The following is a “guest post” in response to Phil Johnson’s article, “Does God’s Sovereignty Mean He Makes People Evil?”:
Phil Johnson likens the evil heart to his Bel Aire and likens himself to God. When Johnson wanted his Bel Aire to go straight, he had to exert force to pull it straight, but when Johnson wanted his Bel Aire to go left, he just withdrew the force and the Bel Aire naturally went left. When Johnson’s god wants to pull the evil heart straight, this god has to exert force to pull it straight, but when it serves Johnson’s god for the evil heart to be stubborn, this god just “lets go” and let the evil heart go its way.
Thus, to Johnson, there is a power that is independent of his god’s working of all things. His god has to work some things (namely, good), but for other things (namely, evil), he lets that independent force take the reins. This god backs off, doesn’t control the evil, allows the evil to go its own way via the independent force.
Yet Phil Johnson’s god cannot be the God of Scripture, because it is clear that people have to sin *in certain ways* in order for God’s plan to be fulfilled. People cannot just do*any*evil they want to do; they must do a*certain kind*of evil. Take the crucifixion of Christ as an example. According to Johnson, since it was in God’s plan for these people to do evil, God must have just “let go of the wheel” and permitted them to do whatever their evil heart independently turned them to do. But these people *had* to do *certain* evil in order for Christ to be crucified. What if they wanted to kill Christ in another way? What if they wanted to beat Christ up but not kill Him? The TRUE God HAD to actively turn their hearts to do *specific* evil. How does Phil Johnson explain that?
And what of the numerous passages in the Old Testament in which God is said to cause *specific* evil to happen in order for *specific* things to occur? His god wouldn’t do such things:
And Sihon the king of Heshbon was not willing to let us pass by him, for Jehovah your God had hardened his spirit, and had emboldened his heart, so as to give him into your hand, as [it is] this day. (Deuteronomy 2:30)
For it was of Jehovah to harden their hearts, so that they should come against Israel in battle, so that they might be destroyed, so that they
might have no favor, but that He might destroy them, as Jehovah commanded Moses. (Joshua 11:20)
And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite [is] better than the counsel of Ahithophel. And Jehovah had ordained to break down the good counsel of Ahithophel, for the sake of bringing the evil of Jehovah to Absalom. (2 Samuel 17:14)
And the king did not listen to the people, for [the] revolution was from God, so that Jehovah might lift up His Word that He spoke by the hand of Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat. (2 Chronicles 10:15)
And Amaziah would not listen, for it [was] from God, in order to give them into their hand, because they had sought to the gods of Edom. (2 Chronicles 25:20)
Then, of course, there is the Romans 9:19 objection. Why would there be such an objection in the first place if Paul was not saying that God makes people evil? And if God does NOT make people evil, then Paul’s response to the objection would be the perfect place to set the record straight. Yet in his response, Paul CONFIRMS that God DOES make people evil, and SHUTS THE MOUTHS of people like Phil Johnson and all his Calvinist and Arminian friends by saying, “Yes, rather, O man, WHO ARE YOU answering against God? Shall the thing formed say to the One forming it, Why did You make me like this?”
Phil Johnson and people like him are just free-will Calvinists. To them,
man is free to do any evil he desires when God “lets him go.” Their god is not the all-sovereign God of the universe. The God of the Bible causes ALL actions and events, including the *specific* evil actions of men and angels. For if God did not do that, His plans would not come to pass, and He would be the subservient god of Phil Johnson’s imagination.