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)

 

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27 thoughts on “Cheung: ‘Permission’ is Nonsense; God is the Author of Sin and Evil

  1. blogginbaldguy May 11, 2014 / 11:31 pm

    Arminian,

    Now that you have posted a section of Cheung’s book that I would guess you are hoping will prove to demolish Calvinistic determinism, because the assertion from Cheung gives a great cloud of witnesses a reason to enjoin in a collective gasp of incredulity, please provide your theodicy that rescues God from culpability. No small task, but one that you should be prepared to offer. I look forward to reading it.

    Best regards,

    BBG

  2. wildswanderer May 15, 2014 / 12:02 pm

    At least Cheung is consistent. Most Calvinists try to act as if libertarian freedom and determinism can somehow both exist at the same time.
    Of course, I think he’s full of it, but he and Calvin would likely get along..

  3. Arminian May 15, 2014 / 1:03 pm

    Agreed. I wholeheartedly disagree with many of Cheung’s views, but I’ve always appreciated his consistency and frankness.

  4. Ando May 15, 2014 / 4:23 pm

    Why can’t libertarian freedom and determinism coexist under the sovereign power of a triune God who became a human being and resurrected from the grave? As far as this article goes, God is not the author of sin, man is. God is no more responsible for sin than Ford is for drunk driving accidents.

  5. wildswanderer May 16, 2014 / 3:22 am

    If God has foreordained everything that happens, he is of necessity the author of all sin.
    What you are positing sounds like compatibilism.
    I don’t consider Wikipedia to be an authority, but this quote off there pretty well explains it:

    “Hume adds that the Compatibilist’s free will should not be understood as some kind of ability to have actually chosen differently in an identical situation. The Compatibilist believes that a person always makes the only truly possible decision that they could have.[4] Any talk of alternatives is strictly hypothetical. If the compatibilist says “I may visit tomorrow, or I may not”, he is not making a metaphysical claim that there are multiple possible futures. He is saying he does not know what the determined future will be.”

    As for how this relates to sin, obviously if God has pre-chosen that I will commit a certain sin today, I will commit it. It makes no difference that I might think I’m choosing it, in reality, God already chose and was the author and instigator of my sin.

    Under libertarian freedom, the future is not pre-programmed. My choice to sin or not to sin is truly my choice. Of course, there are influencing factors. The Holy Spirit’s influence, if I choose to listen, can keep me from sin and the enemy’s influence, if I listen to him can cause me to sin.
    The God of determinism is a distance, impassive computer programmer who can prompt me to sin and then send me to hell for it. And I don’t find that God anywhere in the Bible.

  6. Ando May 21, 2014 / 7:00 am

    Your arguments are totally valid from a logical philosophical perspective, sir. The reason I disagree is that the bible transcends logic, philosophy, and all human reason. We agree that God is one and yet three and yet this is a logical impossibility. We agree that Jesus was fully God and yet fully man. Why then do we not agree that God ordains all things and yet is still holy and totally free of sin. Why can’t we be compatibilists when it comes to this issue when we are all compatibilists on other issues? God’s greatness is so much richer than our theology or our logic. He is beyond comprehension in glory and power and mystery.

  7. wildswanderer May 24, 2014 / 12:04 am

    I agree that “He is beyond comprehension in glory and power and mystery.”
    However, I have two big problems with this view and many lesser ones. The logical big problem is God programming us to sin. And if you follow this through, it makes the whole Biblical narrative a elaborate sham, where God is programming his people to rebel against him, and then pretending to be upset when they do just that. You have to conclude under compatiblism, that Satan is God’s hired hand. Which is extremely problematic, but more importantly, totally non-biblical.
    The other big problem as stated above, (And I don’t find that God anywhere in the Bible). is that we just can’t reconcile the God of compatiblism with the God of scripture. The Christian God is primary relational. He dwells with his people, hears their prayers and responds, in fact, changes his mind again and again in the OT in response to prayers. The determinist God is more in line with Plato’s “unmoved mover” then Yahweh.
    That’s not to say you can be a determinist and a Christian. But, my problem with it is based on scripture as much or more then logic.
    Blessings.

