Friday, May 23, 2008

Examining Calvinism on Is God the Author of Sin

I like this site, which seems pretty careful in examining the claims of Calvinism. I think it comes to pretty much the right conclusion on this. I would explain it this way. If Calvinism is true humans are the proximate cause of sin, God is the remote or originating cause of sin. If Calvinism is true, we can nonetheless act with compatibilist freedom and therefore be responsible for our actions. God, for reasons mostly unknown to human beings, is justified in his action of ordaining and decreeing the relevant sins.


normajean said...

Ya know, Calvinism could be ok, really, if by calvinism we mean what Alvin Plantinga means by Calvinism.

Error said...

Victor, you're kidding me, right?

Here's from the site:


"Why? Why must you fight this argument to your last breath, as if it was the Boogeyman of Calvinism? Suppose that God was, in fact, the author of sin? Why would you need to fight it? If God was not concerned about it, then why should you be? Really, in the end, the only thing that matters is what the Bible says. So for Calvinists to belligerently draw their lines in the sand, concerning the “author of sin” charge, only sets themselves up to be considered, irrational. It seems that you could say almost the same exact thing, but with different wording, and that would pacify the Calvinists, and indeed, that’s exactly what Sproul has done when he claims that God foreordained the entrance of sin, but did not author sin. I’d like to know where the difference lies. In other words, God is the entrance of sin into the world, but by no means whatsoever, by any stretch of the imagination, is He the author of sin into the world. That, we just can’t have, says the Calvinist, end of discussion. Since Calvinists have tinkered with the definition of ordain, why don’t they simply tinker with the definition of author?"


This is just stupid.

We don't believe God is the author of sin because we believe the Bible teaches that he isn't.

The difference lies in the fact that one is not evil to do and the other is.

I already discussed this in my "But Bill Hasker Said So" post. I guess that's another one of my posts you didn't read.

These guys act as if we will believe things contrary to what we believe in the Bible.

They then ask why we don't "tinker" with the term "author" so that we don't have a problem. Okay, we could do that, and then it would *mean* the same thing. This guys confuse sense and referent. Words with meaning.

This is Mickey Mouse stuff, Victor.

You "like these guys?"

Why not invest in some scholarly commentaries rather than getting your anti-Calvinist arguments from kids on the WWW?

Victor Reppert said...

I didn't think that the authors were using this as an argument against Calvinism. What I thought they were up to was providing a way around the "author of sin" issue by having the Calvinist say that God is the originating cause of sin but not the proximate cause of sin, and that nevertheless people are responsible for their actions and God is justified in virtue of having access to reasons we don't have access to.

Is the expression "author if sin" biblical? I didn't run across it in the text of James 1, where I expected maybe I might. I am somewhat curious as to how the question came to be put in that way.

To me, intentionally setting in motion a causal chain that guarantees the occurrence of a sin is to be the responsible for that sin. But that is because of my incompatibilism.

Error said...


You didn't think it was meant to be an argument against the Calvinist? You're kidding, right?

I must be dumb, but from where I'm sitting when someone treats an opposing position as one who "belligerently draws lines in the sand" he's not trying to "be their friend" or "just make them be honest." C'mon, Victor. You should know better.

The author of sin charge is usually meant to implicate God as the *doer* of evil. As *himself* committing an evil act.

Steve discussed these here:

and here

"To me, intentionally setting in motion a causal chain that guarantees the occurrence of a sin is to be the responsible for that sin. But that is because of my incompatibilism."

But of course the FWD claims that God set in motion the causal chain (creation) that *guaranteed* the occurrence of sin.

The FWD claims that it would be *impossible* to create a world where man was free and never did an evil act.

Furthermore, even if we deny the FWD, God's foreknowledge was such that he knew that sin would happen, yet he created and thus set up the "causal chain."

Lastly, reformed do not deny that God bears *responsibility*, we just claim that he is never morally *blameworthy* for what he does.

So, just as I am responsible for allowing the doctors to stitch up my son without pain meds (say there was no time, he was bleeding profusely), I did it for a good reason.

