Off shoot on...Was God obligated to create the best of all possible worlds?

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earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Was there a reason that God did not create Adam and Eve with the knowledge of good and evil? Now the obvious answer is to test them, but why not "just" give them this knowledge? Would there be some violation of Him creating only good things if He imparted directly this knowledge?

I have to think about what St. Augustine wrote on the pre fall man vs. the post fall man, the post fall redeemed man, and the glorified man at the resurection.. I have a feeling it is there because knowing good and bad is not necessarily a bad thing because Jesus certianly knew what evil and good are.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Also, do these issues lead us to conclude that Adam was living under a "probationary period" in Eden and, had he succeeded, he would have been granted a sustaining grace like the angels that did not fall so that he would not always be in a state of mortal danger?
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Was there a reason that God did not create Adam and Eve with the knowledge of good and evil? Now the obvious answer is to test them, but why not "just" give them this knowledge? Would there be some violation of Him creating only good things if He imparted directly this knowledge?

I have to think about what St. Augustine wrote on the pre fall man vs. the post fall man, the post fall redeemed man, and the glorified man at the resurection.. I have a feeling it is there because knowing good and bad is not necessarily a bad thing because Jesus certianly knew what evil and good are.

The answer to the question probably belongs to secret knowledge which we have no access to and should be wary of speculation. I would go for the simple answer that God thought it best to keep it from them out of love for them. After all, they did die the moment they received knowledge of good and evil.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
There are different kinds of knowledge of course.

I think it's subjective knowledge of evil, i.e. the knowledge of what it is to commit evil, and choose the evil thought, word and deed in contrast to the good, that is in view here.

God, and Jesus, knew/know what good and evil are as much as God can know these things, but not personally and subjectively, intimately and wickedly.

As regards objective knowledge of evil and good in contrast to evil, Adam and Eve only needed so much knowledge of this in their earthly paradise as was necessary for them to fulfil their probation and the creation mandate, which was probably precious little(?)

They would have known it was wrong to eat of the Tree and they seem to have some understanding of what death was (?)

-----Added 11/30/2009 at 03:02:59 EST-----

Also, do these issues lead us to conclude that Adam was living under a "probationary period" in Eden and, had he succeeded, he would have been granted a sustaining grace like the angels that did not fall so that he would not always be in a state of mortal danger?

Well any children born to Adam and Eve before they broke the Covenant of Works would also be sinless.

Most Covenant Theologians believe that there was some kind of probationary period after which Adam would have bought eternal life for himself, and Eve and his offspring, by his obedience.

Maybe/no doubt the Creation Mandate would have had to be fulfilled by Adam and his offspring so that the Earth was prepared for its eschatalogical transformation from corruptible(capable of corruption) to incorruptible (incapable of corruption).

Presumably the Creation Mandate, by its nature, was a much longer project than the Covenant of Works Probation (?)

Christ took thirty-three years or so to fulfill the Broken Covenant of Works Probation. The Creation Mandate overlaid now by the Great Commission is still ongoing in a sinful world almost 2,000 years later.

Adam and Eve were kept in mind of this eschatalogical realm of perfection to which they were destined even before the Fall, by the perfectly numbered Seven Day Week and the Sabbath Day. As are we, long after the Fall.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
This is the best of all possible worlds.

One day we'll all know why. God's wisdom can be trusted.

But consider this,

I know that I could probably be a little less sinful and a little more righteous than I am right now. That would probably make the world a little better.

God had the ability to decree that I perform one less sin today. Would it not have been a better world if he had?

Is today really the best of all possible days, simply because God decreed that it be?
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Is today really the best of all possible days, simply because God decreed that it be?

That is not implied by the proposition that this world is the best of all possible worlds. Fallacy of division.


Keep in mind that we're talking about this world, all things considered. If we were to step outside of time and take a look at the entirety of God's providence for this world, we would see God more glorified in this world than in any other. That's what is meant.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
And it is wonderful to think that one day we will receive the best history lesson in history, from the Lord Himself, so we will be able to glorify God for all that He's done in providence/history.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Here's the logic:

What God decrees is best
God decrees this world
Therefore this world is best


God has the decreed the properties of this world
"Today" is a property of this world
God has decreed today.

That's why it is essential that we define words like "best" and "perfect", if not, the result is logically and theologically unsatisfying at best.

the syllogism,
God is perfect
Everything God decrees in the world is perfect
Therefore everything in the world is perfect.

is a tough proposition to handle.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Here's the logic:

What God decrees is best
God decrees this world
Therefore this world is best


God has the decreed the properties of this world
"Today" is a property of this world
God has decreed today.

I deny the major premise, that (strictly speaking) whatever God decrees is the best.

The way this is usually said, it is referring to things taken in toto, not things taken in particular. That is what is implied when it is said. We refer to different worlds, different "maximal states of affairs," different sets of propositions that take everything into consideration. Never is the major premise uttered with respect to fragments of worlds.

In other words,, the syllogism should be the following:

Whatever God decrees, when everything is unified and all is taken into consideration, is the best.
etc.

That's why it is essential that we define words like "best" and "perfect", if not, the result is logically and theologically unsatisfying at best.