  8. blogginbaldguy May 24, 2014 / 12:28 am

    It seems that some of this discussion misses a couple of key points. A) If God permits evil, even the evil of free moral agents how does this absolve him of culpability when he *could* have prevented it? B) There is a key distinction between being the *author* of something an immediate cause and God being the ultimate cause.

    If we deny the premise that God is the ultimate cause of all things, which things are not within his rights to control?

  9. wildswanderer May 24, 2014 / 2:25 am

    I had a whole post wrote out and lost it, lol.
    For the sake of time, let me just ask: Did God cause Satan’s fall?

  10. blogginbaldguy May 24, 2014 / 1:41 pm

    The short answer is yes, he was the ultimate cause. Unless you presuppose Satan’s aseity there is no other answer. God’s attributes entailed that he foreknew that Satan would fall and a multitude of angels as well. This was part of God’s purpose and part of all things working together for good. God has determined certain acts to be against the law for his creatures however he is “ex-lex”. There is a greater good in God causing the fall of both angels and men namely his decree to send his son. This is truly the only view that does not lead necessarily to irrationalism or open theism. I assume you know this but my view is consistent with a supralapsarian view of God’s decrees.

  11. Ando May 24, 2014 / 3:41 pm

    Good discussion gentlemen! Before we get to tied up in speculative questions, let’s remember that much of the Bible is a story. A narrative of historical events, not simply a list of propositions. The origin of Satan is mysterious in itself. We are all left to assume God created Satan, yet nothing in the story indicates God is guilty of any wrongdoing or is in anyway pleased with or responsible for sin. The deep tension and mystery of compatibilism begins all the way back in Genesis 3 and carries on through the Bible.

  12. blogginbaldguy May 25, 2014 / 2:51 am

    Hi Ando,

    I am not sure what you mean when you say the origins of Satan are mysterious. He is a created being or he is not, this is not a mere statement similar to me telling my son to close the window. Either it is true or false hence God created Satan is a proposition. Most of the bible is propositional it makes a truth claim. Either David was the king of the Israel or he is not, the bible is full of propositions. True it is not a textbook on logic but it is filled with propositional truth. Reject that and you essential are left with a book of fairytales.

    Grace,

    BBG

  13. wildswanderer May 27, 2014 / 11:36 pm

    And it seems pretty clear-cut to me. Satan fell because God gave him a free-will, just like he gives us. God could have created all his sentient beings without wills of their own, but he wanted them and us to love and serve him because we choose to, not because we have to. I also don’t know why it should be impossible for God to choose not to know which of his creatures would rebel.

    Fortunately for us, we get more then one chance. We can choose wrong and be restored.

    Isaiah:
    How did you are fallen from heaven,
    O Day Star, eson of Dawn!
    How you are cut down to the ground,
    you who laid the nations low!
    13 You said in your heart,
    f‘I will ascend to heaven;
    above the stars of God
    gI will set my throne on high;
    I will sit on the mount of assembly
    in the far reaches of the north;3
    14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.’

  14. blogginbaldguy May 28, 2014 / 3:31 am

    Well, not to derail the conversation but I cannot reconcile free-will with the bible. For one thing, the antecedent causes leading up to my birth are completely and utterly out of my control. On the other hand, I do not see man as willing apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. I cannot speak for you but until God saved me, I wanted nothing to do with him and was perfectly satisfied with my sin.

    P.S. In my humble opinion:
    If God has all knowledge as the bible affirms he cannot limit his own knowledge because he already knows the outcome is; as an antecedent to the thing known. In other words, limiting his knowledge leads to open theism and a god that is nothing more than the Platonic demiurge that responds to man’s action in time. This is much more disconcerting to me than God being the ultimate cause of all things.

