God's decrees: The whole "child rape" argument

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Matthew G. Bianco, May 29, 2017.

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  1. Matthew G. Bianco

    Matthew G. Bianco Puritan Board Freshman

    I have heard anti-Calvinists usually argue against Calvinism by quoting James White's response to a question "does God decree child rape" to which he responded "yes, otherwise it's a meaningless evil."
    Now, I have likewise heard Bob Enyart, an open-theist heretic, say that in order for God to decree these things he had to "have it on his mind" for all of eternity - thus indirectly stating God must be a pervert.

    Now... These arguments by anti-Calvinists are obviously lacking a lot of meaningful thought on the nature of God's sovereignty and the only logical conclusion is the heresy of open theism where God does not know these things are going to happen. And even if open theism was right, they would have to answer why God doesn't always stop evil events in their tracks (surely he would see the people planning out some of these evil deeds, or at least try to stop the deeds once they start before it comes to full fruition, right?) This has to assume that God cannot decree evil in order to mean good out of it.

    And as a side note, I find it interesting that the most rapid anti-Calvinists like Steven Anderson call us perverts for believing this - but it is them who always think about child rape whenever God's decrees come up in discussion.

    But at the same time, I do understand because it is very difficult to think that God would know and allow, much more decree these very evil things to come to pass, but I trust God is good and knows what He is doing with His own creation. He is not the author of sin.

    What do you guys think?
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
  2. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Start by asking them "Is God the author of sin?"

    The Reformed standards clearly teach otherwise.

    " 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."

    Derek Thomas deals briefly with the issue here:

    When you are dealing with folks like this, first determine whether they are ignorant and willing to be taught, or reprobates who are not worth your time.
  3. Matthew G. Bianco

    Matthew G. Bianco Puritan Board Freshman

    Very good point! Most anti-Calvinists confuse the different decrees with equal ultimacy.
  4. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    See my response to Enyart's odd views here (a site dominated by open theists at which Rev. Enyart is an admin and pastor to the site's owner):


    Basically the thread at the link is a response to Rev. Enyart's questions posed in his other debates (Bray, Lamerson). My views in some of the responses have evolved, so be charitable if you see something beyond the bounds. ;) Lastly, don't wander around at the site if you do not want to encounter numerous ninth and second commandment violations.
  5. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    Indeed, the child rape argument is the anti-Calvinist's equivalent to Godwin's Law in debates. Sigh.

    Trying to get God off the hook, as it were, by claiming God did not know what His creatures would do (open theism) or that God gives man libertarian free will only makes the situation more dire. Apparently God is either impotent (cannot see the future) or able, but unwilling to intervene (corridors of time foreknowledge argument) to prevent meaningless evil acts. These tactics make good fodder for appealing to the hoi polloi, but they illustrate the shallowness of the anti-Calvinist's unstated assumptions. Remind these proponents that God, having a sufficiently moral purpose for evil, wills righteously what men do wickedly.
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  6. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Calvinism is not the only system that has to deal with the problem of evil. A person who holds to "foreknowledge" must still reckon with the fact that God chose to create the world knowing these acts would happen. The free will theist must still account for the fact that God had "foresight" that these kinds of acts would happen but still chose to create the world. Their particular explanations still include "forethought" of some description; only they have explicitly told you that forethought of this kind of evil is perverted. Calling the thrice holy God perverted is blasphemy. They are guilty of blasphemy according to their standards of judgment.
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  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Only open theists are the consistent alternative to the argument. If, as other foreknowing systems hold, God knew that such would happen in a given possible world, and yet he still chose to create such a world, it's hard to see how this is outside his control.
  8. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain" Acts 2:23

