not the aim of culpability. What abject ridiculousness.

    Let’s distinguish between senses of “responsibility”. In the case of an accident, say my reaching high above a cupboard and causing some porcelain figures to fall and smash into the ground, I may be causally responsible for the figure’s crashing and breaking—which is to say some action of mine caused it—but I may not be morally responsible for it—because I lacked sufficient knowledge of the consequences of my actions.

    I can be morally responsible for some of my actions, and responsible for some of the consequences of my actions, but it does not follow from the fact that my act is such that I am morally responsible for it, that therefore for any consequence of it, I am morally responsible for that consequence. When you said “If you make something happen you are responsible for it”, you (i) didn’t distinguish what sense of “responsible” you meant, and (ii) you falsely assumed that for any consequence of any one of my actions, I am responsible for it. This is clearly false in the accident case above.

    So your first premise is false.

    It’s modus ponens. Show where the premises are incorrect.

    I did.

    A silly, unwarranted distinction.

    It’s an obvious distinction. It only seems silly and unwarranted if you aren’t thinking hard.

    The only way to be culpable for a specific action is to make it happen. Refute the argument. Don’t just ridicule it.

    I didn’t ridicule your argument; I refuted it, which is to say, I showed that the argument is unsound—one of the premises was false. But *even if* it were sound, it is still not sufficient as an argument to show what the other guy said: namely, that only if God decrees evil is he culpable for it. So either way, your argument is down the toilet.

    And if you’re saying God has some duty that He is constrained to take care of His human pets in light of Him having great power, that completely and utterly undoes the whole idea of unmerited mercy and grace from a loving God. It is precisely because God has no duty to take care of us that His intervention is so amazing. He could have just destroyed us, or left us in a state of hopelessness, and we would have deserved it. But He CHOSE to show us grace and mercy. Get your Biblical theology straight.

    That’s nice, Brennon. That’s a real loving God you serve: he’s loving enough not to causally determine us to sin and hold us responsible for our actions, but not only that, he’s loving enough to not to have any duties at all towards us as our creator. Who the hell cares if we are all destroyed? Not God! He’s got no duties towards us—but he’d *never* causally determine us to sin and hold us responsible, because after all, that is so unloving that it is unfit for him to do such a thing.

  78. Sorry, Steven, I had to step out for some church responsibilities in mid discussion. Brennon, stepped in ably and offered in argument what I would have.

    I would only add that in my estimation, God seems to have taken the forensic responsibility for the sin he did not inspire or decree, but could foresee in creating free moral agents, by giving his only Son as the propitiation for the sins of the world.

  79. What the hell could you possibly be talking about? This is confusing to understand. I said that if I have a decent amount of control over what a person does, then I have that much responsibility for what they do. Bu what does that have to do with causing anyone’s actions?

    You do. But you are not responsible for what they choose to do. You do not cause their actions. Determinism has God making people do things. You have a duty to protect who is in your care. God has no such duty. He does it out of His mercy.

    Car was a typo; it should have been “in my care”, but you could have inferred that from what I wrote earlier.

    Doesn’t matter what you meant. You’re still not determining her actions. You have a duty to protect someone under your care, partly from God. God has no such duty, unless you think He owes us mercy.

    greater good reason for acting” defense has *always* been given by Christians throughout all of histor

    But they never discounted that acts in themselves have a moral dimension to them. God causing us to do evil things and holding us responsible; that is the strange philosophical doctrine, not mine.

    If you answer “he has greater reasons to allow the evil that he does”, does that make you a utilitarian?

    No, because I’m not having God actually cause those bad things! He isn’t committing acts which in themselves are evil on my view! He’s allowing acts He has no moral duty to stop, as JC has pointed out ad nauseum. It’s not our problem it can’t get through your gray matter.

    Besides, why not say that decreeing that a good state of affairs which contains some evil is itself an act which has intrinsic positive moral value?

    Because, the Bible paints acts as ends in themselves. If I murdered someone knowing some good may come out of it, I’m still murdering them! It’s SIN. You’d think you’d work out your moral theory before calling mine odd.

    Make” carries emotional baggage and ideas of manipulation and coercion, which are not what is going on in causal determinism.

    Then clear it up, Steven. The state of the universe prior to this made me write this, and the moment prior caused was caused by the next, and on to the first act caused by God (or however you view it). God got the dominoes falling. He made it all happen.

    but I may not be morally responsible for it—because I lacked sufficient knowledge of the consequences of my actions.

    We presuppose God doesn’t accidentally cause things to happen.

    (i) didn’t distinguish what sense of “responsible” you meant, and (ii) you falsely assumed that for any consequence of any one of my actions, I am responsible for it. This is clearly false in the accident case above.

    (i) irrelevant with God, since He doesn’t accidentally do anything (unless you’re an open theist). (ii) you are responsible for your actions. If you make something happen, you are responsible. If God meticulously determines sin, so is He.

    It’s modus ponens. Show where the premises are incorrect.
    I did.

    No you didn’t. You brought up an accident. That doesn’t nullify the argument, because accidents are irrelevant when speaking of God.

    It’s an obvious distinction. It only seems silly and unwarranted if you aren’t thinking hard.

    Not in this situation. Try again.

    That’s nice, Brennon. That’s a real loving God you serve: he’s loving enough not to causally determine us to sin and hold us responsible for our actions, but not only that, he’s loving enough to not to have any duties at all towards us as our creator. Who the hell cares if we are all destroyed? Not God! He’s got no duties towards us—but he’d *never* causally determine us to sin and hold us responsible, because after all, that is so unloving that it is unfit for him to do such a thing.

    The only duties He has are the ones He has graciously has placed Himself under. He has never placed the duty on Himself to stop all suffering. Now, since you criticized emotionally laden language earlier, I will point out your hypocrisy, and also note your lack of “hard thinking” here when it comes to the Biblical notion of grace and mercy. As Steven (2) pointed out, light on Bible.

  80. Some other quotes by some people who hold to the same “strange doctrine” as I do.

    Alvin Plantinga: “The Christian has an initially strong reason to reject the claim that all of our actions are causally determined-a reason much stronger than the meager and anemic arguments the determinist can muster on the other side. Of course if there were powerful arguments on the other side, then there might be a problem here. But there aren’t; so there isn’t.”

    William Lane Craig: “Universal, divine, determinism makes God the author of sin and precludes human responsibility.”

    Peter Van Inwagen: “If determinism is true, then our acts are the consequences of the laws of nature and events in the remote past. But it is not up to us what went on before we were born, and neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. Therefore, the consequences of these things (including our present acts) are not up to us.”

    Thomas Reid: “[I]t may be said, that the Doctrine of Mechanism makes God the author of sin.”

    Justin Martyr 160 AD: ” In the beginning, He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God.”

    “Unless the human race has the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not responsible for their actions.”

    Irenaeus 180 AD: “For God made man free from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the commandments of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God.”

    Etc. Etc. Etc.

  81. Oh, a few more notable ones.

    Ben Sira, author of the deuterocannonical book of Sirach: “God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel” (Sirach 15:14).

    Thomas Aquinas: “But this [determinism] is a heretical opinion, for it takes away the very notion of merit and demerit from human acts. For what someone does necessarily and cannot avoid doing, seems to be neither meritorious nor the opposite. Therefore this should be numbered among the opinions alien to philosophy, since not only is it contrary to faith but it subverts all the principles of moral philosophy as well.”

  82. “You do. But you are not responsible for what they choose to do.”

    That’s fine. Why does that matter?

    I said God has a level of control over agents so that he is responsible for their actions. He may not be responsible for what they choose to do, but why does that matter to my point?

    “No, because I’m not having God actually cause those bad things! He isn’t committing acts which in themselves are evil on my view! He’s allowing acts He has no moral duty to stop, as JC has pointed out ad nauseum. It’s not our problem it can’t get through your gray matter.”

    (i) In the first place, that God has no moral duty to disallow evil seems wild. You’d think any good human has the duty to disallow evils, if they have the opportunity–but a maximally good person with perfect opportunity for its prevention doesn’t? Forget about the problem of evil, then, because God has no duty to prevent any evils whatsoever! Even if he’s morally good, he doesn’t have to prevent any evils at all.

    (ii) If he has no moral duty to disallow evils, why does he suddenly have a moral duty not to decree or causally determine that evil occur?

    “Because, the Bible paints acts as ends in themselves. If I murdered someone knowing some good may come out of it, I’m still murdering them! It’s SIN. You’d think you’d work out your moral theory before calling mine odd.”

    Moral duties for us don’t transfer into moral duties for God. We have a moral duty not to allow evil to happen if we can prevent it. Evidently, God has no such moral duty.

    “We presuppose God doesn’t accidentally cause things to happen.”

    The point is the premise is false, Brennon. It doesn’t matter if God accidentally causes things to happen, or not; the premise is false. It is just false that if you make something happen, you are morally responsible for it. Your argument is unsound, so it is not a good argument.

    “(i) irrelevant with God, since He doesn’t accidentally do anything (unless you’re an open theist). (ii) you are responsible for your actions. If you make something happen, you are responsible. If God meticulously determines sin, so is He.”

    If God creates the world knowing that there will be sin, then every sin is a consequence of one his actions, and therefore he is responsible for all of them, by your own standards.

    “Not in this situation. Try again.”

    I gave you clear examples where someone can be morally responsible for something they are not culpable for. Why is it that you still do not accept the distinction?

    “The only duties He has are the ones He has graciously has placed Himself under. He has never placed the duty on Himself to stop all suffering. Now, since you criticized emotionally laden language earlier, I will point out your hypocrisy, and also note your lack of “hard thinking” here when it comes to the Biblical notion of grace and mercy. As Steven (2) pointed out, light on Bible.”

    Why then does he have a moral duty not to decree or causally determine evil? Where do you know, from scripture, that he placed himself under the duty to not do that?

  83. That some Christians held to libertarianism doesn’t make it strange. Peter van Inwagen holds that libertarianism is a mystery; and mysteries are strange.

  84. Statement One: Calvinists do not believe that God is the author of sin because the Bible says he is not.

    Statement Two: Calvinists believe that God decrees who shall actually be saved because the Bible teaches election.

    These two truths are in tension, to be sure, but if the Bible teaches both, then we must hold to both. Arminians will disagree with the second statement, but this is beside my present point. Calvinists should feel no need to defend the first statement just because they hold to the second. The real issue, therefore, is whether or not that second statement is true. Trying to pinhold Calvinists on statement one will go nowhere because Calvinists feels confident that the two truths can be held in tension.

  85. “No, because I’m not having God actually cause those bad things!”

    What is your theory of causation?

  86. Steven N.,

    “If my friend leaves me in charge of his daughter while he and his wife go on a date….”

    As pointed out already, there’s no argument for God being obligated to prevent something from occurring, as you would be in this scenario.

    “I imagine further that I’d be more responsible for the bad effects of a computer program I wrote if I knew that it would infect numerous White House computers and created it anyway than if I all did was turn on the computer of a friend who wrote it.”

    Computer programs literally can’t do differently than their design/input dictates; they are in fact deterministic, which would make the programmer the author of what it does with no aid from other human agents.

    “How is he, then, not responsible for any of them?”

    You’ve not established exactly how God would be morally responsible for allowing people to sin.

    “–so God is responsible whereas human parents are not; God has a level of control that human parents do not which confers responsibility upon him.”

    God isn’t obligated to stop humanity from destroying itself, His omnipotence & omniscience don’t change this fact.

    “In the first place, that God has no moral duty to disallow evil seems wild.”

    “Seems” isn’t an argument. Evil for whatever reason is still evil, so an atheist could charge God with negligence if anything actually evil occurs if He has some obligation to prevent it.

    “If he has no moral duty to disallow evils, why does he suddenly have a moral duty not to decree or causally determine that evil occur?”

    The issue isn’t God’s moral duty, but where evil originates. As cited already and you’ve so far proven unable to answer, the scriptures tell us that evil (naming lust and pride specifically) doesn’t come from God.

    “If God creates the world knowing that there will be sin, then every sin is a consequence of one his actions, and therefore he is responsible for all of them, by your own standards.”

    Brennon said ‘meticulously determine,’ so you could only call this by his standards if you assume his view is deterministic.

  87. Jason, the issue being discussed isn’t unconditional election, but exhaustive determinism, which directly contradicts statement 1.

  88. J.C.

    Perhaps is was poor wording on my part . . .
    Statement 1 was meant to state *why* Calvinists do not believe God is the author of sin – because the Bible indicates he is not.

    Then why still hold to determinism? That’s where statement 2 comes in. Calvinists find in Scripture evidence that God determines events including who will ultimately be saved.

    This is relevant to the discussion at hand, because it helps explain why Calvinists hold to seemingly contradictory ideas. If both are taught in Scripture, then both must be held in tension despite the philosphical difficulties.

  89. Jason,
    What isn’t taught in scripture is that God determines that people should sin. If determination of who will be saved cannot be held without determining who will sin then an impossible contradiction follows, and either one would have to admit a contradiction in scripture or in one’s interpretation of it.

  90. Jason,

    “Determining things” doesn’t amount to exhaustive determinism. God determining who will be saved versus wholly decreeing every wicked act committed are two very different issues. ‘Salvific determinism’ would leave room sin committed by free will (and therefore God not being the author of sin, as a few free will Calvinists acknowledge), exhaustive determinism doesn’t, and thus flatly contradicts scripture.

  91. J.C.

    I should add that my intent is not to debate unconditional election. that would be for another post.

    And to the Calvinists here attempting to answer this conundrum: you’re not going to convince anybody, because everyone has historical quotes and various philosophers on their side. The ulitimate test is Scripture, and that’s where we must stand.

  92. Steven (1),

    I can honestly appreciate how you are trying to be logical in understanding the truth of the nature of God and our existence. I have no doubts about your desire to understand or make sense of it all. But please share in my frustration when I see someone eager to grasp the truth, yet refuse to start with the very source of truth for a Christian – the Scripture.

    You call my quoting of Scripture proof-texting. Yet scholars from both the determinist and libertarian positions agree with the unalterable truth of that passage in 1st John. God clearly is not the source of evil. Culpability, responsibility – however you choose to describe it, He is not the source of it, nor is it His will at all that man sins.

    You stated,

    “We have a moral duty not to allow evil to happen if we can prevent it. Evidently, God has no such moral duty.”

    And yet God does have a moral duty to address evil. You just assume that the only right way God has to address evil is on the front end. God is not negligent at all concerning sin or evil, rather, He has provided a means by which all men may be saved from sin, as well as a day of judgment when evil will be recognized, condemned, and punished.

    Thus free-will fits neatly into the concepts outlined in Scripture, and is in harmony with the natures of Love and Justice which God possesses.

    I can come to these conclusions because I start with Scripture. If your basis for truth is in a man-made analogy, (which Philosophy is rife with) then don’t be surprised if you end up with a man-made god.

  93. slw,

    “impossible contradiction”?
    Not necessarily, though if the Calvinist interpretation of various passages is incorrect then a possible contradiction has occurred. If the Calvinist is correct in his undertanding, then there is only an ‘apparent’ contradiction, apparent because we haven’t figured out how both can be true.

    J.C.

    Does exhaustive determinism “flatly contradict Scripture”?
    I don’t think it does. Why? Without pulling out a bunch of Scripture references, because I believe that the Bible teaches God both exhaustively foreknows and predetermines all events. Yet I also hold that the Bible teaches both that man is culpable for his actions and that God is not the author of evil.