    Grace,

    BBG

  15. wildswanderer May 28, 2014 / 5:25 am

    Well, it could be argued that determinism is nothing but greek philosophy forced into the Biblical framework.
    As for God responding to man’s actions, the Biblical text is full of instances where God responds to man’s actions. In fact, there is probably as much responding in the OT as choosing. One such is Moses “talking God down” on the mountain when God is ready to wipe out all the Israelites and start over.
    Of course, the determanist is forced to take all such verses as anthropomorphisms. Which is a little inconsistent when all verses that seem to affirm immutability and impassibility at face value.

    I was never “perfectly satisfied with my sin.” Yet I resisted his will over and over. No Armenian would claim that he is choosing apart from the working of the Spirit. That is a common misconception.
    The only part we have is is saying yes or no to his drawing. And even the ability to choose is a result of being made in God’s image, not of our own doing, as if we chose how we were made.

  16. Ando June 1, 2014 / 1:55 pm

    You are right wilds wander. Passages like Moses convincing God not to destroy Israel prove that determinism is incorrect. I am in agreement with the Arminian position, however, because passages that speak about predestination like Ephesians 1 show that determinism is correct. That is why I am a compatiblist. The Bible apparently contradicts itself on this issue and so I give it up to God’s perfect wisdom that in his mysterious greatness this is resolved.

    As far at the origin of Satan being mysterious, my point is that we have no “fall” account of Satan in the same way as we do for man in Gen 3. The logical deduction is that God created the talking snake in Gen 3 since he created all things, but why he was created by a good God is a point of great tension.

  17. Ando June 1, 2014 / 1:56 pm

    Typo – I am not in agreement with the Arminian position, however….

  18. Kb June 10, 2014 / 1:13 am

    I don’t understand how one can believe that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent and then deny determinism. I’ve posed this question to many people and get an argument about God being outside of time —I become confused. What difference does that make–God still knows everything and it cannot be different. I am quite content with God being infinitely sovereign over all things—-especially evil. I appreciate how Cheung doesn’t try to get God off the hook —as if He wants to be less than absolutely sovereign.

  19. Kb June 10, 2014 / 1:35 am

    Latest conversation with a very good friend:

    We agree that God knows all things. And knows them correctly. And that He knew what would be even before time existed. And we agree that God doesn’t learn. So–I begin to think our theology is way more alike than different. And I even get excited. —BUT when I try to clarify what we both agree upon you insult me.

    And I maintain that men DO make choices and are responsible for their choices (the same as you). It seems to me that we are in agreement. And I get excited. But THEN you say I can’t have it both ways? Somehow–if it comes from my mouth it’s wrong. That I make men into robots, even though I’m believing just like you. Men’s choices matter and have eternal consequences. And we both agree that w/o grace an already fallen man just gets worse.

    I don’t understand how we can supposedly believe the the same things yet have such a falling out with respect to freedom? Unless, perhaps—one of us doesn’t believe that God is indeed omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and absolutely sovereign?

    Can anyone give me some feedback here—I really want to sympathize and understand my good friend? I do not like being at odds—especially concerning our Father.

  20. Richard Stals June 18, 2014 / 3:23 pm

    As I understand it (and I could be wrong), when a consistent Calvinist says ‘men do make choices’ (i.e. have freedom) this is very different to an Arminian concept of freedom.

    To a Calvinist, your choices are free in as much as they are consistent with your nature. In a Calvinistic world view, each and every choice you make has been decreed before hand by God. So every choice is free in that it is not against your will, but is consistent with the very being that God has decreed you will be. For example, you may choose to wear red socks over white socks this morning. You did not experience any compulsion to choose that way, however that choice was decreed to be long before you were created. God determined that you would choose red socks and created you and/or your environment and experiences in such a way that no other choice would be made.

    An Arminian would say that such a choice is no choice at all and therefore not freedom at all. Although you have every sensation of freedom of choice, your choices are constrained by another will, that of the decree of God and is such an illusion.

