Secondary Causes

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by JM, Aug 8, 2006.

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  1. Flynn

    Flynn Puritan Board Freshman

    Its clear Calvin is using the word "author" non-technically, not in the sense of direct or immediate efficient source and cause of the sin. In the closing section, he sums by saying:

    So that in a wonderful and ineffable manner nothing is done without God's will, not even that which is against his will. For it would not be done if he did not permit it; yet he does not unwillingly permit it, but willingly; nor would he, being good, allow evil to be done, unless being also almighty he could make good even out of evil. 1,18.3.

    When Clark and the WCF use the word author, they mean it in its technical sense of direct immediate efficient cause.

    And I bet right there Calvin has calamity in mind, hence his reference to Job.

    Take care,
    David
     
  2. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore


    Uh, yes God does cause everything, including the evil actions of men. As for James 1:13, perhaps you should explain exactly what you mean (which, if done correctly will go a long way to explaining how things God ordains fall out by the means of secondary causes). Also, please don't forget Mat 4:1 when exegeting the above verse (Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil).

    Oh, and while you're at it, please include Amos 3:6; Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?


    BTW, and just an aside, I am getting a chuckle at the prancing Arminian above who even imagines himself a logician superior to the likes of G.H.C.. :lol: Maybe Ponter will appreciate a quote from him I'm sure I saved from more than a few years ago where he paints his pathetic little anit-Christ screaming and crying out for poor sinners trapped in a burning building, but who is too impotent to save anyone from the consuming flames. I'll have to hunt for that one since it was priceless. :amen:

    [Edited on 8-14-2006 by Magma2]
     
  3. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    Just another way of putting it, 1st and 2nd causes work the same way as the compound sense (1st cause) and the divided sense (second cause) (See Matthew McMahon's excellent bookThe Two Wills of God for a detailed explanation).
     
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Hello David,

    Of course you are starting with Turretin in the context of providence, the sixth topic; whereas the appropriate place to begin would be in relation to the decree, the fourth topic. I especially recommend the fourth question, "Does the decree necessitate future things? We affirm." Where the decree is spoken of as the first cause of all things, and the objects of the decree as second causes. Concerning sin, Turretin explicitly states that the decree "is the cause of the futurition of sin" (Institutes, 1:321). It is qualified that this causation is neither physical (infusion of evil) nor ethical (approbation of evil). But it is still the decree which is the necessary cause of evil.

    I will look at providential causation in response to your next paragraph.

    Here you are changing the word "action" to mean "physicality." If God caused the physicality of sin, then it would be implied that He worked the evil. But the traditional distinction is the one I have already provided, where the difference is between the action considered as natural (not physical) and moral.

    In this discussion you have to be aware that the word "permission" carries different connotations. Reformed divines were against the idea of "idle permission." According to traditional formulation, all things come from the will of God, not the bare permission of God. To quote Turretin: "God may be said from eternity not only to have foreseen and permitted, but also to have willed and predestinated, the fall of man, and that all things are done not only with the permission but even with the will of God." (Institutes 1:532).

    Under the heading of providence, Turretin insists that God does not merely sustain sunful actions, but He governs them also, directing the objects. He cites Calvin: "If Calvin says that God works in the minds of the wicked and AS THE FIRST CAUSE does by them as instruments all those things which with respect to men are and are called true sins (ICR 1.17.5... and 1.18.1, 2...), he ought not on that account to be accused of introducing theomartesian." (Ibid., 533).

    One of the reasons provided by Turretin to free Calvin from the charge of calling God the author of sin, is the very one I have mentioned in this thread, that a difference must be made between an action as an action and as moral: "God is said to work evils, but not as evils formally and in the abstract, but in the concrete and materially (inasmuch as they are works) or judicially (inasmuch as they are his just judgment." (Ibid.)

    The reformed traditional unashamedly avows God as the cause of ALL things. I suppose if the necessary qualifications are ignored then misunderstanding will follow. But that would be the responsibility of the person who was unwilling to accept the qualifications as provided.
     
  5. Flynn

    Flynn Puritan Board Freshman

    G'day Matthew,

    You:
    Of course you are starting with Turretin in the context of providence, the sixth topic; whereas the appropriate place to begin would be in relation to the decree, the fourth topic. I especially recommend the fourth question, "Does the decree necessitate future things? We affirm." Where the decree is spoken of as the first cause of all things, and the objects of the decree as second causes. Concerning sin, Turretin explicitly states that the decree "is the cause of the futurition of sin" (Institutes, 1:321). It is qualified that this causation is neither physical (infusion of evil) nor ethical (approbation of evil). But it is still the decree which is the necessary cause of evil.


    David:
    Ah of course the decree is the ground for all that comes to pass. But I am not a Hoeksemian or Clarkian who imagines that God causes sin in a straightline manner. Turretin follows Aquinas on this by affirming that God cannot will sin directly. He can only will to allow, to govern, to derect it etc. God cant will to directly effect or produce sin.

    And not being a supralapsarian either, I cant hold that God directly uses sin as a simplistic means to an end. Rather, with Turretin again, sin is always an original interruption to the divine order and plan.


    Matthew: Here you are changing the word "action" to mean "physicality." If God caused the physicality of sin, then it would be implied that He worked the evil. But the traditional distinction is the one I have already provided, where the difference is between the action considered as natural (not physical) and moral.

    David: Turretin discusses permission right in the heart of concurrence and the providence over evil and calamity. The physicality of the action is sustained but the moral agent is not directly impelled. Turretin is representative here of almost the entire church tradition on this, with a few exceptions like Scotus, and the Hoeksemians and Clarkians and John Gill (who was also Clarks first main source for his ideas before he came across Heoksema).

    Matthew:
    In this discussion you have to be aware that the word "permission" carries different connotations. Reformed divines were against the idea of "idle permission."

    David: Of course. I wrote a paper on this which is pretty darn good too. My prof thought so too. :)

    But willing permission is still permission. God wills to allow an action.This still contains allowance. Hypers want to negate any sense of God allowing something to happen.

    Matthew:
    According to traditional formulation, all things come from the will of God, not the bare permission of God. To quote Turretin: "God may be said from eternity not only to have foreseen and permitted, but also to have willed and predestinated, the fall of man, and that all things are done not only with the permission but even with the will of God." (Institutes 1:532).

    David: Thats what my first post on this thread affirmed. But Hoeksemianism and Clarkianism denies all indirect causation. And I believe supralsaprianism tends to subvert this too, casting sin as a mere means to an end, a step in a univocal linear plan of God.

    Turretin invokes permission in both loci of the decrees and concurrence. I just checked. p 388 of vol 1, for example.


    Matthew: Under the heading of providence, Turretin insists that God does not merely sustain sunful actions, but He governs them also, directing the objects. He cites Calvin: "If Calvin says that God works in the minds of the wicked and AS THE FIRST CAUSE does by them as instruments all those things which with respect to men are and are called true sins (ICR 1.17.5... and 1.18.1, 2...), he ought not on that account to be accused of introducing theomartesian." (Ibid., 533).

    David. Sure, but so what? I nor Turretin are denying that God is the first cause of all things. Thats not the issue. But how does God firstly cause some things, namely sinful actions. And recall, sin is not a thing in classic Western theology, so sin cant be created, ever, ever, ever.

    Matthew:
    One of the reasons provided by Turretin to free Calvin from the charge of calling God the author of sin, is the very one I have mentioned in this thread, that a difference must be made between an action as an action and as moral: "God is said to work evils, but not as evils formally and in the abstract, but in the concrete and materially (inasmuch as they are works) or judicially (inasmuch as they are his just judgment." (Ibid.)

    David: What you call action, I clarify by calling the phsysically of the action. Action is ambiguous if undefined. God sustains the horse and buggy, muscles, atoms that runs down the Hoeksemians fleeing the truth. :) God God never directly caused the driver to murder them.

