Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Vincent Cheung and 18th century English Hyper-Calvinism: Introduction

I have been shifting in my attitude towards Vincent Cheung, as it can be seen from my posts. I initially stumbled unto his stuff quite some time back and found them provocative. Note, I found them provocative, not that I found them necessarily orthodox. So I had thought of what he wrote as something that could be read to stimulate thought on various topics, and that was then. Fast forward to now when one of my friends have sadly fallen under Cheung's spell, and things have become different. Now, it is personal. What grieves me is that I was the one who mentioned Cheung to him as someone who is an interesting thinker, but I never in a million years would have realized just how deep he has fallen into Cheung's heresies. This is a regret that I will hold for as long as he continues under Cheung's errors.

My one main article dealing with Cheung's thoughts deals with perhaps the most egregious and outrageous position he holds to, that God is the author of sin. This of course is just the surface of Cheung's many heresies. Cheung is a Rationalist (capital "R") sometimes, and a "biblicist" otherwise when it suits him. He utilizes philosophy as his first principles, despite any protestations to the contrary. After all, nowhere in Scripture is Occasionalism taught; you wouldn't find it. One could argue for Occasionalism, like Jonathan Edwards, but I doubt Edwards' Occasionalism is as bad as Cheung's. Starting from a priori "logical principles," Cheung utilizes Scripture propositions as proof-texts for his philosophy, instead of using Scripture as the beginning of knowledge (principium cognoscendi).

An example of Cheung's Rationalism is not hard to find. In his heretical book speaking about God being "the author of sin," Cheung writes about "metaphysical distanciation." Now, I seriously doubt THAT concept was being discussed in the Westminster Assembly at all. Is it something that Christians should think about? Yes, I think we should, which is why I had initial positive views of Cheung as an interlocutor. But note that this issue, while important, is an apologetic issue. It is something that we must think about in order to formulate a rational apologetic response. The concept of "metaphysical distanciation" itself should have no bearing at ALL on the biblical doctrine of God and theodicy. It should be discussed after the doctrine is established, not as something to establish doctrine. Scripture before reason, reason in service to the faith — that is how Christianity is to operate between the twin poles of Rationalism and Irrationalism. We reason AFTER faith, not before faith, which is one main reason why I am against natural theology.

Cheung establishes himself online as some sort of expert, formulating a path that is claimed to be the best of Van Tillian and Clarkian presuppositionalism, while rejecting anything in either that he thinks is false. Of course, who exactly is Vincent Cheung? Who knows? In which church is he a pastor, and who is he accountable to? I doubt many people know that. Unfortunately, the nature of the Internet is such that those who can make the most noise and appear knowledgeable have an influence that they probably will not have in real life. Unfortunately also, it is those who hunger for more of God's truth that will be attracted to his form of godliness. It is past time that Cheung is exposed, and I as someone who identifies with Clarkian apologetic want nothing to do whatsoever with this heretic. He does not speak for [G.H. Clark] and there is no "progression" from [G.H. Clark] to him. I have read Clark, and I have read Van Til, and I read Cheung. To put it in perspective, if I were given the choice between Van Til and Cheung, I will choose Van Til. Even the "one-person" teaching of Van Til is more orthodox in comparison to Cheung's blasphemies.

After saying all that, why do I juxtapose Cheung with 18th century English Hyper-Calvinism? I put them together because Cheung's emergence is very similar to the emergence of English Hyper-Calvinism. The spiritual climate of the times were similar, the pressures on the faith were similar, and the "solutions" of Cheung and the Hyper-Calvinists were similar. Through looking at the history of the 18th century English Hyper-Calvinism, it is hoped that we can see the similarity in our times, and beware of people like Cheung, and not just Cheung, but also anyone like him.

[to be continued]

40 comments:

Gregory S. Gill said...

When Vincent Cheung, says God is the "is the author of sin" all he simply means by that is that God decreed, and caused sin to be which is very biblical. Not that God Himself sins or commit any sin. And Vincent Cheung, uses such passages as Gen. 50:20, Isa. 10 (God bringing Assyria to punish Israel by causing them to do all manner of evil to Israel, see also Habakkuk 1) 45:7, Lam. 3:38, Job 2:10; 42:11, Amos 3:6, Acts 4:26-28, Rom. 8:28 (if God works all things that means He is in full control of and thus causes all things) 11:36, Eph. 1:11.

