Home > Calvinism, Election > The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XVII- That it make God the Author of Sin

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XVII- That it make God the Author of Sin

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XVII

That It Makes God the Author of Sin

1. The Problem of Evil. 2. Instances in Which Sin Has Been Overruled for Good. 3. The Fall of Adam Was Included in the Divine Plan. 4. The Result of Adam’s Fall. 5. The Forces of Evil Are Under God’s Perfect Control. 6. Sinful Acts Occur Only by Divine Permission. 7. Scripture Proof. 8. Comments by Smith and Hodge. 9. God’s Grace is More Deeply Appreciated After the Person Has Been the Victim of Sin. 10. Calvinism Offers a More Satisfactory Solution of the Problem of Evil Than Does Any Other System.

1. THE PROBLEM OF EVIL

The objection may be raised that if God has foreordained the entire course of events in this world He must be the Author of Sin. To begin with, we readily admit that the existence of sin in a universe which is under the control of a God who is infinite in His wisdom, power, holiness, and justice, is an inscrutable mystery which we in our present state of knowledge cannot fully explain. As yet we only see through a glass darkly. Sin can never be explained on the grounds of logic or reason, for it is essentially illogical and unreasonable. The mere fact that sin exists has often been urged by atheists and skeptics as an argument not merely against Calvinism but against theism in general.

The Westminster Standards, in treating of the dread mystery of evil, are very careful to guard the character of God from even the suggestion of evil. Sin is referred to the freedom which is given to the agent, and of all sinful acts whatever they emphatically affirm that “the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is. nor can be the author or approver of sin.” (V; 4.)

And while it is not ours to explain how God in His secret counsel rules and overrules the sinful acts of men, it is ours to know that whatever God does He never deviates from His own perfect justice. In all the manifestations of His character He shows Himself pre-eminently the Holy One. These deep workings of God are mysteries which are to be adored, but not to be inquired into; and were it not for the fact that some persons persist in declaring that the doctrine of Predestination makes God the author of sin, we could let the matter rest here.

A partial explanation of sin is found in the fact that while man is constantly commanded in Scripture not to commit it, he is, nevertheless, permitted to commit it if he chooses to do so. No compulsion is laid on the person; he is simply left to the free exercise of his own nature, and he alone is responsible. This, however. is never a bare permission, for with full knowledge of the nature of the person and of his tendency to sin, God allows him or allows him to be in a certain environment, knowing perfectly well that the particular sin will be committed. But while God permits sin, His connection with it is purely negative and it is the abominable thing which he hates with perfect hatred. The motive which God has in permitting it and the motive which man has in committing it are radically different. Many persons are deceived in these matters because they fail to consider that God wills righteously those things which men do wickedly. Furthermore, every person’s conscience after he has committed a sin tells him that he alone is responsible and that he need not have committed it if he had not voluntarily chosen to do so.

The Reformers recognized the fact that sin, both in its entrance into the world and in all its subsequent appearances, was involved in the divine plan; that the explanation of its existence, so far as any explanation could be given, was to be found in the fact that sin was completely under the control of God; and that it would be overruled for a higher manifestation of His glory. We may rest assured that God would never have permitted sin to have entered at all unless, through His secret and overruling providence, He was able to exert a directing influence on the minds of wicked men so that good is made to result from their intended evil. He works not only all the good and holy affections which are found in the hearts of His people, but He also perfectly controls all the depraved and impious affections of the wicked, and turns them as He pleases, so that they have a desire to accomplish that which He has planned to accomplish by their means. The wicked so often glory in themselves at some accomplishment of their purposes; but as Calvin says, “the event at length proves that they were only fulfilling all the while that which had been ordained of God, and that too, against their own will, while they knew nothing of it.” But while God does overrule the depraved affections of men for the accomplishment of His own purposes, He nevertheless punishes them for their sin and makes them to stand condemned in their own consciences.

A ruler may forbid treason; but his command does not oblige him to do all in his power to prevent disobedience to it. It may promote the good of his kingdom to suffer the treason to be committed, and the traitor to be punished according to law. That in view of this resulting good he chooses not to prevent the treason, does not imply any contradiction or opposition of it in the monarch.” 1

In regard to the problem of evil, Dr. A. H. Strong advances the following considerations: “(1) That freedom of will is necessary to virtue; (2) that God suffers from sin more than does the sinner; (3) that, with the permission of sin, God has provided a redemption; and, (4) that God will eventually overrule all evil for good.” And then he adds, “It is possible that the elect angels belong to a moral system in which sin is prevented by constraining motives. We cannot deny that God could prevent sin in a moral system. But it is very doubtful whether God could prevent sin in the best moral system. The most perfect freedom is indispensable to the attainment of the highest virtue.” 2 Fairbairn has given us some good thought in the following paragraph: “But why did God create a being capable of sinning? Only so could He create a being capable of obeying. The ability to do good implies the capability of doing evil. The engine can neither obey nor disobey, and the creature who was without this double capacity might be a machine, but could be no child. Moral perfection can be attained, but cannot be created; God can make a being capable of moral action, but not a being with all the fruits of moral action garnered within him.”

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

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