    Its a mystery. What rationalist positions (Hoeksemians, Clarklians, and Supralapsarians) is treat the causal relations univocally.


    Matthew: The reformed traditional unashamedly avows God as the cause of ALL things. I suppose if the necessary qualifications are ignored then misunderstanding will follow. But that would be the responsibility of the person who was unwilling to accept the qualifications as provided.

    David: But the Reformed have always gone on to explain that God is the cause of all things in different ways, and that his causality with regard to good and evil is assymmetrical.

    Its easy to just shoot off catch phrases "God is the cause of all things" like a fatalist, but its *wise* to expressed yourself in a nuanced manner. For some reason wanna-be hypers love to talk up God's causality of sin as if somehow in some deluded manner this brings honour to God. However, the Church, since James, since Paul, since Augustine, since Aquinas, since Calvin, since Turretin has warned that one must avoid blasphemy and speak wisely and judiciously.

    Rationalists are not happy with the mysterium here. They want to reduce it all down to a symmetrical causality thereby seeing it all univocally.

    Take care,
    David

    [Edited on 8-16-2006 by Flynn]
     
  6. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    LOL :) How about a citation or two demonstrating that either Clark or Hoeksema taught that God caused sin in "œa straight line manner" and denied God´s use of secondary means? You bark like a dog, but you have no bite as evident from the above reply from Matthew as he mops the floor with your selective (dishonest) and misleading use of Turrentin. As for "œClarkians" I´ll provide one conclusive paragraph from "œClarkian" Dr. Gary Crampton to muzzle you:

    Or a Calvinist either and Christian is still under debate. BTW, I hope members on this list join your deceptively named "œCalvin and Calvinism" yahoo group. Not only will some be impressed by your similar mishandling of Calvin, I´m sure no one will miss the open platform you give you defenders of the heresy of the Federal Vision. After all, they too are defenders of the heresy of the so-called "œwell meant offer" even if some want to limit this to just those who have been baptized.

    <snip a lot of meandering Ponterificating which continues to miss the mark.>

    Nice job Matthew! You have even got him professing the proverbial and unbiblical "œmysterium" (LOL) at the end of his reply accusing all who refuse to follow his irrational and false religion, "œrationalists." Predictable as it is pathetic.

    [Edited on 8-15-2006 by Magma2]
     
  7. Flynn

    Flynn Puritan Board Freshman

    Thats it, Sean? Thats all you have, that and insults?

    Sheesh... here is something from Clark:

    God´s relation to the sinful acts of men, the stumbling block that so many people find in Chapter 3, is considered again in 4 of chapter 5. The sphere of providence extends to the first sin of Adam and to all other sins of angels and men. God´s relation to sin is not that of bare permission; in fact as Calvin shows in his Institutes, 2.4.3, and 3.23.8, permission in the case of the Almighty has no specific meaning. Gordon Clark, What do Presbyterians Believe?, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 1965), p., 67.

    And then later:

    This first section also states that God, in his own glory as previously explained at length, was pleased to permit our first parents to disobey his command.

    Most people would say that the word permit is a softer expression than the word ordain. Some would even say that permission half puts sin out of God´s control. But we cannot permit anyone to suppose that chapter 6 contradicts chapters 3 and 4. Not being infallible, the men at Westminster may have fallen into some slight inconsistency somewhere; but it can hardly be maintained that they anywhere contradicted the doctrine of the divine decree.

    It is better to understand the word permit as merely a convenient linguistic expression. Indeed, permission as it is used in human affairs is in appropriate to the divine omnipotence and sovereignty. Of course, it is quite true to say that God permitted Adam to sin; but if by this we intend to deny that God foreordained Adam´s sin, we are quite mistaken. God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass.

    For reasons such as this, John Calvin wrote: "œHere they [those who object to the divine decrees] recur to the distinction between will and permission, and insist that God permits the destruction of the impious, but does not will it. But what reason shall we assign for his permitting it, but because it is his will?" (Institutes, 3.23.8; cf 2.4.3). This is clearly a sufficient reply.

    And this:

    Not only are free will and permission irrelevant to the problem of evil, but rather the idea of permission has no intelligible meaning. It is quite within the range of possibility for a life-guard to permit a man to drown. This permission, however, depends on the fact that the ocean´s undertow is beyond the quard´s control. If the guard had some giant suction device which he operated so as to engulf the boy, one would call it murder, not permission. The idea of permission is possible only where there is an independent force, either the boy´s force or the ocean´s force. But this is not the situation in the case of God and the universe. Nothing in the universe can be independent of the Omnipotent Creator, for him, we live and move and have our being. Therefore, the idea of permission makes no sense when applied to God. Gordon Clark, Religion, Reason and Revelation (Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation, 1986), pp., 204-5.

    Permission is just a lingusitic device, the WCF inconsistent, and its meangingless, blah blah blah.

    I will get the Hoeksema quotation on straightline causation later for you later.

    But its really best if you didnt post or reply to me, because you dont post anything thats edifying, or even basically honest. Ill probably get in trouble from the mods for saying that, but its my honest appraisal of your motives an behaviour. You just give me the impression that your prime motive is to slander than have an intelligent adult conversation. Like I said, the mods may object to my saying that to you, but just saying nothing to you seems wrong on my part.

    David

    [Edited on 8-15-2006 by Flynn]

    [Edited on 8-15-2006 by Flynn]
     
  8. Flynn

    Flynn Puritan Board Freshman

    Just to be clear, I never said Clark denies secondary causes. Dont twist my words around so you can make an untrue accusation, Sean.

    It is clear that Clark and Hoeksema really do deny the significance of secondary causes. At most they have a phenomenal value only. I am using phenomenal in the context of phenomenal vs noumenal. Second causes are just ghosts, means to an end, they advance, univocally, the linear plan of God.

    David

    [Edited on 8-15-2006 by Flynn]
     
  9. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    How is any of this ad hom relevant to the discussion? You've been warned about this before. Last warning. :judge:

    [Edited on 8-15-2006 by Puritan Sailor]
     
  10. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    :ditto:

    No more warnings. Any flames hence forth will be dealt with by loss of posting priviledges by the offending member.

    SPB
     
  11. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    David, the reformed tradition of theodicy sees sin as serving its end along with everything else in the purpose of God. Infra and supralapsarians are agreed on this point. You will be hard pressed to find a reformed divine who does not elaborate on the beneficial purpose of sin. I have lost count how many I have read who approvingly quote Gregory's "felix culpa" description of Adam's fall. The fall and sin are the result of the most wise and holy decree of God as equally as creation and redemption. Turretin specifically states that the futurition of sin is owing entirely to the decree of God.

    Willing permission is still idle permission if the willing is in any sense dependent on foresight rather than the good pleasure of God. Arminians who deny media scientia teach that God foresaw the fall and purposed to permit it. The Confession denies this "bare permission."

    As above, all reformed theologians, supra and infra, speak of the existence of sin as the result of the good pleasure of God. Consider the mild Thomas Manton as one example: "It is good to note how many attributes are advanced by sin "“ mercy in pardoning, justice in punishing, wisdom in ordering, power in overruling it; every way doth our good God serve himself of the evils of men." (Comm. Jam. 1:13.)

    Again, he distances himself from "idle permission."

    It depends what you mean by thing (res). It is both a charge relative to a created thing and a corruption of a created thing. In this sense it can be called a thing (res) which is decreed and governed by God.

    Refusal to acknowledge the difference between action as action and as moral is the very reason why you cannot affirm that God causes murder. But the reformed tradition affirms the action of murder is by a positive decree of God. One only has to consider the murder of Christ which is said to be according to the "determinate counsel of God," Acts 2:23.
     
  12. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    For a man who calls Clark and others who don´t share you´re implicit but clear Arminianism "œhypers" and "œrationalists" with abusive abandon (evidently with impunity and the moderators blessings), I hardly think anything I said to you could actually be considered insulting. True perhaps. Other than that, I prefer not to waste more time than I already have with you in the past and in other forums.