PuritanReformed said...

On the contrary, Cheung makes God the active agent of sin, by claiming that indirect agency is "metaphysical distanciation." Go read his work again.

Gregory S. Gill said...

What do you mean by "Cheung makes God the active agent of sin, by claiming that indirect agency is "metaphysical distanciation.""?

If "active agent of sin" means that God decreed and cause sin to be then yes you are correct. That's what Cheung believes, see his work "The Author of Sin". If by that you mean he says that God sins or commits sins Cheung goes to great pains to deny such, and is against such a belief, see the same book above.

Cheung believes secondary causes or agents (I guess that is what you mean by "indirect agency") are also under God's eternal absolute sovereign rule and control, and what they do, etc. were all predestined and decreed by God which He brings about.

If am wrong give me a quote to the contrary with its references so that I can verify it.

PuritanReformed said...

Cheung states that secondary agency is accidental. It is there but only as a way to say that God does not sin. However, it is accidental to the fact of God's direct agency in authoring sin.

Read what Cheung says about metaphysical distanciation. According to Cheung, God does not sin but He is the direct agent of sin.

Michael said...

If God walked into my room. Right now with a gun and pulled the trigger he would be the first cause but he would not have sinned. By definition god can never be the author of sin becuse whatever god does is good. If god causes you to murder me he is the first cause and is good and you are responsible and a sinner but you acted on your will which was changed by god to murder me, does at make sense? What is Vincent saying other than this.

Michael said...

Hey Daniel, remember you must assume the laws of logic to even talk about the Bible. They are formal only but you need them first. They have no information content though so they aren't a valid axiom that you can derive anything from. Scriptures are still your starting point. I don't see anything wrong with starting from logic AND scripture.

Gregory S. Gill said...

If by direct agent you mean Cheung, is saying God is the direct cause of sin then yes you're correct. The is nothing unbiblical about that. This is what I said in my previous post. If you mean something else then give the quote and exact reference.

PuritanReformed said...

On the contrary, God is NOT the direct cause of sin; that's blasphemy.

Ultimate cause NOT equal direct cause.

PuritanReformed said...

@Michael:

>If God walked into my room. Right now with a gun and pulled the trigger he would be the first cause but he would not have sinned.

That's nonsense. The one who does sinful deeds by definition is the one who sins.


>By definition god can never be the author of sin becuse whatever god does is good.


That doesn't solve your problem. It creates a contradiction whereby God is both "good" and "evil" at the same time. Saying God is good by definition does not mean that God can do something evil and still be good.


>If god causes you to murder me he is the first cause and is good and you are responsible and a sinner but you acted on your will which was changed by god to murder me, does at make sense?


No, it doesn't. God "causes" murder, but He does so by secondary causation, not direct causation. So God did not actually murder. Only in Cheung's blasphemous system is secondary causes rendered superfluous and God made the author of sin since in Cheung's system only direct causation is sovereign actual causation. Cheung denies secondary causation as being a full causative event since for him, any causative event that is not directly under God must not be under God's control, which is a fallacious assumption.

Cheung links responsibilty to the agent that does the deed, not the agent that caused the deed. That's a invalid distinction. Either the doing agent is the causing agent, or the doing agents is a robot under the full control of the causing agent. Either way, the main point remains that claiming direct causation means that God is evil, or totally arbitrary, as my previous post critiquing Cheung's blasphemous teaching concerning the author of sin has shown

PuritanReformed said...

@Michael,

>Hey Daniel, remember you must assume the laws of logic to even talk about the Bible ...

Reason and logic is not the same. Logic is the process of thinking. Reason is both the process AND the manner the premises are chosen and ordered.

You show no awareness at all that you know what Rationalism has historically been. If you do, you wouldn't have misunderstood my critique of using reason with Scripture as proof-texts

Michael said...

Ah I see your confusion. By definition man is not a robot. A robot has no will. Man acts according to his wil. But like Pharo that will is controlled by god. psalms say God changes the "desires of my heart" god literally can change what I want to do. Therefore my will is not violated and god is the first cause and control of all things, why are you fighting this? It doesn't matter if God uses first cause or Third cause God does all that is good, everything that God does is good. Good is defined as what God does and evil is defined as against Gods commands. What is silly about that. Who are you to question God. He can do whatever he wants and he answered to no one. I'd god wipes out the human race that's good because he did it. Not judge gods actions is to hold him opto some other standard or judge. None exists. By what standard or being that is greater ths. God do you judge him?

