The rationality of God's decreeing sin

pgwolv

Puritan Board Freshman
Dear fellow believers, it is an honour to make a post on this board on which I have lurked for a long time.

My Calvinist views are still relatively new and I am a poor debater, struggling to keep my thoughts straight when discussing these things. I am in the midst of a discussion with a non-Calvinist. There are a couple of points that have confused me, as I am unable to answer them. Would you please assist me in the proper response? Not mainly for the purpose of the specific discussion, but for my own edification.

One is 1 John 2:16: "For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. "
This verse seems to imply that certain evils are from the world, and seems to imply that God has not decreed them.

The same goes for Jer 32:35: "They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin." And Jer 19:5: "...and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind..." Here again, it seems that God did not decree this specific sin.

Another thing that confuses me is that this brother keeps on saying that the election discussed by Paul is not to salvation, but to service.

The comment that really has my head spinning is the following: 'You have made this leap that unless God decreed a sin it wouldn't happen? It is akin to God playing two sides of a chessboard. In fact, it negates the entire idea of satan and evil forces. God is literally controlling Satan and his forces, and man, to play the chess moves he wants them to play so that he can play his winning chess moves and then declaring himself the winner. You don't find it absurd that God "arranges" sin against himself so that he can punish that sin, which he "arragned", by "arranging" another person to sin against him as the punishment for the sin he originally "arranged"? All while ignoring 1 John 2:16. I cannot understand the logic behind this. God does not have to do any of this. God in his omnipotence and omniscience allows and permits men the choice to freely sin and reject him. He knows what their choice will be, and then as the most amazing chess player of all time he dominates the chessboard with skill and strategy beyond the imagination of his mere creations. He does not have to decree their sin, he merely defeats them in a glorious display of his own might using their freely chosen sin against them!'

Then I shared AW Pink's quote on God's sovereignty and how Free Will theism belittles God. His reply was: 'God didn't "try his hardest." God shared his very nature with man and will share nothing else. It is now up to us. When I offer my child a choice to clean their room, then give them multiple chances to obey, am I trying my hardest? Am I failing when I still punish them for disobedience? Of course not. This is the choice, and at some point I stop offering the choice. It isn't a matter of failing. This is not an argument against Pink. This is simply showing how Pink has not argued against the non-calvinist but his own strawman of what he thinks the non-calvinist says.'

Sorry, I know there are many different points of discussion, but my mind is muddled right now and I feel like I need some support from this community.

God bless
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have no doubt someone will give a full answer at some point, but I would also suggest taking questions like these and discussing them with your pastor and elders. Answering these types of questions is one of their primary duties as a shepherd.
 

pgwolv

Puritan Board Freshman
I have no doubt someone will give a full answer at some point, but I would also suggest taking questions like these and discussing them with your pastor and elders. Answering these types of questions is one of their primary duties as a shepherd.
Absolutely; I will do so once lockdown restrictions are eased in my country. The reason why I posted this here is not because it is my only option, but because I value the opinions of many of the members on this board.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
I don't have time to really try to answer this, but just know that those deeper philosophical questions are common to Christianity in general, so in my opinion they are kind of pointless to debate among Christians. At the end of the day, we all have to admit that God is sovereign, and all of life is the way that it is because God has willed it to be so. Our choice is to either accept that and worship God accordingly for his character on his terms, or to not do so.

Pastors of every religious denomination are going to be asked such questions, but maybe each will be nuanced a little bit differently based off of the theological views of that church, and the best answer in my opinion we can give is to appeal to mystery, and submit to God.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
I guess the other thing I would mention is has your friend read the book of Job? That book by itself seems to strike against all of his arguments. Satan was only able to do the things he did because God allowed him to.