    Solid Reformed doctrine all. No wonder you chafe at it. You´ve never been comfortable with Protestantism have you David? Of course Arminianism dressed up in thinly veiled Amyraldianism is hardly Protestant now is it. ;)


    And just to be clear you did; "œBut I am not a Hoeksemian or Clarkian who imagines that God causes sin in a straightline manner." And, you did it again, amazingly immediately below your denial; "œIt is clear that Clark and Hoeksema really do deny the significance of secondary causes."

    At the risk of being accused of using abusive ad hominem, which, incidently, it is not, this is quite insane. You assert the very thing you deny and in the span of two sentences! I can only guess you´re so wrapped up in the "œmysterium" of your own confused mind that you don´t even realize you´ve asserted this same lie again after claiming you´ve slandered no man. Impressive.

    [Edited on 8-16-2006 by Magma2]
     
  13. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Actually they are complementary statements when you consider that "the significance" is what David considers to be significant. Clark and Hoeksema maintain secondary causes, only they do not signify the same thing as a secondary cause in David's thinking, which Sean should be happy to concede.
     
  14. Flynn

    Flynn Puritan Board Freshman

    Matthew said:

    David, the reformed tradition of theodicy sees sin as serving its end along with everything else in the purpose of God. Infra and supralapsarians are agreed on this point. You will be hard pressed to find a reformed divine who does not elaborate on the beneficial purpose of sin.

    David: But thats not what I said Matthew. I never denied that God uses sin for a good ends. I said exactly what I said.

    Matthew:
    I have lost count how many I have read who approvingly quote Gregory's "felix culpa" description of Adam's fall. The fall and sin are the result of the most wise and holy decree of God as equally as creation and redemption. Turretin specifically states that the futurition of sin is owing entirely to the decree of God.

    David: As to the first I did not deny that either. As to equally, I can yes as to to ultimate freedom of God. But not equally as to means and execution.


    Matthew:

    Willing permission is still idle permission if the willing is in any sense dependent on foresight rather than the good pleasure of God. Arminians who deny media scientia teach that God foresaw the fall and purposed to permit it. The Confession denies this "bare permission."

    David: And again, I never said the willing permission is dependent upon foreknowledge. Right? though I am not going to say that foreknowledge was not part of the complex of relationships conceived of by the divine mind.

    Btw, early "infralapsarians" did posit the fall-decree on the basis of foreknowledge. As to Arminians, that has nothing to do with me. As to the confession. Sure: the confession denies bare permission. But willing permission is still permission, its just a certain type of permission. You cant get around it Matthew.

    Either God directly caused sin, or he indirectly caused sin. Mainstream Augustinianism for 2000 years has said he indirectly causes sin, and we identify that indirect causality as permission.

    There is no tertius quid here, a non-direct, but non-indirect causality of sin.


    Matthew:

    As above, all reformed theologians, supra and infra, speak of the existence of sin as the result of the good pleasure of God. Consider the mild Thomas Manton as one example: "It is good to note how many attributes are advanced by sin – mercy in pardoning, justice in punishing, wisdom in ordering, power in overruling it; every way doth our good God serve himself of the evils of men." (Comm. Jam. 1:13.)

    David: Sure. I never denied that. It was purely by the good pleasure of God that he permitted sin to enter his creative order. But thats still permission, its just not unwilling permission.


    I had said:

    Turretin invokes permission in both loci of the decrees and concurrence. I just checked. p 388 of vol 1, for example.

    Matthew says: Again, he distances himself from "idle permission."

    David says: So what? Weve agreed that unwilling permission is not Augustinian. Great. But the mainstream Augustinians still held to a permission of sin in some sense. Permission was never denied as a category completely. And likewise, mainstream Augustinianism as always denied that God is the direct, efficient immediate cause of sin.

    So, lets get passed unwilling or idle permisson bit, but lets be honest: God permits sin, and that willingly. We reconcile this by appealing to mystery. Bavinck has one of the best treatments on this btw.

    I am not even confident Matthew that we are even on the same page with regard to Turretin. I am not confident that you are all that willing to acknowledge that Turretin said God permits sin, never efficienly or immediately causes it. And so I am not confident that you realise how this impacts lapsarianism, and our conception of the plan of God.

    Matthew:

    It depends what you mean by thing (res). It is both a charge relative to a created thing and a corruption of a created thing. In this sense it can be called a thing (res) which is decreed and governed by God.

    David: Okay.... Sin is not thing as in matter, it has no ontology, no being.


    Matthew:

    Refusal to acknowledge the difference between action as action and as moral is the very reason why you cannot affirm that God causes murder. But the reformed tradition affirms the action of murder is by a positive decree of God. One only has to consider the murder of Christ which is said to be according to the "determinate counsel of God,” Acts 2:23.

    David: Are you getting hung up on my objecting to saying God causes sin? Okay, I can easily say God causes all things, but diversely. God only ever causes sin indirectly, by willing permission. God never causes sin directly, immediately or efficiently.

    Thus God's causation of sin and righteousness is assymmetrical.

    But now, are you willing to concede that Turretin, the confession and the Reformed affirmed that sin is permitted by God, willingly not unwillingly? Yes or no? Should I start cutting and pasting from Turretin and Beza? Let me know.

    Correct if I am wrong, but I get the impression that you see the plan of God in as a flat linear univocal set of decrees, with each step merely and exhaustively advancing that plan to the next step, with no sense of discontinuity allowable?

    Take care,
    David

    [Edited on 8-16-2006 by Flynn]

    [Edited on 8-16-2006 by Flynn]
     
  15. Flynn

    Flynn Puritan Board Freshman

    Matthew said:
    Actually they are complementary statements when you consider that "the significance" is what David considers to be significant. Clark and Hoeksema maintain secondary causes, only they do not signify the same thing as a secondary cause in David's thinking, which Sean should be happy to concede.

    David says: What does that mean? Its clear from both Hoeksema and Clark that secondary causes--and this is the biting irony for Clark--are but linguistic devices. Both denied any form of permission of sin. Both were supralapsarians, but saw each decretal step as a mere means to an end, to the next step.

    Probably what happened is that both of them were confronted with a dilemma as accordingly set up by the rationalist paradigms.

    1) Permission of sin is unacceptable, for all the reasons both of them adduce, and more perhaps.

    2) Both were committed to a [lop-sided] decretalist theology that emphasised God's sovereignty.

    3) Both wanted to still maintain that the sinner alone is the responsible party.

    So they held to the language of second causes, while denying the theology of permission (which is the only way to truly and rationally ground second cause theodicy and theology).

    But what that does is saw the branch off while you are sitting on it. For this reason, when I asked Bernie Woudenberg and the other PRC ministers about all this, they then--at this point, ironically, like their master-- _now_ appealed to mystery. But now they had no rational theodical defence. They fell into their own ditch, and were prepared to sit in it too.

    We can infer this I think because of the generous statements Herman and Homer Hoeksema provided. In Hoeksemianism (whether we are talking about Hanko or Engelsma or any PRCer) the decree of reprobation is exhaustively and univocally symmetrical with the decree of election.

    Let me recap this: Election contains two parts: election and predestination to glory. We normally are not that conscious of the second part and speak of election as summing the whole. (To be clear, we are not just appointed, but appointed to something, union in Christ, life, etc). Both of these aspects are unconditional. Nothing apart from Gods will grounds either.

    Reprobation likewise has two aspects. Preterition and predamnation. In preterition, this is unconditional. Why God rejects this man, and not that man, is but for the free will of God. But now, why God condemns this man in hell, is but for the sin of that man. Predamnation is always based on foreknown sin. On this consult the standard works, Turretin, a' brakel, or Heppe.