    To an Arminian, freedom of choice means actually being able to choose without another being’s will imposing the choice on you, whether directly (classic determinism) or through manipulating the agency of your own will (compatibilism). To be truly free, your choice must be an actual choice. So this morning you chose red socks, but you could well have chosen white socks. The only determining factor was your own will. This choice was not made for you in any way.

    As I see it, when a Calvinist uses the word freedom, it does not mean the same thing as when an Arminian does.

  21. Richard Stals June 18, 2014 / 3:30 pm

    BBG – re: your comment about free-will.

    Is it possible there is a difference between the choice made in ‘choosing’ God in Salvation and other choices such as choosing what socks to wear this morning?

    Arminians and Calvinists would agree that no-one is free to choose God in Salvation apart from Grace. However, is the same dynamic at work in the choice of clothing each morning?

    I am still exploring the implications of holding an Arminian view on Salvation, and so at this place in my journey I don’t see the need to collapse the dynamics every choice of free will into the dynamic of what occurs at Salvation.

    Any thoughts?

    Also, I will say that as I understand it, whereas consistent Calvinism (High Calvinism) provides a fairly holistic world-view, Arminianism tends to speak mainly to the dynamics of Salvation (granted, having an impact on other areas, but it does not explicitly lay out a system for them).

  22. blakodeel December 6, 2014 / 12:46 pm

    To deny that God creates sin and evil would be contradicting God’s word. Isaiah 45:7 says God creates “ra” which translates to calamity and darkness, but also wickedness (in Genesis 6:5). Since God creates every concept that we translate the Hebrew word “ra” into, God must therefore create sin and evil; therefore God is the “author” of sin. If God doesn’t create these things, are they eternal? Of course not. I clicked on the link because I thought there was going to be interaction with his thesis from a different perspective.

  23. Kawika Mallonee May 10, 2015 / 3:04 am

    @blakodeel, I clicked the link expecting the same. Frankly, I see Cheung’s fundamental statements on the matter as irrefutable. He’s at the core of the issue dealing with it head on. And he likewise deals with the accusations of it all making God accountable (responsible, culpable, etc) in recognizing that there’s no higher authority than God to hold Him accountable (responsible, culpable, etc).

    God decided to hold man accountable for man’s actions and as the one, true sovereign, He can do that and no one can say to Him, “What have you done?”

  24. andydoerksen March 21, 2017 / 12:35 pm

    @BLOGGINBALDGUY and WILDSWANDERER:

    God has definitely foreordained whatsoever comes to pass – because He has exhaustive foreknowledge. We can never comprehend God’s relationship to time; but I think we can at least tackle the logic for “foreordination” terminology in Scripture.

    Wildswanderer, you said, “If God has foreordained everything that happens, he is of necessity the author of all sin.”

    That assumes – incorrectly, I would argue – that “foreordain” = “cause.” But “foreordain” is an English word and I prefer to use biblical terms as much as possible, unless we’re trying to label something for which the Bible has no label (e.g., “Trinity”). Here’s a great example: Peter refers to Jesus having been “delivered over [to his enemies] by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23, NASB).

    Now does that mean God caused Pilate and the Jewish establishment to put Jesus to death? Not necessarily. The word “predetermined” is horizō, to “mark out” or “delimit.” It refers to setting the boundaries or parameters for some event(s) or person(s). The word “plan” is boulē, “will.” Such terms by themselves aren’t synonymous with “cause.”

    God’s foreknowledge explains this, I believe. Foreknowledge logically requires the conclusion that to create anything at all is to foreordain what happens to that creation after the fact. In other words, in the context of foreknowledge, to “foreordain” something means to guarantee that it will come about – but not necessarily causing it. God brought about the Crucifixion because He (a) foreknew what that collection of humans, in those circumstances thousands of years after Creation, would do to His Son. (b) He chose to create. And (c) He chose not to intervene in any way that would prevent Jesus from being crucified.

    Therefore God’s prior choice to create, plus the choice not to intervene (in a preventative way), logically, necessarily guaranteed that the Crucifixion would happen. It was, then, predetermined.by God – yet caused by humans making their own choices. But God guaranteed that those choices would be made, simply be creating a world in which He knew those particular persons would come into being and make those particular choices.