    Sometimes I wonder how these people can come up with all these heart wrenching stories or scenarios, yet ignore the greatest evil of all human history: the murder of Christ. Christ was murdered by "wicked hands" yet it was decreed to be so.
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  9. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    There is a difference between God determining and directly causing that act to happen, and Him permitting that to happen?
  10. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    Theologically I'm a neophyte so I cannot give a learned opinion and I don't know if what follows is applicable? I would note though that listening to a call in show on Christian radio a women said that 'her' God would not allow some to be saved, and not others. The host pointed out that God killed every man women and child on the earth save Noah and 7 others of his family.
    The past couple of days in M'Cheyne's morning Bible reading plan I've been in Deuteronomy 2 & 3, where Moses recounts how the Israelites slew every man, women, and child in the cities and villages of King Sihon, and King Og of the Amorites. There are other examples, as you know, of God decreeing results which seem hard to understand to 20th/21st century sensibilities. His ways are past finding out.
  11. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    Is this a question or statement of your opinion that you would like validated?
    What exactly do you think God's "permission" means?
    Is God just winking at what is going on when He "permits" something?
    Does anything actually happen that God has not decreed to happen?
    Do you understand the distinctions between God's being the antecedent cause of man's actions versus man's own moral will, upon which God offers no violence, being the proximate cause?
  12. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    My understanding would be that God can and is still Sovereign over all affairs, its just that He can determine and direct cause , and also He can choose to use third parties to bring things to pass .... God ordaining what happens cannot mean that He causes all things directly, correct?
  13. KGP

    KGP Puritan Board Freshman

    The core fallacy of the argument and every worldview that would utilize it is that human beings possess an inherent righteousness or goodness within themselves, and that by their inherent worth or goodness; and that as such they cannot conceive that God would decree evil upon his human creation unless they first forfeited or earned his displeasure through evil of their own making.

    The response to this argument has to be 'Go and read your Bible.' The OT particularly contains story after story of men, women, and children bearing the brunt of God's wrath against the sins of others. Think of the kids in Israel when they were taken captive by Babylon or the Assyrians. Or the children of the nations that Israel attacked? Or those firstborn Egyptian boys? If they are going to make the argument, they could dig up worse scenarios than an isolated child rape case and moreover, find them in the Bible!

    It all seems beyond unfair, incomprehensible even, until you begin to see that men women and children are in fact without righteousness before God, without any kind of it, or any amount of it that he should recognize us and defer to our sense of well being. Absolutely Zero. We are nothing, less than nothing.

    This is underscored to me by the fact that unredeemed sinners get lumped together with the devil and his angels at the judgment day; shows how much inherent righteousness people have apart from Christ.

    I also want to respond to these folk that it is plain that for every instance of evil that God ordains in the world, they are each accompanied by a thousand mercies. Men are blind to them of course and do not recognize or give thanks for them.

    I wonder if any of these folk have ever thought or said 'thank God it wasn't worse' because from their perspective that phrase shouldn't make any sense at all.
    Whereas we can say it at every instance of the day and marvel at God's multitude of restraining graces!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  14. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The Lord does though permit sinful acts to be done, and he is not their direct cause, correct?
    My understanding is that we are living in that Age before the Second Coming, when Jesus sets up either a new Heavens/earth, or else a Kingdom reign, and at those times, the acts and deeds will all be done in righteousness period. but for now, the worlds system under the evil one , as God permits that until that time.
  15. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    You posted:
    "There is a difference between God determining and directly causing that act to happen, and Him permitting that to happen?"

    Again I ask, is this a question? It is not even grammatically correct to be a question. To be a question it must read:
    "Is there is a difference between God determining and directly causing that act to happen, and Him permitting that to happen?"
    "There is a difference between God determining and directly causing that act to happen, and Him permitting that to happen, no?"

    So, did you intend to ask the above as a question? As originally written:
    "There is a difference between God determining and directly causing that act to happen, and Him permitting that to happen" is a declarative statement.

    You added "?" to the end of this statement. It seems to indicate a tentativeness about the statement you are making. I suspect that is what you are doing each and every time you make these sort of declarative statements and append a "?" to the end of them. You combine an opinion with a tentative "?" seeking validation of said opinion. Be confident and state your view without the question mark. It seems as if you doing this so that if someone comes along and takes issue with your opinion you can innocently retreat behind, "Well, I was really just asking a question." The seeming abulia behind your frequent behavior is concerning.

    Let me borrow liberally from our Standards and W. Cunningham in what follows.