    Two things to be clear about:
    Predamnation is that decree whereby God determines to condemn a man to hell _on account of his sin_. This decree is a conditional decree in that sense.

    Foreknown sin is itself decreed sin, but the means by which that decree "causes" sin is but by permission and permission alone: you can add willing, but its still permission, its just not the bad kind of permission, the unwilling kind, the kind that says God has his hands tied etc. But its still permission.

    So while we can say that the God decrees to condemn the man on account of sin, and so in this sense the decree is conditioned. We can add, as a helper, that that sin was unconditionally decreed: sure. But as soon as we realise that that decree was only to permit sins entrance and course, we have a gap in our knowledge (hence my referents to univocalism within hyperist thinking).

    And thats the tricky Herman and Gordon couldnt allow. But the church has always said: Sin is never directly decreed and/or directly or immediately or efficiently caused by God. Herman and Gordon couldnt allow any sense of a conditional decree or any hint of God seemingly responding to something an external agent does. Nor could either recourse to foreknowledge, for thats just always bad bad bad. So they threw themselves into the ditch.

    1) God is the direct cause of all things, even sin. There is no sense of permission at all.

    2) Yet man is the responsible agent for sin.

    But now they have no way to theodically or theological ground 2. So they often resort to a bare ex lex idea. And then we are back to Scotus, the father of all this type of rationalism.

    To Matthew, sincerely, I dont think you have appreciated the complexity in all this. Most supralapsarians opt for that schema because it seemingly rids us of all the gaps in our knowledge. But that comes at a price. And it comes with its own set of irrationalisms.

    Hope that helps,
    David



    [Edited on 8-16-2006 by Flynn]
     
  16. Flynn

    Flynn Puritan Board Freshman

    Paul, whom I now recall is Anti, said:

    "sin is always an original interruption to the divine order and plan."

    So, is this like things popping into existence from nothing? It's seems rather odd to say this David.

    David: Sin is not a thing. Its not a creation. Its the corruption of some thing. Augustine likens it to rust. :) The normal way of expressing it is thusly: Sin in the abstraction is not a thing; Sin in the concrete: like an insult for example :) is a sinful attitide or disposition, but still not a thing.

    That does and does not answer your question, I know.


    So, either
    1) God effects sin, directly, immediately ex nihilo.
    2) Its a mystery.

    Im opting for 2, because of biblical reasons.

    I can say its an interruptions because I truly can know and reject all forms of supra schemas which see our knowledge of decretal ordering as unified and univocal.

    Two of the best discussions on all this have to be from Turretin and Bavinck.

    Take care,
    David
     
  17. Flynn

    Flynn Puritan Board Freshman

    Hoeksema:

    Nor must we, in regard to the sinful deeds of men and devils, speak only of God's permission in distinction from His determination. Holy Scripture speaks a far more positive language. We realize, of course, that the motive for speaking of God's permission rather than of His determined will in regard to sin and the evil deeds of men is that God may never be presented as the author of sin. But this purpose is not reached by speaking of God's permission or His permissive will: for if the Almighty permits what He could just as well have prevented, it is from an ethical viewpoint the same as if He had committed it Himself. But in this way we lose God and His sovereignty: for permission presupposes the idea that there is a power without God that can produce and do something apart from Him, but which is simply permitted by God to act and operate. This is dualism. and it annihilates the complete and absolute sovereignty of God.

    And therefore. we must maintain that also sin and all the wicked deeds of men and angels have a place in the counsel of God, in the counsel of His will. Thus it is taught by the Word of God. For it is certainly according to the determinate counsel of God that Christ is nailed to the cross, and that Pilate and Herod, with the Gentiles and Israel, are gathered together against the holy child Jesus. It is therefore much better to say that the Lord also in His counsel hates sin and determined that that which He hates should come to pass in order to reveal His hatred and to serve the cause of God's covenant. Besides, the counsel of God is immutable. Man's counsel is often brought to nought by various circumstances; he changes his mind and alters his course for various reasons.

    But this is not the case with the counsel of God. He knows all things, and nothing can resist His will. And therefore, the counsel of God is also absolutely efficacious: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased; nothing can ever thwart His purpose. And finally, the counsel of God is perfect, wise, and good. He determines not simply the things that are, but also the things that develop and the entire history of man and creation, as it must lead, in the way of sin and death, to perfection, to the perfection of His eternal kingdom. And in all this the perfect and adorable wisdom of God is manifest: with the most effective and proper means He leads all things to the final end which God has conceived from eternity in His counsel. In a word, all the so-called incommunicable, as well as the communicable, attributes of God must be ascribed to the counsel of the living God.
    Reformed Dogmatics, pp., 158-9.

    But in the objective sense the matter is nevertheless quite different. For the truth is that God does not realize His counsel in spite of something that disturbs and mars or destroys the work of His hands, but through the means of all the attempts of the ungodly world to frustrate His plan, as well as through all other means. God's work has never been spoiled. Known unto God are all His works from the beginning. Always He follows a straight course to the end He has in view. Never was He forced by any power outside of Himself to deviate from that course. He rules alone, sovereignly, and absolutely, - rules also through the means of Satan and ungodly men. There is, indeed, conflict between the purpose and intention of the ungodly and the holy will of God, but never between the counsel of God and the operations of the creature.

    The ship of creation, leaving the coast of the [the beginning] sailing over the ocean of time, follows a straight courseto the harbor the Almighty destined her to reach. There are to Him no contrary winds, tor all winds are His. For this reason we may never separate the fall from the providential government of God. Not only must we never hesitate to say that the fall of man took place according to the determinate counsel of the Most High, in order to serve Him as a means to an end; but we must also understand that it occurred entirely by His own providential power and government. Never was the counsel of God frustrated. And the work of grace is no repair work.

    Only under God's providence was Satan empowered to use the serpent as an instrument, could he enter paradise, could he tempt the woman, lead her, and through her dam. to the fall, and could man and the whole creation fall under sin and the curse. This does not mean that we chime in with the morbid exclamation: "0 blessed fall into sin!" For the fall itself is not blessed, but is our great guilt. But neither are we, as redeemed children of God, filled with a sad longing for a paradise lost, but must rather boast in the manifold wisdom of God, Who even through the deep way of sin and death and the curse executes His counsel to the salvation of His church.

    Hence, we may never separate in our minds the providence of God from the facts of sin and grace. There is no operation of God's providence next to and apart from that of grace and the curse. love and wrath. election and reprobation. The government of God is exactly of such a nature that i t guides the organic whole of creation unto the final glory of the new heavens and the new earth, to the glory of God's eternal covenant and to His eternal tabernacle which shall be with men, while through the same government of the Most High the reprobate element falls away and becomes ripe for eternal desolation. For it is God's positive purpose to unite all things in Christ as the new head of all creation. to preserver and perfect His covenant and His everlasting kingdom. Unto this end all things in heaven and on earth are directed: and the Most High so governs all things that they must infallibly lead unto that end. All things under God's providence cooperate unto that end. All things in heaven and on earth and in hell. angels and devils, righteous and wicked, the curse, death, and all the suffering of this present time, sin and grace, fruitful and barren years, rain and drouth, war and peace, sickness and pestilence, - all things work together to the glorification of all things when the tabernacle of God will be with men. Of course, the devils and the ungodly cooperate unto that end in a different way from that of the angels and righteous.

    Hence, the former gather unto themselves treasures of wrath, while they nevertheless cooperate in the execution of God's counsel; and the latter receive the eternal reward of grace. There is no dualism: all work together unto the realization of the counsel of the Lord. God's government is motivated by electing and redeeming and glorifying grace, on the one hand. and by reprobating wrath on the other. Pp 239-40.