    To use a rough analogy: Let’s say Jack marries Jill and they decide to have a baby. A very mundane scenario – but what if Jack and Jill possessed foreknowledge? And what if they foresaw that their child would eventually grow up to commit murder? And what if they chose to have that child anyway? Their foreknowledge – plus the choice to procreate – would effectively guarantee that eventual murder – yet without Jack and Jill having actually caused it themselves. They predetermined it, but didn’t cause it. The murderer still made his own choice, for his own reasons; his parents didn’t cause him to commit murder.

    The logic of this scenario would literally apply to all events in history, since God has exhaustive foreknowledge. I don’t see any biblical reason why this shouldn’t be our understanding of divine foreordination.

  25. Kurt Francis July 5, 2017 / 5:23 am

    What is wrong with saying that God is the author of evil? Evil is still apart from His nature and it still leads to his goodness, glory ans holiness. Further, this question of the authorship of evil will always place man as the judge of God which is forbidden. Are we not all to place our hands over ou r mouths, shut up and let the Almighty be God (i.e. Job)?

  26. andydoerksen July 11, 2017 / 11:38 am

    ANDO said: “Why can’t libertarian freedom and determinism coexist under the sovereign power of a triune God who became a human being and resurrected from the grave?”

    Because determinism and libertarian freedom are logically contradictory. God is all-powerful, yes; mysterious, yes. But no measure of power and mystery can enable God to be logically contradictory.

    “. . . the bible transcends logic, philosophy, and all human reason.”

    False. There is no such thing as “human reason.” There’s just Reason; period. Humans have access to it, but don’t use it consistently. In addition, Reason needs facts to work with, so even when we are reasoning properly, we still aren’t always able to arrive at the right conclusion, because we don’t have all the facts.

    Note that I capitalized “Reason.” This is because Reason is divine – i.e., an attribute of deity. God cannot contradict Himself; God is coherent. Since “logic” is derived from the Greek ‘logos’, it is possible to translate John 1:1 “In the beginning was Logic, and Logic was with God, and Logic was God.” (Obviously there’s more to the divine Logos than this – just as there’s more to the Logos than “words.” My point is that logic is an integral part of the Logos and of the divine nature generally – just as communication [“word”] is.)

    Moreover, you haven’t considered the ramifications of your statement. (1) If the Bible “transcended” logic, then we wouldn’t need to interpret it logically. It would be perfectly fine to interpret it so that one passage contradicts another, because if we’re tossing out logic, the contradictions don’t matter.

    (2) If the Bible ”transcends” logic, then so does its Author – and if God Himself ”transcends” logic . . . then He can’t be trusted. A person can only be trusted when they’re consistent; when they mean what they say, and do what they say. In other words: they don’t contradict themselves. Ah, but noncontradiction is the core of logic, and so if God weren’t consistently logical, it would mean He could sometimes contradict Himself – and therefore couldn’t be trusted. He could promise us things, as we see in Scripture, but turn around and do something else.

    Therefore, Ando, you should be praising God for being rigorously, take-it-to-the-bank logical.

    “We agree that God is one and yet three and yet this is a logical impossibility.”

    False. If we said “God is one Person AND three Persons,” that would be illogical. But that’s not the Trinitarian doctrine. I like best the way CRI’s Hank Hanegraaff puts it: “God is one WHAT, but three WHOs.” In other words, three Persons sharing one nature. There’s only one divinity, but 3 Persons share that divinity.

    Now, do I claim to comprehend that? No; it’s a mystery. However, it’s clearly not logically impossible. In the same way, neither is the Incarnation: there’s nothing in logic that rules out a Being having a dual nature.

    “Why then do we not agree that God ordains all things and yet is still holy and totally free of sin. Why can’t we be compatibilists when it comes to this issue when we are all compatibilists on other issues?”

    Because the biblical treatment of the link between God and sin doesn’t require a compatibilist evasion of logic.

