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A discussion on TOTAL DEPRAVITY

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Think of Joseph.

His brothers sold him into slavery.
Pottifer threw him into prison.
The Officials ignored their promise and left him there.
Pharoah appointed him ruler.

"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." [Genesis 50:20 NKJV]

God ORDAINED all of it!
This just means that God USED the evil and turned it to GOOD.
I don't see where it states that it was predestined.
(although I DO believe some things were).
 
You're admitting that God CAUSED the fall just so we could be saved?
Could God have placed the angel with the flaming sword between Man and the Tree BEFORE Eve ate the fruit?
Would there have been a fall if He did?

YES, God orchestrated the Fall as surely as God sent Satan to buffet Job.
 
I'll go over the verses tomorrow....
But God's commands are EXPLICIT.
He doesn't IMPLY anything...
must check the verse ... no time.
No. I agree that the command is EXPLICIT.

What I meant is that God giving a command IMPLIES that we can obey it ... rather than a verse EXPLICITLY stating that we can do something.
 
What do you mean by NO FALL, NO SAVIOR, NO ADOPTION?
Are you saying God couldn't just adopt us an nice little human pets?
That is EXACTLY what I mean. Without the fall, we are nice obedient creatures that do what the master says.

It is because if the fall that God became man that WE might be adopted and united with God. We are better off as saved, adopted Children than we were as obedient creatures. I believe that was God's plan all along and WHY god ORDAINED the fall (for our good and His Glory).
 
This just means that God USED the evil and turned it to GOOD.
I don't see where it states that it was predestined.
(although I DO believe some things were).
"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." [Genesis 50:20 NKJV]
 
Did God create sin?
That's a tough one and whether I answer "yes" or "no" (in my own mind), I am somewhat dissatisfied with the answer.

If God DID NOT create sin, then we have a very real chink in God's OMNIPOTENT SOVEREIGNTY. Something happened that was outside of God's control. I kinda think that is contradicted by scripture ... NOTHING is outside of God's control. Isn't that the whole point of OMNIPOTENT, OMNISCIENT, OMNIPRESENT - God is in charge of everything, everywhere, all the time - that is what makes HIM GOD.

If God DID create sin, then we have the problem of "How can 100% good create evil?" Does that mean God did something "bad"? There's some 'spit in your oatmeal' to ruin your day.

I've given this question more than a little thought. The answer mattered to me a LOT. At stake was nothing less than "Can God really be trusted?" So the answer mattered. Here is the best answer that I have come up with:

I see we've been on the same road with the question about evil...
I considered dualism for a while, but gave that up...there can only be ONE God.
Let's see what you came up with...

Did you know that in Physics, "darkness" does not exist? Think about it. What is the definition of darkness? What is the metric unit of measure to quantify darkness? Darkness is actually, the relative lack of LIGHT. We have definition for Light and we have units to quantify the measure Light. So what if GOOD is like Light and EVIL is like Darkness? Good is part of the innate character and nature of God ... He cannot be other than GOOD. In contrast, everything else can be measured by its relative lack of that Total Goodness. Thus as LIGHT creates DARKNESS merely by existing (in a world with no light, the concept of Darkness would be meaningless); so too, GOD is GOOD and creates EVIL merely by existing. Evil is the absence of God's Goodness.​

This is an accepted theological solution to the problem.
But that would mean that evil is not real.
We're told that evil is a being represented by satan.
Do we believe the story of the fall of the angels or not?

Also, the above could cover for moral evil.
What about natural evil?
Is a hurricane the absence of a mild pleasant breeze?

I don't think I can accept that theory, but I have nothing better to offer.

I've decided to stop thinking about it.
There are 2 forces apparently at work.
One is good, one is evil...
Let's just make sure we're serving the good forse.

And I don't think calvinism/reformed theology was begun with this problem...
I think it started with Total Depravity and/or Free Will (or the absence thereof).


I don't think Luther or Calvin made this up IOW, to resolve this problem, but since they believed that God created everything and decreed/predestined everything, then He also must have had to create sin.
Which, I agree with you, is impossible.

