Saturday, August 22, 2009

Birch vinegar


“But that does not make God the author of sin, for God did not force or coerce Adam to sin.”

1.In your original post, this is how you defined “authorship”: “I was under the impression that any amateur scholar would understand the phrase ‘author of sin,’ historical or otherwise; but alas, I was wrong. The word author denotes originality. Thus for someone accused of being the author of something, it connotes that he or she is the originator of that thing.”

Observe that you were very emphatic about this definition. It’s something that “any amateur scholar” would understand.

I also notice that you used the Oxford English Dictionary to define “responsibility” and “culpability.”

So how does the OED define “originate”? My copy gives these definitions:

Trans. To give origin to, give rise to, cause to arise or begin, initiate, bring into existence.

Intr. To take its origin or rise; to arise, come into existence, having its beginning, commence; to spring, be derive.

To “force” or “coerce” is not a proper definition of “originate.”

Rather, that’s a made-up definition of your own coinage. Moreover, it’s a made-up definition which you interpolate after the fact in response to my post.

So you are now backpedaling. What is more, you're also inventing tendentious definitions to salvage your original claim. That’s not a scholarly procedure–especially for someone with your academic ambitions.

2.Notice that in the definition of “originate” supplied by the OED, there’s a distinction between the initial conditions and subsequent developments. To “originate” involves mediate rather than immediate causation. The agent creates the initial conditions. To be the “author” of the outcome, the agent doesn’t have to directly cause the outcome. It’s sufficient that he put the initial conditions in place.

So if we define “authorship” in terms of “originator,” then creating Adam, Eve, and Lucifer, as well as the process of procreation, amounts to “authoring” the end-result.

I’m answering you on your own terms. When I do, you response with bluster–like a cat trying to stare down a dog.

3.In addition, there is nothing in predestination which “forces” or “coerces” the human agent. It’s quite maladroit of you to level that accusation. That’s not an honest attempt to accurately describe the Reformed position. The WCF goes out of its way to define freedom as the absence of coercion.

You’re indulging in a hack caricature of Reformed theology.

You never miss a chance to corroborate my charge that you lack the temperament to be a church historian. You’re just a partisan advocate sailing under the false colors of a church historian.


“I see, so because God is the author of Adam in Creation, he is also the author, originator, instigator of his sin?”

I’m not stating my own position. To me, framing the issue in terms of a extrabiblical metaphor (“author of sin”) is not a serious way to analyze the issue in the first place. I’m just answering you on your own terms.

“The issue of God being Adam's ‘author’ is not being contested here. Has then been taxing for you to follow?”

You’re the one who refuses to follow your own argument.

i) You defined “authorship” in terms of “origination.”

ii) You said that Calvinism, makes God the author of sin while Arminianism avoids that consequence.

iii) I, based on standard usage (from the OED), showed that Arminianism makes God the author (i.e. originator) of sin.

iv) You responded with a made-up definition of “origination.”

v) If you use “to originate” as a synonym for “to author,” and if “to originate” is defined by standard usage, then it follows that by originating Adam, God is the originator of Adam’s sin.

vi) Finally, my argument was never limited to the meaning of words. I can beat you on those grounds. Indeed, I’ve done so.

But, additionally, I also showed that if God creates a world with a foreseen consequence (a la Arminianism), then Adam (Lucifer, Hitler, &c.) cannot do otherwise in that world. The outcome is inevitable as a result of divine foreknowledge as well as divine creation. And it’s an outcome which God intended.

All this follows from Arminian assumptions. You need to explain how, given that set of facts, you can still inculpate the God of Reformed theism while you exculpate the God of Arminian theism.

“The issue is whether or not God strictly foreordained sin by decree or by foreknowledge. What say you?”

You yourself did not restrict yourself to that issue alone. Rather, you’re trying to argue that Reformed theism is morally repugnant.


“Once again (I'll start at the beginning): to say that God is the ‘author’ of Adam, Eve, and Lucifer is not to suggest that God caused either of them to sin. For God to be the ‘author’ of sin is to suggest that God caused them to sin.”

Which is not what “originate” means. To “cause” is not synonymous with “to cause to arise” or “initiate.” To merely “cause” something could either denote mediate or immediate causation, but to “cause to arise” or “initiate” is a case of mediate causation.

On that definition, if you use “to originate” as a synonym for “to author,” then God is the author of sin by causing sin to arise or initiating the conditions which inevitably yield that sinful result.

“To equate God as ‘author’ of Adam et al. as Creator with God as ‘author’ of their sin is a fallacy.”