    ” I am in [dis]agreement with the Arminian position, however, because passages that speak about predestination like Ephesians 1 show that determinism is correct.”

    Ephesians 1 doesn’t teach determinism (i.e., not in the Calvinistic sense). It teaches corporate election. (1) Every act of God’s choosing in this passage is a choice not of an individual (contrary to the Calvinist inference), but of a group. (2) That group is elected to receive certain blessings via corporate identification with Christ.

    So, is it really true that Ephesians 1 addresses the salvation of individuals? Why, yes it does, in v. 13: “In Him [Christ], you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise[.]” The NIV puts it this way: “you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit[.]”

    In other words, Paul is saying that the Ephesians’ participation in Christ and all the salvific blessings commenced as a result of their faith in the Gospel. Nowhere does this passage teach Calvinistic determinism. And since no one else can believe “for” you – it must be your faith, the faith of an individual – therefore Eph. 1:13 teaches how the individual comes into the salvation that is in Christ.

    BLOGGINBALDGUY said: “If God permits evil, even the evil of free moral agents how does this absolve him of culpability when he could have prevented it?”

    Culpability, and our capacity to judge it, requires an Objective Moral Standard. Since God’s very nature is that Standard, it’s literally impossible for Him to have culpability in anything. We’re not trying to evaluate God in comparison to some humanly idealized “model of deity.” Rather, our task is to determine how the Bible itself gives us an internally coherent revelation of the God it proclaims. And there’s nothing in God’s self-revelation in Scripture that negates the possibility of His having a good reason for permitting, even “ordaining,” evil.

    Indeed, even apart from biblical revelation, that logically must be the case. For there can be no definition of evil without a Moral Law; and there can be no Law without a Law-Giver; and the Law-Giver must logically be the highest authority in (over) the universe; and the Highest Authority must logically be the Creator, whose authority over the universe derives from His creation and ownership of it.

    That whole string is logically necessary and deducible from human experience, even apart from Scripture. Ergo, the Creator must logically have had a good reason, consistent with His own nature, for permitting evil. It could not be otherwise.

    “There is a greater good in God causing the fall of both angels and men namely his decree to send his son.”

    I partly agree, but would not use the word “cause,” which I believe is flat-out wrong. Instead, God planned for evil, and facilitated it by simply creating angels and humans, knowing ahead of time what we would do. It can be expressed as an equation:

                             foreknowledge + creation = foreordination
    

    “. . . I cannot reconcile free-will with the bible.”

    Then to be consistent you will have to conclude that God is guilty of “your” sin: i.e., it’s not really yours, anymore than a killer robot is “guilty” of murder, because the programmer is obviously the true murderer. It could not be otherwise: logically and morally (and in fact morality is always logical) the actual cause of sin must be a sinner.

    “For one thing, the antecedent causes leading up to my birth are completely and utterly out of my control.”

    It follows from this that you have a fallen nature because God caused you to be born that way (as per Rom. 11:32). It does not follow, however, that you are forced by God’s will to make sinful choices.

    “On the other hand, I do not see man as willing apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.”

    This action is opposite to the biblical order of salvation. Faith in the Gospel results in – rather than “is the result of” – new life (regeneration). But yes, the Holy Spirit does generate faith in us; it’s just that this action by the Spirit isn’t regeneration (new life). Moreover, the Spirit’s preconversion work is resistible (Acts 7:51).

    WILDSWANDERER said: “If God has foreordained everything that happens, he is of necessity the author of all sin.”

    False. To foreordain means – for a Being who has foreknowledge – to guarantee that various events will happen, and to “sign off on” them, so to speak. It =/= “cause.” Imagine if I possessed foreknowledge and I opened a zoo, knowing ahead of time that one of the lions would escape and maul people. Would that mean I “caused” the lion to maul those people? No – but it would mean that simply by choosing to open the zoo, I foreordained it; that I guaranteed/predestined it to happen.

    I take “author” as being synonymous with “cause.” So a huge chunk of the determinism debate turns on the nuance of the word “author.”