    According to that eternal purpose. and in harmony with the changed condition of man, God now changes all of earthly existence, so as to become the proper stage for the realization of His purpose of election and reprobation. The great sorrow and conception of the woman, the
    curse on the ground. the bondage of corruption to which the whole creation is made subject. the toil of man, temporal death, -- all these belong to the proper setting of the stage for the realization of God's purpose in the future. Temporal suffering, toil. vanity, and death are common to all men. Yet, while they are manifestations of wrath for the ungodly, they are not punishments for the elect in Christ. Who bore all our punishments. All things work together for good to them that love God. This we must understand from the start. P., 262,


    The third locus treats of the Person and work of Christ, the Mediator of God and man, and, we may add at once. the Head of the covenant. The Lord God maintains and establishes His covenant not only by visiting the transgressor with His wrath by bringing upon him death and the curse and by manifesting in that way that only in the communion of His friendship there is life and joy, but also by revealing that covenant of His friendship in Christ Jesus our Lord. He always executes His counsel, even through the means of Satan and sin, and in the way of sin causes the people of His covenant to attain to greater glory and to become manifestations of the glory of His grace. It is true, of course, that the first man fell away from God by wanton disobedience and that man is the guilty one, and God is righteous. But it is no less true that also man's fall into sin occurred according to the determinate counsel and will of God, and that essentially sin can be nothing else than a means through which God executes His good pleasure regarding the covenant of His friendship. Not for a moment may we harbor the thought as if God the Lord was necessitated by the fall into sin to change His original counsel in regard to all things. God is One. For that reason He is also one in all the works of His hands. His counsel is one. And the execution of His counsel is also one. Ever God continues to execute His counsel. P., 283.

    To be fair to Hoeksema, he does say:

    Behind this presentation of the matter lies the undoubtedly good intention that one is afraid to make God the author of sin. But as far as this is concerned, we certainly may remark, in the first place, that it must indeed be far from us to make God the author of sin. It is, however, an entirely different question whether God must not be presented as the decreeing cause of the fact of the fall and of the fact of sin. And if we do not wish to dethrone God and to present God and sin as a dualism, we certainly must maintain this. In the second place, we must remark that the infralapsarian with all his good intention does not solve the problem of sin in relation to God ultimately any more than the supralapsarian. P., 334.

    David: given his denial of any permission, this is a distinction without meaning. Like I said, he wants to maintain that its second causes who are accountable, but at the same time undercut the very theodical and theological basis why it is that second causes can be held accountable.

    He sees the order of decrees as a staghtline. Adam fell upwards, he properly advanced the plan of God. All this is actually the flipside of Barthian supralapsarianism.

    David
     
  18. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    David, as I read your statements it is clear that your view of permission allows for prescience of some kind. Perhaps you could simply express what you mean so that it can be seen how your view of "permission" is different from the "bare permission" which the Confession rejects. As far as I can see, once a person starts speaking of conditional decrees they are not in the realms of reformed theology any more.

    To answer your question, I am willing to use the word "permission," but would agree with those who teach that the word is somewhat equivocal in the context of a free and exhaustive divine decree. If God decreed to permit something, the word "permit" is not being used in the proper sense of "suffer it to happen," because the decree by definition determines it to happen.

    You can cut and paste Beza and Turretin all day if you like. They can clarify unconditional decrees better than I can.

    Concerning my view of the decree, I regard it as singular in itself, but plural in the objects with which it is concerned. It is the divine good pleasure which determines the relation of the objects to each other. Hence equal ultimacy exists with both good and evil, election and reprobation so far as the decree itself is concerned. However, they differ in execution by reason of the fact that God has assigned different conditional relations.

    As I read your comments on the decree I can see that you do not distinguish clearly between the decree and its execution. That might be something worth working on. Blessings!
     
  19. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    :amen:This is exactly right and exactly where Ponter has been pushing the discussion and for the obvious reasons (at least for those familiar with Ponter's m.o.)
     
  20. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    This doesn´t follow at all. Men are responsible precisely because there is a Sovereign to whom they must give an account and for no other reason. The type of permission you are arguing for is neither a necessary component to responsibility nor is it in harmony with Reformed orthodoxy or tradition -- or even consistent with a biblical theocidy.

    While I realize that there are those who have problems with Hoeksema, I´m hard pressed to think of any Reformed man who would strongly object to anything you´ve provided above. OTOH, I can fully appreciate why you have such profound problems with it. Of course, if I were to take issue with anything Hoeksema said, I think he was wrong and supralapsarians have solved the problem of evil (see Reymond for starters and Clark before him). Evil has long since ceased to be a problem for supralapsarians, whereas infralapsarians have tended to slide toward Arminianism which you continue to make evident by your posts. :bigsmile:
     
  21. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    This is interesting intramurally. I think I would side with Hoeksema here. The weakness of Arminianism, Amyraldianism, and Infralapsarianism is their inability to explain the fact that God still executed His decree in the work of creation notwithstanding His prescience of sin. Supralapsarians are content to acknowledge that this is owing to a positive decree on God's part, and that the ultimate reason for it rests in God and cannot be discovered by the creature. Hence the ultimate solution to the problem of evil rests in God Himself, and the posture of man should be that expressed in Ps. 131. Blessings!

    [Edited on 8-17-2006 by armourbearer]
     
  22. Flynn

    Flynn Puritan Board Freshman

    G'day Matthew

    Its interesting to me that youve quietly stopped talking about Turretin. It tells me that you didnt mop the floor with me as Magma remarked.

    Now its interesting to me too that you ask the following questions. Your posts tell me that partly you are into the theological question, but partly into suspecting something erroneousness about my take on permission. It sounds like you have a paradigm, you cant rationally get your mind around the classic infra paradigm or what I am saying, so your response seems to be: I must be the problem? or there is some Arminian loophole here which I am hiding. Pehaps I really am a non-Protestant dancing Arminian. :) Somehow what Ive said is pushing a slippery slope alert in your mind.

    Now to the issue: Ive stated it very clearly. Ive advocate the position of Turretin and Bavinck. But still you suspect an Arminian ghost lurking behind the corner.

    So to your post:

    Matthew: David, as I read your statements it is clear that your view of permission allows for prescience of some kind.

    David: It is, where do you get that from?

    Matthew: Perhaps you could simply express what you mean so that it can be seen how your view of "permission" is different from the "bare permission" which the Confession rejects. As far as I can see, once a person starts speaking of conditional decrees they are not in the realms of reformed theology any more.

    David: Oh Matthew. I thought so. Go to Dort:

    1:15: What peculiarly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the eternal and unmerited grace of election is the express testimony of sacred Scripture that not all, but some only, are elected, while others are passed by in the eternal decree; whom God, out of His sovereign, most just, irreprehensible, and unchangeable good pleasure, has decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have wilfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but, permitting them in His just judgment to follow their own ways, at last, for the declaration of His justice, to condemn and punish them forever, not only on account of their unbelief, but also for all their other sins. And this is the decree of reprobation, which by no means makes God the Author of sin (the very thought of which is blasphemy), but declares Him to be an awful, irreprehensible, and righteous Judge and Avenger thereof.

    David: And you have the famous clause in the conclusion of Dort:
    "... that the same doctrine teaches that God, by a mere arbitrary act of his will, without the least respect or view to any sin, has predestinated the greatest part of the world to eternal damnation, and has created them for this very purpose; that in the same manner in which the election is the fountain and cause of faith and good works, reprobation is the cause of unbelief and impiety;

    David resumes: The wording here is clear. The decree of reprobation includes the decree of preterition and the decree of predamnation. But the last aspect is conditioned "on account of their sins". Thats a clause that theologically conditions the main verb.

    See Turretin's discussion on this in vol 1, p 380ff and specifically the area of 383. There is no symmetry in preterition and predamnation. In preterition, God acts as king. In predamnation he acts as judge. And lets be clear, by predamnation, hes not speaking of the execution, but the decree.

    Matthew, you sound more like a Hoeksemian on this than Free Church Man. Where are you at theologically? You hanging out with the EPC in Burnie?

