Does God ordain sin to occur? Or does He only "allow" sin to occur?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by biblelighthouse, Apr 12, 2005.

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  1. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    Does God ordain sin to occur? Or does He only \"allow\" sin to occur?

    Of course, we already know what the WCF says:
    "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."

    And I agree. God ordains everything, and yet He Himself does not sin. But I want to get just a little bit more detailed that this. Some people suggest that if God actively ordains sin to occur, then He would be committing sin (I disagree). On the other hand, some say that God just "allows" sin, to "get Him off the hook" for the existence of evil. But I disagree with this route too, because the word "allow" implies the existence of some outside influence that God Himself did not cause or ordain.

    I am working on an article to address this question. It is still very much a "work in progress". Please take a look and help me think of some good Biblical examples to bolster my case. (Or alternatively, if you disagree with my article, then let me know why.)

    Here is the article:

    Thanks a million!

    In Christ,
    Joseph M. Gleason

    [Edited on 4-12-2005 by biblelighthouse]
  2. Anton Bruckner

    Anton Bruckner Puritan Board Professor

    I think the question of Ordaining versus Permitting is dependent on if we believe God owes mankind something or not.

    The Ordaining people which I am a part of assumes that God owes mankind nothing, hence He can harden Pharoah and get him to do specific wicked acts by which God will glorify Himself by conquering. It is because God owes mankind nothing, that He could sent Lying Spirits in the mouths of prophets to deceive Ahab, likewise He can also send strong delusions that they may believe a lie. He can likewise speak in parables to shield the truth from then, least they be converted and their sins forgiven.

    Permitting believes that God owes mankind something. This something that is owed, is to behave like a man and constrain oneself to the laws and ethics of which man are subjected to. Because mankind is not allowed to sin and is judged because of sin, many assume that God ordaining sin for His own purposes is like man sinning. So they take away the ordaining, and say that God permits sin, which is nothing more than a passive quasi ordination being made allowable by a loop hole.

    Heck, but this thing is much more simple, if it is God's goal to manifest and to glorify Himself by exercizing His diverse attributes, of which one of these attributes is Justice, then it follows that God must make something liable for justice. Now if God makes something liable for His justice and executes His justice, how is that sin???????????????? "Endured with much patience the vessels fitted for destruction". God making something liable for such and such, and executing what that thing is liable for in no way impugns God.

    People usually believe the permitting thingie because God becomes much more scary if He is an ordainer of all events, and that all events that He ordains are ordained for the sole purpose of glorifying Himself.

    But a Scary God is a good thing for humans :D A Scary God puts them in their place and emasculates them, humbles them, and make them tremble, pricks there conscience and let them feel powerless.

    [Edited on 4-12-2005 by Slippery]
  3. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    "The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble" (Prov. 16:4 ESV).
  4. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Very good, Joseph. Theodicy, or the problem of the existence of evil in a God-created world, is one of the oldest of theological dilemmas, and a common objection to the doctrine of presdestination. God does ordain all that comes to pass and yet is without sin. Your article is sound, but there is perhaps more that you could say.

    Another example possibly worth consideration is Job 1 and 2, where the Lord's sovereignty over the devil and his actions is clearly established.

    Here is another article on this subject which may provide additional insights for you.

    It's important to affirm both God's sovereignty over all things (he created Jacob and Esau, of course) and yet human responsibility as well (Jacob and Esau were both sinners, deserving of condemnation, but God's saving grace was given to one and not the other, and this is just). Romans 9 is good passage to explore further.

    It's also important to affirm both the principles of God's revealed will in terms of God's sovereignty and human accountability, and the fact that his secret will with respect to election and reprobation is indeed secret. (Deut. 29.29)


    [Edited on 4-12-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
  5. The Lamb

    The Lamb Puritan Board Freshman

    THe hardest point of contention for myself is the active ordination of brutal henious crimes.
  6. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    This used to be really difficult for me too. But I finally realized a couple things:

    1) 100% of people deserve to spend eternity in hell for their sins. And hell is *infinitely* worse than any "heinous crime" you can think of. I would much rather be raped & tortured, rather than sent to hell forever. So when God ordains even "heinous crimes" to occur, those crimes are FAR less than what the victims actually deserve. If a victim is of the non-elect, the person will eventually be in much worse circumstances. And if the person is elect, then God will work all things together for the good of that person. The only person who ever received evil he *didn't* deserve was Jesus.