    It could be that my interpretation is incorrect. But I’ve read many books and commentaries related to these passages and just about all of them fail to deal with what is being said, instead pulling in other ‘prooftexts’ and then relying on ‘apparent’ contradictions and various philosophers to negate what Scripture clearly teaches. There are truths here that are mysterious. But let’s not assume that just because we cannot fully comprehend how God determines the future and is somehow not the author of sin/evil, that it cannot be so.

  94. jason,
    Does scripture not interpret scripture? How can any of it mean anything if it is not coherent and consistent?

  95. Jason,
    I do think that exhaustive determinism does flatly contradict scripture as seen in Jeremiah 7:30-1. The expression is used more than once in Jeremiah, but all with the same effect–there are things that sinners do that were not determined by God.

  96. J.C.:

    God need not have a moral duty to be morally responsible for allowing people to sin. You can be morally responsible for acts that you did not have a duty to do: like supererogatory acts, or acts that are morally neutral. Moral responsibility, again, is simply a matter of your behavior and its consequences “belonging to you” in the right way.

    “The issue isn’t God’s moral duty, but where evil originates. As cited already and you’ve so far proven unable to answer, the scriptures tell us that evil (naming lust and pride specifically) doesn’t come from God.”

    I’m not bothering with the proof-texting for the following reason: I doubt sincerely that the writers of scripture were discussing God’s not being “the source of evil” in the way that we are. I doubt that they considered him as possibly being the ultimate source of everything in the sense that I am arguing, and then rejected it. I doubt that because the Bible writers were probably all Calvinists and all agreed with me. So I’m not bothering with your proof-texting. Besides, I can proof-text too:

    Job 2: 9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

    2 Thess 2: 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    And it is clearly God wills that people sin, because:

    Roman 11: 28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

    Now I’m sure you’ve got your clever exegesis of the text so that it ends up teaching exactly the opposite of what it does in plain text. But I don’t care what it is, because I *doubt* that the Bible writers *ever* wrote anything on the exact topic we are now discussing.

    “Brennon said ‘meticulously determine,’ so you could only call this by his standards if you assume his view is deterministic.”

    He said “if you make something happen, you are responsible for it”. Now “making something happen” is only deterministic?

  97. Job 2:9- good and evil are not moralistic values here, but descriptions of occurences, i.e blessings and troubles.

    2 Thess 2:9-the delusion is conditioned on unbelief. It is a reaction or result, not a cause.

    Romans 11:28ff-if not anything else, speaks to the failure of election to produce obedience.

  98. SLW:

    Re: Job: How is that? Blessing and troubles are both goods/evils that evidently come from God?

    Re: Thess: How is God any less a source of evil if his deluding them is conditional upon unbelief?

    Re: Rom: “God has consigned all to disobedience…” That sounds like active behavior on God’s part.

    But the proof-texting doesn’t matter. Quoting scripture doesn’t help the issue. The point is we are working with Arminianism and Calvinism as systems: JC is trying to argue the implications of Calvinism are x, y, z; and I’m trying to argue the implications of Arminianism are p, q, r. Quoting scripture is irrelevant and a diversionary tactic–the important matter is the implications of each individual system.

  99. Jason,

    Exhaustive determinist doctrine, which eliminates free will, thereby eliminates all possibilities for sin’s authorship except for God as I”ve already detailed.

    Steven N,

    “Moral responsibility, again, is simply a matter of your behavior and its consequences “belonging to you” in the right way.”

    But sin freely committed by creature is their own behavior, not God’s.

    He said “if you make something happen, you are responsible for it”

    Which ended in the clarification, “If God meticulously determines sin, so is He.” You’re simply misrepresenting what was said.

    “Besides, I can proof-text too…”

    Please note that the ‘evil’ Job spoke of was evil in the sense of misfortune, not moral evil (besides the fact that the misfortune was only what God allowed Satan to do), and God sending delusion doesn’t necessarily imply authorship on His part as the example of Ahab’s death shows. Also, God consigns people to disobedience due to their rejection of Him (cf Rom 1:28), not unconditionally. Don’t confuse our clear scriptural citations for the contextually weak proof-texting you’ve offered. The Bible plainly tells us that the lust of the flesh and eyes and the pride of life are not from God the Father, yet you contend that He meticulously and immutably causes all of these. You simply don’t believe what the scriptures say.

    “Quoting scripture is irrelevant and a diversionary tactic–the important matter is the implications of each individual system.”

    It’s quite relevant when the implications of one’s system directly contradict scripture -which yours does.

  100. Steven,
    If a system doesn’t arise from the only truth source that is reliable, it is pointless speculation. If a system is not validated by that truth source, it cannot be true.

    And thought you didn’t like the proof texting exercise we were just engaged in, let me add these consideration in view of your response:

    Re: Rom 11-God consigning all to disobedience is a reference to the nature of post-Adamic humanity. It is a repercussion of Adam’s fall, and as in the 2 Thess passage, a reaction or result more than a cause.

    Re: 2 Thess-how is judgment in response to action evil? The deluding influence is occasioned upon unbelief, not a determination in the counsels of God.

  101. “But sin freely committed by creature is their own behavior, not God’s.”

    Their acting that way is a consequence of one of God’s choices. Therefore he’s responsible for them.

    “Which ended in the clarification, “If God meticulously determines sin, so is He.” You’re simply misrepresenting what was said.”

    Whatever. That doesn’t make his premise true, all of a sudden. And that doesn’t exclude the possibility that you could be responsible for something’s happening even if you didn’t causally determine it to happen, so his argument is nonetheless a failure, like I said from the beginning.

    “Please note that the ‘evil’ Job spoke of was evil in the sense of misfortune, not moral evil (besides the fact that the misfortune was only what God allowed Satan to do), and God sending delusion doesn’t necessarily imply authorship on His part as the example of Ahab’s death shows. Also, God consigns people to disobedience due to their rejection of Him (cf Rom 1:28), not unconditionally.”

    (i) If God is a source of natural evils and that’s not that bad, then what is so bad about his being a source of moral evils? What’s the relevant difference?

    (ii) Even if he’s not “author”, which by the way you have still not answered my question regarding what you mean by the phrase (see above), Rom 11 still shows that God actively brings about that the people are disobedient. The consigning to disobedience of everyone is not post-rejection, it is through the sin of Adam (cf Rom 5:18-19) that all men are established as sinful. It’s not that everyone is suddenly made disobedient after they reject God–their rejection itself is disobedience, and can’t be the cause of it–it is through the sin of Adam.

    “Don’t confuse our clear scriptural citations for the contextually weak proof-texting you’ve offered. The Bible plainly tells us that the lust of the flesh and eyes and the pride of life are not from God the Father, yet you contend that He meticulously and immutably causes all of these. You simply don’t believe what the scriptures say.”

    There are multiple senses of “not from God” that are possible. Not from God in a causal sense? (This you cannot hold to, because even God indeterministically causes sin to happen.) Not from God in a moral sense, that is, it is opposed to God’s moral nature to lust? Not commanded by God for you to be done? (That seems fine by me.) Not from God in an ultimate origin sense? (This you cannot hold to, because if God never created the world, there’d never be sin–that seems like an ultimate source to me.) In what sense is sin “not from God” such that it doesn’t apply equally to Arminianism/Molinism, applies to Calvinism, and is plausibly what the text attempts to teach?

  102. Steven,

    As I pointed out:

    Has not Steven basically conceded JC’s point that Calvinism does make God the author of evil? His response seems to be, “but that’s no big deal and I think Arminianism makes God the author of evil too.”

    Steven, you responded, “I don’t think I am a hyper-Calvinist.” But how can you say that when you are arguing that God is the author of evil and that that’s ok? The belief that God is the author of sin/evil is standardly regarded as a hyper-Calvinistic, heretical belief. As Monergism.com states (adjectives Monergism.com’s), most Calvinists reject as deplorable the hyper-Calvinistic and destructive belief that God is the author of sin and of evil.

  103. “If a system doesn’t arise from the only truth source that is reliable, it is pointless speculation. If a system is not validated by that truth source, it cannot be true.”

    Of course, I think Calvinism is taught in the Bible. But I’m not here to proof-text for Calvinism. I’m just here to discuss this “authorship” issue.

    “Re: Rom 11-God consigning all to disobedience is a reference to the nature of post-Adamic humanity. It is a repercussion of Adam’s fall, and as in the 2 Thess passage, a reaction or result more than a cause.”

    How can God’s consigning humanity to disobedience be a reference to the nature of post-Adamic humanity? It sounds like, to me, God’s *bringing about* the nature of post-Adamic humanity through the sin of Adam.

    “Re: 2 Thess-how is judgment in response to action evil? The deluding influence is occasioned upon unbelief, not a determination in the counsels of God.”

    Delusions are evil. Causing people to believe false things is an evil. Not if its as punishment in response to evil, you say? As punishment, there’s morally sufficient reason to do it and thus it is not an evil? Why can’t ordaining that evil occur be the same way?

  104. “Quoting scripture is irrelevant and a diversionary tactic–the important matter is the implications of each individual system.”

    He’s not concerned about what the Bible teaches about it. He’s concerned about things meeting the standard of his logical deduction prowess. Scriptural is an unreliable, biased, diversionary source from which we simpletons rely upon.

  105. Steven,
    Are you asserting that sin is caused indeterministically by God (it seems to me you are)? If so, I can go along with that premise. The issue at discussion here has been does determinism=God authoring sin, if you are countenancing indeterminate sin, do we really have a disagreement?

  106. I didn’t espouse indeterministic causation of sin by God. It is indeterministically caused by God on Arminianism, but I don’t hold to indeterminism.

  107. Steven N,

    “Their acting that way is a consequence of one of God’s choices. Therefore he’s responsible for them.”

    That’s a non-sequitur. My children committing sin (which I knew they would do) was a consequence of some of my actions, it doesn’t follow that I’m morally responsible for what they choose to do.

    “What’s the relevant difference?”

    The Bible never says God doesn’t cause disasters, it does indicate that wickedness doesn’t come from Him. ‘Author’ implies the specific source or origin. God simply creating something that commits sin doesn’t imply Him authoring that sin, since the source of the sin is the creature apart from specific necessitation thereof by God.

    “…sounds like, to me, God’s *bringing about* the nature of post-Adamic humanity through the sin of Adam.”

    The sin of Adam, not sin that He authored.

    “Delusions are evil. Causing people to believe false things is an evil.”

    Or have you not figured out that God need only allow the devil to deceive?

    “There are multiple senses of “not from God” that are possible.”

    The scripture states that sin comes from the world, not from God. The world originated from God, but sin itself originated in the independent agency of things He’d created, not from within God . So as it says, these things are not from the Father, which is where you directly deny the scriptures, and why your philosophy ultimately fails.

  108. “Their acting that way is a consequence of one of God’s choices. Therefore he’s responsible for them.”

    And then we can hold the Wright bros. responsible for 9/11…right.

  109. Let me try to focus on the current state of the conversation.

    I asked if by “author of sin”, JC meant God is the one who “makes true” propositions about evils that men commit. He didn’t answer the question yet, but I’ll assume that’s what he meant.

    I asked, why is that so bad?

    JC responds that scripture teaches God is not the source of evil in the way that his will operating as the truthmaker for propositions about evils men commit would make him. I asked him to give me reasons to think that those passages teach that God is not the source or author of sin (i) in the way that applies to Calvinism, (ii) doesn’t apply to Arminianism/Molinism, (iii) is plausibly what those scriptures teach. I’d also ask how God’s will acting as a truthmaker for propositions of that sort makes him the “source” of evil.

    He responded with this:

    “The scripture states that sin comes from the world, not from God. The world originated from God, but sin itself originated in the independent agency of things He’d created, not from within God . So as it says, these things are not from the Father, which is where you directly deny the scriptures, and why your philosophy ultimately fails.”

    I don’t see how this is a reason to think the scriptures teach God is not the source/author of sin that (i) applies to Calvinism, (ii) doesn’t apply to Molinism/Arminianism, and (iii) is plausibly taught by those scriptures. So you didn’t answer the question.

    “The sin of Adam, not sin that He authored.”

    So, so long as he doesn’t author the sin of Adam, it’s not morally bad that he brings all of humanity into condemnation before him through it? He’s not a “source of evil” that way? So long as I don’t author my psychopathic brother’s actions, it’s not bad that I take him to the park to kill little children? I’m not a “source of evil” that way?

    Brennon: “And then we can hold the Wright bros. responsible for 9/11…right.”

    I’ve responded to this a couple of times already. Being morally responsible for a consequence of one of your actions requires having knowledge that such a thing is a consequence of your action. The Wright bros. had no knowledge that 9/11 would result from their actions–so they are not responsible for 9/11.

    It is remarkable to me that you cannot keep up with the conversation. I already said that God’s extensive foreknowledge of the consequences of his actions is what makes him responsible for them. Of course, no human has extensive foreknowledge for the consequences of his actions, so no human is responsible for all the consequences of his actions.

  110. Steven,
    Your wording is a bit cumbersome for me, so I am not certain I’m decoding you accurately, but let me wade in…

    If God is the operative cause in actuating an evil committed by an agent, then yes, God is the author of that sin.

    It matters not if the agent is co-acting, oblivious, or under the illusion that he is independent. The author is the one controlling the marionettes strings.

    Determinism, as it has been used in this thread, makes God the puller of those strings. Since Calvinism embraces determinism in its explanation of God and how he acts, Calvinism makes God the author of sin.

    The Bible makes it quite clear that God is, in fact, not the author, promoter, inciter, or anything other than the judge of sin. Therefore, Calvinism is an unbiblical system, and not true.

  111. I don’t know what some of your terms (“operative cause”, “actuating”, “co-acting”, etc) mean, so I can’t really respond to your post, slw.

    And it is inaccurate to say that on determinism, God is a “puller of strings”. Determinism doesn’t entail: for all events E that occur at a time t, E’s occurrence at t is a result of God’s directly willing at t that E occur at t. That is closer to occasionalism.

    But there is also this question. Even if occasionalism were true, and God’s willing at t that S do A is what makes S do A at t, why suppose that that is akin to authorship? Why suppose that’s analogous to instances where I author another person’s actions via hypnosis, say? Divine causation seems sui generis; it’s not the sort of thing there is much analogy to available for us.

  112. Steven N,

    “I already said that God’s extensive foreknowledge of the consequences of his actions is what makes him responsible for them.”

    And yet have provided no proof of this assertion.

    “I don’t see how this is a reason to think the scriptures teach God is not the source/author of sin that (i) applies to Calvinism, (ii) doesn’t apply to Molinism/Arminianism, and (iii) is plausibly taught by those scriptures. So you didn’t answer the question.”

    [Determinist] Calvinism does teach that sin itself originates within God, Arminianism doesn’t, and the scriptures plainly tell us that sin isn’t from God. Your not seeing the answer when it’s staring you in the face due to your disbelief of God’s word doesn’t constitute lack of an answer.

    He’s not a “source of evil” that way?

    Nope.

    … it’s not bad that I take him to the park to kill little children?

    That point has already been defeated.

  113. You can’t just say something is sui generis and have anyone buy it. God, being immaterial, probably does cause things differently than we do. But that doesn’t mean that if He causes something that He shouldn’t be responsible for it. If we were to say that, then we could say He really doesn’t deserve the credit for causing the universe because His causation is sui generis.

    Not to mention how ad hoc it is.

  114. J.C.: “And yet have provided no proof of this assertion.”

    How you would prove such a thing, I have no idea. It’s wildly intuitive, so I can only give examples. If I know that by A-ing, something terrible will happen, and my choice to A would be such that I’d be responsible for it, then I’m responsible for the consequence of my A-ing. That seems intuitive. Ex: if I know that by pressing a button, I’ll cause a nuclear launch that will result in the destruction of Paris, France, and I responsibly choose to press the button, then I am responsible for the destruction of Paris, France.