    KURT FRANCIS said: “What is wrong with saying that God is the author of evil? Evil is still apart from His nature[.]”

    If God were the author (cause) of sin, then logically sin would be in His nature. If I author a piece of writing, what am I? A writer. If God, then, were the author of sin – He would be a sinner.

    Above I indicated that I equate “author” with “cause.” That seems to be the nuance in Cheung’s and other Calvinists’ writings, as well as among posters on this board. However, there’s the similar – but different – term “authorIZE,” which I think is a good word for what God has done with sin in this age. If I write for a newspaper, and my editor assigns me a story, or signs off on one I’ve suggested, then s/he has “authorized” what I write – but I’m the one who has authored it.

    God has authorized sin – but we (and the fallen angels) have authored sin.

    KB said: “I don’t understand how one can believe that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent and then deny determinism.”

    Foe the simple reason that the Bible doesn’t teach it (again: not in the Calvinistic sense; see my zoo analogy, above).

    BLAKODEEL said: “To deny that God creates sin and evil would be contradicting God’s word. Isaiah 45:7 says God creates ‘ra’ which translates to calamity and darkness, but also wickedness (in Genesis 6:5).”

    The Heb. ‘ra’ has a range of nuances; it doesn’t always refer to moral evil; it can simply mean “calamity,” ”trouble,” etc. Its root meaning is “bad,” and what sort of “badness” it is, is dependent on context. It can refer to a physical blemish, for example (Lev. 27:10; Deut. 17:1), “bad” water (2Ki. 2:19), etc.

    So how is ‘ra’ being used in Isa, 45:7? Well, on solid theological grounds, as per this very thread, the case can easily be made that God does not create moral evil or “badness,” and therefore the term should be translated in Isa. 45:7 with a nonmoral English term like “calamity” (NET, NASB, ESV) or “disaster” (NIV). But this is also indicated in the verse itself by the contrast given between ‘ra’, on the one hand, and ‘shalowm’, on the other. The latter is translatable as “peace,” or, better yet, “well-being.”

    Therefore, Yahweh is the One with sovereignty and power to grant well-being – and take it away. The same thing is taught in Job 1:21; 2:10; 1Sam. 2:7, 8.

  27. Kurt Francis July 13, 2017 / 10:45 am

    Reason? Let’s use God’s Words, “knowledge,” “wisdom,” and “mind.” There is a reason “reason” is seldom, or ever, used in Holy Writ. I know you are well read and studied in this vain and futile study of human reasoning, just as Solomon and the friends of Job discovered, even Job himself made that confession that I cited earlier, it all leads to nothing, and never to the Almighty declared in His Scripture. The godly Calvinists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries fought against the Reason of the “Enlightenment” with this Revelation of God.

    Can you truly think that your mind can encompass all the ways of God when He clearly says, “8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
    9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts?” (Isaiah 55:8ff)

    There is a great humility found in falling before this unspeakable LORD of creation. Isaias declared, “But this is the one to whom I will look:
    he who is humble and contrite in spirit
    and trembles at my word.”

    Yes, the Lord did create us with a will, but it is by no means free. It is blasphemy to call anyone’s will free but the Almighty’s.

    Our will is bound to sin, “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin” (John 8).

    The Lord controls our will as well, “O Lord, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?”

    “We have all become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
    We all fade like a leaf,
    and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
    7 There is no one who calls upon your name,
    who rouses himself to take hold of you;
    for you have hidden your face from us,
    and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.”

    When the Lord began revealing his prophecies to Isaiah He made this offer, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
    though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
    though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool” (Isa. 1).

    Yet the rest of His revelation showed we will not unless His grace is poured out into us as cited. Further, the Hebrew word is most often translated “argue,” or some form therefore.

    So, brother keep right on reasoning, philosophizing, appealing with the scholars and Pelagians and his ilk. I will, by the grace of God bow before His sovereign, immutable, awesome counsel, plan and will; however He works it.

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