Michael said...

No you are wrong reason means logic lol if you don't use logic you are unreasonable.

Michael said...

BTW, If you disagree with Vincent you disagree with Clark, have you read Clark's Evil the Problem solved? Take another peek at it and refute that.

PuritanReformed said...

@Michael:

"by definition"? This sort of nominalism does not work. You can just claim ipso factor that by definition problem ____ (insert whatever you want) is solved. I can claim by fiat "by definition" and voila, no problem exists.

>What is silly about that

What is silly is that for you anything other than direct causation is not truly real. What is silly is that you persistently refuse to realize that your system makes God into a monster. Using nominalism does not help your case.

>Good is defined as what God does and evil is defined as against Gods commands

Your Cheungian blasphemy makes God to do evil, as "defined against God's commands." You make God to be contradictory to Himself. I do not recognize that god as mine.


>Who are you to question God

I do not question God. You, as like all Cheungians, are the one that blaspheme God's goodness by making Him violate His own commands.

PuritanReformed said...

@Michael,

ah, somebody who THINKS they know what Clark taught. Clark never once claimed that God is the author of evil, and don't you even dare slander him by saying he did.

Clark argued that the problem is solved by stating that God is the cause of all things, and that God is ex lex. That is a partial solution IMO, but the main fact is that according to Clark, God is NEVER the author of sin.

Michael said...

If by author you mean God is never the direct actor sure I see your point. But thats irrelevant. That is not Clark's complete argument. Again, reread Evil: The Problem Solved.

Clark's ultimate point is this: God is not subject to his commands. God holds man accountable for the 10 commandments, even if God causes a man to will against these same commandments. Hence Romans 9. But God does not have to obey them. He is subject to no law, or commands. He only follows his own will which is not guided by any commands or judged by any living being.

So how can God sin? God is the definition of GOOD. GOD is Good. All God does is Good. What BIble are you reading. This seems simple. This is clarks Argument.

Lets back this up a step. Tell me 1 thing God can do that would be evil? And tell me how its evil? Who says its evil? Who judges God? Who holds God responsible?

If your saying God wont violate his own will thats just saying that God wont do something he doesnt want to do. No kidding, I get that.

But the question is if God DID wipe out humanity right now, why would that be wrong? According to who? What standard? God's Standard? Are you saying there i something higher than God? Who is this? What is it? If God is responsible to anyone other than himself then he is not God.

PuritanReformed said...

@Michael,

God is not subject to the commands He gives to Man. That does not mean God is not subject to any "law" whatsoever. There is the revealed will of God, and the sovereign will of God. God is always "subject" to His sovereign will, a will which is totally in line with His nature.

God cannot will Himself to NOT exist. God cannot will Himself to be evil. And God cannot will Himself to lie and break His promises. All these he cannot do because to do so would violate His nature, who He is in se.

The point you are totally missing is that Clark only speaks about God being ex lex WITH REGARDS TO His revealed law. But the problem with Cheung is that Cheung is claiming a god that violates his own nature. So I am not speaking of God being ex lex wrt His revealed moral law, but that God is never ex lex wrt His nature.

>If by author you mean God is never the direct actor sure I see your point.

That is Cheung's point. According to Cheung, God IS the direct cause of sin. Secondary agents are mere occasions and are irrelevant for causation.


So my question to you is this: Do you believe that God has an immutable nature that He cannot violate? Nature, not "law."

Michael said...

I agree that God is immutable. He cannot lie, he cannot change his mind or his plan...which frankly, is using human terms anyway. I agree with Charnok about the attributes of God.

And if Vincent is saying God can violate his will then he is wrong.

My main point of contention, is that it doesn't matter what tier of causality God is using. It matters in the sense that whatever God has ordained happens and is important simply because he has willed it to be so.

But, hypothetically, if God used no intermediaries he still wouldn't be the author of sin because he CAN't sin. It's impossible for God to violate Question 14 of the shorter catechism.

For example, God can't violate the first commandment, or the second commandment. Right? But they apply to us, even if God causes us to violate them. Which he does.

I guess I should add I agree that when the confession says author it does mean first cause. But even Calvin argues that the tier of effect isn't the point, the point is ex lex.