    Why should it be any different with God?

    “[Determinist] Calvinism does teach that sin itself originates within God, Arminianism doesn’t, and the scriptures plainly tell us that sin isn’t from God. Your not seeing the answer when it’s staring you in the face due to your disbelief of God’s word doesn’t constitute lack of an answer.”

    (i) You still haven’t told me if I have you right on what you mean by ‘author of sin’.
    (ii) I disbelieve God’s word? This is how you respond to someone who asked you for reasons to think your exegesis was right?
    (iii) I asked: how does God making true propositions about agents committing evil make him a “source” or “author” of evil. You haven’t responded to this.
    (iv) The scriptures plainly teach determinism and Calvinism, and that God is not the author of sin, so God clearly cannot be the author of sin on Calvinism. I can argue like that too.

    Brennon: “You can’t just say something is sui generis and have anyone buy it. God, being immaterial, probably does cause things differently than we do.”

    So you agree its sui generis then?

    “But that doesn’t mean that if He causes something that He shouldn’t be responsible for it. If we were to say that, then we could say He really doesn’t deserve the credit for causing the universe because His causation is sui generis.”

    I wasn’t arguing that God is not responsible for X (some effect of his) because divine causation is sui generis.

  115. 1 Corinthians 14:33
    For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

    Hebrews 5:9
    And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

    Hebrews 12:2
    looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    So if author means “causal determiner”, then God causally determines your salvation and your peace. He is the author of our faith, which means he causally determines it. Which means it’s not even *us* who have faith, but him.

  116. f I know that by pressing a button, I’ll cause a nuclear launch that will result in the destruction of Paris, France, and I responsibly choose to press the button, then I am responsible for the destruction of Paris, France.

    This is your direct causation through secondary causes, which is exactly what we are saying determinism has God doing for every act on earth. It’s totally disanalogous to an independent creature choosing to do something.

    You keep providing these inadequate examples. They don’t amount to an argument, and simply saying “it’s true cause it just seems so” isn’t an argument.

    (i) You still haven’t told me if I have you right on what you mean by ‘author of sin’.

    We have, you simply refuse to listen.

    (ii) I disbelieve God’s word? This is how you respond to someone who asked you for reasons to think your exegesis was right?

    The burden of proof is on you to show how a verse that explicitly says God isn’t the source of sin actually doesn’t mean that.

    So you agree its sui generis then?

    No, I didn’t say that. I said even if it were it wouldn’t help your argument and also displayed an absurdity it would create.

    I wasn’t arguing that God is not responsible for X (some effect of his) because divine causation is sui generis.

    Pretty useless bringing it up then.

    And you certainly have an odd method of interpreting scripture.

  117. “This is your direct causation through secondary causes, which is exactly what we are saying determinism has God doing for every act on earth. It’s totally disanalogous to an independent creature choosing to do something.”

    What the hell does determinism matter? What if the button indeterministically causes a nuclear launch–there is a .07 probability that it will not do anything, .93 probability it will launch the nuke–am I suddenly not responsible anymore?

    “We have, you simply refuse to listen.”

    Where did JC respond to my question?

    “The burden of proof is on you to show how a verse that explicitly says God isn’t the source of sin actually doesn’t mean that.”

    In the first place, I asked: *in what sense* does the verse mean? Why think that it is a sense that applies only to Calvinism and not to Molinism/Arminianism also? It isn’t an answer to my question to say that it is my burden of proof to show that the verse *doesn’t* mean he is a source of sin–because it isn’t even clear what is meant by *source*.

    I *also* asked how it is that God’s making true propositions about evils being performed by agents makes him a “source of sin”? Where is the answer to that one?

    “No, I didn’t say that. I said even if it were it wouldn’t help your argument and also displayed an absurdity it would create.”

    You said that probably, God causes things different than us. And if he causes things different than us, it’s no stretch to think he causes things differently than any other thing in the universe. But then his causation is sui generis. So you do agree after all.

    “Pretty useless bringing it up then.”

    I was arguing against slw’s caricature of determinism as God “pulling our strings”. If you misunderstood the context, it’s your own damn fault.

  118. […] probably going to call it quits soon here, if it keeps on going in the same way it currently is. If anyone is interested, I’ve been […]

  119. Steven, this is an aside from the debate (but a related one), which I will leave to others to hash out with you for now: You seem to come off as more angry and rude than you did before you embraced the Triablogue way of thinking (I am thinking of the difference in you when you were more open to libertarian free will and even embraced it for a time, and then after the Triabloguers persuaded you to reverse that conclusion and to embrace determinism again). I don’t really kow you. Maybe that’s a false impression. But do you have a wife or someone close you could ask about this? Perhaps hardcore Calvinism is making you more prideful and hostile. Maybe a close friend would be able to tell you if they see any difference in you. Doctrine can have consequences. Perhaps the false doctrine of determinism is producing bad fruit in you, particularly in the form that regards God as the author of sin and evil.

  120. Steven (1),

    You want to know in what sense is God not the cause of the evils in 1st John 2.

    “There are multiple senses of “not from God” that are possible. Not from God in a causal sense? (This you cannot hold to, because even God indeterministically causes sin to happen.) Not from God in a moral sense, that is, it is opposed to God’s moral nature to lust? Not commanded by God for you to be done? (That seems fine by me.) Not from God in an ultimate origin sense? (This you cannot hold to, because if God never created the world, there’d never be sin–that seems like an ultimate source to me.) In what sense is sin “not from God” such that it doesn’t apply equally to Arminianism/Molinism, applies to Calvinism, and is plausibly what the text attempts to teach?”

    The text, if you’ll be honest with it, at least explains one thing.

    “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.”

    The sinful attributes and choices of the world are not the will of God. This perfectly fits into the libertarian idea that God gave man the ability to choose to follow the world or to choose to follow God. However, in whatever sense you choose to apply it, determinism loses.

    You have clearly stated that logically and consistently, God must be the author or source of everything. Sin included. So rather than asking me how I can apply this to both Calvinism and Arminian thought, let me ask you how you can apply it to determinism period?

    Your view above, “commanded by God for you to be done?”, destroys the text. He is claiming in the passage that EVERYTHING evil in this world is from our desires, and is not put there by God. You said God puts everything here, even evil, for some hidden good-will-be-done-later purpose.

    Every cause is from God. Every thought is from God. Every action I take is from God. That is what you believe. That is not what the Bible teaches. If SOMETHING is not from God, ANYTHING, then determinism fails.

  121. I was challenged by Paul Manata over at T’blog to rephrase the last statement in my last comment to Steven. I see no harm in doing so, it doesn’t change my mind at all about what I said, but perhaps could reduce the emotional froth that could be inferred from it. If anyone is interested in why they can check it out for themselves at http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2010/05/unforviven.html#commentst (and also http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2010/05/divine-inciter.html).

    So Steven, et al,

    If God is the operative cause in actuating an evil committed by an agent, then yes, God is the author of that sin.

    It matters not if the agent is co-acting, oblivious, or under the illusion that he is independent. The author is the one controlling the marionettes strings.

    Determinism, as it has been used in this thread, makes God the puller of those strings. Since Calvinism embraces determinism in its explanation of God and how he acts, Calvinism makes God the author of sin.

    The Bible makes it quite clear that God is, in fact, not the author but the judge of sin. Therefore, Calvinism is an unbiblical system, and not true.

  122. I should add that since it would be contradictory for God to be both the originator of sin and it’s condemner, JCT’s conclusion is true.

  123. […] start arguments over things which are simply unimportant.  You can see the fruits of such conflict here and here.  So what is important?  God’s love for starters:  acknowledge that you are a […]

  124. Steven N.,

    “How you would prove such a thing, I have no idea. It’s wildly intuitive….”

    Emphasis on the ‘wildly.’ As has already been shown, you keep making this assertion under the unscriptural premise that God has some obligation to stop people from committing evil. If He has no such obligation, then He can’t be an “eligible candidate for blame if he lacks morally sufficient reason for doing it,” as you’re arguing. Your appeal to intuition is then entirely misplaced since you’re dealing with God, not man.

    “You still haven’t told me if I have you right on what you mean by ‘author of sin’.”

    Nor do I wish to get entangled into possibly loaded terminology, since I’ve already been sufficiently clear.

    “I asked: how does God making true propositions about agents committing evil make him a “source” or “author” of evil. You haven’t responded to this.”

    Probably because no one made the claim.

    “So if author means “causal determiner”, then God causally determines your salvation and your peace.”

    The term has to do with origination, no one’s arguing that salvation doesn’t originate within God.

    “Why think that it is a sense that applies only to Calvinism and not to Molinism/Arminianism also?”

    Because Arminianism, while acknowledging that creatures who freely commit sin originate within God, denies that their sin itself originates within God. High Calvinism makes no such claim, and is therefore quite open to the charge.

    “I disbelieve God’s word? This is how you respond to someone who asked you for reasons to think your exegesis was right?”

    That’s how I respond to people who teach concepts directly contrary to what the Bible teaches. The Bible tells us that these things don’t come from the Father, you claim they do; you’ve shown quite clearly that you reject it in favor of your philosophical commitments.

    Also, Ben has already asked you and I reiterate: please quit with the expletives.

  125. “Emphasis on the ‘wildly.’ As has already been shown, you keep making this assertion under the unscriptural premise that God has some obligation to stop people from committing evil. If He has no such obligation, then He can’t be an “eligible candidate for blame if he lacks morally sufficient reason for doing it,” as you’re arguing. Your appeal to intuition is then entirely misplaced since you’re dealing with God, not man.”

    Consarn it, I will admit the “candidate for blame” bit was misleading. But you keep ignorning, because it is convenient to you, the more accurate definition of responsibility—viz. your actions and their consequences ‘belonging to you’ in the right way. Again, that God has no moral duties to prevent evil (which itself a ridiculous assertion) does not prevent him from being responsible for the evil in the world. Even if he has no moral duties to prevent evil, he is responsible for the evil states of affairs that obtain in the world, because they are a consequence of an act of his that he was responsible for, he saw they would happen if he did it, etc. Why you don’t see this, I don’t know—maybe it’s because you ignore the definitions that are bad for you and bring up the ones that help make your point.

    “Nor do I wish to get entangled into possibly loaded terminology, since I’ve already been sufficiently clear.”

    I don’t see how “God’s will is the truthmaker for propositions about evil occurrences” is loaded terminology. And you haven’t been sufficiently clear, because “dreaming it up, masterminding it, etc.” is not obviously what you mean, given the content of the debate.

    Of course, you changed your use of the word a couple times. It’s only natural you wouldn’t explicitly answer questions regarding what you mean if being shifty and unclear about it has worked so well for you until now.

    “Probably because no one made the claim.”

    That was assuming that God’s being the author of evil is his will being the truthmaker for propositions about evil. If that’s not what you mean by evil, then you need to be more explicit. It is obvious that you don’t mean “thought it up, dreamed it up” the way I understand the words.

    “The term has to do with origination, no one’s arguing that salvation doesn’t originate within God.”

    You missed the point, because it was convenient for you to ignore it. If God is the “author” of salvation, by your own use of the word (however mysterious and equivocal), then God authors the salvation of men with no regard to their independent will. And that’s not Arminianism; that’s Calvinism, that’s unconditional election. If your definition of “author” works, then you should be a Calvinist anyway.

    “Because Arminianism, while acknowledging that creatures who freely commit sin originate within God, denies that their sin itself originates within God. High Calvinism makes no such claim, and is therefore quite open to the charge.”

    If just denying that sin originates within God suddenly exculpates Arminians, then I, as a Calvinist, deny that sin originates in God. There you go.

    “That’s how I respond to people who teach concepts directly contrary to what the Bible teaches. The Bible tells us that these things don’t come from the Father, you claim they do; you’ve shown quite clearly that you reject it in favor of your philosophical commitments.”

    It is ridiculous debating with you. I asked (i) what do you really mean by ‘author’ of evil?, (ii) why does *that* sense of ‘author’ make God a ‘source’ of evil, and (iii) why think the text teaches God is not a ‘source’ of evil in that sense? You haven’t answered any of those questions.

  126. Steven,

    I just wanted to make a few quick comments. I really can’t get into a back and forth because I can only get on the internet a few times a week right now (if I’m lucky). I think the idea that God needs to prevent evil is strange. It really doesn’t even come close to the issue at hand in my opinion. Theodicy in Calvinism is seriously compounded since in Arminianism, while God does allow creatures to sin freely (though He certainly can and does intervene at times), He will one day judge the world in perfect justice. Every offense will be rightly dealt with. No injustices will remain. God will rightly judge those who are wicked and unbelieving for their wickedness and unbelief that they freely chose in resistance to God’s good purpose for them.

    But in Calvinism there is no end in sight. The final judgment will just compound the injustices that have been committed as God will be judging His creatures for sins they could no more avoid committing as they could have created a universe. God will punish unbelievers for rejecting an atonement that was neither provided for them nor intended for them.

    There is such a glaring difference between the two view points, it is quite annoying to hear Calvinists try to conflate the two in order to justify their theology. In Calvinism God causes His creatures to sin and rebel against Him irresistibly and then punishes them for what God caused them to do in accordance with His irresistible eternal decree. Even His foreknowledge is based on His decree. He only foreknows what we will do because He will cause us to do those things in perfect conformity to His decree. Secondary causes? Also decreed and controlled by God, so making appeals to such secondary causes is ridiculous.

    Arminianism is not even close to this. God creates free moral agents and holds them accountable for the sins and rebellion that they freely choose in resistance to God’s gracious working and His desire for them to be saved. While God foreknows what they will do, He does not cause them to do such things, but rather grieves over them. God will then one day judge all the world in perfect justice and the unbelievers will rightly be judged for the sins they freely committed and for rejecting and resisting the grace of God that could have been theirs. This provides an extremely satisfying theodicy that Calvinism can never provide and it is a world view that in no way makes God the cause or author of the sinful actions that He rightly judges in His creatures. Much more could be said, but I am out of time.

    In the end, it seems that you have conceded that in your theology God is indeed the cause and author of sin just as I described above (which is really an inevitable implication). Arminians need make no such concessions. It is alien to our theology and we firmly believe that it is alien to Scripture as well.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  127. Steven N.,

    “…I will admit the “candidate for blame” bit was misleading.”

    Okay.

    “But you keep ignorning, because it is convenient to you, the more accurate definition of responsibility—viz. your actions and their consequences ‘belonging to you’ in the right way.”

    Sinners’ own actions belong to themselves, not God. I’m not sure what ‘right way’ is supposed to mean here.

    “Again, that God has no moral duties to prevent evil (which itself a ridiculous assertion)”

    Then we’d be saying God failed in His so-called ‘duties’ because there is evil in the world. Since He presumably isn’t, my conclusion is quite sound.

    “Even if he has no moral duties to prevent evil, he is responsible for the evil states of affairs that obtain in the world, because they are a consequence of an act of his that he was responsible for, he saw they would happen if he did it, etc.”

    I do believe God has an innate sense of justice to which evil acts must be accounted for (punishment, atonement, etc), but to say He’s responsible for them in some sense akin to what the culprit would be when He in fact isn’t the culprit doesn’t follow.


    “It is obvious that you don’t mean “thought it up, dreamed it up” the way I understand the words.”

    “…because “dreaming it up, masterminding it, etc.” is not obviously what you mean, given the content of the debate.”

    But it is what I mean, and state as much in my post and subsequent comments. What evidence do you cite to say it isn’t?

    “Of course, you changed your use of the word a couple times.”

    No I haven’t, as I’ve already shown, you’re simply repeating the same contrived fallacy despite accurate correction.