    Not even the supralapsarians like Gomarus said that the decree of predamnation is absolute.

    Matthew:

    To answer your question, I am willing to use the word "permission," but would agree with those who teach that the word is somewhat equivocal in the context of a free and exhaustive divine decree. If God decreed to permit something, the word "permit" is not being used in the proper sense of "suffer it to happen," because the decree by definition determines it to happen.

    David: So like Clark you must say the word has no meaning. To derermine it to happen is not the same as efficiently and immediately cause it to happen. God can completely permit something (willingly: as if I need to continuously add that qualifier) and yet determine that same thing.

    Thats the bit that you can get to yet I think. Its gotta be linear and straightline for you, I suspect.

    Matthew: You can cut and paste Beza and Turretin all day if you like. They can clarify unconditional decrees better than I can.

    Concerning my view of the decree, I regard it as singular in itself, but plural in the objects with which it is concerned. It is the divine good pleasure which determines the relation of the objects to each other. Hence equal ultimacy exists with both good and evil, election and reprobation so far as the decree itself is concerned. However, they differ in execution by reason of the fact that God has assigned different conditional relations.


    David: Well then you are in essence denying your own confession which gives meaning to permission and second causes. You are in effect just doing the same thing Clark did. Basically, what he did was to say, well the language of permission is purely phenomological, the real noumenal meaning is that God never permits sin in any sense, he causes it (in some tertius quid sense [which is bogus say I]).

    Btw, normally the Reformed dont say the decree is absolutely 1, but that there are decrees, but we speak of them as 1, at times. You have one decree, many executions. Thats so "straightline."

    Matthew: As I read your comments on the decree I can see that you do not distinguish clearly between the decree and its execution. That might be something worth working on. Blessings!

    David: Not at all. I simply read Dort and like statements. The decree of reprobation enfolds two aspecets, the determination (decree) to unconditionally pass by, and the determination (decree) to condemn on account of sin.

    Matthew, your objection there is a classic PRC objection. They tried to make this distinction:

    1) the decree to predamn is a sovereign unconditional decree.

    But:

    2) the execution of that decree in time is conditional.

    That was their standard gloss on Dort. But the wording of Dort is clear, the decree itself, the decree to condemn is on account of sin.

    I took them to a' Brakel, vol 1, p., 221: "Sin is the only reason that God has decreed to damn specific individuals. God permits them by their own volition to turn from Him and to enslave themselves to sin."

    When I showed that to the PRCers they choked. The PRC will hedge their way out of Dort's condemnation of their theology on the grounds that the decree to predamn is soveriegn, but the actual execution of the decree is conditioned. It does not fly confessionally or in classic Protestant Scholastic Calvinism.

    To wrap this up, the supralapsarianism of Hoeksema and Clark is a notch or two above that of Beza and Gomarus. For both of the latter affirmed permission and a conditional decree to damn. Hoeksema and Clark went the whole 9 yards goose-stepping over all the careful distinctions and nuances of the 17thC supra and infra positions. Sadly, that form of supralapsarianism is the dominant internet-supralapsarianism today. (I am hoping Homer Hoeksema is not your principal source for confessional interpretation. :( )

    So to sum up what I am saying. I will try and do this by way of piccie. I hope the graphics work out:

    For you (it seems), for Hoeksema and Clark its like this.

    |___|___|___|___| Here the connector is bare sovereignty

    Each vertical represents a decree in the supra schema.


    Arminianism like this:

    |___|___|___|___| Here the connector is bare foreknowledge.

    Infra is like this:

    |___|

    .. .. .. |___|___| [ignore the dots completely]

    What infralapsarianism says is something like this: I know the decrees are unified. I dont know how. I see, I really do see a break in the divine order, and that is not a mere phenomological break. I dont know how to connect the two lines of thought. I know though, I cant do what the supra says, for that does make God the author of sin (despite all their protestations). I cant resort to bare knowledge either. I must confess I just dont know. But Scripture and honesty compells me to avoid both rationalisms of the supralapsarians and the Arminians.

    To speak technically, I dont have a unified field of knowledge on this, as Hoeksema, Clark and the supralapsarians tried to pretend.

    So you ask me to define the import of foreknowledge. I say: I dont know. I dont know how the causal complex works. I dont even pretend to think univocally. Rather I try to think analogically in all this.

    So Matthew, its my turn to witch-hunt. Where are you at theologically? Are you all the way with the PRC-EPC? Do you affirm common grace and the free offer? Its been years since we talked.

    And I do believe it is the case that the standard thinkers like Turretin, a' Brakel, Heppe, (along with others), Dort etc are not on your side. If you doubt my orthodoxy on this, then doubt theres as well.

    Take care,
    David




    [Edited on 8-17-2006 by Flynn]
     
  23. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    David,

    I am not interested in mopping the floor with anyone, nor with detecting secret agendas. This is a discussion, and my concern was to know what you actually believe so that I can discourse more adeptly with you. I stopped with Turretin because I thought his position had been made clear, whilst yours is unclear. Perhaps rather than read between the lines of what I have written, you could simply respond to what is there in black and white.

    Concerning conditional decrees, I ask you to read Turretin's Institutes, 1:316-319. "Are there conditional decrees? We deny against Socinians, Remonstrants, and Jesuits." I could refer to any reformed theologian here; but as Turretin is the one I know you respect, then I refer you to him. You claim to advocate the position of Turretin. Then I ask again, do you allow for prescience? If you do, then you do not advocate the position of Turretin, despite your protestations to the contrary.

    You ask, Where do I get the idea from, that your position allows for prescience of some sort? It is from your calling sin an interruption in God's plan. Also your evasion of calling sin a "thing," which makes it unclear if it is something positively decreed. Again, your avowal of conditional decrees.

    Concerning Dort, it states: "while others are passed by IN THE ETERNAL DECREE." The condition is one which is fixed by God's good pleasure. It is not foreseen. The conditionality is therefore restricted to the execution of the decree.

    I don't believe I am using the word "permission" with no meaning or denying the Confessional use of it. If you pay attention to the parameters within which the word is used in reformed theology, "permission" is not being used in its proper sense. It is all that can be done in this issue because reformed theology is seeking to affirm two antithetical positions, (1) that God decrees sin, but (2) not in such a way as He is guilty of sin. You might call it semantics. I call it understanding the language in context.

    You are simply incorrect when you say "normally the Reformed dont say the decree is absolutely 1, but that there are decrees." This shows that you are not appreciating the proper distinction between the decree as archetype, which is the idea of all things outside Himself, and the decree as ectype, and expressed diversely in its execution in time. See Heppe's Reformed Dogmatics, 139-143.

    The distinction between the decree and its execution is confesssional and to be found in all reformed theologians, not simply in the PRC. Concerning Brakel, your citation justifies this distinction. As quoted: "God has decreed to damn." The condition is determined by the decree of God. Hence the condition itself arises out of the free good pleasure of God. The conditionality only comes to the fore in the execution of the decree. That a Brakel repudiated conditional decrees is clear from his own words in 1:198, where, like Turretin, he refers such notions to Socinians, Arminians, and Jesuits.

    For what it's worth, the principal source of my supralapsarianism is the Bible, which maintains that God worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will, Eph. 1:11. I do not posit a nature of God separate from His will, as revised infralasarians have done, and thereby bound God to a system of morality. I hold to the traditional view that God is free, and that His will determines morality.

    I am a Freechurchman, which, as you know derives its roots from the reformed church of Scotland. Hence I am being consistently Free Church when I espouse the freedom of God after the same manner as Samuel Rutherford. Perhaps David, in the interests of a sound discussion, you could stop with the guilt by association tactic now. Blessings!
     