If that’s a fallacy, then it’s a fallacy on your grounds, not ours. Feel free to withdraw your fallacious allegation against Calvinism at any time.

“Using Hays' OED definition…Is that what you're suggesting? Did God bring sin into existence? This is what I'm asking when I ask, Is God the author of sin?”

I used the OED definition because you defined authorship in terms of origination, so I turned to a standard definition of origination.

Paul and I aren’t suggesting anything with respect to Calvinism. We’re simply responding to you within your chosen framework.

As far as I’m concerned, casting the issue in terms of “authorship” is not a smart way to frame the issue. You’re getting carried away with an extrabiblical metaphor. That’s up to you. But I don’t have to share your fixation with an extrabiblical metaphor. Debating an extrabiblical metaphor is not one of my priorities. That’s of no exegetical or philosophical relevance to the issue at hand.


"For one to admit that because God created human beings (even foreknowing that they would sin) makes him the "author" of sin is just stupid."

Calling something "just stupid" is not a counterargument. If, according to Arminian theology, God instantiates a sinful outcome, then how does escape escape the charge of authoring sin?

God foresaw that outcome, God brought that foreseen outcome to pass by setting into motion a chain-reaction which inevitably led to that outcome, and God also intended that outcome (since he was free to prevent it). So how do you avoid the conclusion that God is the author of sin?


“So far, so good. God ‘brought that foreseen outcome to pass.’ Not good. That is not at all what Arminianism declares. The action belongs to man, not to God ‘bringing it to pass’."

God brought it to pass by making a world in which it occurs. Even on Arminianism, man’s action depends on God’s prior action.’

“"Intended." Interseting choice of words. This doesn't allow for ‘permittance.’ Then, ‘whatosever comes to pass’ does so by God's ‘intention.’ And yet Jesus taught us to pray for God's ‘will’ to be done on earth ‘as it is in heaven.’ But I digress…By ‘allowing’ or ‘permitting’ a thing to come to pass does not mean it was his desire, something that he wanted to come to pass. Clearly, he doesn't desire for us to sin, and yet we do. Thus he ‘permits’ us to freely sin.”

i) You’re substituting “desire” for “intent.”

ii) It’s not as if God merely allows evil to occur, as though evil would occur all by itself, absent divine participation–and it’s up to God whether or not to intervene.

Rather, God knowingly created a world in which evil takes place. Since all that was preventable, God intended the outcome.

Do you think God did not intend that outcome? It just happened all by itself apart from prior divine action and consent?

“Because God does not proactively cause sin.”

You act as if that’s morally significant. But if an agent sets into motion a chain of events which result in a foreseeable outcome, then he is responsible for the outcome.

“He doesn't cause evil to come to pass "by setting into motion a chain-reaction which inevitably led to that outcome," as you have sugggested.”

By creating Adam, Eve, Lucifer, and the process of procreation, God sets into motion a chain-reaction with an inevitable outcome resulting in evil.

God knew the end-result, and he created the initial conditions which yield that outcome.

And the outcome was inevitable on two grounds:

i) Since the outcome was foreknown, the outcome was certain.

ii) God also made the outcome inevitable by creating the world in which that foreseeable consequence occurs. In that world, no other outcome is possible. He created the world in which Lucifer falls. He created the world in which Adam falls. He created the world in which sinners beget sinners. By creating that world, it’s evitable that the all those events will transpire.

The fact that you try to deny this doesn’t make your denial coherent. My description is logically entailed by Arminian assumptions.

”And still you avoid answering my question outright. I'll ask it again, for this is the sole issue here - this is how the whole discussion was born.”

You are not entitled to unilaterally dictate the terms of the debate. I realize you’d like to rig the debate so that we only discuss the issues you think are damaging to Calvinism while avoiding all discussion of the issues which are damaging to Arminianism. That’s a backdoor admission that you can’t defend your own position. You can try to attack Calvinism, but your own position is indefensible.

“Did God foreordain Adam's sin by means of his foreknowledge of Adam's free choice, or by a mere decree? ”

i) Since “foreordination” is synonymous with the “decree,” your question is tautologous.

ii) If libertarianism were true, then the outcome would be unknowable–since it could go either way. Therefore, your assumption is incoherent.

“Or do you fear that by admitting that it was by God's mere decree (and thus not by foreknowledge), you are forced to agree with Sproul Jr. and recant your short post on his view?”

i) To draw that conclusion, you need to present a set of specific counterarguments in response to my critique of R. C. Jr.

ii) As a libertarian, you’re in no position to say I’d be “forced” to do anything. That would violate my freedom of choice.

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