So, yes, God is responsible for all that occurs. And his intentions are good (cf. Gen. 50:15-21), his actions are always just and right (cf. Gen. 18:25), and his purposes are always good (cf. Rom. 8:28).

So, Victor, even on "incompatibilist" assumptions there is no *ethical* problem with what God has done.

And, even granting your indeterminism, my position is fully able to answer any charges of evil. And, lastly, God is not "free" to stop loving the son, yet that love is "genuine" and "sincere" yet flows *necessarily* from his nature, i.e., he *is* love. So he doesn't need indeterminism or alternative possibilities for any freedom or love worth having.

Victor, all you're doing now is bringing up *the same old objections that have been answered,* You're not *advancing* the discussion.

If you’re not going to *advance* the discussion, may I ask, why are you continuing on with it? How many times can a guy repeat the points he made in his original post??

Victor Reppert said...

In at least the middle knowledge case which generates the context of the FWD as it was originally advocated, God's choice to create was conditioned by the sorts of possibile creatures that they were, the idea was that it was at least possible that they sin in all possible worlds, and so God did not have the option of creating them as non-sinners. Hence the action that brings about sin is conditioned. God does not act with the intent to produce the sin in that czse. In a Calvinist picture it looks as if God intends to produce the sin with the intent of having his Son pay for it or punishing, thus in either case glorifying himself before the elect and bringing good out of it. That's a different picture.

I am just trying to figure out what is so bad about admitting that God is the author of sin.

Error said...


What is "so bad" about it is if it is used in the sense that God *sins*. Obviously, God can't sin.

On our view, God's "intent* is a *good* one, as I pointed out. So, if we're arguing "intent," then I fail to see your argument.

I also don;t see how you have escaped my reversal given *your* strictures. God *fore*knew that evil would occur. By creating, he guaranteed it.

Also, I have argued previously that God *decreed* and *predestined* Jesus death. Since that death was a *murder*, then God "decreed" murder. This is made clear in Acts 2 and 4. So, you need *more* than *just* the claim that "God decreed an evil act."

In fact, most people take the verse that speaks of God's decreeing the time of every man's death in the way it reads. Since some men die by murder, God "decrees" all sorts of murder.

Murder is evil.

God decrees evil, therefore.

Anonymous said...

As a Calvinist, I'm not worried about the author of sin question either. It's only a problem if there is a good argument from the claim that God is the Author of sin to the claim that God is a sinner.

Victor Reppert said...

If Calvinism is false then it is at least possible that there is a possible world with the same people in it in which no one sins. The World of Mr. Rogers is at least possibly impossible. What you have to say is that God chose this world over the WMR and that, unless you are a pure voluntarist, there was a good reason for doing so. I don't think you can get to a symmetry here. At the same time, this is not an attempted refutation of Calvinism, just an attempt to make the issue a little clearer.

IlĂ­on said...

NormaJean: "Ya know, Calvinism could be ok, really, if by calvinism we mean what Alvin Plantinga means by Calvinism."

I don't know what exactly "Alvin Plantinga means by Calvinism," but I suspect it would be something a bit different than is meant by the Calvinists "arguing" with Mr Reppert.

Error said...


I responded to the Mr. Rogers post.

So, unless you can *advance* the dicussion, repeating points that have been responded to is to either show signs of dementia, or that you're not reading what your opponents write.

Anonymous said...

Did God plan for sin to happen. Of course. Do you say he has no plan and is an idiot-Arminians wish this to be true. Or it happens against his plan and he is an Arminian toady. No end to the arrogance of the fallen mind to refuse to accept the Sovereignty of Jehovah. Time will come when God will impose it on them.

Anonymous said...

"No end to the arrogance of the fallen mind to refuse to accept the Sovereignty of Jehovah. Time will come when God will impose it on them."

But of course, God is predestining the Arminians' arrogance for His "glory," apparently. So you should praise God for our arrogance.

Moreover, you should also praise God for every rape, genocide, murder, and child molestation as well, because apparently, if Calvinism is true, God needed all of these things to be maximally "glorified" - otherwise He would not have causally determined them.

Sin does not glorify God, nevermind causally determining sin (and thus preferring that it occur, since this makes it necessary). Redemption from sin that we cause does.