  24. Flynn

    Flynn Puritan Board Freshman

    G'day Matthew

    You say:

    I am not interested in mopping the floor with anyone, nor with detecting secret agendas. This is a discussion, and my concern was to know what you actually believe so that I can discourse more adeptly with you. I stopped with Turretin because I thought his position had been made clear, whilst yours is unclear. Perhaps rather than read between the lines of what I have written, you could simply respond to what is there in black and white.

    I say: Well thats good. But you seemed to want to press something more into what Ive said. Ive stated it clearly enough now.


    Matthew: Concerning conditional decrees, I ask you to read Turretin's Institutes, 1:316-319. "Are there conditional decrees? We deny against Socinians, Remonstrants, and Jesuits." I could refer to any reformed theologian here; but as Turretin is the one I know you respect, then I refer you to him. You claim to advocate the position of Turretin. Then I ask again, do you allow for prescience? If you do, then you do not advocate the position of Turretin, despite your protestations to the contrary.

    David: You have to be careful here. By conditional decree they meant a decree that was dependent on the indetermined actions of an external source or foreknown event. The response is to things like Molinism or Thomistic antecedent versus consequent decree.

    But thats not how they mean, nor I mean, when they held to a conditioned decree of predamnation.


    Example: Why did I decide to smack my dog? Because he messed on the floor. The reason why I smacked him is not some unconditioned determination, but because he messed on the floor. Its judicial. But now, I can decree unconditionally to foreordain by permissive decree, that my dog mess on the floor. Turretin is affirming the latter, not denying the former.

    Hoeksema confused this and so had to assert that the actual predamnation decree is itself also sovereign. The Hoeksemians denied both propositions, affirming an absolute arbitrary decree of predamnation.

    Matthew:
    You ask, Where do I get the idea from, that your position allows for prescience of some sort? It is from your calling sin an interruption in God's plan. Also your evasion of calling sin a "thing," which makes it unclear if it is something positively decreed. Again, your avowal of conditional decrees.

    David: Wow. I dont have the Turretin citation on hand, but he himself gave me the idea of sin being a break up of the divine order. Its in his defence of infralapsarianism. As to evasion... where? Sin is not a matter. Sin is not a created thing. It has no ontology. Sin is as Augustine said, in the abstraction, an absense of something. In the concrete, its a disposition. So I have not evaded at all.

    It would seem to be that sin is somewhere between the created concrete of a piece of matter, and the complete abstraction of the Number 7. Like the number 7 it has no ontology. But like matter, it does have positive impact, like lust, etc.

    Matthew: Concerning Dort, it states: "while others are passed by IN THE ETERNAL DECREE." The condition is one which is fixed by God's good pleasure. It is not foreseen. The conditionality is therefore restricted to the execution of the decree.

    David: See above. Dort still says the decree to predamn is on account of sin. Call it what you will, just dont say its an absolute sovereign decree. Whatever you want Matthew is fine: just dont buy into Heoksema's confusion on this.

    Matthew: I don't believe I am using the word "permission" with no meaning or denying the Confessional use of it. If you pay attention to the parameters within which the word is used in reformed theology, "permission" is not being used in its proper sense. It is all that can be done in this issue because reformed theology is seeking to affirm two antithetical positions, (1) that God decrees sin, but (2) not in such a way as He is guilty of sin. You might call it semantics. I call it understanding the language in context.

    David: so lets try this:
    David: So Matthew: did God cause Adam to sin directly?
    We may be able to go from there.


    Matthew: You are simply incorrect when you say "normally the Reformed dont say the decree is absolutely 1, but that there are decrees." This shows that you are not appreciating the proper distinction between the decree as archetype, which is the idea of all things outside Himself, and the decree as ectype, and expressed diversely in its execution in time. See Heppe's Reformed Dogmatics, 139-143.

    David: Well we speak of the decree in the plural and in the singular. You were over-stating the complete unity because you see lapsarian causation as a simple straightline (as I am reading you) with step 1 univocally as a means to step 2, and so on.

    Matthew: The distinction between the decree and its execution is confesssional and to be found in all reformed theologians, not simply in the PRC. Concerning Brakel, your citation justifies this distinction. As quoted: "God has decreed to damn." The condition is determined by the decree of God. Hence the condition itself arises out of the free good pleasure of God. The conditionality only comes to the fore in the execution of the decree. That a Brakel repudiated conditional decrees is clear from his own words in 1:198, where, like Turretin, he refers such notions to Socinians, Arminians, and Jesuits.

    David: You are back to God directly causing sin now.

    God unconditionally decrees to permit sin to come into the world and that it should blind and harden men. That decree is unconditioned. Its not based on bare foreknowledge, etc etc. Then God decrees to predamn on account of sin. That decree to predam is not an unconditional decree. They respect different things. The former refers to the ordained permission of the physicality of sin with all its moral aspects. The latter respects the determination to punish sin, because of its sin.

    Its really that simple.

    Herman, Homer, Ron, et al, miss this. I see though that youve gone quiet on a' Brakel though. And Dort. The clearly stated grounds for the decree of predamnation is the sin of the damned.

    These guys bought into a the morally repugnant idea of equal symmetrical ultimacy with respect to election and reprobation.

    Matthew: For what it's worth, the principal source of my supralapsarianism is the Bible, which maintains that God worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will, Eph. 1:11. I do not posit a nature of God separate from His will, as revised infralasarians have done, and thereby bound God to a system of morality. I hold to the traditional view that God is free, and that His will determines morality.

    David: Well there are a lot of assumptions there. God can work out all things according to his will, but in diverse modes. God can work out his will by permitting a man to sin, without causing it directly.

    Matthew: I am a Freechurchman, which, as you know derives its roots from the reformed church of Scotland. Hence I am being consistently Free Church when I espouse the freedom of God after the same manner as Samuel Rutherford. Perhaps David, in the interests of a sound discussion, you could stop with the guilt by association tactic now. Blessings!

    David: Matthew, to help me understand where you are coming from: what is your position on the free or well-meant offer and common grace?

    We both know that men like Rutherford down to Cunningham affirmed both.

    We also know that the Scottish tradition is quite diverse. I come at from the marrow side. You come at from more the rutherford side, with it reads to me othe influences which I am trying to probe.

    As to guilt by association, no I have not done that. I have not made any personal accusation on the basis of an semantic association. Ive said it sounds just like so and so... or its the same argument so and so uses. But Ive never actually CALLED you so and so, and so therefore you are bad bad bad, have I? Be careful here Matthew in what you charge.

    If you want to accuse me of tacitly implying it, thats a motive call that you are not warranted to make.

    Take care,
    David
     
  25. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    David, you are becoming less clear with each post. Now you are providing your incontinent dog as an example of a permissive decree, which is nothing more than judicial reaction to an event you have no control over.

    You affirm, "Hoeksema confused this and so had to assert that the actual predamnation decree is itself also sovereign." Hoeksema is orthodox reformed here. As stated earlier there is equal ultimacy in the decree itself. Consider William Perkins (The order of the causes of salvation and damnation, Works, 1:97):

    "The name of Predestination, by a figure called Synecdoche, the whole for the part, is taken indeed sometimes in the good part, and spoken of the Elect, and faithful called, as Rom. 8.30. Whom he predestinated, them also he called, and whom he called, them also he justifyd, and whom he justifyd, them also he glorified. So are the Ephesians said to be predestinate into the adoption of the Sons of God. Eph. 1.5. Yet may this word Predestination, neverthelesse generally be extended unto the decree of God, whether it be that of predestination to eternal life, or the other unto eternal death."

    "Furthermore, for a man to say that the Reprobates are foreknown, and not predestinate, it is very iniurious: because God´s foreknowledge, may in nothing which is to be, be severed from his will and eternal decree. For that, which beeing hereafter to be, is foreknown of God, that assuredly will come to passe, and shall be, and that either by the will of God, or without his will: if with his will, then no doubt he both decreed and preordained the same: if without or against his will, how is God then said to be omnipotent?"