Here is Calvin:
God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was his pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was his pleasure to doom to destruction.

The first cause of anyone going to hell is God alone.


Adam fell, because God made him fall. God planned for Adam to sin, caused his will to change and so Adam sinned. He could never, have chosen to not sin. When God caused Adam to sin, it was good, and for his glory. But Adam was sinful because it was against God's decree. God caused Adam to violate his own decree, but God did not violate the decree because God is not subject to his own the command Adam is under. God is ex lex. And God acted according to his will. I think we are agreeing here.

If Vincent is saying otherwise then I will go reread him. But I took his perspective on the tier of causation to simply be a flattening of the chain of causation for simplicity.

PuritanReformed said...

@Michael:

actually Cheung is saying that God's will is independent of His nature.

With regards to theodicy proper, I agree that it matters not the level of causality. I think I made that clear in my response to Cheung on the "author of sin." But the issue with the level of causality is no more just about the issue of theodicy. The levels of causality is important because it brings in many other topics, namely the congruency of God's will with His nature or lack thereof.

Simplifying is good if the topic requires simplification. But simplifying is errant when the topic cannot be simplified, and this topic should not and cannot be simplified.

Cheung affirms direct causality partly it seems because of the outworkings of his occasionalism. It is a philosophical feedback loop, the whole system which is not found in Scripture.

Michael said...

Isn't Cheung just saying that God is the direct cause of everything because everything "lives and moves and has it being in God"? I mean, the molecules in my desk right now are held together because of God's active will. I am typing to you and the electrons are flowing and the text is appearing because of God's will and active holding up of the universe. If God stopped "willing" me to breath, or type, or think, or eat, or sleep I would. My hands move, my eyes work, my mind thinks, my spirit lives because God wills it.

Isn't Vincent asserting God's immediate and direct upholding of the universe? God makes me will, he changes my will, hes causing my every thought word and deed. Actively. God must be the cause of everything, because nothing would exist unless he willed it to exist. I think Vincent is just pointing out dependence. I just am not seeing your complaint. God wills satan to do evil, satan exists because God wills satan to exist. Satan thinks, I will do evil, because God thinks "satan will do evil" satan tempts me to sin, and God thinks Michael will sin because Satan tempts him to sin. What is the issue? God is the cause because he is the reason I am here and alive and functioning. God has to be the first cause of all things in a metaphysical sense because anything that is "real" exists because its in God's mind. Am I making sense? What is wrong with any of this? How can anything being independent of God in any way?

PuritanReformed said...

@Michael,

>Isn't Cheung just saying that God is the direct cause of everything ...


Yes, but why direct cause? Is God sovereign even if it is indirect cause? Cheung's god is not so sovereign that he cannot be sovereign over indirect causes but only direct causes.

>My hands move, my eyes work, my mind thinks, my spirit lives because God wills it.

That is just asserting God as the cause of everything. Proving God is the cause of everything does not prove that God is the DIRECT cause of everything.


>Isn't Vincent asserting God's immediate and direct upholding of the universe?

No, that is just one aspect of providence. Unless you believe that God does nothing in this world except the mere upholding of the universe, this is irrelevant.


>Actively. God must be the cause of everything, because nothing would exist unless he willed it to exist

Again, proving God as the cause does not prove God as the DIRECT cause.


>How can anything being independent of God in any way?

Why are indirect causes "independent" of God in any way? Is God so limited that He only controls things He has direct causative relations to?

Michael said...

Maybe I should just ask, what is your problem with operationalism?

PuritanReformed said...

You mean "occasionalism"? It is unbiblical. But the main problem is not with occasionalism per se, but how it is used not as a possible explanation, but as a system to rule out what theological positions can or cannot be true a priori.

Gregory S. Gill said...

Daniel, in order for you to logically say God is not the direct cause (and in that sense only the author) of evil you will have to logically say say man has libertarian freewill which is autonomous of God. But such freewill is totally against the bible. And the reformers correctly preached against such, and Clark as well. There is no such thing as a renegade wave, molecule, particle, or subatomic particle, etc. in all of God's universe. How can you then logically say that God is not the direct cause of evil, and at the same time deny that man has such a libertarian freewill?

