But it is equally clear … Despite this denial in a major Reformed confession, Arminians regularly charge that Reformed theology makes God the author of sin. The confession affirms both because the Bible teaches both, but it does not attempt to reconcile them completely, only to declare what the Bible declares without diminishing one truth in favor of another. 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). The Westminster Assembly requested the English civil Parliament to suppress this blasphemous book. 1 So the [Westminster Confession] says that God “neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin” (5:4). He is not the author of evil and does no malevolence, for this would be contrary to His holy nature. 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). THE WESTMINSTER STANDARDS ON SIN. …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 … The twin truths that God decrees sin but is not the author of sin must be held together in tension. 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. What is predestination? 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. Consequently, John Calvin concludes that if God wills and desires a sinful action, He must have a good and holy intention for it. ... God is not the author of sin nor does He offer violence to the will of His creatures. . Start studying Westminster Confession of Faith. Nevertheless, the authors of this confession denied such a claim. The Westminster divines were careful, however, to fence off the doctrine of God’s eternal decree from any kind of fatalism. We’ve found that John Frame provides some significant help on how to talk about God’s sovereignty over sin. Instead, they repeatedly contradict themselves. God cannot be the author of sin because he is entirely holy and righteous. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor by … Both cannot be true. A: Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. . 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]. Of the Holy Scripture; Of God, and of the Holy Trinity ... 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. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor by … 3. God is not, in fact, really like the little boy staring through the candy shop window. Of Free Will. They assume that if God brings about evil in any sense, he must therefore approve it and deserve the blame. God has used His almighty power, wisdom, and goodness to bind His creatures to act in a sinful way. Not at all. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. 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. e.g. In their view, nothing less than libertarian freedom will serve to absolve God from the charge of authoring sin. How can we be expected to accept this? What other conclusion could be reasonably drawn? What other conclusion could be reasonably drawn? The headings are added; the paragraphs are Dr. Frame’s. 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. It is an integral supporting document in the explanation of their doctrines. So theologians need to give some careful thought about which of these terms, if any, should be affirmed, and in what sense. [I]t seems that if God causes sin and evil, he must be to blame for it. 5. 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. If that argument is sound, then a Reformed doctrine of the sovereignty of God does not imply that God is the author of sin. But I am not conflating the two (nor does the Westminster Confession of Faith). So in bringing sin to pass he does not himself commit sin. . The Westminster Confession of Faith in Modern English1 Prepared by Dr. James A. Hughes Contents ... the result that neither is God the author of sin nor is the will of the creatures violated, nor is the liberty or contingency of the creatures taken away, but rather established. Is God the Author of Sin? This makes us by nature children of wrath. Now theologians have found it difficult to formulate in general terms how God acts to bring about those sinful actions. He cannot sin, … I. He orders and governs their actions. 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. The term authors is almost universally condemned in the theological literature. The plight of all humanity is that we are lovers of sin and sons of disobedience. 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. 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. Is God disapproving of His own wisdom, will, and governing?” Sadly, we are again not given an answer. The first question which springs immediately to mind is, “How is God’s binding His creation to sin a good thing?” Unfortunately, the writers of The Westminster Confession of Faith offer no explanation to this question. To support this claim, they rely upon the argument of second causes. The following is from The Doctrine of God, Chapter 9, “The Problem of Evil,” by John Frame. Therefore, there has been much discussion among theologians as to what verb should best describes God’s agency in regard to evil. 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. This is part 1 of a 4-part series on how to talk about God's sovereignty over 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? . . WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH ... but wholly on God (who is truth itself), the author of it. To deny this, or to charge God with wickedness on account of it, is not open to a Bible-believing Christian. *[3] It was man, not God, who actually performed the action, so God’s hands are clean. I. Your email address will not be published. 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. There are various advantages and disadvantages among the different terms. CHAPTER 3. Ch3 of the W.C.of F. says "neither is God the author of sin". God, as the primary and efficient cause of all things, is not only the Author of those actions done by His elect as actions, but also as they are good actions, whereas, on the other hand, though He may be said to be the Author of all the actions done by the wicked, yet He is not the Author of them in a moral and compound sense as they are sinful; but physically, simply and sensu diviso [1] as … . 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. The We stminster Confession of Faith Chapter I Of the Holy Scripture I. James 4:17.Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. Let us consider some of those that are most frequently discussed. If you get some help here, we’d highly recommend purchasing The Doctrine of God. The Westminster Confession of Faith provides us with a beautiful example of the contradiction inherent in the theology and writings of Calvinists. 