    In relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God—the First Cause—all things come to pass, immutably and infallibly, yet, by the same providence, God orders all things to fall out according to the nature of second causes, necessarily, freely, or contingently:
    (1) necessarily, e.g., the motion of the planets, atomic spin, etc.;
    (2) freely, voluntarily with no "violence being done to the will of the creature"; and
    (3) contingently, i.e., with perfect regard to future event contingencies, as when God told David what Saul and Keilah would do to him if David remained in Keilah (1 Samuel 23:9-13).​

    God, in the execution of His decrees in providence, brings about different classes of events in a way that is in full accordance with all events' own distinct, proper natures—bringing to pass necessary things necessarily, free things freely, and contingent things contingently. This, of course, implies that there are under God’s government free agents, who are dealt with in all respects as free agents, according to their proper nature, and the actual qualities and capacities they possess.

    As free agents they act freely; and although, if the doctrine of the foreordination of all things be true, there is a necessity in some sense attaching to all their actions, this does not preclude their having also a liberty attaching to them, in accordance with their general character and standing, as being free, in contradiction from a view that all are but necessary agents.

    Among these free agents—in whom the liberty of second causes is maintained and preserved—notwithstanding the control which God exercises over all their actions in order to execute His decrees, are of course men, rational and responsible beings. God has made men rational and responsible, and He has endowed them with at least such freedom or liberty as is necessary to hold them responsible. God always deals with men in accordance with the qualities and capacities which He has bestowed upon them. God does not deal with men as He does with the material creation or with the irrational animals. Although always infallibly executing His decrees, God leaves men in the full possession of the rationality, responsibility, and liberty which He has bestowed upon them.

    The Scriptural authority for the doctrine of decrees will appear from the following statements and references, gathered with slight modifications from Hodge's Outlines, pp, 205-213:
    1. God's decrees are eternal. Acts 15:18; Eph. 1:4; 3:11; 1 Pet. 1:20; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Cor. 2:7.
    2. They are immutable. Ps. 33:11; Isa. 46:9.

    3. They comprehend all events.
    (1) The Scriptures assert this of the whole system in general embraced in the divine decrees. Dan. 4:34, 35; Acts 17:26; Eph 1:11.
    (2) They affirm the same of fortuitous events. Prov. 16:33; Matt. 10:29, 30.
    (3) Also of the free actions of men. Eph. 2:10, 11; Phil. 2:13.
    (4) Even the wicked actions of men. Acts 2:23; 4:27, 28; 13:29; 1 Pet. 2:8; Jude 4; Rev. 17:17. As to the history of Joseph, compare Gen. 37:28, with Gen. 45:7, 8, and Gen. 50:20. See also Ps. 17:13, 14; Isa. 10:5, 15.​

    4. The decrees of God are not conditional. Ps. 33:11; Prov. 19:21; Isa. 14:24, 27; 46:10; Rom. 9:11.
    5. They are sovereign. Isa. 40:13, 14; Dan. 4:35; Matt. 11:25, 26; Rom. 9:11, 15-18; Eph. 1:5, 11.
    6. They include the means. Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2.
    7. They determine the free actions of men. Acts 4:27, 28; Eph. 2:10.
    8. God himself works in his people that faith and obedience which are called the conditions of salvation. Eph. 2:8; Phil. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:25.
    9. The decree renders the event certain. Matt. 16:21; Luke 18:31-33; 24:46; Acts 2:23; 13:29; 1 Cor. 11:19.
    10. While God has decreed the free acts of men, the actors have been nonetheless responsible. Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:27, 28.
    — Abstract of Systematic Theology
    In other words, David, God's causation does not compete with the causation of creatures, but rather supports and grounds it.
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  16. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    What I am getting from your answer is that God ordained the acts, as in allowed it to happen, and the person who committed that vile act is responsible for it happening...
  17. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    God ordained all that happens. This is more than mere "allowing" as if He is winking at things that happen as a mere observer. Had God not ordained, the events would not happen. God is the antecedent cause, the First Cause. The moral quality of an act belongs to the moral agent, man. Man is the proximate cause of moral acts. Hence, as you state, man is responsible for "that vile act".
  18. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Does God have a Determined and a permissive Will, or just a single One?
  19. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    God has but one, most free, will. Whatever God desires He does.
  20. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Are His desires though always the same as His will, for in this present Age there seems to be a time of Him allowing evil and sin to continue until the Second Coming event...
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
  21. Von

    Von Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree!

