Friday, May 28, 2010

Does the Arminian Argument from Authoring Evil Backfire?

Here's one reason to think so.

Arminians seem to (I say "seem" because this whole business of "author" is terribly confusing, it's not even clear that they know what they're claiming; not only that, they use stipulative definitions of the term, and also change their definition of the term mid-debate, all of this is very confusing) claim that authoring some X means determining that X, originating that X, being the ultimate source of that X, and removing any responsibility an agent who did what was authored has, i.e., the act is not his own. Here's some quotes from arminian epologists:

The term ‘author‘ as employed by Arminians/Synergists in this case, is used in an originative sense to describe where the evil ultimately arose from. If we can identify, “whose idea was this?“, then we’ve found the author.

It always ends up being unconditionally due to God’s decree. Clearly, all the rhetoric about sin proceeding from man’s evil motives is simply an evasion of the real issue, since to the high Calvinist, even the evil motives themselves don’t come from man’s abuse of his independent will, but irresistibly arise from God’s decree

http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/fallacies-of-calvinist-apologetics-fallacy-8-calvinism-doesnt-charge-god-with-the-authorship-of-sin/

And

"So, by alleging that Calvinism makes God the "author of sin," I am insisting that Calvinism teaches that God "puts the initial conditions in place" for every event, so that whatsoever comes to pass does so because of God's foreordaination, decree, will and pleasure. Absolutely nothing comes to pass that was not at God's initiation. And due to this, God is the author of sin."

[When it comes to "author of sin"] "Grudem naturally assumes that people understand what he is trying to convey by using terms such as God "causing" everything that comes about in the world, or "causing" the evil actions that people do, or that God might be "responsible" for sin, etc."

"Still, it is insisted, God is not the author of sin. He is not responsible for bringing about all of the things which He brings about. He is not culpable for influencing the desires and decisions of people. God is not the author of sin. Why? Because Calvinists say so."

"How any reader cannot clearly understand how Calvinism makes God the author of sin is beyond good reason. In Calvinism, God is the Ultimate Cause behind every action, since every action was specifically suited and foreordained for each individual in just the way that God pleased by His decree."

http://classicalarminianism.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-calvinism-determinism-makes-god.html

I've also been told (by Bossmanham, for example), that if God authors an evil intention, it is his intention, he had an evil intention.

So it seems somewhat clear that if God authors your sin that means he determined it, controlled everything, ordained it, decreed it, originated it, was the cause behind it, was his idea or plan that the agent would do it, set the intitial conditions in place, etc.

But what happens to Arminianism when we look at, say:

1 Corinthians 14:33
For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

Hebrews 5:9
And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

Hebrews 12:2
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.


It would seem, then, that if Arminians are going to remain consistent, they need to become Calvinists! The faith they profess (that which God supposedly foresaw and then based his decision to elect on) is actually caused by God, originated in God, is God's faith, decreed by God, God planned that they would have it, God masterminded the whole thing (that they would have it), it was God's idea that they would have faith, God set up the initial conditions, etc.

We can do the same with peace and salvation. If "author" means what Arminians say it means, then they should become Calvinists. They should deny that God foresaw their faith apart from his decree, plan, origination. God masterminded their salvation, planned their salvation, caused their salvation, and set the initial conditions in place for their salvation to follow as a consequent.

If they are peaceful, they should deny that they are peaceful. They are not responsible for their peaceful disposition. If an Arminian is peaceful, he is a robot.

I suppose that the Arminian can claim that it is consistent with God's authoring their faith, peace, salvation, etc., that man has responsibility, that man originated the act in the morally relevant sense (e.g., it is really their faith, they are responsible for having faith, for "reaching out with a weak hand and accepting God's gift," etc). It is consistent that God didn't cause it, mastermind it, or have the faith in himself. That man can originate the foreseen faith in the relevant sense (to save their view of election). But if so, then they must admit the same for Calvinism. If authoring per se is consistent with this, then Arminians need another argument than the mere chanting of the mantra that Calvinism makes God the author of sin. But if they had that, they wouldn't need the author of sin argument. It would be superfluous.

I guess they can also say that authorship doesn't mean what they've been claiming, then they'd lose "the definition" of authorship and with it their argument against Calvinism. They'd need to go back to the drawing board.