    “You missed the point, because it was convenient for you to ignore it. If God is the “author” of salvation, by your own use of the word (however mysterious and equivocal), then God authors the salvation of men with no regard to their independent will.”

    In a general sense, He did; His deciding to send Christ to save sinners through faith wasn’t contingent upon any specific person receiving Him. There is a conditional element present in how God saves (“to all who obey Him”), but the establishment of the way of salvation through faith in Christ was entirely from within God.

    “It is ridiculous debating with you. I asked (i) what do you really mean by ‘author’ of evil?”

    The originator, as I’ve already told you. Not the “originator of beings who themselves independently originate sin,” but the “actual originator of the sin itself.”

    “why does *that* sense of ‘author’ make God a ‘source’ of evil”

    The originator is by definition the source.

    “…why think the text teaches God is not a ‘source’ of evil in that sense?”

    Because the source of evil is from whence it comes. As necessitarian doctrine frames the issue, these evils don’t arise due to some contingency of other independent wills within the world, but in fact arise wholly from within God who immutably decrees that sinners commit them. Were that the case, then it would be completely inaccurate to say that these things don’t come from Him as John proclaims.

    “For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.”

    “If just denying that sin originates within God suddenly exculpates Arminians, then I, as a Calvinist, deny that sin originates in God. There you go.”

    Good, then you would logically deny exhaustive determinism & necessitation in the process, since we’d have to conclude that it arises from somewhere besides within God.

  128. A friend of mine objected to your use of Pharoah (mortal, in time) in comparison to God (immortal, eternal) when considering whether or not Pharoah (and therefore God) is the author of sin in the Calvinist view. He objected saying that this comparison does not do justice to the sovereign God.

  129. Perhaps this has already been answered here, but here goes . . .

    If Arminianism believes God foreknows all events, then this must include all evil events that occur. If He does not intervene and prevent such events, how is this morally superior to Calvinism’s understanding that God predetermines all things? Is not a bystander who can help yet does nothing also culpable on a certain level?

  130. Brendan,

    Disanalogies between Pharaoh and God don’t change what constitutes authorship. Your friend is just employing a red herring.

    Jason,

    “If He does not intervene and prevent such events, how is this morally superior to Calvinism’s understanding that God predetermines all things?”

    Because [High] Calvinism makes all of the sin God’s own invention, and not intervening isn’t necessarily immoral.

    “Is not a bystander who can help yet does nothing also culpable on a certain level?”

    If he has no obligation to help the bystander, not at all. God is not obligated to stop us from destroying ourselves.

  131. “Is not a bystander who can help yet does nothing also culpable on a certain level?”

    This ignores two acts which prove God is not standing by: 1) providing the Lamb of God, 2) stopping all sinful actions and judging sin. They do not happen with immediacy in a cause and effect chain from a human point of view, but that is not to say God is sitting on his hands (2 Peter 3:8-9).

  132. Jason,
    ‘If Arminianism believes God foreknows all events, then this must include all evil events that occur. If He does not intervene and prevent such events, how is this morally superior to Calvinism’s understanding that God predetermines all things? Is not a bystander who can help yet does nothing also culpable on a certain level?

    This assumes that freewill is not of value to God. If freewill has moral significance to God, then God is acting according to moral values as he sees them, rather than being culpable as we see them. One would have to prove that freewill does not exist or that God does not value it to apply the comparison you suggest.

  133. slw,

    Are you saying that God values free will above, say, stopping a child from being kidnapped and raped?

    JC,

    Of course God is not obliged to help every bystander. But evil exists in many forms and it will simply not do to place it all under a “destroying ourselves” idea. Was the Samaratin obliged to help the man beside the road?

  134. Jason,
    He must, in the present, because he allows it to happen. That is not to say that he does not value justice, because he will intervene to stop every instance of injustice at an appointed time in the future.

  135. slw,

    you’ve hit on my problem with Arminianism as it relates to both evil and why more people are not saved. In this system God’s desire to allow free will must necessarily exceed both his desire for evil to be eradicated (in the the here and now) and his desire for all to be saved.

    In the Calvinist system God’s desire for his glory exceeds these things.

    To me, the latter is the more biblical option. I see absolutely no evidence for the Arminian view in Scripture.

  136. Jason,
    “To me, the latter is the more biblical option. I see absolutely no evidence for the Arminian view in Scripture.”

    Funny, I come to the exact opposite conclusion. 😉

    I think you would have to make assumptions for God to conclude that freewill is not part of what He considers his glory.

  137. Jason,

    “Was the Samaratin obliged to help the man beside the road?”

    What would this have to do with God being obligated to stop sin from occurring?

    “I see absolutely no evidence for the Arminian view in Scripture.”

    God does desire that all men come to repentance, but not so that He will do so apart from their acceptance of Christ.

    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34)

    Also note that God choosing to allow men to freely believe isn’t inconsistent with His seeking His own glory.

  138. As the link JC gave shows (https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/what-brings-glory-to-god/), it is not simply that God choosing to allow men to freely believe isn’t inconsistent with His seeking his own glory, but it is actually that allowing people free will is actually far more glorifying to God than exhaustive determinism.

    Would it glorify a man more if he drugged a woman into “willing” compliance of loving and marrying him, or if he she freely chose to love and marry him? It is far more glorifying to be loved by a real person with a free will than by a puppet. But there are many many more considerations that make free will a far better means to God’s glory than determinism; see the above link for much more.

  139. Jason in response to JC wrote:

    “JC,
    Of course God is not obliged to help every bystander. But evil exists in many forms and it will simply not do to place it all under a “destroying ourselves” idea. Was the Samaratin obliged to help the man beside the road?”

    In the first line Jason says that God IS NOT OBLIGED TO HELP EVERY bystander. Now that sounds like Jason is saying that God is not obliged to prevent every evil that might occur. Jason goes on to ask about the Good Samaritan parable where clearly the Samaritan **was** obliged to help. So HERE it appears that Jason claims that God is ***not obligated*** to prevent every evil from occurring (though humans like the Samaritan are).

    But earlier Jason wrote:

    “If Arminianism believes God foreknows all events, then this must include all evil events that occur. If He does not intervene and prevent such events, how is this morally superior to Calvinism’s understanding that God predetermines all things? Is not a bystander who can help yet does nothing also culpable on a certain level?”

    Jason says here that a “bystander who can help yet does nothing” **is** culpable (or blameworthy). Well God sees every crime or sin that is committed by Jason’s logic, so according to Jason God is a bystander of every sin that is committed, and so according to Jason’s logic God ***is*** culpable for all crimes or sins that occur.

    The bible in contrast says that each person is responsible for their own actions and when their actions are sinful they, not God are culpable for their sinful actions. The bible also says that men and angels not God are the ones who bring about sin and that some things come from the world not from God.

    But Jason said in the other quote that God is not obliged to prevent all evils from occurring.

    Jason contradicts himself.

    In attempting to slam Arminianism he brings up his principle that God should prevent all evils from occurring, God is obliged to prevent all evils, but he does not, so he must be culpable for them all (call this “A”). Yet later in response to JC he says that God is not obliged to prevent all evils (call this “not-A”).

    Is Jason aware of the contradiction in his statements?

    I am also wondering why Jason is thinking like an atheist when asking about why if God foreknows evils he does not prevent them all? This is precisely an argument against Christianity that I have heard repeatedly from ATHEISTS. Atheists claim that if God has the power to prevent all evils and does not do so, then God is himself evil. It is atheists that repeatedly bring up the “problem of evil” as an attack against Christianity. The atheists will keep pressing this argument and end up arguing that God should have made people incapable of sinning and thereby preventing all evils from occurring. Jason however employs the atheistic reasoning against Arminianism (because he wants to eliminate Arminianism and defend and support calvinism) WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY granting that God is under no obligation to prevent all evils. You can’t have it both ways.

    If Jason wants to use atheistic reasoning against Arminianism, he cannot at the same time claim that God is not under any obligation to prevent all evils from occurring.

    If Jason wants to claim that God is not under any obligation to prevent all evils from occurring, then he cannot employ the atheistic argument against Arminianism.

    I think it is sad that determinists are so committed to their false theology that they are willing to borrow from the reasoning of atheists to attack Arminianism. And not only are they attacking Arminianism they are attacking Christianity because the arguments of the atheists that they are borrowing from (the capital they are borrowing from the atheistic worldview to speak in Van Tillian speak), is intended to destroy Christianity. The atheists use these arguments not with merely Arminianism in mind, but Christianity is the target. So determinists unwittingly are pawns of the other side when they use these same atheistic arguments meant against Christianity against Arminianism.

    Robert

  140. Jason wrote:

    Perhaps this has already been answered here, but here goes . . .

    If Arminianism believes God foreknows all events, then this must include all evil events that occur. If He does not intervene and prevent such events, how is this morally superior to Calvinism’s understanding that God predetermines all things? Is not a bystander who can help yet does nothing also culpable on a certain level?

    See my comments to Steven above which I think address your question as well:

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/fallacies-of-calvinist-apologetics-fallacy-8-calvinism-doesnt-charge-god-with-the-authorship-of-sin/#comment-4717

  141. All,

    It seems my comments have been largely misunderstood. I was only attempting to point out that Arminianism has its own problems with the issue of God and the existence of evil.

    Arminianism – God foresees that mankind will sin, that much evil and suffering will ensue, yet he makes the world anyway. Not only does he get the whole process going, he often refrains from stopping evil acts from occurring. Why? Because he values human freedom above all other things.

    As a Calvinist, there are a few observations I’d like to make. First, there’s no moral problem with God creating the world knowing that sin would occur. He can do what he wants, and since he is all wise and all good, we know that whatever he does is perfect and good. On this we’re agreed.
    Second is the issue of God’s intervention in evil acts. Here’s where I part company with my Arminian brothers. First off, the free will argument simply cannot work consistently and it takes little effort to see this. God can easily thwart evil acts without violating one’s free will: animals, illness, the environment – all these can be used to eliminate evil acts. Additionally, the woman who is raped is brought little comfort in learning that God could have intervened, except that he valued the rapist’s freedom above her own security.

    Please understand, my overarching point is that Arminianism is not free from serious difficulties in this area of evil.

  142. Ben (kangaroodort)

    I read your response to Steven but cannot bring myself to offer much of a reply. The Calvinism you presented is more where you think the logic of Calvinism leads rather than what Calvinists actually believe. Since what you presented is not what I hold, I cannot answer it.

  143. Jason,
    How is it less problematic to believe there’s no moral problem with God creating the world knowing that sin would occur, since He can do what he wants (and whatever he does is perfect and good, and then believe that God allows (Armininians would argue cause) evil he could easily thwart for some other reason than his value for freewill. What would be his reason in your system: for his own glory, making his wrath known? How is that better? How doesn’t that make God a capricious God, arbitrarily frying ants under a magnifying glass for his own jollies?

  144. slw,

    I didn’t say it was less problematic. Again the point is that Arminianism has its own severe problems in trying to explain how God not only allows evil to occur, but at times desires it. In other words, this isn’t just a problem for the Calvinist. (and by “problem” I’m not insinuating that God somehow needs to explain himself, only that these matters are difficult to reconcile in our present state)

    “arbitrarily frying ants . . . ”

    I’ll assume you’re speaking facetiously, to make a point, rather than accusing God if the Calvinist understanding happens to be true. Besides, that argument can cut both ways.

    As I’ve said, the free will understanding cannot possibly fully answer the problem. I should add that it’s also problematic to assert that God cannot overcome human resistance to his will; not by forcing people to believe, but by creating circumstances that make Christ so appealing that more people come to him (but that’s for another discussion).

  145. Jason,

    “Not only does he get the whole process going, he often refrains from stopping evil acts from occurring. Why? Because he values human freedom above all other things.”

    That’s a foregone conclusion, as your answer doesn’t necessarily follow the question.

    “First off, the free will argument simply cannot work consistently and it takes little effort to see this. God can easily thwart evil acts without violating one’s free will: animals, illness, the environment – all these can be used to eliminate evil acts.”

    You’re pulling a bait-and-switch: free will explains how evil arises without God being its author, it of course doesn’t explain why God allows everything He does, nor do men need to understand that point as the book of Job communicates. The fact that God can use circumstance etc to thwart free-will intentions sometimes has nothing to do with the issue of where evil comes from, which is what’s being discussed here.

    “…should add that it’s also problematic to assert that God cannot overcome human resistance to his will”

    That’s a straw man, since no one is arguing that God doesn’t have the power to overcome human will.

    “As I’ve said, the free will understanding cannot possibly fully answer the problem.”

    You’re not stating what your so-called ‘problem’ is.

    “First, there’s no moral problem with God creating the world knowing that sin would occur.”

    I agree. So since there’s no moral problem for God allowing evil, and free will does answer where the evil comes from, then exactly what problem are you talking about?

    “Arminianism has its own problems with the issue of God and the existence of evil.”

    Then describe one rather than merely asserting, because from your statements thus far I don’t think you understand the issue.

  146. “Additionally, the woman who is raped is brought little comfort in learning that God could have intervened, except that he valued the rapist’s freedom above her own security.”

    Jason, in how much more grief would that woman be if she asked, “Why?” and you say, “God determined this would happen for His own sovereign glorifcation: your rape glorifes God!” Hmmm…

    Oh my.

  147. Jason,
    Thank you for accepting my remarks in good will, sometimes I think it is helpful to envision the extreme of where a position may take us. Ultimately, (and incidentally why I’m so engaged in this discussion) I believe the Calvinistic conception of determinism, when carried to it’s logical end, winds up insulting the very character of God. I know it is absolutely not the intention of any Calvinist to do so or be blasphemous in any way, but it is worth engaging Calvinist brothers and sisters to at least to bring the issue up. If God is the author of sin, as I believe the Calvinist system perceives him, instead of glorifying God the system actually demeans his character and says things of him that he does not say of himself (through scripture). So quite apart from theodicy, which I think Arminianism allows a good solution for in freewill, (which works both scripturally and observationally), this particular issue touches the nature and character of God.

    I do look forward to what response you may have for JC and Brendon above.

  148. “If God is the author of sin, as I believe the Calvinist system perceives him”

    But again, remeber, that the Calvinist system does not perceive him so, but that the Calvinist system logically entails God to be the author of sin. Mainstream Calvinists deny this logically certain entailment of their theology (i.e., they are logically inconsistent). However, we seem to have been dealing with a hyper-Calvinist in Steven in this thread who does seem to believe God to be the author of sin and evil, and to think tha tthis is not problematic.

    It is is very odd that some Calvinists think there is no difference (or very little difference) between God thinking up and plotting evil and then irresistibly causing it to come to pass vs. allowing people to commit evil because he has decided to allow free will and hold people accountable for their free actions, especially as he certainly will put a stop to all sin and evil as well as right every wrong. It seems crazy that they can’t see the difference. But then, many of them can’t see how God thinking up all sin and evil and unconditionally predestining it to come to pass does not make God the author of all sin and evil. Thankfully, most believers can see the obvious in all of this and reject Calvinism because of its unbiblical stances.

  149. Jason has posted again and again presents a contradiction.

    “As a Calvinist, there are a few observations I’d like to make. First, there’s no moral problem with God creating the world knowing that sin would occur. He can do what he wants, and since he is all wise and all good, we know that whatever he does is perfect and good. On this we’re agreed.”

    Note carefully here that Jason says that “there’s no moral problem with God creating the world knowing that sin would occur.”