Sin is "missing the mark". God is "the mark". Without "the mark" there is nothing to "miss". In that sense, God creates sin ... not actively, but merely "in contrast" ... by existing as the perfect standard.
The above is not what Piper and MaCarthur say. Sproul too - but he's so much softer on every doctrine.
They say God actually created sin so His glory could be manifest in it or something like that - but that He actually created it.
For the reason you state I would think...if God didn't, where does it come from?
The biggest problem of Christianity.
 
Let's take a short bunny trail here from Theology into "Modern History" (post 1600) and talk about "every Calvinist".

SAD FACT: "Every Calvinist" is a fallacy like "Every true Scotsman".

  1. There is no such thing as a "Calvinist". As I mentioned once before in another topic, there is no "Church of John Calvin or denomination founded by him. There is no School of Theology where he taught that carries on his legacy. Calvinism is a "shorthand" term used by different people at different times to represent different things. So let's go over some of the "meanings" of Calvinism/Calvinist:

Agreed. But everyone uses this term.

  1. (1600s) Lutheran Church, as the official State Church, exercised its political power to brand the second wave of Reformers as "Calvinists" as an insult to imply that they had gone too far in "reforming" the Church (by departing from the teachings of Luther) and were thus following the teachings of Men and not Scripture. The term Calvinist is still used this way by many of its critics as can be seen in posts on this FORUM every day.

Agreed again.
I also state that calvinists are following a man and not Jesus.
But I think this of the reformed church too.


  1. "Calvinism" also became synonymous with "Reformed" (as in the precursors to the modern Presbyterians and the old Pilgrims of 'Thanksgiving' fame). It is as "Reformed" that Calvinism is associated with the WCF. It should also be noted that true Reformed Churches include more than just TULIP and Predestination; they also embrace paedobaptism (infant baptism) and Covenant Theology and often have a common Eschatology (end time) beliefs.

I don't agree with WHY they practice paedobaptism.
I don't understand why they use different terms for the Covenants.
(well, maybe I do, but it's too much to get into).
And agreed on eschatology.


  1. (1900's) A popular book on Theology forever created a link between the term "Calvinism" and the popular "T.U.L.I.P." acronym. The five points actually date back to the Synod of Dort, but "TULIP" is a modern incarnation of them popularized less than 100 years ago. There are MANY people that embrace the 5 points of TULIP (sometimes called the Doctrines of Grace) that do not embrace other Reformed beliefs. Particular Baptists (like me) who trace our roots to the 1700's fall into this group and always have.

I thought TULIP dated to the 1930's. OK.
Oops. That IS 100 years! Say it ain't so!
So, you embrace the 5 points of TULIP?
What do you NOT embrace??

Maybe THIS is why posters can't understand each other.


So when one is talking of a "Calvinist" ... one is speaking with a member of one of SEVERAL DIFFERENT groups with different beliefs. From this comes the confusion and apparent contradictions. I am true to my Particular Baptist beliefs, but I am not a WCF Presbyterian Reformed Calvinist. I accept the 5 Solas and TULIP, but others may only accept TULIP and reject the Solas.

I thought every reformed believer accepted the 5 solas.
And I'm wondering why it's important.
It would be interesting to go through those in some thread.
NOT TODAY!

Still others (hypercalvinists) are not Christians at all, but heretics that believe things contrary to the Bible [not differences of opinion, but things like "Evangelism is evil because God will save people without preaching the Gospel"] yet accept TULIP and, thus, are called "Calvinists".
Aha.
But those on my side of the fence do NOT understand why evangelization is necessary IF anyway, GOD is going to be doing the choosing.

I've always believed that hypercalvinism is just calvinists that can accept the teachings and are not afraid to say so.
 
Arthur says "yes", too.

God placed ...
  • Adam
  • Eve
  • Satan
  • Tree
... all in the same location.
Omniscience means He knew what would happen, so the results were no accident and did not catch God by surprise.
Scripture says "before the foundation of the world", so THIS is Plan A and not some alternative Plan B that God had to throw together after Eve ate the fruit.

I am reminded of: "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." [Genesis 50:20 NKJV]

No FALL means no SAVIOR which means no ADOPTION.
Would you kick your dog just so you could make him well again?