    2) The murder of Jesus was the single worst "heinous crime" to EVER occur. Rape and torture are NOTHING in comparison to Deicide. And yet we know that God ordained the death of Christ for a VERY GOOD reason! God is greatly glorified, and billions of men receive justification, all because of the sacrifice of Jesus. So, if God can ordain the *worst sin ever*, then why is it difficult to believe that He ordains all others?

    Those are just my :2cents:

    In Christ,
  7. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior


    Thank you for the links and the Scripture references!

    Like I said in my orginal post, I still consider that article very much a "work in progress". So I don't claim to be finished with it yet. I was hoping you would provide some helpful guidance for me to make it more complete, and you have done just that. Thank you!

    I don't want to turn my little article into a full-orbed treatise on theodicy, though. Countless books have already been written on the issue. And besides, a lot of the people who visit my site wouldn't want to read a 500 page article. I'm just trying to hit one particular facet of the argument, since that particular point was helpful to me.

    But you are quite right: I do need to include a reminder about man's responsibility in that article. I don't want to leave readers with the impression that "sin is ok" because God ordains it. That would certainly be a bad conclusion! I am also glad you reminded me about Deut. 29.29. That would certainly be an appropriate verse to include in the article.

    Thank you for the help!

    Specifically on the topic of the article itself, can you think of any more really good examples of God explicitly ordaining sin? That's the one particular point I'm trying to drive home in my article, and I want to include every Scripture I can think of that *clearly* presents this truth.

    Thank you,
    Joseph M. Gleason
  8. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    You're welcome, Joseph. There is another article here that contains some additional Scriptures you may wish to consider.

    Also, your point that the death of Christ Himself on the cross, the greatest criminal act in history, was ordained by God the Father explicitly, according to the Scriptures, is a great point, In my humble opinion.

    Thanks for your good labors.
  9. The Lamb

    The Lamb Puritan Board Freshman

    Well I will give you change back then Joseph. The Death of Christ was not deicide in the eyes of those who wanted His blood.

    It is difficult because "All things work together...etc etc"

    There is absolutely nothing good that comes out of certain circumstances.

    I do not believe it is as easy as you are making it.

    The fact remains that the rape and killing of an innocent child is a difficult situation to say, God ordained it.

    When I was grieving the death of a child of a friend of mine, a sophomoric theologian gave us the same answer you just gave. I lost my cool and knocked him out. Needless to say he never used that answer again.

    My actions were wrong, But I worship a a compassionate God who does ordain, Who is Sovereign, since we do not know who is elect or not, your answer can experimentially make no sense to the grieving party.

    If every victim used your understanding they would believe that they are reprobate.

    And God avenges those who commit these crimes. GOd avenges those who rob the poor, grind the afflicted.

    In His Grace

  10. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Are their eyes the ones that can see the truth for what it is?

    Indeed it is difficult at times - as Derek Webb put it, "The truth is never sexy." It is true that there are certain circumstances that we cannot see the good in or out of, but to say that there is even one of them that actually has no good in or out of it - in fact, to say that there is even one that does not have the supreme, best possible good come out of it - is directly contrary to Scripture and makes parts of God's plan out to be mini-failures. Again, it is not necessarily easy, but it is plainly laid out nonetheless.

    Well, frankly, God used that answer with Job, Paul and indeed His Son, who all suffered more emotionally and physically than any of us have. What if Abraham would have chosen to remain unsatisfied with the fact that it was God's will and was working for the best as an answer to his grief over Isaac's expected death by his own hand? What if he had said that answer was not good enough?

    He is indeed a compassionate God, but that is only one of His attributes. And people that are regenerate and converted know themselves that they are, and so God's complete sovereignty over all things and promise to work them for the greatest possible good of His people should make total sense to anyone who actually is elect and converted - and to those who are unregenerate, of course it will make no sense to them, "for the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing" (1 Cor. 1:18), and since they are perishing they do not believe in God's providence anyway, and He also does not even promise to work all things together for their good, as in Phaoroah's case.

    That is not so, for affliction to the regenerate Christian is not something that makes them doubt their salvation, but rather something that is to strengthen their sole dependence upon God and faith in His wisdom and mercy, faith that is greater than their own temporal perception of the circumstances at hand.