    So this means that if God foreknew that certain sins would be committed in the world that he created, THIS IS NOT A PROBLEM. Now think about what this logically entails for a moment. If God knows that some sins will in fact occur in the world that he creates, then that means that he will also know that with regard to those sins he WILL NOT HAVE PREVENTED THEM. If he had prevented them, then they would not have occurred. But according to Jason he knows they will occur (and so also knows that with respect to those sins that he will not prevent them from occurring). We can also infer from this that in the world that God creates he will in fact NOT PREVENT ALL SINS FROM OCCURRING. And again note that Jason said and said clearly that “THERE’S NO MORAL PROBLEM WITH GOD CREATING THE WORLD KNOWING THAT SIN WOULD OCCUR”.

    Now here is Jason’s latest contradiction. You cannot claim at the same time (1) that there is no moral problem with God creating the world knowing that sin would occur (which means he foreknew both that these sins would occur AND that He would not prevent them from occurring) and (2) bring up this atheistic argument that God ought to prevent all evils from occurring. Put another way his claim (1) is that God is morally justified (there is no moral problem) in creating a world where he foreknows that SOME sins will occur and these are sins that God will both foreknow and also not prevent from occurring, contradicts his second claim that God ought to prevent ALL evils from occurring. Or put yet another way: if God should prevent all evils from occurring (claim 2) and yet God creates a world where he foreknows there will be some sins that he will allow and not prevent (claim 1) then there would be a moral problem with God even allowing SOME sins that he could have prevented.

    In Jason’s first paragraph he tells us it is OK, it is not a moral problem for God to create a world where he foreknows that there will be some sins that occur that he does not intervene and prevent from occurring. Now check out what he says in his second paragraph:

    “Second is the issue of God’s intervention in evil acts. Here’s where I part company with my Arminian brothers. First off, the free will argument simply cannot work consistently and it takes little effort to see this. God can easily thwart evil acts without violating one’s free will: animals, illness, the environment – all these can be used to eliminate evil acts. Additionally, the woman who is raped is brought little comfort in learning that God could have intervened, except that he valued the rapist’s freedom above her own security.”

    He just got through claiming in the first paragraph that there is no problem if God foreknows and allows and does not prevent certain sins from occurring. But now he goes back to atheistic reasoning where God ought to prevent all evils from occurring in his second paragraph. He says that “God can easily thwart evil acts without violating one’s free will”. And this implies (again I have heard many atheists say this to my face) that God not only could “easily thwart evil acts”, but that He should. And the atheist believes that he should do so in all cases (i.e. that God should prevent all evils from every occurring).

    And I remind everyone yet again that if Jason’s statement that “there’s no moral problem with God creating the world knowing that sin would occur” is true (and recall that if God knew that some sins would occur in the world that He created and THERE IS NO MORAL PROBLEM) then that claim would negate the atheist claim that God ought to prevent all evils from occurring by intervening in each case. And furthermore, if Jason’s claim, let’s call it Jason’s principle (i.e. that “there’s no moral problem with God creating the world knowing that sin would occur.”) is true, unwittingly he has justified Arminian thinking regarding the so-called problem of evil (because it is Arminians who claim that God foreknows that some sins will occur in this world and yet allows them, does not prevent them all).

    There is also another problem that comes out with the truth of Jason’s principle. Recall that he earlier brought up atheistic reasoning and argument when he wrote:

    ““If Arminianism believes God foreknows all events, then this must include all evil events that occur. If He does not intervene and prevent such events, how is this morally superior to Calvinism’s understanding that God predetermines all things? Is not a bystander who can help yet does nothing also culpable on a certain level?”

    Now he presents the Jason principle and says that we all agree with him on this: “On this we’re agreed.” Wait a minute, if we are agreed on the Jason principle, then why was Jason bringing up the atheistic argument against Arminianism earlier? If he knew that ““there’s no moral problem with God creating the world knowing that sin would occur”, and that both calvinists and Arminians agree on this, then why was he bringing up this atheistic argument that God ought to intervene and prevent all evils from occurring??

    Jason is correct about the Jason principle, we do agree that there is no moral problem with God allowing some sins that he will not prevent and will in fact occur in this world (especially when we understand that angels and humans commit these sins and do so freely, their sins are not predetermined to occur by God, and they are fully responsible for the sins they commit). But if he is correct about that then he cannot simultaneously be bringing up the atheistic argument that God should prevent ***all*** evils from occurring, against Arminians!

    And then there are his last comments in paragraph two:

    “Additionally, the woman who is raped is brought little comfort in learning that God could have intervened, except that he valued the rapist’s freedom above her own security.”

    Now here we can see another place where calvinistic determinism breaks down. When it comes to counseling folks theological determinism is not very helpful. If God has planned everything beforehand (with no exceptions) then he decided beforehand exactly what evils events would occur and their precise nature. He planned for every rape, every child molestation, every sexually perverted act, all of it. Not only did He plan it, he desired for it to occur in its every detail. He intentionally planned for all of these sins to occur, he wanted them to occur and then using his control of all circumstances made sure that these evil things occurred. Now try sharing **that** with Jason’s hypothetical woman who was raped. If determinists shared this perspective with victims of evil the victims would want to have nothing to do with the church, nor the God who desired for them to experience these evils and planned for them all to occur and then ensured that they would occur. And think what this says about God’s character if these deterministic claims are true? God says in the bible that he is holy and hates sin and yet he ***planned*** for, desired for, lots and lots of sin to occur. God tells people to resist temptation and yet he planned for every temptation and every giving in to these temptations and all the consequences that follow. I doubt that determinists are even honest with victims of evil, telling them that God desired for it to occur, planned for it and ensured for it to occur. It may be interesting to discuss determinism on blogs, but try telling people who have really suffered these things in the real world and see the result.

    Now Jason brought up this rape victim as an attack against the non-determinism view. And note what he says about it. He says that we would say that God could have intervened but valued the free will of the rapist more than her security. Now why would we say that? Let’s assume, in line with the Jason principle, that God allows some sins that he knows will occur and does not prevent. If that is true then in some cases God can and does prevent an evil from occurring and in others he does not. Now my problem is not with the idea that He can prevent some sins but allows them and in other cases prevents them (the bible presents instances of both: for example the crucifixion of Jesus where he allowed sinful actions to occur).

    My problem is in us declaring that we **know** why He intervenes in one situation while in another He allows the evil to occur. The fact is we don’t know. In order to make those declarations we would have to know both the mind of God as well as why he sovereignly chooses to do one thing in one situation and another in another situation. So we are not in the place to say to some rape victim that the reason he allowed this is because he values the free will of the rapist over your security.

    And this idea that God values one person’s free will over another’s is also very strange. It seems to me that if we have the capacity to have and make our own choices, then we have this capacity because GOD DESIGNED US TO HAVE THIS CAPACITY. Furthermore, if that is true, then this may also be part of what it means to be “created in His Image.” So it is not a question of God deciding “let’s see, here I will value Jason’s free will more than Steve’s free will, and here I will value Steve’s free will more than Jason’s free will.” God would not be making that valuation because in intentionally creating humans with the capacity for having and making their own choices, that would be **his intentional design plan** for all human persons (just as we have two legs and two eyes, we sometimes have and make our own choices).

    Robert

  150. Hello JC,

    I thought this was interesting, you first quote the Jason principle and then you respond:

    “First, there’s no moral problem with God creating the world knowing that sin would occur.”[i.e. the Jason principle]
    I agree. So since there’s no moral problem for God allowing evil, and free will does answer where the evil comes from, then exactly what problem are you talking about?”

    First JC you agree with the Jason principle. Second, you add that free will explains where evil comes from (i.e. created beings who have the capacity to make their own choices make wrongful/sinful choices, so creatures not God originate evil and sin). Third JC you then ask what exactly is the problem that Jason has. Jason has already acknowledged that if God creates the world knowing that some sins would occur, and knowing that He would not prevent the occurrence of these sins, that there would then be “no moral problem with God.” And if Jason admits this then he cannot then come back with the atheistic argument that God should prevent all evils from occurring (Jason cannot appeal to this legitimately, as his own principle, the Jason principle refutes the atheist claim that all sins must be prevented or else God is evil or immoral).

    And as I pointed out in a previous post, if the Jason principle is valid then God foreknowing that some sins would occur and allowing them is not a problem as God preventing or not preventing a particular evil becomes an issue of God’s sovereignty (he can prevent sins and does so on some occasions but he also allows sins which he does not prevent from occurring). Now if we ask why allow this one while preventing that one, we enter the territory of God’s sovereignty (i.e. He does as He pleases and we do not know why he allows one and prevents another). When it comes to God preventing some particular sin from occurring, it seems there are three possibilities: (1) he always prevents sin (this is ruled out by the bible and our own personal experience); (2) he never prevents sin (again ruled out by both the bible and our own personal experience), or (3) sometimes he prevents sin and sometimes he does not. (3) fits well with God’s sovereignty. Now as to why he allows a particular sin and prevents another particular sin, I do not believe we are privy to this information (unless it is expressly revealed in His Word). Nor is it necessary. We are called upon to trust Him regardless of how things go. The bible does not require that we understand why God does what he does: only that we trust Him no matter what.

    I share this to say my problem is not with the sovereignty of God (i.e., the reality that He does as He pleases in all situations) despite false claims made by determinists. No, I have no problem with His sovereignty. It brings me joy to know that He is sovereign. I am quite content that a person with His character and His desire for the salvation of all, is the one and only sovereign person in reality. I do however have a problem with those who try to equate His sovereignty with exhaustive determinism. God does not need to predetermine everything in order to be sovereign. In fact he is sovereign whether he preplans everything or not (because whether he preplans everything or not, He freely chooses what He will do, and does as He pleases, so Him being sovereign is true because He is God and is true in all situations). God can and does preplan some things (most notably the crucifixion of Jesus) while simultaneously allowing other things that he may not desire or even plan (e.g. particular sins that we commit). The bible does not teach that all things are good in themselves or that all events are precisely what God desires to occur or intended to occur (in fact in many instances events occur which clearly are not what God desires to occur in that situation, events that displease and even sometimes grieve Him), but that God can overcome evil with good (as He calls us to do as well).

    Robert

  151. There is a lot to reply to here. I was gone for a day and the conversation has again taken off, after the contribution of Jason.

    I’ll respond to JC as follows:

    (i) It doesn’t matter if sinner’s actions are their own, and not God’s. God is responsible for the sin in the world because he made the world knowing there would be sin, knowing there would be specific sin, etc., and his choice to make the world was a free one. That God has no duties one way or the other doesn’t preclude him from being responsible for what they do and choose to do; you can be responsible for your actions and your consequences even if you had no duties wrt to that action (for instance, in actions of yours that are morally neutral).

    You of course are going to ask, “why does his making the world knowing there would be sin, etc., make him responsible?” I replied to this once saying that it is intuitive; it is the sort of considerations that go into determining if *I* am responsible for the consequences of some of my actions, for instance. If I press a button knowing for certain that all of Paris, France will be destroyed, and my choice was a free one, then I can be held responsible for the destruction of Paris, France. Once more, then, God is responsible for the sin in the world.

    (ii) You first said author of sin meant the one who dreamed it up. I said, God is the author of evil on Arminianism because he made a world with sin it, implying that part of his plan for the world contained evil—therefore he dreamed up that it would occur. You replied that God did not necessitate it by decree, so he is not its author.

    Is it not clear that you are using two senses? First you say it’s the one who dreamed up that it would happen. Then you say it’s the one who dreamed it up, and necessitated it by decree. You didn’t say anything about necessitating evil by decree in your original post.

    (iii) And I don’t see why the necessitating makes him an author. If Pharoah asks that all the first-born of the Jews be slaughtered because he knew the relevant counterfactuals of creaturely freedom of his soldiers, how is he any less an author of the crime? I’m sure you can weasel your way out of it, but it is still perfectly clear to me that the word “author” applies to Pharoah in that situation. If you don’t think so, then you’re not using “author” in its obvious sense, in which case your argument is suspect for that reason.

    (iv) I’m not sure that God’s causally determining evil occur makes him the author. Or if it does, I’m not sure it makes him the “source” of evil. Imagine I causally determine that a machine be powered by battery. (And suppose I create the battery for the machine and the machine entirely out of scratch, maybe even out of nothing.) What is the “source” of the machine’s power? What is the source of the energy of the machine? Well, the battery, it seems like to me. Not me, not the inventor; he may be the “originator” of the machine’s movement, he may be the original cause, but he’s not the “source” of the machine’s movement, not in any obvious sense of the term.

  152. I’m late to the table with this suggestion, but it would be helpful to me, and I think the discussion if we all understood exactly what we mean by “evil” at least in the moral sense.

    I take evil to be that which is counter to God’s will, God being good; therefore, evil is a derivative value. It has no substance in itself, and cannot really be applied to God himself. In my view he would be bi-polar or a Taoist’s dream to author evil.

    I am sure Steven N. is approaching this from a different presumption, and I would not be surprised if that is not the case for JC and the other commenters.

  153. Robert,

    I believe God was justified in creating a world where evil would exist, *and* I believe God is under no obligation to stop evil acts from occurring. Sorry. If I had believed like you thought, you’d have one radically awesome logical treatise against me; but since you’ve misunderstood me, your comments don’t apply to me.

    JC, et al.

    Let me try to be more clear:

    1. Both Arminianism and Calvinism have difficulty with the problem of how evil exists in a world made by a sovereign and good God. If you more traditional Arminians think otherwise, please read the writings of the open theists. Boyd, Sanders, Pinnock, and others came to accept “free will theism” not merely for supposed biblical and intellectual reasons, but also because they recognized that a “simple foreknowledge” Arminianism does no better at removing God from culpability in the issue of God and an evil world.

    2. Therefore, my main point in these comments has been to demonstrate that the moral outrage Arminians level against Calvinism can equally be brought against Arminianism. At least Calvinists understand the quandary and appeal to mystery. Arminians (at least the ones here it seems) are in denial of the implications of their own system. I’ve only been trying to point this out with my illustrations of child abduction and rape. (so no, Robert, it’s not atheistic arguments I’m using. Open theists, Emergents, and liberals use similar arguments).

    3. My intent has not been to defend Calvinism from the charge that it seems to lead to a view that God is the author of evil. I’m not sure I even desire to do this since Scripture never invites me to. I believe the Bible teaches determinism (mostly exhaustive, not sure yet about thoughts, however), that it teaches God hates evil (and therefore does not originate from him), and that his creatures are morally responsible for every thought, intent, and action. How to put these truths together is a mystery, but I do not accept that it’s logically impossible. Nor do I think that the Law of Noncontradiction has been violated in the Calvinist belief system. The inner workings of the human mind, in conjunction with the spirit within, emotions, etc., make it a precarious venture to state unequivocally that God cannot ordain future acts of humans, while also remaining free from the charge of authoring sin.

    4. Scripture is where I stand or fall with Calvinism. Therefore, I look forward to more posts on Arminianperspectives where relevant Bible passages are exposited and discussed. I’m sure there have been some, but I’m still new here. . .

  154. JC wrote in the post:

    “What they’re not telling you is that they also believe that every choice, motivation, ‘wicked lust,’ vice, and evil imagination is specifically and immutably decreed by God”

    and

    “If one claims that God exhaustively and unconditionally predetermines every motive and thought, this is equivalent to saying that God is the originator every motive and thought, which inescapably includes God being the originator of every evil motive and thought.”

    You’re assuming that God cannot decree an act, or even a ‘wicked lust,’ without directly causing that act or lust, are you not? Is it not conceivable that God made us free and morally responsible, yet is able to conform that freedom to his will in every instance? It may seem contradictory when utitilizing cold, hard logic, but let’s not forget that God is capable of far more than we realize and very well could have created us in such a way that this apparent contraction is actually realizable (now I’m starting to defend Calvinism and evil, something I didn’t initially want to do).