God made everything good.
Genesis 1:31

In Genesis chapter 3:15 God states that He will put enmity between the woman and the serpent, between her seed and his seed.

God is declaring war between satan's seed, the children of wrath,
and the woman's seed, most probably meaning Jesus who will wound satan (and his power over humanity).

There will always be a war between God and satan.

So, in your belief system, God created the evil just so He could then fix it?
 
Do things happen that God WOULD have prevented if only He COULD have prevented it?
(That is the alternative to "God ordained it to happen")
God could do anything He wants to do.
But that is not the alternative to ordaining it to happen .... the fact that He couldn't.

This is what Free Will is all about.
God created us with free will.
Free will is stated in the OT when offerings were given voluntarily.
Psalm 64:6-7, Leviticus 7:16
In the NT when Paul wants Philemon to leave him Onesimus of his own FREE WILL.
Philemon 14

In fact, any time the bible mentions the word choice, it denotes free will.
The reformed will not accept this, and then they tell me I don't post verses.
The verses are not accepted....
choice denotes free will.
This cannot be denied.
 
So, in your belief system, God created the evil just so He could then fix it?
God is perfect … EVERYTHING ELSE is not.
God created man “very good” but not “perfect”, so sooner or later … man was going to need a savior. OMNIPOTENCE means that God always knew all the details, but God did not create “evil” except in the sense that GOD is LIGHT and LIGHT defines Darkness by its contrast.

I guess another way to put it is this: The fact that God gave man the ABILITY to choose to sin, means that man would choose to sin SOONER OR LATER. God forced nobody to do anything, merely allowing the possibility was enough.
 
God is declaring war between satan's seed, the children of wrath,
and the woman's seed, most probably meaning Jesus who will wound satan (and his power over humanity).
Technically, in the prophecy: Satan will wound Christ and Christ will destroy Satan. (“bruise” vs “crush”)
 
God is perfect … EVERYTHING ELSE is not.
God created man “very good” but not “perfect”, so sooner or later … man was going to need a savior. OMNIPOTENCE means that God always knew all the details, but God did not create “evil” except in the sense that GOD is LIGHT and LIGHT defines Darkness by its contrast.

I guess another way to put it is this: The fact that God gave man the ABILITY to choose to sin, means that man would choose to sin SOONER OR LATER. God forced nobody to do anything, merely allowing the possibility was enough.
OK.
But doesn't the following have conflicts in it?
I see many. I'll underline them.

THIS is what makes those on my side not be able to understand teachings that are so out of logical reasoning...
It's one thing to KNOW something is going to happen, and another to CAUSE it to happen. The following is from a reformed site and seems to mix the two meanings....

Not only did He know it, but He ordained it. God, in His infinite wisdom and His sovereignty, that is, His absolute authority over all things, wills everything that comes to pass in history. He doesn’t do it in a way that turns us into puppets or violates our freedom; nevertheless, it is His counsel and His good pleasure that there would be a fall.

God didn’t force Adam and Eve to sin, but from all eternity He knew it, He ordained it, and it was part of His glorious plan of redemption. As hard as it is to imagine, even sin, in the final analysis, redounds to the glory of God. And God does everything for His own glory, including creating a world that He knows will fall into sin.


source: https://www.ligonier.org/learn/qas/...orld-did-he-know-it-would-be-corrupted-by-sin

To me, and others, the above means that God created Adam and Eve to fall...what else could ORDAIN mean?
God wills everything that comes to pass in history...everything.

It states that even sin rebounds to the glory of God---HOW is a mystery to me and others on this forum.

The green parts are what don't make sense.
God ordains EVERYTHING, but it doesn't turn us into puppets. Explain that.
God ordained Adam and Eve sinning, but He didn't FORCE them to sin. Explain that.
 
To me, and others, the above means that God created Adam and Eve to fall...what else could ORDAIN mean?
I agree … God set Adam and Eve up to FALL. God created Adam and Eve. God placed them in a garden with no knowledge of GOOD AND EVIL (innocent or naive depending on your level of cynicism). God placed the MEANS OF THEIR DESTRUCTION “in the CENTER” of the garden … right next to the tree that kept them alive forever. Last, but certainly not least, God placed the most cunning of all the fallen angels right there with Adam and Eve and the Tree. Then God gave clear, simple directions and left Adam and Eve to contend in a battle of wits against Saran all alone.