    Indeed, but that does not change the fact that He has ordained all, for "Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it" (Amos 3:6)?
  11. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    I'm not the one who makes it that easy. God is. In Romans 8:28, God says that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

    You said that some things result in no good whatsoever. But God's Word says otherwise.

    I worship a compassionate God too. And it just so happens that my wife and I lost a child 3 years ago. So believe me, I am acquainted with grief. And yet God's promise remains in Romans 8:28 that He even works my son's death for my good.

    I have been a victim to bad things, and yet I know I am not reprobate. So your theory is incorrect. There are many of us who believe what the Bible says about God's Sovereignty. And we also believe what the Bible says about our assurance of salvation in Christ.

    You are correct that God avenges evildoers. But the fact still remains that God ordains what they do in the first place. Go read the book of Habakkuk. God *raised up* a wicked army for the specific *purpose* of sending destruction upon Israel. But once that army was done, God *punished* them for their evil actions! God's ordination of an evil event does not take away His right to bring justice upon the evildoers. God is sovereign, AND man is responsible. Both are true.

    In Christ,
    Joseph M. Gleason
  12. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    Read Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God by John Calvin. It is the best work on this subject, hands down. That book helped my understanding of predestination and God's sovereignty by a great deal.
  13. The Lamb

    The Lamb Puritan Board Freshman

    I responded without thinking too clearly.

    One point I will stand fast upon is the answer you gave has to be tempered with compassion Joseph.

    And Chris.

    I know what the Bible says, and I know some parts are not sexy. But certain events that you propose are not as clear as you make them.

    Next time you encounter a brother or sister in grief. Just go up to them and blurt out. "Well God ordained it"

    You are treading on the line of Him being the Author of Sin. Be careful
  14. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    I've been to that Church before. I'm pretty good friends with the Preaching elder there. :up:
  15. Bladestunner316

    Bladestunner316 Puritan Board Doctor

    Even if God 'created' sin he also created 'good' and God the Father is much more than good and evil he is the God Almighty creator of heaven and earth. I have no room to complain.

  16. The Lamb

    The Lamb Puritan Board Freshman

    The issue is not why they happen, but as Christ said in Luke 13

    Repent or ye will likewise perish.

    But I see no scriptural proof that the murder and rape of a 5 year old girl is actively ordained.

    We must look at everything to glorify God.

    I do not rest in paradox theology or Deut 29;29 for the answer.

    his decrees in the OT were judgements against idolatrous people. This is not possible for the elect. Chastising is not judgment.

    Joshua, Is God the author if sin? Did God ordain, predestine the rapist to pillage this little girl and tear her away from her family?

    How does that glorify Him? and dont give me Deut 29;29.

    Our only question in life is how is God glorified. period. SO tell me how this event or others like it glorifies Him?

    Can the rapist say God made me do it?
  17. Bladestunner316

    Bladestunner316 Puritan Board Doctor

    Well God ordained the flood which wiped possibly millions of lives off the face of the earth??

    Didnt he destroy Sodom and Gomorah with fire??

    Remember as bad as Rape can be or any other sin. Its still SIN. Nothing more nothing less.

    God has a purpose for ALL things. The Godd, the Bad, and the Ugly.

  18. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Thanks Josh. Joseph, I would not simply say that by itself out of the blue in most situations of grieving friends - but that does not change the fact that I believe it to be biblically true.

    Regarding God as the author of sin, I fully admit I do not really understand the *how* in the co-existence of God's sovereignty over all things including sin, and at the same time us having genuine free agency and responsibility and Him not being the author of sin. I mean, I have a philosophical explanation in my mind for their compatible existence, but it is mere speculation, and I can't see it anywhere in Scripture, so I simply submit to both as truths as given in Scripture, the full understanding of the co-existence of which is not for us in this life.
  19. Bladestunner316

    Bladestunner316 Puritan Board Doctor

    What do people mean by author? Im confused as to how people apply it. If its God saying this is what Sin is(ie the Law) thne I guess yes he is. If it implys that God is sin or that eh is sinful then no he is not. There is no sin in God. God has no flaws except those falsely attributed to him by created beings.