    I have my own theory about how these issues can be worked out, but it gets heavily theoretical, and I’m not going to present my ideas here – at least not yet. Suffice it to say – and repeating what I said above – the law of noncontradiction is not violated in the Calvinistic assertion that God is not the ‘author’ of evil, though he has decreed it.

  155. Steven N,

    “What is the “source” of the machine’s power?”

    That’s confusing different kinds of sources; I’m using ‘source’ in an originative sense. Look under ‘What is meant by ‘author of sin?’’

    “f I press a button knowing for certain that all of Paris, France will be destroyed, and my choice was a free one, then I can be held responsible for the destruction of Paris, France.”

    We’re talking about events that are contingent upon other peoples’ free agency. Your example is disanalogous, since you’re apparently the only one acting.

    “God is responsible for the sin in the world because he made the world knowing there would be sin, knowing there would be specific sin, etc., and his choice to make the world was a free one.”

    You’ve still not shown how this would make God responsible for His creatures’ actions; sorry, but what you think is intuitive isn’t an argument. As I stated above, God does demand accounting for sin, but I don’t see any evidence for Him somehow mysteriously being responsible for the sin we commit. What exactly do you think God being ‘responsible’ for what we do entails?

    “I said, God is the author of evil on Arminianism because he made a world with sin it, implying that part of his plan for the world contained evil—therefore he dreamed up that it would occur.”

    And you’re still just as muddled in your reasoning. Evil exists on the contingency of the creatures’ independent wills, and therefore wasn’t ‘dreamed up’ by God. God foreknowing their rebellion isn’t equivalent to saying God came up with it for them, since that would imply the creatures’ didn’t do so independently. Further, your criteria of what constitutes authorship are fundamentally flawed, since I pointed out in the link above, authorship would entail God being not the “originator of beings who themselves independently originate sin,” but the “actual originator of the sin itself.” Therefore your charges against God are logically unsound.

    “Is it not clear that you are using two senses?”

    Do you really not grasp such a basic concept? Something that is divinely necessary is independent of the creatures’ agency, and thus dependent solely on God, and therefore can proceed only from God. Likewise, if the evil isn’t made necessary by God’s decree (or some similar action), but is effectuated independently by men or angels, then there isn’t any forthcoming evidence that their sin originated anywhere but themselves.

    “If Pharoah asks that all the first-born of the Jews be slaughtered because he knew the relevant counterfactuals of creaturely freedom of his soldiers, how is he any less an author of the crime?”

    Authorship doesn’t necessarily imply necessity; per above, absolute necessity by divine decree would necessarily make God the author.

    “You didn’t say anything about necessitating evil by decree in your original post.”

    Are you simply not reading? Look under the first paragraph of What About Arminian Theodicy?

  156. Jason,

    “…they recognized that a “simple foreknowledge” Arminianism does no better at removing God from culpability in the issue of God and an evil world.”

    To which they would be wrong, as there is no evidence for foreknowledge somehow making God culpable for what we freely do.

    “…my main point in these comments has been to demonstrate that the moral outrage Arminians level against Calvinism can equally be brought against Arminianism.”

    It does you no good to show that outrage can be leveled irrationally at people who express outrage with just cause. Anyone can do that.

    “Arminians (at least the ones here it seems) are in denial of the implications of their own system.”

    Really? Your previous arguments being logically unsound, what actual evidence do you cite?

    “You’re assuming that God cannot decree an act, or even a ‘wicked lust,’ without directly causing that act or lust, are you not?”

    I never said anything about ‘directly;’ the issue boils down to origination if you’ll recall.

  157. “That’s confusing different kinds of sources; I’m using ‘source’ in an originative sense. Look under ‘What is meant by ‘author of sin?’”

    I’ve read your post a couple times by now. What sense am I using in the battery example, and how is it different from your sense? Can you explain the difference?

    “We’re talking about events that are contingent upon other peoples’ free agency. Your example is disanalogous, since you’re apparently the only one acting.”

    Why does the result of my actions involving free agency make me any less responsible for some of the results? Suppose I know firefighters will freely try to save Parisians from burning apartment buildings, but they’ll die in the process. Am I not responsible also for their attempting to save Parisians and their deaths?

    Suppose Pharoah knows that if he gives the command to kill Hebrew children, the soldiers will freely agree to go. Is he any less responsible for their actions, just because they were free actions?

    “You’ve still not shown how this would make God responsible for His creatures’ actions; sorry, but what you think is intuitive isn’t an argument. As I stated above, God does demand accounting for sin, but I don’t see any evidence for Him somehow mysteriously being responsible for the sin we commit. What exactly do you think God being ‘responsible’ for what we do entails?”

    I don’t know how else to give an argument for that except by example. If you don’t really find that intuitive, there’s no point in continuing with you; you’re blinded to reason, and impossible to discourse with. Would not acting upon the basis of foreknowledge make *me* responsible for the consequences of my actions? Pharoah? You? Any other humans? Why not God also then?

    “And you’re still just as muddled in your reasoning. Evil exists on the contingency of the creatures’ independent wills, and therefore wasn’t ‘dreamed up’ by God. God foreknowing their rebellion isn’t equivalent to saying God came up with it for them, since that would imply the creatures’ didn’t do so independently. Further, your criteria of what constitutes authorship are fundamentally flawed, since I pointed out in the link above, authorship would entail God being not the “originator of beings who themselves independently originate sin,” but the “actual originator of the sin itself.” Therefore your charges against God are logically unsound.”

    Why is God not “dreaming up” evil if the individual evils are dependent upon creatures’ wills? He’s not the one who decided that, among the actions S would commit in possible world W, one of them would be evil; you’re right. That “S commits evil” is true in W was not up to God’s will (by hypothesis). But he is the one who decided that, among the actions S would commit in his plan for the world P, one of them (at least) would be evil, and a specific evil at that. In his plan for the world, he decided that S would commit some specific evil E, and then actualizes the world best suited to his original plan. In the latter sense, he *is* dreaming up that evil should occur—and that is what I was arguing.

    “Authorship doesn’t necessarily imply necessity; per above, absolute necessity by divine decree would necessarily make God the author.”

    Is this granting that Pharoah would be the author of the evil in the described scenario? If so, how is that described scenario any different from Molinism?

  158. Steven N.,

    “That “S commits evil” is true in W was not up to God’s will (by hypothesis). But he is the one who decided that, among the actions S would commit in his plan for the world P… he decided that S would commit some specific evil E.”

    That’s a self-contradicting statement; it can’t be “not up to God’s will” but yet something “[God] decided.” God putting someone in a world He creates in which He knows they will do something of their own accord isn’t akin to dreaming up their evil acts for them. Quibble all you like, A anticipating authorship of C by B doesn’t imply that A also authors C.

    “Would not acting upon the basis of foreknowledge make *me* responsible for the consequences of my actions?”

    Is there some underlying reason why you’re supposed to stop the action from occurring if it’s within your knowledge & power?

    “Can you explain the difference?”

    Battery doesn’t make decisions about when/how the machine will move; it’s a non-volitional means you use to achieve the end. Now are you going to explain what God being ‘responsible’ for evil in your view entails?

    If so, how is that described scenario any different from Molinism?

    I wouldn’t care, as I’m not a Molinist.

    “Suppose I know firefighters will freely try to save Parisians from burning apartment buildings, but they’ll die in the process. Am I not responsible also for their attempting to save Parisians and their deaths?”

    Your attempts to confuse the issue will only backfire: You’re of course responsible for the danger you put people in since you (unlike God) have no right to create such a situation; though logically, if you were responsible for every result that followed, we’d also have to credit you with responsibility for the firefighters’ heroism.

    “I don’t know how else to give an argument for that except by example. If you don’t really find that intuitive, there’s no point in continuing with you; you’re blinded to reason”

    Your oversimplified disanalogies of course all fall flat, since they involve people allowing things that they could be charged with negligence for. Instead, try an example that more closely fits the situation:

    Suppose programmer P works for the FBI and is (with the bureau’s approval) laying a trap for a cyber-terrorist suspect S. Let’s say he’s deduced from the suspect’s postings on a message board that the suspect wishes to destroy government databases and would do so once he finds opportunity. Let’s also say he writes database maintenance utility T, and on that message board offers it to S, anticipating that he’ll use the utility to break into one of their databases and wreak havoc. P, anticipating an attack, securely backs up the system so he can restore it in case of failure, and (again with authorization) leaves the database unsecured and vulnerable to attack. In spite of numerous built-in clear warning messages and safeguards within the utility, S misuses T and writes a script that destroys the unsecured database (effect E), but is caught red-handed in the process, his location pinpointed, and agents sent to arrest him shortly afterward. P restores the database, good guys win, all is well. Are there any viable objections to P’s actions or anything to implicate him as the actual author of E?

    Did the programmer allow the attack? Yes.
    Is the programmer breaking the law in allowing this to occur? No, he is authorized to do so in this example.
    Did he provide the suspect with the means to break the law? Yes.
    Could the attack have occurred without the programmer making his utility? Assume no for sake of argument.
    Did he know the suspect would use it for that purpose? We’ll assume yes for sake of argument.
    Was the criminal act inherent or necessary to the design of the programmer’s utility? No.
    Who misused the utility for an evil purpose? The suspect.
    Is the programmer then responsible for the suspect’s misuse of his utility? No.
    Can the programmer then truly be called the “author of the suspect’s crime?” Not at all.

    P could have been somewhat morally responsible (undue endangerment of government property) for the results if he didn’t have authority to leave the database vulnerable; but since he did, then he can’t be culpable for the crime in any sense. Why is P not responsible for suspect S’s crimes? E did come about because P created T, right? Doesn’t matter. Crime E wasn’t inherent to P’s design of T; committing E or refraining from doing so was strictly up to S -P’s correctly anticipating his move beforehand doesn’t change that fact.

    By the same logic:
    Did God allow sin to occur? Yes.
    Is God committing some moral wrong by allowing sin to occur? No, God is free to allow anything He wishes (take it up with Him if you disagree).
    Did God give men and angels power to rebel? Yes.
    Could we have rebelled if God had not chosen to create us? No.
    Did God know sin would come about due to free agents’ choices? Yes.
    Was their rebellion inherent/necessary to His design? No.
    Who misused free will for an evil purpose? Satan, the angels who joined him, and later Adam & Eve.
    Is God then culpable for our misuse of free agency? No.
    Can God then truly be called the “author of sin” in a free will theodicy? Not at all.

  159. “That’s a self-contradicting statement; it can’t be “not up to God’s will” but yet something “[God] decided.” God putting someone in a world He creates in which He knows they will do something of their own accord isn’t akin to dreaming up their evil acts for them. Quibble all you like, A anticipating authorship of C by B doesn’t imply that A also authors C.”

    Keep up with what I am saying and the distinction that I am making, because you are mischaracterizing me. God did not decide that it would be true in W that S would do E (some evil act). But God *did* decide that part of his plan for the world would include S’s doing E. And that sounds like “dreaming it up” to me.

    “Is there some underlying reason why you’re supposed to stop the action from occurring if it’s within your knowledge & power?”

    I didn’t say anything about “stopping the action”, so I’m not sure what you’re getting at. But my motives for acting are mostly irrelevant to the question of whether or not I am responsible for the consequences of my actions—the motives I have don’t necessarily free me of responsibility for the consequences of my free choices.

    “Battery doesn’t make decisions about when/how the machine will move; it’s a non-volitional means you use to achieve the end. Now are you going to explain what God being ‘responsible’ for evil in your view entails?”

    (i) Why does the battery’s not making choices one way or the other make it less a “source” of the machine’s movement than if it did?
    (ii) If God is responsible for the evil in the world, then that’s one less argument you have in favor of Arminianism and against Calvinism.

    “I wouldn’t care, as I’m not a Molinist.”

    Sorry, I thought that you were. My mistake.

    “Your attempts to confuse the issue will only backfire: You’re of course responsible for the danger you put people in since you (unlike God) have no right to create such a situation; though logically, if you were responsible for every result that followed, we’d also have to credit you with responsibility for the firefighters’ heroism.”

    (i) I could have gave an example where I have no moral duties one way or the other. Suppose I know that if I throw a plate on the ground, it’ll shatter into many pieces and cut up my Persian rug. If I do it, am I not responsible for the damage to the rug?
    (ii) I never said that I was responsible for *every* result of my actions. Those that I foresee, I am responsible for.

    “Your oversimplified disanalogies of course all fall flat, since they involve people allowing things that they could be charged with negligence for. Instead, try an example that more closely fits the situation:”

    I don’t know how you don’t see that moral duties are irrelevant to the question of responsibility for actions.

    P is not perfectly analogous to God, in that he doesn’t have perfect foreknowledge of S’s actions, he doesn’t know precisely what the consequences of his actions are, he is not the one who brought S into existence and sustains him in existence all the while, and so couldn’t have had any prior plan in mind in creating S, so on and so forth. There are disanalogies in the story that are crucial. If P had perfect foreknowledge that S would do E if given the opportunity (which you say to assume for the sake of the argument), and he gives him the opportunity, then yes, he’s responsible for S’s E-ing. If P created S knowing that S would do E if given the opportunity, and does it anyway, because it is a part of his prior plan for creating him that S do E, then yes, he’s responsible, and I’d say the author of the crime too.

    Just like Brennon, you confuse responsibility with culpability, when you ask if P is responsible for S’s misuse of the utility, and if God is culpable for our misuse of free agency. This is a basic distinction, and if you don’t get it, then the conversation won’t go anywhere (not that it already has). Being responsible is one thing; being blameworthy or culpable is another.

  160. Steven N,
    Why is God not “dreaming up” evil if the individual evils are dependent upon creatures’ wills?

    Because God denies that he is, directly: e.g. Jer 7:31, 19:5, 32:35; and has revealed he is not, somewhat more indirectly: James 1:13-14; and has revealed that sin would be a contradiction in the light of himself: 1 John 2:1-17. This will always come back to the character of God, what you suggest runs counter to what God has said about himself. Your argument will never make sense to an Armininian because it doesn’t start with God’s self-revelation but with a philosophic abstraction.

    For God to be one who surreptitiously devised evil while claiming to hate sin and evil and demand the same of us (Rom 12:9) would make him what?

    Your approach to evil and determination makes God out to be a schizophrenic mad scientist, and that AGAINST HIS OWN TESTIMONY concerning himself. If you can’t see the logic in the argument, you should at least see the scripture.

  161. “Your approach to evil and determination makes God… AGAINST HIS OWN TESTIMONY concerning Himself.”

    You know, I do observe in discussions with my Calvinist friend in these soteriological discussions that he appeals to God’s secret will VERY often in our discussion, which can be quite frustrating given for example Amos 3:7 which explicitly says that God does NOTHING without first revealing it to His servants the prophets. That should put a secret/contradictory will in a box, don’t you agree? But according to the Calvinst, when God says that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked in Ezekiel 18 and 23, it doesn’t actually mean that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that it simply states a desire of God, but that God’s decretive (secret) will overrides that in a sesne.

    Can a Calvinst please tell me, HOW can we trust the Word of God fully if we canot even fully determine which parts of that “revealed will” actually stand truthfully, irrevocably and unchangeably??

    Arminianism seems to me to be the most basic, logical and natural way to read the Word. I bet if you ask any strong and faithful Christian who has no knowledge of this theological discussion questions about, for exmaple, who Christ died for, you are going to get answers very similar to the Arminian understanding! It is clear: Arminius’ thelogical thinkings uphold mch more clearly, strongly and teachably the sovereignty, love, holiness and integrity of the Lord our Father.

