I have previously mentioned that our adult Sunday school class has been studying First Samuel. This class has been skillfully lead by an OT professor (and my friend), Dr. Jason DeRouchie. The level of detail we have learned about the first part of this book and how it applies to our lives has been amazing.
But I disagree with him (our teacher) on one point. Fortunately for him, however, on this point I disagree not only with him, but apparently every other Calvinist in the world – most notably, in this case, Jonathan Edwards, of whom I have nothing bad to say.
In the lesson titled ‘Wrestling with the Two-wills of God’ and subtitled ‘God, the author of sin?’, Dr. DeRouchie’s statement is as follows:
God cannot be the author of sin, if by this we mean that he is the sinner, the positive agent or actor of sin, or a doer of a wicked thing.
I mostly agree with this – all except for three words: ‘The Positive Agent’.
But first some intro.
Before getting to the tricky part, he began the lesson wisely – showing, with Bible verses, that God is holy:
Ps 5:4 – “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.”
Ps 100:1 – “For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever and his faithfulness to all generations.”
1 John 1:5 – “God is Light, and in him there is no darkness at all.”
He then discussed the reason why we were talking about this in a lesson about 1 Sam 2 (Specifically 1 Sam 2:25, regarding Eli’s sons: “If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.”):
A Proposal––God’s Oversight of Evil that Is Done:
While God has established a world in which sin will indeed necessarily come to pass by his permission—e.g ordains that Hophni & Phinehas’ hearts will be hard, sin must not be seen as coming from God’s positive agency.
Rather, God ordains that sin be by creating a world and/or a set of situations where sin will without question occur due to the absence of his positive influence.
And then he quoted Jonathan Edwards:
“[God is] the permitter … of sin; and at the same time, a disposer of the state of events, in such a manner, for wise, holy, and most excellent ends and purposes, that sin, if it be permitted … will certainly and infallibly follow.” (Edwards, Freedom of the Will, 399).
“Sin is not the fruit of any positive agency or influence of the most High, but on the contrary, arises from the withholding of his action and energy, and under certain circumstances, necessarily follows on the want of his influence.” (Edwards, Freedom of the Will, 404)
Here is where I wonder – is this biblical? Why do they say that God is not the positive agent of Sin? Don’t they say that God causes everything else that happens (Storms, sickness, the rolling of dice, personal salvation)? Why not sin?
Tomorrow I will show the Biblical evidence that Dr. DeRouchie gave to show that God wills that sin happen. And I hope to show why I differ with him on the point mentioned above.