Anyway, I guess I just don't get their argument, try as I might.

9 comments:

  1. It's interesting to note that "he determined it, controlled everything, ordained it, decreed it, originated it, was the cause behind it, was his idea or plan that the agent would do it, set the intitial conditions in place, etc." are not all synonymous, and not even all necessarily entail determinism. Arminian/Molinist views are consistent with God's being "the author" in many of the above senses (e.g., 'setting the initial conditions in place', 'was his idea or plan that the agent would do it', etc.).

    The Arminian *really* needs to be specific about what he means by "author", or else his argument is a failure from the beginning.

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  2. Does the Arminian Argument from Authoring Evil Backfire?

    YES.

    Arminians are aiming their pistol at Calvinists, yet unaware that the nose of their pistol is curled around and pointing back at their Arminian face. And so when they shoot their gun, they end up shooting themselves in the face.

    It's rather a stupid thing to do.

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  3. Could JOHN CALVIN be in hell?

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  4. Paul Manata: "I guess they can also say that authorship doesn't mean what they've been claiming, then they'd lose "the definition" of authorship and with it their argument against Calvinism. They'd need to go back to the drawing board."

    The drawing board is what you said earlier:

    "It would seem, then, that if Arminians are going to remain consistent, they need to become Calvinists!"

    Heh!

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  5. Could WINSTON SMITH ask relevant questions?

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  6. "So it seems somewhat clear that if God authors your sin that means he determined it, controlled everything, ordained it, decreed it, originated it, was the cause behind it, was his idea or plan that the agent would do it, set the intitial conditions in place, etc."

    Well, I don't think that is the position that Arminians hold. I think that the basic idea is that IF God determined it, controlled everything, ordained it, decreed it, originated it, or was the cause behind it, then He definitely was the Author. It does not follow that an Author must be all those things.

    For example, I could say that if it's a parakeet, it's a bird. It does not follow that if it's a bird, it's a parakeet.

    To say it plainly: God could author something, and invent it, and bring it into existence without ordaining, causally determining each specific instance of it. But God could not invent something, bring it into existence, ordain it, and causally determine each specific instance of it without Authoring it.

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  7. "To say it plainly: God could author something, and invent it, and bring it into existence without ordaining, causally determining each specific instance of it. But God could not invent something, bring it into existence, ordain it, and causally determine each specific instance of it without Authoring it."

    If you allow that someone can author X without causally determining it, etc., then you leave Arminianism open to the author of evil argument. Their whole point is that the author of evil *cannot* apply to Arminianism because Arminianism isn't deterministic.

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  8. Dear Triablogue,

    I'm a first timer. Thank you guys for heady and rich five-point truthiness. I just had a mental exercise/question for you related to this topic. How does the Arminian philosophically and exegetically explain Job 1:1-2:12?

    I mean, you could appeal that God allows (not ordains/permits) Satan to harm Job based on their dialogues(1:6-12,2:1-6).

    However, that doesn't seem to do justice to the text. Job specifically attributes God as the ultimate cause of these disasters (1:21,2:10). The language doesn't allow for a language of allowance. Words like gave, took away, and received are words describing God as the main actor not Satan. Finally, you can't appeal to Job mis-speaking because he "did not sin with his lips or charge God with wrong" (1:22, the first part appears in 2:10). So, how would an Arminian argue for God not being the ultimate cause?

    Second, if created beings like angels and humans have libertarian wills, why did Satan completely obey? If you look at the text, Satan did no more than what God told him to do. If Satan is the fallen Satan we know in the NT, why did he listen? One could argue that he wanted to win within the rules. However, that seems fleeting because of all things Satan should know that he can't win in a game where the rules are stacked. So why not cheat and win?

    Those are my questions; I would love it if you gave some feed back of what an Arminian might say, mostly because I can't see any decent objections found within this text. Unlike you, I don't deal with many Arminians who actually know what they believe. If you guys are too busy, oh well. Thanks for your work.

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  9. Massive debate between Calvinism and Arminianism that took place between (mainly) Victor Reppert, Steve Hays, Paul Manata, and Dominic Bnonn Tennant. http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/06/calvinism-vs-arminianism.html

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