  162. JC, can you quote any commentators who agree with your reading of 1 John 2:16–that God is not the ultimate causal source of sin?

  163. Let me first say that I appreciate this site for its commitment to biblical Christianity, as well the overall tone. Though I disagree on a number of topics presented here, the arguments provided are well-thought out and logical, and done so without the vitriol found in the writings of certain others.

    J.C.

    I’m not sure of the benefits of explaining why Arminianism has its own difficulties with regard to God and the existence of evil. It seems you should already be aware of these, and I did give a brief explanation (though my illustrations were *completely* misunderstood). For now, let me explain more fully why I don’t find your post convincing. It seems to me that your argument is actually quite logical and sound, but that does not mean it is *necessarily* correct. Let me give a couple of examples, and then apply them to the arguments you’ve made.

    In the book, Divine Foreknowedge: Four Views, David Hunt, in arguing for the simple foreknowledge position, states: “Sometimes we have good reason to believe that there must be something wrong with an argument before we are in a position to see what is wrong with it.” He then cites Zeno’s Achilles Paradox as an example of an argument that, though logically sound, is demonstrably false. Hunt is here defending the idea that human freedom is compatible with God’s exhaustive foreknowledge, against those that argue otherwise. There are quite a few philosophers and logicians who argue that the two cannot be compatible. Hunt uses Achilles to show that maybe there’s something the philosophers are failing to see here. But if the philosophers are correct, exhaustive foreknowledge entails determinism, and Arminianism becomes very similar to Calvinism in its implications.

    A second example has to do with Christianity and problem of evil. For a long time, skeptics have argued that the existence of evil is incompatible with an all benevolent and all powerful God, arguing like this:

    1. If God is omnibenevolent and loves everyone, then he would want to deliver them from evil.
    2. If God is omniscient, then he knows how to stop evil.
    3. If God is omnipotent, then he is powerful enough to stop evil.
    4. Evil exists.
    5. Therefore, either God is not omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent, or a combination of all three.

    On the surface, the argument is sound, but every Christian knows that it is false. In answer to the above challenge, Alvin Plantinga shows the falsity of it by offering a better solution:

    1. God is omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent, and he created the world.
    2. God created the world that now contains evil and had good reasons for doing so.
    3. Therefore, the world contains evil. (taken from Worldviews in Conflict, Nash)

    By citing these two examples I want to make clear what I’m saying. Sometimes an argument can be, on the surface, quite sound and logical. But as both the Achilles example and the skeptic’s example show, sometimes there’s more to an argument than initially meets the eye (but I definitely think it’s best not to over-apply the Achilles Paradox). In the case of what you’ve argued in this post, J.C., it is sound as far as I can tell. But I cannot accept it as true, primarily because I believe that Calvinism is scriptural on the issue of evil as it relates to exhaustive determinism.

    It seems to me that one of the following must be true:

    Either,

    A. Calvinism’s interpretation of Scripture as it relates to predestination is false, or
    B. God really is the originator of evil, or
    C. There is a missing element that is as of now unknown, but which if made known could solve this difficulty.

    Since I don’t affirm either A or B, I believe that C is the best option. While Calvinism may seem to you an “incoherent train wreck,” I must rest in Scripture, and besides, it’s just possible that there’s an element to this you’re not seeing.

  164. Steven N,

    “But God *did* decide that part of his plan for the world would include S’s doing E. And that sounds like “dreaming it up” to me.”

    That leap of logic was pre-refuted: “Quibble all you like, A anticipating authorship of C by B doesn’t imply that A also authors C.”

    To the battery question: already answered.

    “I could have gave an example where I have no moral duties…”

    But that’s you doing the action, no one else’s choice is involved.

    “Being responsible is one thing; being blameworthy or culpable is another.”

    “I don’t know how you don’t see that moral duties are irrelevant to the question of responsibility for actions.”

    You’ve not explained your definition of ‘responsible’ with any clarity yet; what exactly are you getting at?

    “P is not perfectly analogous to God, in that he doesn’t have perfect foreknowledge of S’s actions”

    It’s assumed he does for sake of argument. For the record, there are ways one can be sure beyond any reasonable doubt.

    “S into existence and sustains him in existence all the while”

    Irrelevant; he did facilitate the possibility of S committing wrong with prior knowledge that he would do so, which is the substance of the issue.

    “If P had perfect foreknowledge that S would do E if given the opportunity (which you say to assume for the sake of the argument), and he gives him the opportunity, then yes, he’s responsible for S’s E-ing.”

    Agents who pull stings often do have knowledge beyond reasonable doubt -they may even be present or using surveillance, watching the crime as it’s being committed, and yet do nothing to prevent it. But by your logic, such agents would actually be the ones responsible for the crimes that others commit… I believe then that the sheer absurdity of your argument has been more than succinctly proven.

  165. Jason,

    “But if the philosophers are correct, exhaustive foreknowledge entails determinism”

    There hasn’t really been an airtight argument to prove this assertion.

    “and Arminianism becomes very similar to Calvinism in its implications.”

    Not on the issue of where sin originates.

    “A. Calvinism’s interpretation of Scripture as it relates to predestination is false, or
    B. God really is the originator of evil, or
    C. There is a missing element that is as of now unknown, but which if made known could solve this difficulty.”

    The issue is trivially easy:
    * All agents that aren’t free must have every facet of their existence (incl. thoughts/intents/actions) predetermined for them; so only an agent that has some form of free agency can author anything in an intelligent sense.
    * If sin isn’t self-existent or some truly random phenomenon, then it must have had an originator.
    * If God is the only free agent, God is the only possibility for being the true author of anything.
    * Determinism leaves God as the only possible author for sin.

    Also, it’s a little inconsistent to argue that Arminian theology has inescapable bad implications (e.g. “The answer *must* be that some men have some inherent ability/righteousness/holiness within them to believe”), while at the same time broadly appealing to mystery to avoid Calvinism’s inescapable implications.

  166. Jason cites Plantinga’s solution to the problem of evil, but seems ignorant to the fact that he used a free will defense to show that God may not be able to create a world where all people always freely choose good.

  167. bossmanham,

    Actually, no, I’m not ignorant to Plantinga’s free will defense. If you read my comments you’d know that my only point in citing his solution was to show that sometime’s an argument is logically sound (the skeptics) but can be shown false (Plantinga’s answer). Other times a seemingly sound argument is harder to prove incorrect (Achilles Paradox) but is still known to be false.

    J.C.

    “The issue is trivially easy:
    * All agents that aren’t free must have every facet of their existence (incl. thoughts/intents/actions) predetermined for them; so only an agent that has some form of free agency can author anything in an intelligent sense.”

    No, it’s not so “trivially easy” as you put it. First, Calvinists do not affirm that we are not free, only not free in the libertarian sense. You’re convinced that libertarian freedom is the only true way to be free, but I disagree. Again, you’re assuming that God cannot predetermine my action A, with me also freely both desiring and then doing and performing A. If God can do this (and Scripture shows he can) then your understanding isn’t so “trivially easy” any more.

    Nor do I believe that “thoughts/intents” logically entail being predetermined along with exhaustively predetermined actions – but this one I’m still working through.

  168. Jason wrote:

    “No, it’s not so “trivially easy” as you put it. First, Calvinists do not affirm that we are not free, only not free in the libertarian sense. You’re convinced that libertarian freedom is the only true way to be free, but I disagree. Again, you’re assuming that God cannot predetermine my action A, with me also freely both desiring and then doing and performing A. If God can do this (and Scripture shows he can) then your understanding isn’t so “trivially easy” any more.”

    If a father says to his daughter (after buying her a new Mermaid doll): “you can name her whatever you want, the name is up to you.” The child takes this to mean that she ***has a choice***. That there are multiple and accessible options or alternatives from her to choose. She could call the doll “Barbie” or “Ariel” or “Mermaidea”, etc. Etc. Any of these names is a choice for her, and the choice is up to her, she decides what name the doll will have.

    Now an ordinary child would understand this, and both children and adults understand that the Father is talking about what we commonly call “free will” here. He is declaring that she has a choice concerning the name and the choice is up to her. The choice is not predetermined nor necessitated. It is not that God has already decided that the name of the doll will be say “Barbie” and that the child must then name the doll “Barbie” (with any other possibility being impossible: which is the case under determinism). Note also in contrast to open theism, an Arminian would hold that God foreknows what choice the child will make though the choice is up to the child under non-determinism (if God has left the choice of the name of the doll up to the child).

    If the child ***has to*** name the doll “Barbie” because God predetermined this to be so and ensures that it be so by controlling every aspect of the child to ensure the outcome: then how is the child acting FREELY in this decision?

    Most people would see that if she has to name the child the predecided name, and another person is controlling her like a puppet master controlling his puppet, then she does not have free will with regard to this choice. It is an abuse of ordinary language to call this acting “freely.”

    Now a Calvinist determinist will then come along and play word games and say that she **is** acting freely though her choice is necessitated. Though in fact she **has no choice** but must do what she was predetermined to do (in fact not only does she not have a choice, her belief and anyone else’s belief that they ever have a choice is always false under determinism, it is illusory to think that the child really could name the doll “Barbie” or “Mermaidea” or . . .). Determinists like to call this “compatibilist freedom” (i.e. “free will” is redefined to fit with determinism). Kant saw this for the word game playing that it is and called it a “wretched subterfuge.” And it is, it is playing with words to define necessary actions, actions that it is impossible for you to do otherwise as “acting freely.” But the determinist/Calvinist has to do so, as most people if told forthrightly what the determinist really believes would reject it immediately. In contrast she is acting freely if the name is up to her and she can name the doll different names with no one name being necessitated.

    Jason also makes the strange remark that:

    “Again, you’re assuming that God cannot predetermine my action A, with me also freely both desiring and then doing and performing A.”

    If God predetermines **everything** then that would include our desires as well as our actions. With the child if the choice is predetermined then God not only decided beforehand what the name would be but also decided beforehand what the child’s desires in that situation would be and he then controls everything involved to ensure the predecided outcome occurs. As a determinist you cannot just pick and choose what is free and what is necessitated. If all is necessitated then nothing is freely performed, all of it is predecided, whether it be the thoughts, the intentions, the desires, the actions performed ALL OF IT. Jason wants it to sound as if the action is predetermined but the desires are not. This is playing games and fools only those unaware of the nature and implications of determinism.

    “Nor do I believe that “thoughts/intents” logically entail being predetermined along with exhaustively predetermined actions – but this one I’m still working through.”

    So you deny the statement of the Westminster Confession that he “ordains whatsoever comes to pass” which would include *****every***** event and process including our “thoughts/intents”???

    If you deny this statement you are out of step with Calvinistic determinism and contradicting the position of Calvin, Luther, Edwards, Piper etc. Etc.. That’s OK you have been caught in multiple contradictions here already, none of which you have dealt with at all. This would just be another one.

    Robert

  169. Jason:
    How can this,
    “Again, you’re assuming that God cannot predetermine my action A, with me also freely both desiring and then doing and performing A.”

    be true, and total depravity be true?

  170. To discredit valid deductive arguments, you must attack their premises. Are there any premises that you are challenging in JC’s argument?

  171. Robert,

    No one will ever accuse you of lack of effort, brother.

    “Note also in contrast to open theism, an Arminian would hold that God foreknows what choice the child will make though the choice is up to the child under non-determinism (if God has left the choice of the name of the doll up to the child).”

    You do know that the term “foreknow” in Scripture is never limited to mere “foresight”, correct? Arminians use “foreknowledge” in the sense of “foresight” almost exclusively (in my experience). This is a subtle change, but highly significant. Robert, if you had used the biblical usage of “foreknow” above, the child’s choice would not only have been pre-known, but also made *certain.*

    “Determinists like to call this “compatibilist freedom” (i.e. “free will” is redefined to fit with determinism). Kant saw this for the word game playing that it is and called it a “wretched subterfuge.”

    Yes, I am most definitely a compatibilist. No philosopher convinced me of it, and Mr. Kant will not argue me out of it. I hold it because the Bible says we’re responsible for our actions (which would not be the case if we weren’t free in some sense) and also becaue I believe it teaches that God foreordains those same actions.

    “So you deny the statement of the Westminster Confession that he “ordains whatsoever comes to pass” which would include *****every***** event and process including our “thoughts/intents”???”

    If the Confession meant to include every thought and intent – and I’m not a scholar of this particular document so I don’t know the authors’ intent on this point – then I might or might not accept it. As I said, I’m still working that aspect out, so it isn’t accurate to say I “deny” it. I do, however, strongly lean toward determinism that includes such intangibles as desires, thoughts, intents, etc. Since I view foreknowledge as exhaustive (and it would surely include such things), and because I consider both foreknowledge and predestination as inextricably linked biblically, then it does seem best to view predestination as truly exhaustive.

    “That’s OK you have been caught in multiple contradictions here already, none of which you have dealt with at all.”

    Would you mind naming a couple? I mean a real contradiction, not just something you happen to disagree with.

    Slw,

    “Jason: How can this,“Again, you’re assuming that God cannot predetermine my action A, with me also freely both desiring and then doing and performing A.” be true, and total depravity be true?

    I don’t see how TD is any obstacle whatsoever in what I said. Please explain what you have in mind.

  172. Bossmanham,

    “To discredit valid deductive arguments, you must attack their premises. Are there any premises that you are challenging in JC’s argument?”

    My main point above was to show that sometimes a premise can be sound, and yet untrue. Most often the untruth can be uncovered, but sometimes (as in the Achilles Paradox) it is much harder, though intuitively the answer is clear.

    In re-reading the post and thinking though this a bit more, it seems that J.C. is using “author” in the sense of “decreer.” If God decrees A, then he is the decreer of A as well, which simply means he intended to bring A about. But there’s more in the argument.

    I don’t particularly like that use of the term “author” since it typically carries with it the terribly negative connotation that evil “proceeds” or “originates” from God. For instance, JC had written in a response to Steven above: “By the necessitarian view, we’d be forced to conclude that all we know as spiritual darkness proceeds wholly and unconditionally from within Him in whom is no darkness at all.” J.C. is intimating that Calvinism logically entails a God in whom there is darkness, or an evil side. The last paragraph of his post insinuates this as well.

    The main issue, therefore, is not in whether Calvinism holds God as the decreer of all things, including sin; rather, it is about whether God can decree A, yet despise A, declaring it to be evil and against his will. I would answer this question, Yes. The crucifixion is a prime example (JC only dealt with the crucifixion as it related to exhaustively ordaining *every* evil thought, intent, and act, and not the broader issue of the crucifixion itself). God declared it would come to pass in intimate detail. Yet the killing of Christ was the most evil act anyone could have committed. You might argue that they did it of their own free will, but this is beside my present point. The issue I’m arguing is that God *desired* Christ be killed, while at the same time despising the evilness of the act itself. If God can do this with the crucifixion, then it stands to reason that he can do so with all things. Calvinists are content with a God who can decree everything, while still maintaining his holiness.

  173. J.C.

    “Also, it’s a little inconsistent to argue that Arminian theology has inescapable bad implications (e.g. “The answer *must* be that some men have some inherent ability/righteousness/holiness within them to believe”), while at the same time broadly appealing to mystery to avoid Calvinism’s inescapable implications.”

    That argument simply does not follow. We’re discussing two completely separate issues. If you had appealed to mystery yourself in that other discussion, then you *might* have a point.

  174. Jason,
    The connection I’m toying with (still thinking it through) is this: If God is the decreer of all that we are, do, and think (exhaustive determinism), how then are we incapable of any good, or of doing God’s will? In fact, we would be doing nothing but God’s will.