I don’t know how much more “ORDAINing” God could have done without stripping Adam of free will! Where the heck was the Angel with the flaming sword BEFORE the fall? What was more important that he was busy doing?

However, even in ORDAINING the fall by setting all the pieces in place so that the outcome was inevitable, God did not directly CAUSE Adam to fall. God warned Adam what would happen. God did not even hold Eve’s “being deceived” against her in the same way that God called Adam to account for his deliberate choice to “know the truth and disobey”. That is why theologians are careful to use words like “ordain” instead of “cause”. God DID ordain, but God did not cause.

God wills everything that comes to pass in history...everything.
Some may disagree, but I think that either “the Buck stops with God” (God wills everything that happens because God really IS in control) or we need to toss words like OMNI- (POTENT, CIENT, PRESENT) and SOVEREIGN out the window. God is either in control (GOD) or he is not (just a god - small ‘g’).

The green parts are what don't make sense.
God ordains EVERYTHING, but it doesn't turn us into puppets. Explain that.
God ordained Adam and Eve sinning, but He didn't FORCE them to sin. Explain that.

I gave it my best shot.
The closest analogy we have in scripture is the story of Joseph. God didn’t DO any of the EVIL that happened to Joseph, but like Job, God chose exactly what evil God would PERMIT men to do (his brothers could not KILL Joseph, but they could SELL Joseph). Each evil that God permitted was designed according to GOD’s plan to achieve a predetermined goal that was for Joseph’s good and God’s glory. Without the brothers selling Joseph there would be no restoration of Jacob’s family, no slavery in Egypt, no Moses to deliver them and no Passover to teach US about Jesus. The natural sin that grew out of two wives and two concubines and the conflicted family Jacob fathered from four women was used by God to heal Israel (the family) and teach us about the messiah.

[Jewish accent]: “Not too shabby!”
 
Did God create sin?
That's a tough one and whether I answer "yes" or "no" (in my own mind), I am somewhat dissatisfied with the answer.

If God DID NOT create sin, then we have a very real chink in God's OMNIPOTENT SOVEREIGNTY. Something happened that was outside of God's control. I kinda think that is contradicted by scripture ... NOTHING is outside of God's control. Isn't that the whole point of OMNIPOTENT, OMNISCIENT, OMNIPRESENT - God is in charge of everything, everywhere, all the time - that is what makes HIM GOD.

If God DID create sin, then we have the problem of "How can 100% good create evil?" Does that mean God did something "bad"? There's some 'spit in your oatmeal' to ruin your day.

I've given this question more than a little thought. The answer mattered to me a LOT. At stake was nothing less than "Can God really be trusted?" So the answer mattered. Here is the best answer that I have come up with:
Short answer: Evil is nothing, it is not a thing. You cannot create nothing, therefore God cannot create sin.

Partial Long Answer
It is not a thing that has existence. It is an action of something that is a thing. When I do something that is not good, then I am doing something that is evil, but evil then is an activity of some being. It has no being of itself.

Augustine and Thomas Aquinas use the words negation and privation to define evil. Negation talks in terms of what something is not. For example, we say God is infinite which means He is not finite. Evil in this sense can only be defined against the backdrop of what is good. In biblical terms, evil is defined by words like ungodliness, unrighteousness, injustice, so that the term is used as the negation, the opposite of the positive thing that is being affirmed, so that injustice or un-justness can only be understood against the previous concept of justice. Unrighteousness can only be recognized as unrighteousness against the background of righteousness as the standard by which unrighteousness can be recognized and can be defined. Evil is parasitic. It can only survive in a host. I can’t be known in of itself as some independent being, but can only be known and understood against the positive standard. Like a parasite, if the host dies, the parasite dies with it as the parasite (evil) depends on the host for its existence. So, evil can’t be defined or described except against the background of good.

