The following is from The Doctrine of God, Chapter 9, “The Problem of Evil,” by John Frame. This makes us by nature children of wrath. We are told that everything that happens—good or bad—is part of God’s will. It is an integral supporting document in the explanation of their doctrines. Of Free Will God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor, by … God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor by … ↩, David Mathis is executive editor for desiringGod.org and pastor at. Covenant theology, Christ's mediation and … The term authors is almost universally condemned in the theological literature. According to this confession, God “binds” and “orders” in His “governing” of all things including “the first fall” and “all other sins of angels and men,” but is not the “author or approver of sin” because God is “holy and righteous.” God is said here not to merely grant His creation permission to sin, but that God binds them to sin. A third question which comes to mind is, “If God’s creatures act in a way which is obedient to God’s predestination, wisdom, binding, ordering, and governing, then how can God not approve of those actions? Nothing about that model implies that God commits or approves of sin. This is part 1 of a 4-part series on how to talk about God's sovereignty over sin. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass, yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. The excerpts below (and in the next 3 parts of this series) are not available elsewhere on the web. Most people in the world have no experience of lasting joy in their lives. He orders and governs their actions. Q: What is sin? Briefly stated, the argument of second causes maintains that because God is only the primary cause of sin, while man is the secondary cause of sin, God cannot be held responsible. We’ve found that John Frame provides some significant help on how to talk about God’s sovereignty over sin. "Of God's Eternal Decree". In their view, nothing less than libertarian freedom will serve to absolve God from the charge of authoring sin. How can this be? “What I have maintained about the diversity of causes must not be forgotten: the proximate cause is one thing, the remote cause another.” (Calvin. God from all eternity did by the most and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. Secondly, a typical mind will instantly link man’s being unchangeably bound by God’s almighty power to act in a sinful way with God’s being responsible for sin. I. To support this claim, they rely upon the argument of second causes. Westminster Confession of Faith. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable;1 yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God… 5. What other conclusion could be reasonably drawn? Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines. Your email address will not be published. . God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced nor by … He is not the author of evil and does no malevolence, for this would be contrary to His holy nature. Yet he does so in such a way that he is neither the author of sin nor does he obliterate the reality of secondary causes (WCF 3.1). Instead, they repeatedly contradict themselves. If that argument is sound, then a Reformed doctrine of the sovereignty of God does not imply that God is the author of sin. It’s not enough to render the soul immortal as they have. One can make something which is entirely different from oneself. What is predestination? Despite this denial in a major Reformed confession, Arminians regularly charge that Reformed theology makes God the author of sin. The confession is very clear, as is Scripture, that God permits evil to exist for a time, but that He is never the first cause of evil (WCF 5.4). I. The Westminster divines were careful, however, to fence off the doctrine of God’s eternal decree from any kind of fatalism. Unfortunately, even though they say and write such blatant contradictions in the space of only a few sentences, most of these contradictions are ignored or missed. God's sovereignty in the case we are considering has been displayed most prominently with the fact of His choice to create creatures with free will. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. e.g. Is God the Author of Sin? With one breath they say that nothing happens outside of God’s will, that God is in control of all things, that He alone is sovereign, and that He, according to His almighty power, wisdom, and goodness, has bound or compelled man to sin. This Westminster Confession of Faith Study Workbook: Teacher’s Manual provides ... God is sovereign over all yet not the author or doer of sin? I.God from all eternity, did, by the most wise andholy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordainwhatsoever comes to pass;[1] yet so, as thereby neither isGod the author of sin,[2] nor is violence offered to the willof the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causestaken away, but rather established. The Bible instructs believers to examine themselves, but does it tell us to what extent or how often we should question our salvation? The Westminster Confession. THE WESTMINSTER STANDARDS ON SIN. The Westminster Confession of Faith is still used as an expression of sound biblical doctrine. Nevertheless, the authors of this confession denied such a claim. It then directly contradicts these claims by stating that God neither authors those actions, nor approves of them. Nonetheless, Calvinists miss this connection. Let us consider some of those that are most frequently discussed. If God had a holy motive why Jesus alone should fulfil the Law {total obedience} then God might have a holy motive to withhold from man the grace to obey His Law/command. This confession of faith clearly states that the fall of mankind, the rebellion of Lucifer and his followers, and every sin of man occurs because of God’s almighty power, wisdom, and goodness. In a situation like this, none of the possibilities is fully adequate. I. Many of these are extra-scriptural terms; none of them are perfectly easy to define in this context. . The plight of all humanity is that we are lovers of sin and sons of disobedience. But it is equally clear … There are various advantages and disadvantages among the different terms. In his last three sermons, John Piper has made some provocative statements about God’s sovereignty over sin. All Rights Reserved. He cannot sin, … . Regarding the issue of sin, how it came about, and who is responsible, The Westminster Confession of Faith says: The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as 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.