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). decree with respect to everlasting state of men and angels God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced nor by … Nevertheless, we are told that God is not the author of those actions. The Westminster Confession of Faith appears to explicitly state that God is the author of sin. I. God is holy, so God cannot be responsible for creating and causing sin. The excerpts below (and in the next 3 parts of this series) are not available elsewhere on the web. ↩, David Mathis is executive editor for desiringGod.org and pastor at. Thus, every sinful act was predetermined from eternity past and is in perfect agreement with what God willed and ordained. The following piece may be the least known, but most important, short document of the Westminster Assembly. Of Free Will God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor, by … Nothing about that model implies that God commits or approves of sin. None of this completely resolves the mystery, of course. “What I have maintained about the diversity of causes must not be forgotten: the proximate cause is one thing, the remote cause another.” (Calvin. . . Then, with another breath, they say that God is holy, righteous, and is not responsible for sin. All of our resources exist to guide you toward everlasting joy in Jesus Christ. Do we want to say that God is the “cause” of evil? Nevertheless, the authors of this confession denied such a claim. 1. 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. And as we saw [in chapter 4] God does bring about sinful human actions. 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. . 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. Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines. I. Most people in the world have no experience of lasting joy in their lives. In his last three sermons, John Piper has made some provocative statements about God’s sovereignty over sin. In a situation like this, none of the possibilities is fully adequate. Westminster theology is a doctrine of hope and confidence. How can this be? 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. "Of God's Eternal Decree". The Westminster Confession of Faith makes bold statements about God’s ordaining all things after the counsel of His own will from eternity past, binding His creatures to that will, and ordering or governing His creatures to accomplish His will. 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? Covenant theology, Christ's mediation and … Dr. Frame and P&R Publishing have graciously given us permission to quote his Doctrine of God at length. We’re on a mission to change that. God is holy, so everything God wills and desires must be holy. 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. However, even if this argument is accepted as true, it still fails to explain how God is not the author of the action. Nonetheless, Calvinists miss this connection. A Biblical Look at the Argument of Second Causes. God does bring sins about, but always for his own good purposes. 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. The inherent contradiction in this statement is apparent. Q: What is sin? That language is certainly problematic, since we usually associate cause with blame. Somehow, we must confess both that God has a role in bringing evil about, and that in doing so he is holy and blameless. . 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. One can make something which is entirely different from oneself. . They are logically inconsistent. The Westminster Confession of Faith is still used as an expression of sound biblical doctrine. The Westminster Confession. The Bible instructs believers to examine themselves, but does it tell us to what extent or how often we should question our salvation? if someone makes a cake they do not become a cake themselves. 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. I. God foreknows and foreordains everything, including evil; nevertheless, he is not the author of sin. I agree with you that Calvinists contradict themselves and are inconsistent with their own theology. Of Free Will. “Let no one say when he is tempted,” writes James, “‘I am being tempted by God,’ . 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. Chapter III. 1 1 John 3:4.Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 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. Chapter III of the Westminster Confession. In fact I shall argue later that it provides us a reason to deny that. However, we are also told that God is not the author or approver of sin. The Westminster Confession refuses to give ground on either of these truths because both are taught in Holy Scripture. It’s not enough to render the soul immortal as they have. [3] 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". Yes, man is responsible for his wicked actions; and no, God is not the author of sin. Of God's Eternal Decree. Despite this denial in a major Reformed confession, Arminians regularly charge that Reformed theology makes God the author of sin. Westminster Confession of Faith. The Westminster Confession of Faith appears to explicitly state that God is the author of sin. Your email address will not be published. Words are the theologian’s tools. 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]. We are told that everything that happens—good or bad—is part of God’s will. God's sovereignty would include the means God allows for wickedness to happen in our world. because it illustrates how God can decree all things, yet be free of sin Himself 6. 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. All Rights Reserved. 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… Not only this, but God has determined every action in advance. The 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith is highly esteemed among Calvinists. Many of these are extra-scriptural terms; none of them are perfectly easy to define in this context. First, they insisted that God is holy and righteous while decreeing sin. Sin is transgression and lack of conformity to God’s law (WCF 6.6, WLC 24, WSC 14). Required fields are marked *. Of Free Will. The Westminster Confession and Catechisms speak of sin in two ways: the definition of what sin is and the sinful condition of humanity. Copyright © 2011 by Timothy Zebell. It then directly contradicts these claims by stating that God neither authors those actions, nor approves of them. 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 Westminster Confession itself explains that God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. Chapter III "Of God's Eternal Decree" God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of … But as we saw [in chapter 8] libertarian freedom is incoherent and unbiblical. Therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God. Are added ; the paragraphs are dr. Frame ’ s will bring about those sinful actions executive editor desiringGod.org. 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