What law has God broken to make God evil if He directly caused evil? How is that contrary to His perfect holy, righteous nature? God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, was that evil of God? Would it be evil of me or you to tell someone to likewise sacrifice their child? You're making categorical errors you're assuming that because something is wrong for God's creatures its also wrong for God.

If its wrong for God to directly cause all evils, then how is it not also wrong or evil for or of God to decree all evils as well? Nothing can happen unless God first decree it, and God must make sure all His decrees come to pass. So once God decree something it must come to pass, so how is God not evil for decreeing all evils and bringing them all to pass be it directly or indirectly? If you knowingly and intentionally indirectly bring an evil or evils to pass is that evil, wrong or sinful of you to do so? If yes then why not of God as well based on the logic of you're reasoning? You see the same arguments you're using against Cheung, are also against you too, its just that Cheung, is much more logical, consistent, and forthright than you on this particular issue.

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg:

>Daniel, in order for you to logically say God is not the direct cause (and in that sense only the author) of evil you will have to logically say man has libertarian freewill which is autonomous of God


Not true. You assume that secondary causation NECESSARILY IMPLY that God is not sovereign. That is Cheung's, and your, error.


>What law has God broken to make God evil if He directly caused evil?

Did you even read what I have written in my critique of Cheung's author of sin? God did not break any divinely revealed law. The issue is not with law, but with God's nature. Cheung is a nominalist, but the issue of nature needs to be dealt with, not simply willed away voluntaristically by fiat.


It would be helpful if you actually accurately represented my opposition to Cheung's teachings, rather than trying to refute a position I do not hold to.

PuritanReformed said...

@Michael:

>No you are wrong reason means logic lol if you don't use logic you are unreasonable.


Strawman! Reason is not logic. Go read an introductory book on philosophy and logic if necessary. There is a reason why there are things called "logical fallacies," because reason is NOT logic.

Are you saying that there is no way to reason fallaciously? Are you saying that inputing true premises will always give a true conclusion (regardless of validity)?

I mean, seriously, you need to go back to the basics

Gregory S. Gill said...

Daniel, explain logically how God can not be the direct cause of evil, and at the same time man don't have libertarian freewill which is autonomous of God. I would love to see you do that.

Since God will not be braking any law if He directly causes evil, then where in the bible does it teach that if God directly causes evil it will be contrary to His perfect holy, righteous nature?

What about the other issues I raised in my last post?

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg:

>explain logically how God can not be the direct cause of evil, and at the same time man don't have libertarian freewill which is autonomous of God


P1: God is fully sovereign over all things
P2: People make real decision

Conclusion 1: God is fully sovereign over people who make real decisions.

P3: People sometimes do evil
C2: God is fully sovereign over people who sometimes do evil (i.e. they are authors of evil)

Case proved.


You are not interacting with my argument concerning the nature of God, and I don't know what other "issues" you claim you have posted

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg:

>The question is do you believe that, that decision (good or evil) was directly caused by God or by man's libertarian freewill which is autonomous of God? Those are the only two options. So which is it? Even the Arminians say God is sovereign while maintaining their illogical freewill false doctrine.


Neither. Again, you are not listening. God is sovereign over Man's actions even if He does not directly cause them


>I believe I have properly interacted with your argument concerning the nature of God. Its just that you can't answer the question.

Nope, you didn't. You have shown me no reason why God's nature is divorced from His will.


>God causing man's decisions indirectly can only work if man has a libertarian freewill which is autonomous of God

Not true. You assert that God is not sovereign if He does not cause something directly, but that is not proof. Again, where's the proof? Reasserting that over and over again is not an argument.

Gregory S. Gill said...

Again I say Even the Arminians say God is sovereign while maintaining their inconsistent, illogical freewill false doctrine so saying God is sovereign means nothing, its the meaning you give to it that means something. You still have to show how God only could be indirectly causing man to make certain choices, and at the same time man don't have libertarian freewill which is autonomous of God? You still need to show how the system of belief that you hold to can work with God only indirectly causing man to make choices without man having libertarian freewill which is autonomous of God. God only in an indirect way causing man to make decisions have to presupposes man has a libertarian freewill which is autonomous of God, if I'm wrong prove it. How can it be any other way logically?

God's nature is not divorced from His will, and I never ever said it was, and will never ever say such a thing. Since you admitted that God will not breaking any law if He directly causes man to sin, then where in the bible it teaches that it will it be contrary to or inconsistent with God's perfect righteous, holy nature if God directly causes man to do evil or sin?