    We think Im using this vaguelly here that God is good(which he is) and that it ends there. As much as God has revealed to as created beings, History, the Bible that is not even a mere speck of sand in comparrison to WHO God is.

    God did put the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil did he not?? Im sure he wasnt suprised that Adam and Eve ate of it. Cause if he didnt ordain them too he wouldnt be God.

  20. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    So as not to distract from the central subject of this thread, I have responded to this and the denial of God's full providence and sovereign ordination of all events in another thread.

    Indeed, but the two certainly do often seem and feel identical externally, especially to their recipients. Even a brief look at the immense suffering God inflicted on many of His people throughout biblical history magnifies that truth.

    1) No
    2) Yes

    Are those two facts compatible? Yes, because they are both clearly taught in Scripture. How are they compatible? I'm afraid Deuteronomy 29:29 may in many (not all) tragic situations be the only answer we were truly meant to have to that question right now, even when we are discontent with that.

    Well, even if we couldn't think of examples in our minds, we would still be obligated to submit to the truth that it does because it is plainly taught in Scripture. But I can certainly think of countless ways in which such events ultimately work together for the good of God's people in His plan:

    God may use a person's death by murder as the means to provide an opportunity for re-unification of that person's split family. Also, two people might speak to each other at a funeral who otherwise would not have, and the Gospel is shared and and accepted, and the new believer finds his church home through that person who initially presented the Gospel to him at the funeral. Or perhaps me losing my temper in public causes something to go through an observer's mind that God uses for a specific reason in their life that day or in another person's life through something they say as a result of their reaction to my sinful anger - and I might never even know He used it that way. If God were to take a close relative or friend from me, perhaps it would teach me to truly make Him my full delight and strength in a way I otherwise would not have at the time. Or perhaps a young woman being raped makes her value her sexuality for the first time, so that she does not just go out and waste herself, which she otherwise would have done. Perhaps the death of an unregenerate soul is part of what God uses to make the family agree to try out church with some believing friends, and they hear the Word and some are converted - or perhaps they are not converted, and instead profess an even further rejection of the Gospel, and God uses their rejection to encourage a believer observing the situation who was feeling discouraged and that she had it so bad, but seeing the family's bitter rejection of the Gospel makes her realize how much she really has in Christ. Perhaps a fatal accident on the highway that someone passes while driving makes him want to call his wife just to check on her, and it turns out that she is in trouble and he called just in time, and God had a specific purpose for her in continued living that He did not have for the person who died in the accident. Or God may use a parent being drunk their child's whole life to give that child extra strength and boldness that that will need in their coming years for challenges they will face - or perhaps even just one single event that was in a person's subconscious will have a similar effect on something they do someday that turns out to be significant.

    I could literally go on and on all day off the top of my head. The point is that there are so many countless ways in which God can use all of life's situations, major events and seemingly minute, unnoticed details for the ultimate greatest possible good of His people and likewise for His glory, whether we realize them or not - in fact, since there are so many possibilities, we almost certainly do not even realize most of them for what they are at the moment, or even ever. But we are told in Scripture that they are all working as such, and as I hope I have showed above, there are literally countless ways in which God can accomplish that through such events - and furthermore, those examples I gave were only situations right off the top of my imperfect, sinful, finite, human mind; so how much more can God actually accomplish through every detail of life?
  21. The Lamb

    The Lamb Puritan Board Freshman

    Chris you have done well brother.

    The questions I am asking are nothing ew and the answers are acceptable. I am NOT, for one second that God is not Sovereign. HE is. I am attempting to distinguish an account in the writ as a specific purpose, ie; job et al like that, with a genral application. The risk and crux is presented when the offender can use God as an excuse. For instance, I have read where this is the case. A person said "God made me do it" Kill an abortion doctor, Kill a mother present, please do not digress into the abortion issue, it is an example only.

    I canot find one NT example of Christ ordaining an event as those in the OT. YEs Paul had a thorn, a shipwreck, prison, but these do not compare to the events recorded in the OT. No dashing babies heads!!!!

    IF Christ came to save sinners, and sin is the answer given for these reasons, I become perplexed.

    And can we also assume that those who perpetrate these atrocities are reprobate? No we cannot. Because GOds children still have that bit of Canaan in them which is capable of the most henious events.

  22. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Here are two passages that put together man's evident responsibility and God's undeniable sovereignty. Both are affirmed in the clearest language.