A privation is some sort of lack of or deficiency. This occurs when you don’t get something you need (necessary/essential) as opposed to something you want. WCF Shorter Catechism on “What is sin”: sin is “any want of conformity to or transgression of the law of God.” This is a definition of evil in terms of a lack or privation of a want of conformity to. Righteousness involves conforming to the law of God, doing what God commands. Sin enters in when we fail to do what God commands, and we fail to conform to His standards of what is righteous. On the one hand the catechism says that sin is a want of conformity to, which is a kind of privation, or transgression of the law of God.

Reformers said the sin is a negation or evil is negation, evil is privation, but it is also ‘privatio actuosa’ meaning that though evil is not something that exists in the of itself, it is real, and its effects and its impact are devastating because real beings act out real evil though evil is not independent, nevertheless it is real. R.C. Sproul

Also see https://www.str.org/articles/augustine-on-evil

Thomas Aquinas also espoused the thought that of evil’s parasitical nature. As a parasite, evil has no ontological status, no independent being. Only that which is in the first instance good can manifest evil, because evil reflects a lack, privation, or negation of the good. R.C. Sproul Truths We Confess
 
It [the premise that God would not give us a commend we could not obey] is a good argument FOR Free Will,
The idea the any command God gives us can be obeyed is a false premise per scripture:
  • Genesis 4:7 If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it.” No one masters sin. It is an impossible request.
  • Ezekiel 37:4 “Prophecy to these (dead) bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!'” (Notice, those dead bones had no ability to hear the word of the Lord. God had to give those skeletons life first, before they had the ability to hear the word of the Lord.)
  • Matthew 5:48 “Therefore you shall be perfect (complete), just as your father in heaven is perfect.”
  • Mark 12:30 “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Yeah, like who do you know that has obey this command
  • Luke 7:14 “a dead man was being carried out…Then He came and touched the open coffin…and He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.'” The dead man couldn’t hear, until Christ first gave His miraculous power to him.
  • Luke 8:49-55 “Your daughter is dead…He…took her by the hand and called saying, ‘Little girl, arise.’ Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately.” The dead girl had no power to arise until Christ gave it to her.
  • John 11:43 “Lazarus, come forth!” Lazarus was dead! He had no ability to come forth. First, God had to make him alive before He had the ability to come forth.
  • John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
  • John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you
  • Romans 8:7-8 Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:34 “Awake to righteousness and sin not”.
  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 and take every thought captive to obey Christ
  • Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God
  • Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. [Tom Constable defines without ceasing as frequently]
  • Ephesians 4:1b urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
  • 1 John 2:1 “My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not”.
Too much emphasis cannot be placed on the fact that, since God has proposed the impossible rule of life and provided the sufficient Spirit, the believers responsibility is thereby changed from being a struggle of the flesh to being a reliance on the Spirit. The new principle of achievement consists in getting things accomplished in the believer’s daily life and service by trusting the power of Another, rather than by trusting the energy of the flesh. Thus, Augustine says, "God orders what we cannot do, that we may know what we ought to ask of him. Faith acquires what the Law requires; nay, the Law requires, in order that faith may acquire what is thus required; nay, more, God demands of us faith itself, and finds not what he thus demands, until by giving he makes it possible to find it." So, "Let God give what He orders, and order what He wills.” Author unknown
 
If God allowed Satan there and didn't stop him .then the complaint would be why stop there ? Why not helicopter parent his creation?

This free will wouldn't exist at all.
 
The WCF states that God chooses in secret.
Instead the NT shows us HOW to become saved.
I double dare you to post a NT verse that teaches "God chooses" ... (I am not sure how "in secret/not secret" applies to God and before "the foundation of the world" or "we were born".) Your statement implies that what the WCF states is not found in Scripture ... Is that really true? I'd like YOU to show that it is not true. 😉
 
I also state that calvinists are following a man and not Jesus.
But I think this of the reformed church too.
For irony, by and large ... Calvinists believe we follow three men: Jesus and John and Paul ... and we believe that our "Free Will" critics also follow the teachings of a man: themselves.

That's why the discussions, too often, turn personal. Especially when one side tells the other side what the other side believes.

I can present 4 of the 5 points of TULIP in a SINGLE BIBLE VERSE ... so telling me that I am following John Calvin and ignoring Scripture really is just throwing sand into your NEIGHBOR's face.
 
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