[1]. The second way we might overturn the Westminster statement, is addressing the Greek word they are renderin in the Westminster Confession as “Heaven.” While it may not preclude the understanding of Westminster, Jesus actual statement is that the thief will be with him in Paradise. Sin is transgression and lack of conformity to God’s law (WCF 6.6, WLC 24, WSC 14). decree with respect to everlasting state of men and angels God is holy, so everything God wills and desires must be holy. God does bring sins about, but always for his own good purposes. God does harden hearts, and through his prophets he predicts sinful human actions long in advance, indicating that he is in control of human free decisions. The Westminster Confession refuses to give ground on either of these truths because both are taught in Holy Scripture. “Let no one say when he is tempted,” writes James, “‘I am being tempted by God,’ The confession states that the fall and all other sins were foreordained by divine providence; however, the confession also teaches that sin "proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God". Is God disapproving of His own wisdom, will, and governing?” Sadly, we are again not given an answer. Of Free Will. 1 1 John 3:4.Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. So theologians need to give some careful thought about which of these terms, if any, should be affirmed, and in what sense. We’re on a mission to change that. None of this completely resolves the mystery, of course. Words are the theologian’s tools. Consequently, John Calvin concludes that if God wills and desires a sinful action, He must have a good and holy intention for it. They are logically inconsistent. . However, we are also told that God is not the author or approver of sin. God has used His almighty power, wisdom, and goodness to bind His creatures to act in a sinful way. God is holy, so God cannot be responsible for creating and causing sin. A book was circulated in London arguing that God is the Author even of Sin, this being purportedly for the benefit of saints taking comfort in this in their trials. WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH ... but wholly on God (who is truth itself), the author of it. For further clarification of this issue, let us examine another portion of The Westminster Confession of Faith, “God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”[2]. They state that because the sinful act was not actually performed by God Himself, but only by the creature, God is not responsible for the sin. Lest there be confusion over language: the “author/story” model of God’s relation to creatures, which I [will advocate later], does not make God the “author of sin” in this sense. …the Westminster Confession on secondary causes and the author of sin: “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather … . Dr. Frame and P&R Publishing have graciously given us permission to quote his Doctrine of God at length. Desiring God has received a batch of emails in response—some more heated than others!—questioning (or outright disagreeing with) God’s sovereignty over sin. Required fields are marked *. Chapter III of the Westminster Confession. To deny this, or to charge God with wickedness on account of it, is not open to a Bible-believing Christian. The headings are added; the paragraphs are Dr. Frame’s. . It is rarely defined, but it seems to mean both that God is the efficient cause of evil and that by causing evil he actually does something wrong.1 So the [Westminster Confession] says that God “neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin” (5:4). Thus, every sinful act was predetermined from eternity past and is in perfect agreement with what God willed and ordained. That man is responsible for his wicked actions is made so plain from the beginning of the Bible to the end that it is quite useless to cite individual proof texts. But as we saw [in chapter 8] libertarian freedom is incoherent and unbiblical. In fact I shall argue later that it provides us a reason to deny that. The Westminster Confession of Faith appears to explicitly state that God is the author of sin. [3] Some initial possibilities: authors, brings about, causes, controls, creates, decrees, foreordains, incites, includes within his plan, makes happen, ordains, permits, plans, predestines, predetermines, produces, stands behind, wills. Therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God. Of Free Will. Westminster Confession (A.D. 1647) by Matt Slick | Nov 25, 2008 ... yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. Now theologians have found it difficult to formulate in general terms how God acts to bring about those sinful actions. Therefore, there has been much discussion among theologians as to what verb should best describes God’s agency in regard to evil. Some significant help on how to talk about God 's sovereignty would include the means God allows for wickedness happen. 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