    P.S. It been a joy discussing these things with you. Thank you for your civility.

  175. Jason,

    “Again, you’re assuming that God cannot predetermine my action A, with me also freely both desiring and then doing and performing A.”

    If you have no possible choice but to do A, then that’s not freedom, that’s equivocation. By that logic, all created beings are simply desiring/doing as has been predetermined for them, which again excludes them from actually authoring anything for themselves. So my logic holds and the issue is quite easy: If God is the only truly free agent, then He’s the only possible author of anything, and therefore Calvinism leaves Him as the only possible author for sin.

    “The issue I’m arguing is that God *desired* Christ be killed, while at the same time despising the evilness of the act itself.”

    This argument was already anticipated and dealt with in the article itself:

    “…this would only imply that he was the author of offering up his child, the authors of the wicked schemes carried out are the evil men themselves.”

    God broadly did decree the crucifixion, and certainly made use of the sins of wicked men in His plans, but it doesn’t follow that He decreed the sins involved therein.

    “We’re discussing two completely separate issues.”

    Irrelevant. I was pointing out an inconsistency in how you address the issues.

    “If you had appealed to mystery yourself in that other discussion, then you *might* have a point.”

    I can’t even make sense of that statement. Why would I have to appeal to mystery to escape the logical implications of my system one moment, then appeal to logical implications to argue against someone else’s the next, to show that you’re inconsistent in doing so? Do I suddenly need to do the same things you’re doing to point out the inconsistencies?

  176. Jason,

    I appreciate your replies. I don’t think it’s as simple as saying that you accept both that God determines everything and the responsibility of man for their choices.

    My issue with that approach is that the Bible claims that God isn’t the source/author/instigator etc of the events that LEAD to someone’s choice. That’s what most of this post and comments are trying to sort out. God claims in 1st John 2 that He isn’t the source of many of our desires, and in James we learn that God isn’t behind any temptation where we might sin.

    On those levels I struggle seeing how those concepts fit into a completely deterministic framework. On some level, God is hands off.

  177. Steven(2)

    I would agree with you in not seeing God as the source of any temptation or sin. By source I mean that God neither directly causes us to sin, nor does he command anyone to sin or tempt another with evil. This is my problem with J.C’s Pharaoh Analogy. Pharaoh *commanded* his soldiers to do evil, but God never commands or leads people towards sin or evil. At this point it all boils down to whether God can decree something evil while maintaining his holiness, and also doing so in a way that creaturely freedom is maintained. Here’s my understanding of what the Bible teaches:

    1. God has exhaustively determined all that shall come to pass.
    2. Humans are fully responsible for their actions, and therefore must be considered free in some sense.
    3. God is not the author of sin, meaning that in him is no “variation,” “darkness,” or “shadow of turning.”
    4. If all these are true then God must predestine in such a way that he is neither the author (source) of sin, nor in a way that human choices are found to be illusory.

    If God has created all things, and he has a plan and purpose for all things, then we must consider the likelihood that he designed humans in a way that accommodates predestination. We are incredibly complex, composed of mind and spirit, and we have yet to fully understand the interplay of the two, let alone how God interacts with us on that level. By way of analogy, most Christians believe that God has made all of creation in a way that can accommodate miracles, so that it is not merely a completely closed system of natural laws and cause and effect ( By using this example I’m only pointing out that God *can* and *has* made and ordered his creation just as he wants it, having it operate just as he desires).

    J.C.,

    “If you have no possible choice but to do A, then that’s not freedom, that’s equivocation.”

    Not if God has ordered his universe in such a way that allows me to freely choose A, B, C, D, etc. as I so desire, while also making certain I choose what *he* desires. Since desire is a strong motivator in choice, if God in his perfect understanding of our makeup works in us certain desires, then if I choose D instead of C as a result of those altered desires, then it simply cannot be said to be a violation of my will since D was not coercively chosen.

    “God broadly did decree the crucifixion, and certainly made use of the sins of wicked men in His plans, but it doesn’t follow that He decreed the sins involved therein.”

    You are saying:

    God decreed the crucifixion.
    God did not decree the sins involved in the crucifixion.

    But the crucifixion is a necessarily evil act, and it simply cannot be carried out except by the sinful acts of men. How can God decree an evil act, without also decreeing the means by which that same evil act is carried out?

    Do you believe that God ‘authored’ the crucifixion, in the sense that he ‘thought it all up’? That was what I was getting at earlier.

    “Why would I have to appeal to mystery to escape the logical implications of my system one moment, then appeal to logical implications to argue against someone else’s the next, to show that you’re inconsistent in doing so? Do I suddenly need to do the same things you’re doing to point out the inconsistencies?”

    Let me try to put this to rest. You earlier said: “it’s a little inconsistent to argue that Arminian theology has inescapable bad implications . . . while at the same time broadly appealing to mystery to avoid Calvinism’s inescapable implications.” That argument is a non-sequitur and I was simply pointing out how it could be made valid. *If* you had argued that it’s a mystery why some have faith and some don’t, and *if* I then criticized that position, *then* it could be considered inconsistent for me to also appeal to mystery regarding God and evil (though not necessarily so). As it stands, your argument about my supposed lack of consistency, if taken seriously, would mean that my appeal to mystery here prevents me from arguing against a whole slew of ideas. For instance, if I hold that so-called ‘easy-believism’ has negative consequences (and I do by the way), does my appeal to mystery on a completely separate topic mean that I would be inconsistent to point out those bad implications? You’ll need to explain yourself better on this one, J.C.

    Slw,

    Interacting with you all here has been helpful, and in many ways enlightening. Most of my interactions with synergists prior to this website have been with the so-called “moderate Calvinists” of the SBC (though they’re really “moderate Arminians”). Most of their arguments leave much to be desired, though I look forward to getting my hands on the new compilation book, Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism.

  178. Jason,

    “As it stands, your argument about my supposed lack of consistency, if taken seriously, would mean that my appeal to mystery here prevents me from arguing against a whole slew of ideas.”

    Indeed it does, as appeal to mystery to avoid otherwise inescapable implications fairly well removes any force behind your trying to argue against other systems based upon what you believe to be its inescapable implications. It doesn’t matter if you’re switching topics, it’s still inconsistent, which is why appeals to mystery to get around obvious contradictions are best avoided.

    “Since desire is a strong motivator in choice, if God in his perfect understanding of our makeup works in us certain desires, then if I choose D instead of C as a result of those altered desires, then it simply cannot be said to be a violation of my will since D was not coercively chosen.

    Which would naturally encompass all sinful desires as well, so you’d have God instilling sinful desire which brings right back where you started -that’s still making God the author of sin. That would also not be actual freedom, since induced desires to the point of irresistibility do constitute violation of the will.

    “Do you believe that God ‘authored’ the crucifixion, in the sense that he ‘thought it all up’? That was what I was getting at earlier.”

    Second of my responses above.

    “But the crucifixion is a necessarily evil act, and it simply cannot be carried out except by the sinful acts of men. How can God decree an evil act, without also decreeing the means by which that same evil act is carried out?”

    By employing a foreknown means, in this case, the wickedness in the hearts of Christ’s enemies. So God’s decree was good: the sacrifice of Christ for sin; for the means thereof God Himself made use of mens’ evil, but this in no way implies that God imagined their evil for them or indirectly implanted evil desires (as if we even need more of those implanted in order to do wrong).

  179. Concerning “Didn’t God intend Christ’s death?” and God’s alleged authorship of sin see also this:

    http://combatingcalvinism.blogspot.com/2009/06/comment-on-reformed-usage-of-acts-223.html

  180. J.C.

    “would naturally encompass all sinful desires as well, so you’d have God instilling sinful desire which brings right back where you started -that’s still making God the author of sin.”

    The Calvinist neither believes God does this, nor does Calvinism’s understanding of sovereignty and human freedom logically entail such a view. Each person is already sinful, so God doesn’t need to “instill” new evil into a person. He can direct the evil already there as he sees fit.

    You might counter that God predestined them to be sinful in the first place, so it still ultimately comes back to him being the supposed “author of sin.” This ultimately leads us to the Fall – where human sin began. The Fall is a difficult subject for Christians of all stripes. I will only say (again and again and again) that just because God decreed the Fall does not mean that he authored the sin therein. If God can direct human behavior now, while also maintaining human responsibility of those directed choices, then it stands to reason that he has been able to do so from the beginning.

    “That would also not be actual freedom, since induced desires to the point of irresistibility do constitute violation of the will.”

    The will is not violated when the person choosing is doing exactly what he wants to do. Just because God makes certain an action does not necessitate a violation of will. How is the will violated in what I’m saying? Tell me this: what does a violation of the will look like?

    “By employing a foreknown means, in this case, the wickedness in the hearts of Christ’s enemies.”

    Simple foreknowledge (I’m assuming your using it in the sense of mere foresight) does not effectually do anything. How exactly does God “employ” this foreseen “wickedness” in such a way that his will is perfectly accomplished?

    “So God’s decree was good: the sacrifice of Christ for sin; for the means thereof God Himself made use of mens’ evil,”

    So God’s decree was good because it resulted in a good purpose? Is it possible that if God decrees all things, that he has a good purpose in doing so?

    “but this in no way implies that God imagined their evil for them or indirectly implanted evil desires (as if we even need more of those implanted in order to do wrong).”

    Nor does Calvinism’s understanding imply “God imagine(s)” men’s evil. And as already stated, the view being presented is not that God must infuse (either directly or indirectly) more evil into people, but rather that he directs the evil that is *already* there to his perfect will. There is simply no reason that God cannot infallibly decree actions while at the same time maintaining men’s freedom of choice and their corresponding responsibility.

    “Indeed it does, as appeal to mystery to avoid otherwise inescapable implications . . . ”

    “. . . it’s still inconsistent, which is why appeals to mystery to get around obvious contradictions are best avoided.”

    I’ve already shown that your argument is without basis. But you also keep saying that my appeal to mystery is to avoid Calvinism’s “inescapable implications.” This is false. I only appeal to mystery because I believe that the Bible teaches God’s exhaustive foreordination as well as his complete holiness, and it’s a mystery how these are reconciled. Therefore, your argument asserting my alleged inconsistency is utterly wrong on every level, and it amazes me that you would continue to defend it.

    Regarding the supposed “obvious contradictions” . . . you’ve yet to produce one. Tensions, yes; contradictions, no.

  181. Jason,

    “The Calvinist neither believes God does this, nor does Calvinism’s understanding of sovereignty and human freedom logically entail such a view. Each person is already sinful…”

    By strict divine necessity that proceeds from within God. Yes, that’s still making God the author of sin.

    “Each person is already sinful, so God doesn’t need to “instill” new evil into a person. He can direct the evil already there as he sees fit.”

    “…the view being presented is not that God must infuse (either directly or indirectly) more evil into people, but rather that he directs the evil that is *already* there to his perfect will. There is simply no reason that God cannot infallibly decree actions while at the same time maintaining men’s freedom of choice and their corresponding responsibility.”

    Your view is starting to sound much like my own now, that God often accomplishes His predestined purposes through free will.

    “I will only say (again and again and again) that just because God decreed the Fall does not mean that he authored the sin therein.

    If He came up with the sin therein and made it necessary by His decree, then yes He did author it.

    “If God can direct human behavior now, while also maintaining human responsibility of those directed choices, then it stands to reason that he has been able to do so from the beginning.”

    “Nor does Calvinism’s understanding imply “God imagine(s)” men’s evil.”

    As I’ve stated, creatures without libertarian freedom cannot author anything, since everything they do, is, by definition, predetermined for them. If the predeterminer is God, then everything they do proceeds from within the mind of God; and if their sin proceeds from within God, then He is inescapably its author. Trying to argue that God “predetermines evil by His decree, but doesn’t author it” is simply equivocating the term ‘author.’

    “The will is not violated when the person choosing is doing exactly what he wants to do.”

    “How is the will violated in what I’m saying?”

    It is, if one is compelled to irresistibly ‘want’ something with no power to control the desire, then that clearly is violation of his will.

    “Simple foreknowledge (I’m assuming your using it in the sense of mere foresight) does not effectually do anything.”

    Though not a Molinist, I believe in middle-knowledge, so your statement is a bit misplaced.

    “Is it possible that if God decrees all things, that he has a good purpose in doing so?”

    Irrelevant really, the issue is where sin comes from, not the purpose behind it. If God decrees sin, then regardless of reason, He’s still its author.

    “This is false. I only appeal to mystery because I believe that the Bible teaches God’s exhaustive foreordination as well as his complete holiness, and it’s a mystery how these are reconciled.”

    By the exhaustive determinist view, all sin comes about necessarily due to God’s decree, and God’s decree comes only from within Himself, which inevitably makes the sin in that decree proceed from God. In short, if God decreed the sin, God authored the sin. The Bible indicates that sin doesn’t proceed from God, exhaustive determinism’s inescapable conclusion is that all sin proceeds from God -irreconcilable contradiction. You can try to justify, obfuscate, mystify, or equivocate, the point stands: high Calvinism makes God the author of sin.

    Let me phrase it differently:

    If God (according to Calvinism) didn’t author sin, then who did?

    Both the devil and Adam sinned (a given). Did they have any actual power to not sin? If they didn’t, then their rebellion was absolutely predetermined for them by someone else. If that’s the case, then how can they be the authors of what someone else necessitated they do? So if they didn’t author their own sin, who then is left as a possible author?

  182. […] The Fallacies of Calvinist Apologetics – Fallacy #8: “Calvinism Doesn’t Charge God Wit… […]

  183. J.C Thibodaux,
    Your post and responses to the comments have left an indelible impression in my spirit

  184. @kangaroodort,JC Thibodaux,
    I have question.
    There are Calvinists I have interacted with in a forum before they banned me and I quoted to them Institutes showing how John Calvin insisted that foreknowledge necessarily followed foreordaining and how God really authored the fall. This irked them endlessly and they could not bring themselves to agree or disagree with Calvin.

    But I realized there are some who don’t subscribe to this. They believe in decretive and permissive will, and in this,they can accommodate a God who ALLOWS but not DECREES the Fall.

    My question is, if a Calvinist believes in strict permissive and decretive will, can they still maintain their belief system logically?

  185. If they affirm permission in the normal sense then they are affirming libertarian free will in those instances, which is anathema to most Calvinists. However, there is a minority of Calvinists who affirm libertarian free will in some circumstances outside of the process of salvation. In other words, they still reject any libertarian free will being involved in salvation as they still see election as unconditional and saving grace as irresistible. But they might affirm free will with regards to other ordinary choices we might make on a daily basis.

    So those types of Calvinist cannot help but to affirm, with Arminians, that God can have foreknowledge of true contingencies like libertarian free will choices. Again, that idea is soundly rejected by most Calvinists. Other Calvinists might try to affirm libertarian free will and exhaustive determinism which are plainly incompatible and mutually exclusive. But they would just appeal to “mystery” or “paradox” and live with the “tension” (i.e. blatant contradiction). But again, they are a rare breed. Most often you just get Calvinists waffling back and forth and being inconsistent because they do not want to own the unavoidable implications of determinism while wanting to hold to determinism for other reasons that they see as vital to their system.

    As for John Calvin, there is no doubt that he held to exhaustive determinism and denied libertarian free will. For him (and most Calvinists) everything has been decreed by God in such way that it could not possibly be otherwise (which, of course, includes all sin and evil).

    Hope that helps.

  186. vooke,

    If you haven’t read it yet, this post will help you see how some Calvinists try to use the language of permission to avoid the inevitable implications of determinism:

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/john-piper-on-god-ordaining-all-sin-and-evil-part-1-an-arminian-response-to-pipers-first-question/

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