And the qualifier to be made is not one that tries to make God's affections in conflict with one another, but one that understands that we're talking about what God decrees in the scope of the whole, or all things being considered.

Everything God decrees is perfect, not intrinsically, but extrinsically (as it relates to the whole of His providence).
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
But of course God takes all things into consideration, that's taken for granted. We know that whatever God decrees is the product of his infinite wisdom, so the qualifier that all things be taken into consideration is not required.

The "high calvinist" position should, by logical conclusion, be that whatever happens, in the particular AND the whole, is perfect and pleasing by virtue of God's perfection in decree.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
No, that's the whole point of the distinction. Why is the high Calvinist obliged to believe that?
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Well, I'm not completely well-versed in high calvinism, so I might be wrong. But that seems to be general logic of it.

I hear it said again and again, "God delights in what he decrees and he decrees what he delights."

Philosophically, I can see how this might be so, but from the biblical data I'm not convinced.

-----Added 11/30/2009 at 10:47:21 EST-----

For God to be sovereign, he must providentially control things in their minutest detail so that each thing is particularly ordained by him. These small decrees make up the decree of a given day, or a given situation, or a given world.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
One of the differences that often occurs between low and high Calvinists is that low Calvinists believe that God can be in some way displeased when things go against His revealed will. High Calvinists agree that there are certain things which are intrinsically bad/imperfect that God decrees, but they do not agree that God is in any way displeased by these things. He delights in what He decrees because He can see how everything is tied in with one another. He delights in sin, not intrinsically, but only in the sense that He sees how it accomplishes His plan and manifests His glory. "Yet it pleased the LORD to crush him," Isaiah 53:10.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
This inevitably runs into the question and debate of whether God experiences delight at all, and if this delight has any correspondence with our human experience of delight. I believe he does.

To say that God only delights in things as a whole and not in things in particular seems to put a limit on God. Consider the Isaiah verse you quoted: it pleased the Lord to crush the Son. That pleasure is seen in an absolute light, without any possibility of variation in the pleasure/displeasure of God in the events that were involved in the Son's death.
If you allow for variation, then certain things pleased God more than other things, for example, the atonement made on behalf of the elect pleased God more than Judas' betrayal of Jesus.

But in the high calvinist scheme, there is only one pleasure in God for the whole event and for each particular event leading up to it.

this is very limiting and does not fit with biblical data or human experience, in my opinion.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
To say that God only delights in things as a whole and not in things in particular seems to put a limit on God.

No, He delights in things in particular, but only because He knows their relation to the whole. He delights in the cross insofar as He sees Himself glorified by it.

On the other hand, it puts a limit on God to say that He was displeased with His own decree. It implies that there is some absolute hurdle which He must overcome to get what He wants (e.g. sin, to get His glory), but no such hurdle can arise except by His decree.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Well, allowing scripture to speak for itself, we must concede that God does get displeased and angry, although he decrees all things. high calvinists dumb those passages down a great deal and reinterpret the meaning of displeasure to the point losing the meaning entirely. It becomes a concept that we cannot relate to because it is emptied of all emotive inclination. And this is in line with the position that there is no point of contact between God's "emotions" and ours. I think it's dangerous to submerge the text to deeply under Platonic philosophy.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Without intending to sound condescending, the historic Reformed interpretation of such passages (as anthropomorphism or anthropopathism) is not some infusion of ancient Greek philosophy.

We interpret unclear Scriptures in light of clear ones. If it is not possible that God be absolutely sovereign over all that occurs, and that He be displeased with what occurs (and it's not), then it is not the case that both of these are true. The latter can be interpreted either literally or anthropomorphically, and therefore, by the analogy of faith, it is interpreted anthropomorphically.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Reformed dogmatics carried over the thinking of the medievals that was largely influenced by Greek philosophy. Not all of that philosophy is bad, but the link is there.

I affirm that God does sovereignly rule over every minutae of his creation, AND is displeased with evil and sin. I do not see what is so unclear about God's anger and displeasure. There are hundreds of texts that affirm this, while only a very few passages that refer to God's immutability. Concepts like God's displeasure are derived quite easily from direct scriptural quotations, but immutability has required centuries of derivation and refinement. If anything, the word "unchanging" and its concept is vague and unclear and requires much more definition and qualification than "displeasure" or "anger."
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
Dennis, just as an extra note (not for the purposes of this thread, since it it now closed), I might encourage you in light of your assertion to attempt to demonstrate to yourself what is *distinctly or exclusively* Platonic about the Reformed understanding of God and passivity. Also, the fact that understanding the immutability/simplicity/etc. of God has taken hundreds of years to refine and develop is not the same as saying that it took hundreds of years to discover or acknowledge. It could likewise be argued that scripture refers to the Hand, or Arm, or Face, or Nostrils of God *far* more often than it asserts that God lacks a body or component parts: nevertheless, that does not mean that it is "more Biblical" rather than "Philosophical" to attribute a body or parts to God. Rather, we understand plainly from a *few* places in scripture that we are to understand the large amount of body-like language regarding God as metaphoric condescensions to our understandings; likewise, we do the same with Passion-language.
 
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