    The question of "whether God decrees child rape" is full of pitfalls from the outset, because:
    1. The thing decreed is of such an emotional, heart-wrenching nature, that our emotions are forced into a discussion by the questioner in order that we yield to his answer. It's adding pain so that we should say 'uncle'.

    2. The questioner's meaning behind "decree" is not the same as the one answering the question. It is tainted by the idea that God is the author of this evil. Hence the blasphemous conclusion about God.
    So maybe our answer should be: "No." because we're answering a fool in his folly.
  22. dece870717

    dece870717 Puritan Board Freshman

    God decreed/ordained The Cross, the most evil (yet the most good) thing that has ever or will ever be done, child rape should look like nothing in comparison. They should be objecting to The Cross before they object to child rape, but that is what man-centered theology does, it totally skews things.

    Sort of off-topic but I think one of the best questions to ask someone to see if they have a man-centered theology or a God-centered theology is, "Did the Cross happen because the Fall happened or did the Fall happen so that the Cross would happen?"
  23. Matthew G. Bianco

    Matthew G. Bianco Puritan Board Freshman

    What is your answer to that question? I am curious. I believe personally the latter. I believe it makes sense the fall happened so to glorify God to the peak which is to be the death and resurrection of His Son.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2017
  24. dece870717

    dece870717 Puritan Board Freshman

    My answer is also the later, that is the God-centered answer. The first option would make The Cross, the most God-glorifying act ever, to just merely be plan B and that would be unacceptable.
  25. Matthew G. Bianco

    Matthew G. Bianco Puritan Board Freshman

    The whole decretive side of the Reformed truth has created far too many straw-man fallacies by anti-Calvinists because very few take the time to understand this. I wish to do a study into the ideas Ask Mr. Religion has posted here, I want to understand it better.
  26. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I am still somewhat confused on how God has but one Will, and yet He also seems to be allowing for bad things to still happen. He is not their direct cause I don't think....
  27. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    Of course God is not the author of sin. That He is the First Cause of all that happens, thereby enacting the very movement of all things, does not mean He is the actual doer of sinful deeds. Moral agents sin. Mankind. God decrees that their acts are their own acts, doing no violence to their will to choose according to their greatest inclinations at the moment they so choose. God's decree establishes that very fact.

    The confusion arises when men begin to wonder, "How exactly does God pull that off? How does God, being wholly sovereign, make it such that men are responsible for their actions?"

    The usual, and quite appropriate, answer is Deut. 29:29, thus we are not to be seeking to peek behind the curtain, rather trust that our holy God always does right. Consider that we all have no problem accepting that by mere speech, God brought all that exists into existence. We do not question it, debate it, or seek to understand the how of it. Yet, we ignore that very same demonstration of God's being when it comes to "bad things" happening. We should examine ourselves here, for it will usually reveal our faulty notions of autonomy. Surely He who spoke the universe into existence is able to make it such that man is responsible for his own thoughts, words, and deeds without attempting to make God the author of these thoughts, words, and deeds. Indeed, as I have shown in discussing the decree earlier above, this is exactly what Scripture teaches us perspicuously.
  28. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The answer seems then to be one of those hidden/secret things reserved unto God Himself.
  29. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    Rest in the knowledge that God has a morally sufficient purpose for all that happened, is happening, and will happen in this world.
  30. Matthew G. Bianco

    Matthew G. Bianco Puritan Board Freshman

    God has definitely revealed a lot about Himself in His Word, not exhaustively, but enough for us to have no excuse about His sovereign decrees. He holds all things in His control, nothing happens without His decree. People may try their hardest to suppress that knowledge, but nonetheless God has revealed His attributes in His word through these things. General revelation also demands a Creator who is sovereign.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2017
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