Job 1:9-12: 9Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Job 2:4-6: 4Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”
 

Ioannes

Puritan Board Freshman
In any argument for free will there has to exist some part of creation that is not created and constantly sustained by God. If 1 John 2:16 is to be taken the way your brother suggests, then what is this “world” from which sin comes if not the one God created and constantly sustains? Who is this “me” that makes decisions besides the exact “me” that God made in the way He did, and would cease to exist if God stopped holding up? This would require the existence of something that is truly sovereign and not God, namely myself. The problem is that I’m a finite creation, and the Bible tells me that far from being sovereign, I am a slave to sin.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
Also,
"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
Acts 2:22‭-‬23 ESV

Not sure there is a better example of the doctrine of concurrence.
 

pgwolv

Puritan Board Freshman
I guess the other thing I would mention is has your friend read the book of Job? That book by itself seems to strike against all of his arguments. Satan was only able to do the things he did because God allowed him to.

Job 1:9-12: 9Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Job 2:4-6: 4Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”
I did bring up these points, and his arguments against them were not very strong.

He said: "Does the fact that God granted the destruction of Job and all the horrible things that happened to him mean that God has decreed sin?" and "How do you make the leap that because the God used the Chaldeans to take away Job's things, that he literally caused them to sin by taking them away?" and "This is the logical leap that I just can't make with you. Of course God foreknew this, and of course God used it, and of course God's plan involved his use of sin. But none of these sins can come FROM God or scripture contradicts scripture."

To which I pointed out that it seemed to me that he was making a leap, as, to me, God decreeing sin is the only logical conclusion. It seems that his argument hinges on 1 John 2, which Sean has helped explain above.

Thank you. I feel on less shaky ground again in terms of Biblical support for God being sovereign even over sin.

What do you make of the chess analogy he made? Should we ascribe the difficulty in understanding these things to our finite understanding?
 

pgwolv

Puritan Board Freshman
In any argument for free will there has to exist some part of creation that is not created and constantly sustained by God. If 1 John 2:16 is to be taken the way your brother suggests, then what is this “world” from which sin comes if not the one God created and constantly sustains? Who is this “me” that makes decisions besides the exact “me” that God made in the way He did, and would cease to exist if God stopped holding up? This would require the existence of something that is truly sovereign and not God, namely myself. The problem is that I’m a finite creation, and the Bible tells me that far from being sovereign, I am a slave to sin.
Thank you for this. I think his problem is in that he denies total depravity, claiming that "Yes, we are all sinful, but nothing says we cannot respond positively to the freely offered grace, freedom from slavery, and ability to turn our mind." I think that, if I point out that Romans 3 states that none are righteous and seek God, he would say that it merely means that none are righteous in the law, but can become so through faith. Although I both feel and know that this is incorrect, I don't quite have the systematic theology down to point out why.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
I did bring up these points, and his arguments against them were not very strong.

He said: "Does the fact that God granted the destruction of Job and all the horrible things that happened to him mean that God has decreed sin?" and "How do you make the leap that because the God used the Chaldeans to take away Job's things, that he literally caused them to sin by taking them away?" and "This is the logical leap that I just can't make with you. Of course God foreknew this, and of course God used it, and of course God's plan involved his use of sin. But none of these sins can come FROM God or scripture contradicts scripture."

To which I pointed out that it seemed to me that he was making a leap, as, to me, God decreeing sin is the only logical conclusion. It seems that his argument hinges on 1 John 2, which Sean has helped explain above.

Thank you. I feel on less shaky ground again in terms of Biblical support for God being sovereign even over sin.

What do you make of the chess analogy he made? Should we ascribe the difficulty in understanding these things to our finite understanding?
He seems to be conflating God decreeing something to come to pass with God sinning. Those are not the same thing. Also, if God is just using something that is randomly occurring, that would make him not sovereign over it. He would no longer be God at that point then. With your earlier comment as well about satan, your friend seems to think God is actually in a battle he can lose. satan is not on equal footing with God. Job once again illustrates satan can do nothing without God's permission. As to the chess game I would look up videos by much more capable theologians than me on the subjects of compatiblism and concurrence. God being sovereign does not take away man's responsibility or consequences for the choices they make.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thank you for this. I think his problem is in that he denies total depravity, claiming that "Yes, we are all sinful, but nothing says we cannot respond positively to the freely offered grace, freedom from slavery, and ability to turn our mind." I think that, if I point out that Romans 3 states that none are righteous and seek God, he would say that it merely means that none are righteous in the law, but can become so through faith. Although I both feel and know that this is incorrect, I don't quite have the systematic theology down to point out why.
Romans 3 literally says:
as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. No one in the Greek means no one. So he must think the Bible is lying? It seems to me he doesn't want to accept the plain meaning of the text because he has a tradition he is not willing to correct. An earlier poster also pointed out how this has also caused him to read his tradition into other passages as well. Additionally, he denies the sovereignty of God (although he would likely deny this, but with the things he says is unavoidable) and appears to be on the verge of being an open theist. Finally, he appears to deny original sin, not just total depravity, which is pelegianism.
 

