God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. [WCF 3.1. OPC edition. Taken from The Confession of Faith and Catechisms of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church with Proof Texts (Wilow Grove, PA: The Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 2005, 2008), 12]
A friend of mine asked me to write on what I am for, if I am against Vincent Cheung's promotion of God as the Author of sin. That is rather simple. It is based upon the position of the Westminster Confession of Faith, which I subscribe wholeheartedly. God is the cause of all things, but God is not the author of sin. What that means I will explicate further.
Before I begin, I would like to direct attention to this post I had written 7 years ago, and to which I have not changed my position. It also has a nice chart to which I still think is excellent, and which I will reproduce as follows:
|Active||God personally does this action by a positive extension of His will||God does this action through intermediaries by a positive extension of His will|
|Passive||God personally does this action by not doing something in order to accomplish His will||God does this action through intermediaries by not doing something in order to accomplish His will|
Back to the topic. We believe in the sovereignty of God over all things. Furthermore, God has total exhaustive control over everything both good and evil. Nothing happens without God approving of it, either actively or passively. God's sovereignty is worked out in His decrees, the proclamation of His plans to the cosmos of what is to happen and what is to come. God decreed it from eternity, and this decree once proclaimed will work itself out when the time comes. God's decrees are not God's work. The former is the plan, the latter its execution. Just as a carpenter draws up the plans for his work e.g. a table, and then he executes the plan to create that table, so likewise God "draws up" His plans, and when the time comes, the plans are executed.
The Reformed tradition and in fact almost all of Christian theology until recent times have always believed that God ordained whatsoever comes to pass. The difference between competing traditions (Calvinism, Arminianism, Molinism) is what functions as the basis of God's ordination. The Reformed claims, as Ephesians 1:11 states, that the basis for God's choices, God's ordination, is God's free will. God decides freely, which is to say He does not decides based upon anything external to Himself. God decides unchangeably, which is to say God decides, and there is no change at all in any of His decisions. God after all does not change (Num. 23:19 Mal. 3:6) as He is perfect. Any change at all would have meant He was imperfect before the change. God's decides based upon His free will, and the counsel of His will is most holy and wise, as God is full perfection.
God decrees everything. Yet while we fully affirm God's decree of all things, yet we state unequivocally and clearly that God is not the Author of sin, which is to say that although God decrees everything, yet this decree does not imply that God personally creates or does sin (which is what "primary cause" means in Aristotelianism). Sin is done by the creature. God is fully passive in their sinning, by not intervening to stop them from sinning. Now, many people have the idea that mere allowance implies God is uninvolved, but that is false. Since God controls everything, even God's allowance is allowance of God as to where the person and how the person can sin. As an analogy, imagine 5 marbles. If I were to ask the person to choose a marble but take away four of them, the person can only choose one marble even though there was no external coercion upon him to choose it. Or to give a better, and more biblical analogy, the heart of Man is like a river. It flows. God directs the river's path, as He does the hearts of kings (Prov. 21:1). In this analogy, the river flows and God direct them, but God does not make the river flow. Likewise, God changes circumstances and uses all manner of intermediaries so that the person will do what God intends, but the motivation (like the kinetic flow of water in the river) derives solely from the hearts of men.
Sin therefore is under God passively and secondarily. God's causing sin is "through intermediaries by not doing something in order to accomplish His will." God is not the author or the primary cause of sin. Rather, sin is sovereignly controlled by God through the use of intermediaries, or second causes. These second causes are actual and are real. They actually make real choices, not robots dictated by God that they can only make one choice. Just like the hearts of kings, the control is through direction, not choice. They freely choose, but their choices will always be what God intended them to choose.
As I have mentioned in that old 7-year old post, which God is more sovereign: the God who sovereignly controls all things such that everyone can make free choices yet their choices are always what God intended them to make, or a god who has his decrees and the free choice of anyone could potentially jeopardize his plans? Surely it is the former! This is why the Confession says that the "liberty or contingency of second causes [are not] taken away, but rather established," because God's full sovereignty means that Man's free actions are truly free; God does not have to impose restrictions on Man's freedom for His will to be done and for men to do what He has always planned for them to do. God is just THAT sovereign! That is why Calvinism is not fatalism in any sense, because in fatalism one always lives in fear that one's actions might be contrary to one's fate or destiny.
God is sovereign, and Man is free. That has been the truth trumpeted since the Reformation, and even before that in some form. Cheung's teaching on the other hand is novel, and shows the sovereignty of a god who will lose control if anything is not under his direct control. That is not the God of Scripture, and not the Lord I worship.