Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Anti-Catholic Calvinist "Turretinfan" Sez That God "Wants" Men to Sin; "Ordains" It

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I've often heard Calvinists deny that they believe God is the author of sin, and I try to be as charitable as I can in accepting their report of their own belief-system. Information such as the following makes that difficult to do. The words below are all from The Anonymous One (TAO), one of the most exasperatingly illogical, incoherent amateur theologians I have encountered online, in my nearly 14 years. They are from his own blog ("Axe, Saw, and Staff Theology" -- 6 January 2010; in the comments section). Change of color means a separate combox comment. All bolding is my own:

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Now I'll repeat my earlier, more immediately relevant question: Does God want men to sin or not?" Recall that I had asked: "Is it your understanding of the issue that the Father didn't want Christ crucified or that the Father did want Christ crucified?" I think you know that the answer is that [the] Father wanted it. If so, then it would seem to follow that God wanted men to sin.


[E]vil deeds of wicked men, even though ordained by God, merit punishment.


He commands them not to sin. He ordains that they will sin. They do so freely, though according to his foreordination.


Perhaps you're failing to see that God's commands relate to the moral law, whereas his decrees relate to His providence. Let's give you an example of God wanting men to sin and commanding them not to. God commanded men not to kill an innocent man. However, God wanted Jesus to be crucified. Do you see that as a conflict also? . . . no one coerces the wicked to sin.


Do you think that simply because no one is able to resist God's predestining decree they shouldn't be subject to the moral law?


21 comments:

Turretinfan said...

I've repeatedly pointed out to you that "anti-Catholic" is a misleading description of me.

Dave Armstrong said...

It's a common malady. The bigot doesn't like being called a bigot. The liberal is ashamed of that title, pro-abortionists refuse to be called that and have to play games with terminology, etc. Join the crowd.

Turretinfan said...

Maybe you didn't read what I wrote. I wrote "misleading" not "offensive." While of course it is offensive (which is your whole point in using it), it is offensive because it isn't accurate. In that sense it is different from me using the accurate label of "papist" or "Romanist" to describe your eccelesiology.

Adomnan said...

Turretinfan is mistakenly assuming that, because God can bring good out of evil, He wills the evil that results in the good.

This doesn't even hold true in ordinary life. Take a police sting operation, for example. A sting operation is something planned, just as, say, Christ's redemptive passion was planned. The police know (or suspect) someone is engaged in a criminal activity, and so they set up a sting that succeeds in catching the culprit in flagrante delicto. The police didn't want the culprit to engage in the criminal activity -- that was entirely the criminal's choice -- and yet they made use of the fact that he did so to achieve a good result: the arrest of the culprit and the end of his criminal activity. The police provided the opportunity and the occasion; the miscreant committed the crime; and the result was good.

So deriving a good outcome from an evil act does not in any way imply that those who achieve the good outcome "want" the evil act to occur.

The Catholic Catechism says that this is what occurred with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; namely, God brought a good that He willed out of an evil that He did not will:

CC 312 "In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his creatures: 'It was not you,' said Joseph to his brothers, 'who sent me here, but God.....You meant evil against me but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.' (Gen 45:8; 50.20) From the greatest moral evil ever committed -- the rejection and murder of God's only Son, caused by the sins of all men -- God, by his grace that 'abounded all the more' (Rom 5:20) brought the greatest of goods, the glorification of Christ and our redemption. But for all that, evil never becomes a good."

Ben M said...
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Ben M said...
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Dave Armstrong said...

While of course it is offensive (which is your whole point in using it), it is offensive because it isn't accurate.

You have it exactly backwards. It's not my intent to offend anybody. I use the term because it exactly describes what is going on: opposition to Catholicism and the ongoing will to define Catholicism out of Christianity.

You are offended by a term that is not of my own making, and that has been in use by historians and sociologists for many many years. I didn't invent it; I merely use it.

But when you say I am not a Christian, that is not just a word: it insults my very being and purpose for existence. It's untrue in a way that a mere disliked term can never be "untrue." The position of anti-Catholicism is the ultimate insult to a Catholic: it asserts that we are not followers of our Lord Jesus Christ if we follow all the teachings of the Catholic Church, and that we follow a false gospel.

That's a lie. My life is devoted to showing how and why it is a lie, and that Catholicism is not only Christian, but the fullest, best, most biblical and moral brand of Christianity available.

I know you guys sincerely believe all this about us, etc. According to your position an obedient Catholic cannot be a Christian. He has to be a lousy Catholic to be a Christian. But you are dead wrong.

And you must understand that we take our stand out of principle, too. All "Anti-Catholic" means is "opposition to Catholicism." We're not the ones saying you guys aren't Christians. That's what you say about us.

So you can perhaps dimly comprehend that all this being the case, we're not all that concerned about your objecting to a term of description, when you deny our very core being as disciples of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Let's get things straight here, as to which is far and away the most offensive thing of the two.

Ben M said...
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Turretinfan said...

Adomnan and Ben:

I'll ask you the same question that I asked in the comments section:

"Is it your understanding of the issue that the Father didn't want Christ crucified or that the Father did want Christ crucified?"

