I see that Billy Birch has done a post attacking Calvinism. Let’s touch on few basic problems with his post.
1.He bandies the term “author of sin” without ever bothering to define his terms. Given that he has pretensions to becoming a church historian, it wouldn’t hurt him to learn how to define historical usage.
2.He also needs to explain how Calvinism makes God the “author of sin” (whatever that means), while Arminianism exempts God from that accusation.
3.Apropos (1), here’s another example of his inept historical analysis:
“But the Calvinist perspective on the doctrine of God grows darker still. Not only has God freely and unchangeably ordained whatsoever comes to pass, and is not at all responsible for what he has foreordained, but human beings somehow retain a measure of free will, stating, ‘nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures.’ What they are suggesting is that God has strictly and freely foreordained what comes to pass by his will, is not responsible for what he has foreordained, and that mankind retains free will to do that which God has foreordained. That is not freedom. And this is not antinomy, friends, this is blatant contradiction. I cannot ordain that a man fall down a flight of stairs (ordaining the cause and effect as well) and then declare him responsible for falling ~ telling him that he freely fell.”
It should be evident, even from the text he cites, that the Westminster Divines are defining freedom as the absence of coercion (“violence”). Predestination is not coercive. Hence, their definition of freedom isn’t blatantly contradictory or even apparently contradictory.
Birch also begs the question of whether responsibility is compatible with determinism. He offers no argument. Just raw assertion.
3.In addition, he uses the word “responsibility” as if that were synonymous with "culpability." But what’s inherently odious about stating that God is responsible for whatever happens?
If we say that Jane and Jerry are responsible parents, does that mean that Jane and Joe are bad parents? Is “responsibility” synonymous with “evil”?
What if we said that Jane and Jerry are irresponsible parents? Does Birch think that would be complimentary?
4.In addition, to say that God is responsible for whatever happens hardly means, without further ado, that God is solely responsible–much less culpable.
5.I’d add that the Westminster Confession is not an exercise in philosophical or polemical theology. It’s just a statement of faith. It doesn’t attempt to furnish a detailed defense of its various claims. That’s not the nature of a creed.
Is Birch so simple-minded as to think he can dispose of a complex belief-system by quoting a few phrases from a public creed?
6.Finally, he turns a blind eye to the real issue:
Either God was able, but unwilling, to prevent a world containing sinners–or else he was willing, but unable, to prevent a world containing sinners.
Which alternative does Birch affirm?