If man has a libertarian freewill which is autonomous of God then how can God be sovereign over that? It can freely go in any direction, can it not?

If its wrong for God to directly cause all evils, then how is it not also wrong or evil for or of God to decree all evils as well? Nothing can happen unless God first decree it, and God must make sure all His decrees come to pass. So once God decree something it must come to pass, so how is God not evil for decreeing all evils and bringing them all to pass be it directly or indirectly? If you knowingly and intentionally indirectly bring an evil or evils to pass is that evil, wrong or sinful of you to do so? If yes then why not of God as well based on the logic of you're reasoning? You see the same arguments you're using against Cheung, are also against you too, its just that Cheung, is much more logical, consistent, and forthright than you on this particular issue.

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg:

>You still have to show how God only could be indirectly causing man to make certain choices, and at the same time man don't have libertarian freewill which is autonomous of God


No, I don't. First of all, I never used the word "only." Secondly, there is no contradiction of free agency and the reality of second causes, and the idea of compatibilist free will. Since there is no contradiction, there is no need for me to explain how they can both be true.


>How can it be any other way logically?

There is no contradiction between the two. That it is hard to understand is besides the point. None of us are God, so why do you think your finite mind can fully comprehend the things of God? As long as two propositions don't contradict each other, there is no need to explain anything.


>God's nature is not divorced from His will, and I never ever said it was, and will never ever say such a thing.

If you deny that, then how can you say that God DIRECTLY caused people to sin? Upon what internal principle in God's nature can he directly do a sinful act?


>where in the bible it teaches that it will it be contrary to or inconsistent with God's perfect righteous, holy nature if God directly causes man to do evil or sin?

I am not a Biblicist. The Bible however teaches that God does no evil, and sinning is evil. To claim that God directly does evil is to say, by definition, that God is sinning. Claiming that God cannot sin is a mere fiat pronouncement that does not solve the logical contradiction between the former proposition (God does evil) and the latter proposition (God is good and does not sin). Merely asserting the latter does not solve the problem of the contradictions between the two.


>If its wrong for God to directly cause all evils, then how is it not also wrong or evil for or of God to decree all evils as well?


Because God decrees evil, but He doesn't do evil. All evil proceeds through secondary causes under the overall sovereignty of God. But God Himself does not DIRECTLY do evil, so since God's hands are not in it directly, he is not evil or do evil

>If you knowingly and intentionally indirectly bring an evil or evils to pass is that evil, wrong or sinful of you to do so?

No, it is only evil if evil is its own end. But God decrees all evil for a greater good. The final cause of the evil agents are evil purposes, but the final cause of God's decreeing evil is for a greater good. See Gen. 50:20


>You see the same arguments you're using against Cheung, are also against you too, its just that Cheung, is much more logical, consistent, and forthright than you on this particular issue.

Hogwash! I acknowledge the reality of secondary causes as well as the different final causes of secondary moral agents compared with those of God. All of which Cheung does not and will not.

Gregory S. Gill said...

>No, I don't. First of all, I never used the word "only." Secondly, there is no contradiction of free agency and the reality of second causes, and the idea of compatibilist free will. Since there is no contradiction, there is no need for me to explain how they can both be true.

Oh yes, there is a contradiction between "free agency and the reality of second causes, and the idea of compatibilist free will". What is your definition of "free agency", and "compatibilist free will"? So you do believe in free will. If "free agency" and "compatibilist free will" exist then how can God know everything? How can God ensure that all of His prophecies will come to pass? "Free agency" and "free will" are always free to going in any direction no matter what or they are not free at all. The certain choices I was referring to were evil choices and you believe God only in an indirect way causes man to make evil choices. The reformers, Gordon Clarke, were against "Free agency" and "compatibilist free will" which is just mere free will with a very nice sounding name that's all.

>There is no contradiction between the two. That it is hard to understand is besides the point. None of us are God, so why do you think your finite mind can fully comprehend the things of God? As long as two propositions don't contradict each other, there is no need to explain anything.

Its impossible to understand because its all contradictions.

>If you deny that, then how can you say that God DIRECTLY caused people to sin? Upon what internal principle in God's nature can he directly do a sinful act?

