J.C. Wenger on Apostasy

From the SEA: J.C. Wenger on Apostasy

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Cheung: ‘Permission’ is Nonsense; God is the Author of Sin and Evil

When Reformed Christians are questioned on whether God is the “author of sin,” they are too quick to say, “No, God is not the author of sin.”  And then they twist and turn and writhe on the floor, trying to give man some power of “self-determination,” and some kind of freedom that in their minds would render man culpable, and yet still leave God with total sovereignty.  On the other hand, when someone alleges that my view of divine sovereignty makes God the author of sin, my reaction is “So what?”  Those who oppose me stupidly chant, “But he makes God the author of sin, he makes God the author of sin.” However, a description does not amount to an argument or objection, and I have never come across a decent explanation as to what is wrong with God being the author of sin in any theological or philosophical work written by anybody from any perspective.  The truth is that, whether or not God is the author of sin, there is no biblical or rational problem with him being the author of sin. (p.4)

Although God must actively cause evil thoughts and inclinations in the creature, and then he must actively cause the corresponding evil actions, he does not create new material or substance when he does this, since he is controlling what he has already created.  It is true that a person sins according to his evil nature, but as Luther writes, it is God who “creates” this evil nature in each newly conceived person after the pattern of fallen Adam, whose fall God also caused.  And then, God must actively cause this evil nature to function and the person to act according to it.  Luther writes that God never allows this evil nature to be idle in Satan and in ungodly people, but he continuously causes it to function by his power… As for God’s purpose for sin and evil, first, as we acknowledge the biblical teaching that God is the sovereign and righteous “author of sin,” even if we cannot say why he causes sin and evil, it would not undermine what I have said.  Even if we do not know the reason, our view does not contradict Scripture or itself.  It would only be a matter of incomplete information. (p.10)

My position is a consistent application of divine sovereignty over everything.  It is a denial of any form of dualism or deism.  I affirm that God controls everything about everything that is anything, including every aspect of every detail of every human decision and action, in such a way that man has no freedom in any meaningful or relevant sense. (p.14)

Things are more determined in divine determinism than in any other scheme.  Under “fatalism,” an event is predetermined in such a way that the same outcome results “no matter what you do,” that is, regardless of means.  However, under divine determinism, although it “matters” what you do, “what you do” is also predetermined.  And it “matters” because there is a definite relationship between “what you do” and the outcome, although this relationship is also determined and controlled by God.  So I affirm divine determinism and not fatalism, but not for the reason that people often shun fatalism.  I affirm divine determinism not because things are less controlled in this scheme – they are more controlled – but I affirm it because it is the revealed and rational truth.  I cannot be charged with teaching fatalism, because the term means something different from what I teach, and also because I consider fatalism far too weak to describe God’s control. (p.25)

The Bible teaches that God’s will determines everything.  Nothing exists or happens without God, not merely permitting, but actively willing it and causing it to exist or happen… God controls not only natural events, but he also decides and causes all human affairs and decisions… If God indeed designs and causes all natural events and human affairs, then it follows that he also designs and causes evil. (pp.58-60)

God controls everything that exists and everything that happens.  There is not one thing that exists or that happens that he has not decreed and caused – not even a single thought in the mind of man.  Since this is true, it follows that God has decreed and caused the existence of evil. He has not merely permitted it, because nothing can originate or happen apart from his will and power.  Since no creature can make free or independent decisions, evil could never have started unless God decreed and caused it, and it cannot continue for one moment longer without God’s will for it to continue or without God’s power actively causing it to continue. Those who see that it is impossible to disassociate God from the origination and continuation of evil still attempt to distance God from evil by suggesting that God merely “permits” evil, and that he does not cause it.  However, since the Bible itself states that God actively decrees and causes everything, and that nothing can exist or happen apart from his will and power, it makes no sense to say that he merely permits something – nothing happens by God’s mere permission.  In fact, when it comes to ontology, “God’s permission” is an unintelligible term. (p.61)

– Vincent Cheung, The Author of Sin (2014)