Martin said...

Is it your understanding of the issue that the Father didn't want Christ crucified or that the Father did want Christ crucified?"

Have you stopped beating Catholics yet?

Adomnan said...

Turretinfan: Is it your understanding of the issue that the Father didn't want Christ crucified or that the Father did want Christ crucified?

Adomnan: I answered this question already. But I don't remind repeating and reinforcing my answer: The Father wanted Christ crucified because the crucifixion was a good thing. It was the victory of the Son of God over the devil, death and sin. As the CC puts it, it was the "greatest of all goods, the glorification of Christ and our redemption." In John's gospel, in particular, Christ is depicted as glorified while He is on the Cross. Why shouldn't the Father want something so good? God only wants good things and never wants evil or sin.

On the other hand, the rejection and murder of God's only Son was the "greatest moral evil ever committed." The Father did not will or want this rejection and murder, which was committed not by Him but by unjust judges. The Father did will and want the victory, glorification and redemption, together with the love and heroic virtue Christ displayed during His passion. Jesus Christ turned what was meant as evil -- by unjust men, not by the Father -- into something good.

Bringing good out of evil happens all the time. Men do this, as I pointed out; and certainly God does as well. The reason God permits evil in the world is that He can bring good out of it. But He never wills evil, not even the evil that is the occasion for good.

The existence of moral evil permits the exercise of virtues like justice, wisdom, courage and temperance, all of which Jesus Christ displayed during His passion. These virtues would be unnecessary in a world without evil; and they would be meaningless in a world in which God wanted evil.

So, I repeat, Turretinfan is mistakenly assuming that, because God can bring good out of evil, He wills the evil that results in the good.

And here is a question for Turrentinfan: Do you think the crucifixion was a good thing or a bad thing?

Ben M said...
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Adomnan said...

Ben, I don't disagree with your assessment here:

"Well, TF, strictly speaking, the answer would have to be no, the Father did not “want” Christ to be crucified (again strictly speaking), any more than he ‘wants’ other members of the Mystical Body (M.B.) to suffer."

When i wrote that the Father "wanted" the crucifixion, I meant that He wanted the good that flowed from it. The suffering itself was of no value to Him. Suffering is never a good, but it isn't always an evil either. Depends on the situation. For instance, suffering wouldn't be an evil if it resulted in someone's improvement, which is why mortification of the flesh is recommended in the Bible, as Dave pointed out. People can grow through suffering, although that does not make the suffering good in itself. It's the growth that is good.

By the way, none of this discussion of the moral value of suffering, or lack thereof, has any bearing on the question of whether the Father "wanted" Christ's persecutors to sin, which of course He did not. The two issues should not be confused.

Adomnan said...

My concluding remark (not to confuse the issue of the moral value of suffering with the question of whether God wants men to sin) was made with TF in mind, not you, Ben.

Ben M said...
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Ben M said...
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Adomnan said...

Ben: God never “wants” sin, but rather allows it in the divine plan.

Adomnan: Yes, that's it. Exactly.

Of course, I suppose it could be objected that if God permits something, He wills or "wants" it in some sense, the idea being that, if God, who is omnipotent, absolutely willed that an event not occur, then it wouldn't. However, that's invalid, because what God actually wills is the freedom of rational creatures, not the sin they may commit as a result of that freedom. In other words, the cause of sin is the free choice of creatures, not the will of God, which cannot cause any evil.

And that's what St. Augustine said in the marvelously apt citation you provided, Ben: "(God) therefore predicts even the sins of human beings, which he could foreknow BUT NOT CAUSE."

Jesus teaches that God's will is not always accomplished, despite God's omnipotence, when He instructs us to pray that God's "will be done on earth as it is in heaven." If God's will were always necessarily accomplished, then of course there would be no point in praying that it be accomplished.

God's will is His love, which is why John can say that "God is love." And love wants only good for those loved. So Paul writes (1 Tim 2:4), "God wants all men to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth," because He loves all men.

Finally, if God could "do evil that good may come from it," as the claim that He wants and ordains people to sin presupposes, then why can't we? After all, it's not as if we're better than God. Besides, what could "good" mean if God weren't good? Or what could "good" mean if someone who "wanted and ordained sin" were called "good"?

Nick said...

What Protestants don't think of though is that Christians still sin (even in the Bible) - thus their philosophy is built on a manifestly false foundation. This also disproves their claim that good works are guaranteed, which is all tied together. Their only "option" is to say God foreordained the Christian to sin! This is pure abomination.

Adomnan said...

I've noticed a tendency among Reformed-type heretics, at least of the fundamentalist sort, to exalt God's power at the expense of His goodness, as if goodness were proof of weakness.

If that's the sort of God they want, the pagans already had many powerful but not-so-good Gods to choose from. They shouldn't project this pagan standard of divinity ("might makes right") on the Father Whom Jesus revealed.

Pitting God's power against His goodness is not something that a follower of Christ would ever think to do.

Dave Armstrong said...

And we see historically where this blasphemy comes from. See my latest post on Luther's views about God:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/02/martin-luther-god-is-author-of-evil.html

Ben M said...
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