Since God is not breaking any law in directly causing people to sin therefore He is not sinning when He directly causes people to sin. Even you admit if God was to directly cause people to sin He will not be breaking any law. Sin is the breaking of the law according to the bible, 1 John 3:4.

When you said you're not a "Biblicist" that's the root of the problem. We humans can only learn truth from the bible alone with the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to the truth in the bible. We don't learn truth from any other source. You're going on man's erroneous philosophies such as "free agency" and "compatibilist free will" which is just free will that's all. As to the rest in the paragraph see my answer above about God not breaking any law and thus not sinning at all, it applies here as well.

God didn't use secondary causes to decree, and predestine evil - He directly decreed, and predestined evil. And if He didn't directly decreed and predestined evil there would of been no evil. So base on your reasoning how is God not evil?

I believe God directly causes evil to bring about good in the end to His eternal glory. I believe its for the "greater good". Still there is a problem you have not dealt with based on you're reasoning if I (as a human) knowingly and intentionally indirectly cause someone to do evil, lets say to indirectly cause them to rape and murder a baby to bring about some good end some how, how is that still not evil of me to indirectly cause someone to do such evils? Does the fact that I cause some good to come out of it means that I'm not evil for indirectly causing the rape and murder of the baby? I'm understanding you to say it will not be evil of me to indirectly cause such evil once good results in the end. If its evil for me to indirectly cause such even though I bring some good out of it, then based on you're reasoning how is it not evil for God to indirectly cause evil even though He brings good out of it?

You're last statement was superficial at best.

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg:

>Oh yes, there is a contradiction between "free agency and the reality of second causes, and the idea of compatibilist free will".

There is no contradiction. Merely asserting one does not a contradiction make.

>What is your definition of "free agency", and "compatibilist free will"?

The traditional Calvinistic definition. Free agency is the natural ability of men to choose without external pressure dictating his choices. Compatibilistic free will means a Man's free agency that operates in line with God's sovereignty

>If "free agency" and "compatibilist free will" exist then how can God know everything?

Because He is God and sovereign.


>How can God ensure that all of His prophecies will come to pass?

Because God determines everything, including secondary agents and causes.

>The reformers, Gordon Clarke, were against "Free agency" and "compatibilist free will" which is just mere free will with a very nice sounding name that's all.

Not true! Where's your proof?


>Its impossible to understand because its all contradictions

Just because your mind is unable to understand says nothing about mine, or about the rationality of others.


>Since God is not breaking any law in directly causing people to sin therefore He is not sinning when He directly causes people to sin


God DOES NOT and CANNOT do anything contrary to His nature! Nothing about law here. Are you even listening?


>God didn't use secondary causes to decree, and predestine evil - He directly decreed, and predestined evil.

God's decreeing, and God's acting, are NOT the same thing


>if I (as a human) knowingly and intentionally indirectly cause someone to do evil, lets say to indirectly cause them to rape and murder a baby to bring about some good end some how, how is that still not evil of me to indirectly cause someone to do such evils?

You are not God, you don't have that authority.

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg:

the next time you refuse to recognize the difference between "law" and "nature," that comment will be deleted.

See blog rule #5 for your reference

Gregory S. Gill said...

I have shown you the contradiction in "free agency and the reality of second causes, and the idea of compatibilist free will". You just refuse to see it.
Your definition of "free agency", and "compatibilist free will" is just skipping and tiptoeing around the issue. The question is are they (and they are really one and the same thing) autonomous from God's direct control. Are they free from God to go in any or every direction of their own choice? This is the issue. Gordon Clark (see his book Predestination), and the reformers say no. They said all are under the full control of God, free agency and compatibilist free will cannot by their definition, if they were under God's full control that would mean that they are not free. If you can't see the contradictions in your statements then that is just the case.

>Because He is God and sovereign.

And also because He has decreed and predestined everything.

If man has a free agency and compatibilist free will which by definition is free of God's control (in order for them to be free or else they are not free) then God can't know how men will choose, and since they can choose in any direction they want free from God, then how can God ensure that all of His prophecies will come to pass? If man has a free agency and compatibilist free will then God can't determines everything because He can't determine such or they are not free if He does. And if man has a free agency and compatibilist free will then how do you know the bible has no error in it?

The free agency and compatibilist free will (which is really free will) doctrine came from the greek pagan culture ("The Enlightenment An Interpretation: The Rise of Modern Paganism" by Dr. Peter Gay; Volume 1) which the Arminians adopted into their false system of belief and was condemned at the Synod of Dort, it did not came from the bible at all. Talking about philosophy.