    Acts 2:22
    "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves also know--Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucifed and put to death."

    Acts 4:23-28
    "And being let go, they went to thier own companions and reported all that the chief prists and elders had said to them. So, when they heard that, they raised thier voice with one accord and said: 'Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earthand the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of your servant David have said: "Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The Kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against his Christ." For truly against your holy Servant Jesus, whom you annointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatever your hand and your purpose determined before to be done.'"

    When faced with the greatest sorrows, I cannot imagine a more hopeless thought, than "God was not active here." He foreordains whatsoever comes to pass--everything. Do we simply say to the grieving, or damaged, "Oh, God was in control here," and leave it at that? What a passel of 'Job's comforters' that would make us! No, we must share in the suffering, we must show them that the all-sovereign God has already suffered along with us, and that he has not left us to anyone's or anything's merciless actions, while somehow just "guarding the outcome." "Not by a bare permission," reads the Confession, and that is a truth. And it can and should be a comforting truth, but it may still be a difficult lesson to learn. And we must have patience with and love for those who have been ordained to experience it and endure it directly.

    And if it is ourself? Then we will be able to comfort those with the same comfort wherewith we were comforted.
  23. The Lamb

    The Lamb Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello Bruce:

    You are as clear as ever. Thank you. I am familiar with these responses and agree 100%

    But here is something else that came to my attention today.

    What about accidents? Unintentional events?

    Done with no malice.
  24. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I can't speak for every individual (we all have our unique mental configurations), but for my part, if I can see God's plan even in the wickedness of men (which also includes his restraint--he limits the damage they do) then I have even less trouble handling "accidents" and tragedies.

    I'm not minimizing, definitely not. Last week there was a story in the paper--a man backed over his own child and killed her. He was screaming and crying tears like waterfalls, calling out "why me, God?" He was catatonic when the medics took him away to the hospital. If he doesn't already believe in the sovereignty of God, how will he not be bitter? How will his bitterness be healed if he doesn't embrace God's sovereignty? Will his pastor counsel him to "forgive God" in order to start his personal healing process? That is horrible advice, but its common enough.

    There is possibly no greater grace to learn, nor one more difficult, than that of submission. This is especially true in our "entitlement age," this age and society of personal "rights" and plentiful privileges. Is God truly Lord and Master? Does he have the right of life and death over us? He is the Maker, and he must be free to be the Unmaker as well, or else he surrenders some part of his deity. And that he cannot do, without changing. May we learn something of this duty before the trials come.

  25. Radar

    Radar Puritan Board Freshman

    Such as a man chopping wood, and the axe head flies off the handle, and kills an innocent bystander, without any malice?

    Acts of God.

    There is an appointed time to die. Even for the 5 year old. Even for those infants slaughtered by Herod, when only Jesus was led to escape it. The Sovereignty of God does not reduce the pain, suffering, horror, grieving. It provides comfort at the end. So, you are correct that no one should walk up to the parents during their grieving and drop some of these words of truth. Instead, we shold just hold them and cry with them. The understanding and comfort of God's purpose will follow later, at the appropriate time.

  26. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Even insurance companies refer to natural catastrophes as "acts of God."
  27. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior


    I believe Jesus did ordain at least one major event in the NT, that rivals even the awesome ordinations of destruction that occurred in the OT: The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Jesus pronounced destruction upon the city because they rejected Him. And the historian Josephus said that over 1,000,000 were slaughtered, including the old, middle-aged, young, and even infants.

    But even more chilling (to human ears) is the reason Jesus gives for speaking in parables. Why did He do so? He spoke in parables so that many would NOT understand, "lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them" (Mark 4:12). For more references on this topic, see this brief article:

    Jesus is sovereign in the NT just as in the OT. And He is still in the business of sovereignly ordaining *everything*, both good and bad.

    Glory to God!

    In Christ,
  28. Average Joey

    Average Joey Puritan Board Junior

    Ordains.I also like to think about what Joseph said to his brothers.What you meant for evil.God meant it for good.
  29. nonconformist

    nonconformist Puritan Board Freshman

    excellent thread:up: i was going to ask this same question when i seen the thread:up:
  30. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    From Calvin's Calvinism (The Secret Providence of God), Sovereign Grace Union, 1927, p. 244
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