pgwolv

Puritan Board Freshman
He seems to be conflating God decreeing something to come to pass with God sinning. Those are not the same thing. Also, if God is just using something that is randomly occurring, that would make him not sovereign over it. He would no longer be God at that point then. With your earlier comment as well about satan, your friend seems to think God is actually in a battle he can lose. satan is not on equal footing with God. Job once again illustrates satan can do nothing without God's permission. As to the chess game I would look up videos by much more capable theologians than me on the subjects of compatiblism and concurrence. God being sovereign does not take away man's responsibility or consequences for the choices they make.
I am in agreement, thank you.
 

pgwolv

Puritan Board Freshman
Romans 3 literally says:
as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. No one in the Greek means no one. So he must think the Bible is lying? It seems to me he doesn't want to accept the plain meaning of the text because he has a tradition he is not willing to correct. An earlier poster also pointed out how this has also caused him to read his tradition into other passages as well. Additionally, he denies the sovereignty of God (although he would likely deny this, but with the things he says is unavoidable) and appears to be on the verge of being an open theist. Finally, he appears to deny original sin, not just total depravity, which is pelegianism.
Why do you say he appears to deny original sin?
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
Why do you say he appears to deny original sin?
His response to your Romans 3 comment: "Yes, we are all sinful, but nothing says we cannot respond positively to the freely offered grace, freedom from slavery, and ability to turn our mind." He is basically saying even though the bible says we are completely and totally dead in sin and will not seek after God, I think we can. He says "nothing says", but it literally says exactly that. Him saying we have the ability to respond on our own (somehow), is denying what the bible says about our sinful, natural state (which we inherited from Adam aka original sin).
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
If he is your brother, focus on things in which you agree. If he is some random person from that inter web thingy, then don't answer a fool according to his folly.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
I just read this from Berkhof and thought of you:

"Objection: It makes God the author of sin.

It may be said, however, that the decree merely makes God the author of free moral beings, who are themselves the authors of sin. Sin is made certain by the decree, but God does not Himself produce it by His direct action. At the same time it must be admitted that the problem of God's relation to sin remains a mystery which we cannot fully solve."
 

aaronsk

Puritan Board Freshman
There are a few resources on the Ligonier website that might be of use. Here is one that comes to mind - if you search for "Ligonier Foundations" on youtube you may find Audio of Sproul talking at length on God's will and Sovereignty over election.

Exposing the Permissive will of God.

How many wills does God have?
 

pgwolv

Puritan Board Freshman
If he is your brother, focus on things in which you agree. If he is some random person from that inter web thingy, then don't answer a fool according to his folly.
Thanks, Ken. I will follow this advice in future.
 

pgwolv

Puritan Board Freshman
I just read this from Berkhof and thought of you:

"Objection: It makes God the author of sin.

It may be said, however, that the decree merely makes God the author of free moral beings, who are themselves the authors of sin. Sin is made certain by the decree, but God does not Himself produce it by His direct action. At the same time it must be admitted that the problem of God's relation to sin remains a mystery which we cannot fully solve."
:amen:
 

pgwolv

Puritan Board Freshman
There are a few resources on the Ligonier website that might be of use. Here is one that comes to mind - if you search for "Ligonier Foundations" on youtube you may find Audio of Sproul talking at length on God's will and Sovereignty over election.

Exposing the Permissive will of God.

How many wills does God have?
Thank you for the resources!
 
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