Again I'm going to ask you where in the bible does it teach that if God directly cause man to do evil that it goes contrary to His nature? Where in the bible teaches a righteous, Holy God can't directly cause man to do evil, and it would be evil for God to do so.

If God did not decree evil they would not of been any evil, and God makes sure all of His decrees comes to pass. In your reasoning how is it also not contrary to God's nature (and make God evil) to decree evil and to make sure those decrees come to pass? In your reasoning how God is not doing evil by decreeing evil and making sure such decrees of His come to pass? How is God decreeing not also "God's acting" or God doing something?

The point that I made but you missed is that not because it is wrong for me to do something (like causing someone to directly or indirectly do evil) means that it is also wrong for God to do such. Why is that so, this time you agave the correct answer "You are not God, you don't have that authority." I fully agree with you there, it sad that you don't see that your answer also applies to the whole larger issue at hand.

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg:

>I have shown you the contradiction in "free agency and the reality of second causes, and the idea of compatibilist free will".

No, you have not. Write it down in nice syllogistic forms if you think you did.


>If man has a free agency and compatibilist free will which by definition is free of God's control

Not true. By definition, compatibilist free will is within God's control, just not direct control. That is why it is called "COMPATIBILIST free will"


>Again I'm going to ask you where in the bible does it teach that if God directly cause man to do evil that it goes contrary to His nature? Where in the bible teaches a righteous, Holy God can't directly cause man to do evil, and it would be evil for God to do so.


That is your last warning! I told you over and over again you are confusing law and nature. If you think God does not have a fixed nature that determines what He does, then say so. Otherwise, stop wasting everyone's time with your misrepresentations.

Gregory S. Gill said...

757I'm going to reword a question. Where in the bible does it teach because of God's nature He can't directly cause someone to sin? And that if He does God has sinned or committed something wrong Himself so that's why He can't directly do such?

PuritanReformed said...

@Greg:

does a bird fly? Yes, because by its nature it is a flier. Can a sinner not sin? No, because by nature a sinner sins. Does Man breathes? Yes, because living creatures by nature breathe. Read Aristotle's Metaphysics for starters.

So if God is by nature good, He cannot do evil. And unlike your nominalist understanding of this point, the classical Christian view is that this is a description of ontology, not merely of terms and names.

Therefore, your view entails a God who does actions contrary to His nature.

And I'm not going to play with you. There is no clearer way that I can express this. You have to actually READ classical philosophy and theology and understand that they are focusing a lot on issues of ontology, which is seen as logically prior to epistemology. Only if you, and Cheungians, can even begin to grasp the idea that ontology is a real category distinct from epistemology, then you can start to understand the classical position and why Cheungians are a bunch of second grade philosophers at best.

MSS said...

PuritanReformed,

"actually Cheung is saying that God's will is independent of His nature.”

I don’t think so. Here’s a quote from his book On Good and Evil -

"Goodness founded on God's nature is necessary and unchangeable. For example, truth is a quality inherent in the divine nature. It is good for us to pursue and tell the truth because it is God's nature to tell the truth. Since truth is God's nature, this is why it is good, since all that God is, is good. God's commands concerning truthfulness, therefore, are based on his eternal nature. This means that God will never approve of actions such as perjury, or any type of lying as moral (Exodus 20:16; Ephesians 4:25; Revelation 21:8). God's commandments concerning truth are necessary and unchangeable. This type of goodness is founded on God's own nature, and it is immutable, just as God is immutable (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8)."

Vincent Cheung (0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00). ON GOOD AND EVIL (Kindle Locations 100-105). Kindle Edition.

I hope to discuss this directly with Mr. Cheung. It complicates things just a little. :)

Mark

PuritanReformed said...

Hi Mark,

>"This type of goodness is founded on God's own nature, and it is immutable, just as God is immutable"

Cheung does indeed say that God is good and affirms the goodness of God's nature. But that is different from stating whether God's WILL is or is not independent of His nature. That Cheung teaches that God is good in His nature, but then to say that God wills evil positively (not just actively), is a paradox which can only be resolved either by separating God's will from His nature (so God can both will evil and be in nature good), or by rejecting either of the propositions (God is good; God positively wills evil).