    If Turretin said sin was a break up of the divine order, it would only have been in the context of the will of sign, not with reference to the decree, which is properly God's eternal plan.

    Sin has no being of itself, since as stated earlier it is either a charge against a moral agent or a corruption of a moral agent. But as connected with the moral agent it is an entity, else Christ could not have condemned sin in the flesh. As such it comes under the cognisance of the eternal decree. A denial of this point supposes that the mystery of iniquity functions outside the decree of God.

    You write concerning Dordt: "Call it what you will, just dont say its an absolute sovereign decree." But Dordt calls it an absolute sovereign decree.

    Concerning Adam, Turretin has already been quoted to show the divine cause of sin. God decreed it. Providentially, He did not compel Adam to it by physical coercion or moral persuasion. Yet it is certain that the hand which Adam put forth to take of the fruit was a hand under divine government at every point, and without the breath of the Almighty Adam could not have moved a muscle. But I can affirm such things because I acknowledge the traditional distinction between an action as an action and an action as moral. God meant it for good, Adam for evil.

    Thankfully you have started using the language of "conditioned" to qualify the decree, although you are still hanging on for grim death to your "conditional" meaning. Hopefully you will bear in mind the difference between the two. In a conditioned decree, God has ordained the condition. Hence, when you go on to say, "That decree to predam is not an unconditional decree," you have missed the point. Consider Heinrich Heppe's summation of Braun and Riissen (Reformed Dogmatics, p. 138):

    "Since then the divine decree is the being and will of God Himself, it is unconditioned by anything else and is absolute, eternal and unchangeable. For that very reason it is also absolutely determinative of all that achieves reality, including its conditions, and is thereby the first cause of things. "“ Braun (I, ii, 9, 6): "œSince God´s decree is His will and His decreeing His most actual willing, it follows that His decrees can have no cause and that God cannot be so moved by anything as to will this or that." "“ Riissen (V, 8): "œGod´s decrees are called absolute (1) so far as they are definite and fixed sententiae, not the longings of a mind in suspense, nor ones not yet clearly defined; (2) so far as they do not depend on any previous condition; (3) so far as God does not will to hinder them or cut them out."

    Your fluctuation between the language of conditional and conditioned requires reforming. On this line of reasoning, because faith is determined as a condition of salvation, you would have to concude that the decree of salvation is conditional. Whereas the truth is that faith is the ordained condition; just as sin is the ordained condition of damnation. The thing which is decreed is divinely conditioned, but the decree itself is not conditional.

    Concerning my position on the free or well-meant offer and common grace, please consult my critical review of John Murray's Free Offer of the Gospel, at fpcr.org.

    Concerning guilt by association, you write: "But Ive never actually CALLED you so and so, and so therefore you are bad bad bad, have I?"

    But this is the point of "guilt by association," David; you can get away with insinuating guilt without directly charging it, simply by associating what one person holds with what another person holds, in this case Hoeksema.
     
  26. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    David Ponter:

    And again from another post of his in my files:


    As promised, I knew I had these little gems from David Ponter somewhere. Notice the implicit Arminianism in the above quotes. Ponter´s god is "œscreaming and yelling"helpless and impotent to save "œthe wicked and unconverted." His puny god can only "œencourage" the wicked and unconverted to repent if they only will. No wonder Ponter chafes at the unequivocal and clearly Reformed view of causation of Clark and Hoeksema he cites above. With their house on fire, Ponter´s god can only stand helpless outside screaming and yelling for those about to die to come out. His god is helpless and can do nothing to save those who are completely oblivious to the flames about to engulf them. Yet, in his warped and Arminian theology this "œexemplifies his compassion for them." His god can´t even cause the wicked and unconverted to repent so that they might be saved, yet he considers himself Reformed and malignes all those who do not subscribe to his tacit but clear Arminianism as "hypers" and "rationalists." :lol:

    I think the above shines some more light on Ponter´s view of permission and causality which (in spite of his misquotes and twisting of Turretin and others as Matthew has ably and brilliantly demonstrated) illustrates again how far outside of the Reformed mainstream Ponter really is.
     
  27. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    And how would you explain those passages Sean?
     
  28. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    By asking the question suggests, at least to me, that you agree with David and there are those who perish whom God is both unable and impotent to save. It suggests you are in agreement with his picture of God helplessly crying and yelling outside of a burning building hoping that His pleas will be heard so that those inside would "œwake up" and flee from the fires about to consume them. Am I reading you correctly Patrick and do you agree with the analogy David draws and that such impotence and inaction is a sign of divine compassion?

    The fact is David twists the "œno pleasure" passages in Ezekiel just like every other Arminian. Unfortunately for David, what is being answered is the empty contention that those about to suffer God´s judgment in exile are innocent victims who are to suffer due to no fault of their own. The claim advanced is; 'The way of the Lord is not right.' Through the prophet the answer given is that the Lord takes no pleasure in those who die, but the solution for those claiming their own self-righteousness is to "Therefore, repent and live." The Lord´s critics are told what they ought to do, yet from this command David wrongly imputes inefficacy to the Lord and infers an unrequited longing and desire on the part of God for the wicked to do as they ought. He makes the same error in a slightly different direction as the Arminian who wrongly infers from this command an ability to do as one is commanded. Calvin said: "this passage is violently twisted if the will of God, mentioned by the prophet, is opposed to his eternal plan, by which he has distinguished the elect from the reprobate" [ Institutes, 3.24.15]. Yet, this is exactly how David violently twists this passage. God´s desire for the elect and the reprobate is the same. Like any good Arminian when David sees something written in the imperative he tries to infer something in the indicative. For what it's worth, Ponter has been playing this same game and making this same logical blunder for years as he twists the Scriptures and the writings of the Reformers to conform to his own unbiblical view of God.

    I know I´ve mentioned it before, but I´ll do so agin; I recommend you read CRC prof Reymond Blacketer´s article; The Three Points in Most Parts Reformed: A Reexamination of the So-Called Well-Meant Offer of Salvation. If you like, skip down to his section on Calvin and his examination of Berkhof´s and Hoekema´s unbalanced and lopsided take on key points including these passages from Ezekiel. It is particularly instructive because Ponter makes exactly the same egregious errors as Berkof and Hoekema in his handling of Calvin (and others) and for precisely the same reasons as Blacketer outlines.

    [Edited on 8-23-2006 by Magma2]
     
  29. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't think the offer of the gospel to reprobates is a sign of impotence in God at all. There's nothing Arminian in pleading with sinners to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. That has been a hallmark of reformed preaching since the Reformation. I'm not sure what your problem is here. Isn't God meek? Patient? Longsuffering? Doesn't God delight in repentence and obedience? Does he not demand that of all men? I cannot reconcile why God would plead with reprobates to turn. But it's there in Scripture. It's part of His revealed will.

    As for what you infer from my question, I haven't the foggiest idea what David holds to on these issues other than the snippets you posted. I only see your constant accusations against him (apparently from some previous baggage) without anything productive to the discussion at hand. If you have personal issues with David then handle them outside the Puritan Board. If you can't offer anything constructive then don't post.
     
  30. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I know Sean's rhetoric is not always becoming the gravity of divine subjects, but I believe he made a positive contribution with his quotation of Calvin. I don't see anywhere in Scripture which requires us to believe that God screams at the reprobate as if He longs to save them but is powerless to do so. All of the divine expostulations in Scripture are within the context of an elect Israel or church. Hence none of them fail when they go unheeded by those who subsequently prove to be reprobate, because they are fulfilled in those who are the elect, Rom. 9:6. At the historical point at which He gives His expostulations, the elect and reprobate are not distinguished; so it is nonsense to say God screams at the reprobate.

    That said, Sean, I wish you wouldn't speak abusively, for God peradventure might grant David repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. Even if David believes in screaming as a means of grace, we don't, so we should continue to instruct those that oppose us in meekness. Blessings!
     
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