Does God’s Sovereignty Mean He Makes People Evil? (Part 4)

In the “com box” there was a discussion between one commenter and Phil Johnson. I will intersperse my comments between them below:

The commenter wrote to Phil:

Hmm, thank you for the thought-provoking post. I do see how our basic sinful nature provides the assymetry in God’s election and reprobation. It makes sense to see the latter in terms of a “permissive will”.

However, what do we do with Adam, who had no such nature? Can we see that as permissive? And if not, aren’t we saying that God permissively allows us to act out the sin nature that he actively willed we would possess?

With the various evasions and writhing on the floor of the Calvinists regarding how God can be said to *somehow* make things certain without actively causing them to happen, the questions always get pushed back one logical step to Adam and his fall. The Calvinist cannot say that Adam was the “already fallen and sinful lump of clay that God just left to himself.” The conclusion is a “mystery” they will say. They don’t seem to recognize the fact that God wants to glorify Himself through the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, and so God must make sure man falls and becomes evil and needs a Savior.

Phil Johnson responding to the commenter:

We might as well plainly acknowledge the point you keep hinting at: What I’ve said in this post doesn’t solve the problem of how evil entered the universe in the first place.

Correct. And not only is there the issue of how evil entered through Adam, there is also the issue of the devil and his angels who were once holy but sinned in rebellion against God. The truth of course, is that God caused Adam to fall, and then punished Adam (and all whom Adam represented) for that which God caused him to do. But why does God find fault with Adam, for Adam could not have resisted His will, right? We’re beginning to see a pattern here, aren’t we? The fact that all men are born with a sin nature is due to God imputing the sin of another to our account. We are punished for the sin of another, namely Adam. Yet praise God that the people, the elect of God are saved and receive an everlasting inheritance because of the imputed righteousness of Another, namely Jesus Christ. “For God shut up all into disobedience, that He may show mercy to all” (Romans 11:32). Obviously not all without exception, with regard to mercy being shown to “all.”

Phil Johnson further writes:

And that’s quite true. Because the only question I’m trying to answer here is “How can God reprobate someone like Pharaoh-even to the point of deliberately hardening Pharaoh’s heart-and yet not be complicit in the sins of the reprobate?”

The typical, run of the mill Calvinist thinks that for God to actively harden Pharaoh, means for God to be complicit in the sins of Pharaoh. This does not follow. For to actively cause the sin, is not to actively commit the sin. The Calvinists think it follows of course, but they are imposing their own anti-biblical standard of morality on God.

More mutiny from Phil Johnson:

I’m suggesting that’s a fairly simple question to answer, and it’s the only question about God’s sovereignty and the existence of evil that applies in a personal way to everyone after the fall. The one really tough question applies exclusively to Adam: How did he fall in the first place? Where did the evil intention in his heart come from? That, I think, is the hardest question in all theology. Calvin grappled with it and basically said we don’t know where Adam’s evil desire came from, but it must have come from within Adam, because it couldn’t be God’s fault. Perhaps I’ll post on that topic one day, but for now, let’s be clear: that’s not the question this post proposes to answer.

The “hardest question in all theology” is how did Adam fall in the first place? The Calvinist thinks that if God caused Adam to fall and put the evil intention in Adam’s heart, then it’s God’s fault. Evidently, the creature is imposing some perverted standard of morality on God that says that the creature has certain inalienable rights that the Creator must respect. Who are you Phil Johnson, to answer back to God?