God's Causation


I’m one who holds that God causes both blessing and grief. If LFW is true then how does it square with the likes that God “causes” us to walk in his way or God causes us grief (in order to have mercy).

As I understand LFW it’s as if they’re saying “God cannot cause it otherwise he’s the author of sin”( I’m not sure what that really even means to be the “author” of sin).

If in scripture God continually states that the reason why Isreal will do as he says is because he will bring it about, then how can one claim that he did not cause it (or one has libertarian free will).

To me this seems inescapable in this sense: If God causes it - it will happen. Open Theism does not seem to rescue the fact that God knows it will happen - which seems to me to render the fact that there is no choice in the matter regarding the achievment, but only the process of how we got there.



Note to new readers: when Auggy says “LFW” he means “Libertarian Free Will”. (He mentions it without the abbreviation later in his post, but I wanted to make sure visitors and new members understood for sure what he was talking about. :slight_smile: )

I think critics who complain that God would thus be the author of sin, have a good complaint to make. Even if God acts to confirm a sinner in their sinfulness (hardening their heart after the fact)–which is what a lot of those Biblical examples seem to involve (though not necessarily all!)–and even if this ‘mere’ confirmation is only temporary (which is also what a lot of those Biblical examples seem to involve)… {inhale} :mrgreen:

…it’s still true that God has authoritatively acted to ensure that at least some injustice is done that otherwise might not have been done. The archetypal example is the Mosaic Pharoah; several times he’s willing to let Israel go, and God hardens his heart to be stubborn, resulting in more injustice to Israel. (Other times however Pharoah seems to choose of himself to be stubborn.)

The people (usually Arminianistic) who complain about the (usually Calvinistic) concept that God authoritatively chooses who will and who won’t do evil or good, and then acts or chooses not to act (which is itself a choice) to ensure this happens, don’t always perceive that if God hardens people’s hearts to confirm their choices even only temporarily (and most Arms would say God eventually does this PERMANENTLY to at least some sinners) then IT’S STILL EXACTLY THE SAME PROBLEM IN PRINCIPLE THAT THEY WERE COMPLAINING ABOUT! The only escape would be to say that God never chooses to support evildoing at all. But that’s going to run against some large swatches (some famous, some obscure) of scriptural testimony, OT and NT both.

It runs against the metaphysics of supernaturalistic theism, too.

If supernaturalistic theism is true (including trinitarian theism), our system of Nature, and the persons who are created inside it, do not exist in ontological independence from God. That would be the same as saying God has created a cosmological dualism; which is not supernaturalistic theism anymore (if it ever was). Moreover, equally ontological entities are unable to affect one another at all unless they exist dependently themselves within an overarching reality–so now we’re not even talking about cosmological dualism anymore, if God is supposed to be acting in Nature in any way! The concept that an Independent Fact could create another equal IF fails under scrutiny (if that other entity is created then it isn’t really an IF); but even if that was possible there would be no further relation possible between the IFs.

No, if supernaturalistic theism (including ortho-trin) is true, then we not only depend on God for the beginning of our existence, but we continue depending on the continual action of God for our properties and continuing existence, too.

Consequently, whatever else is true, the fact is (if supernat-theism is true) that God does act to support evildoers and so to support injustice, at least temporarily. That still remains true even if derivative free will is given to the persons for them to make ‘their own’ contributions to the story.

(I’ve been talking about this over in the BSM series for a while now, by the way. :slight_smile: )

So there is no escape, whether one goes Arm or Calv in emphasis, from the conclusion that God as God acts in ways which in some senses directly support the unjust–even if God is intrinsically against injustice.

Consequently, if God hardens someone in their sin after the fact, that wouldn’t be out of character.

It wouldn’t even be out of character for God to manipulate someone into sinning on occasion!

But–and here’s the big BUT as far as our forum topic goes :wink: – if orthodox trinitarian theism is true, not only supernaturalistc theism, then God must be intrinsically dedicated to fulfilling mutually supportive interpersonal relationships for all people.

If there is injustice (and we all agree there is), then God as God must be the author of injustice to at least some degree, seeing as how all things (even rogue angels, or powers thrones and principalities if we want to think of such things impersonally) were created by Him and through Him and for Him, and it is by Him that all things continue holding together. God creates people, and doesn’t snuff them out of existence or revert them to good little puppets the moment they even consider doing evil. He at least allows them to continue to exist and even directly acts to keep them in existence.

But if ortho-trin is true, God must be aiming at bringing those persons back into good fellowship with all persons (whether created or uncreated, man or God).

The key problem then is whether God is finally the author of sin; whether God acts toward fulfilling non-fair-togetherness (un-righteousness) between persons. Which is what sinners, so far as we are sinners, do.

If universalism (this or that kind) is true, then the answer is no; whatever else God does, He does so acting toward fulfilling all fair-togetherness (righteousness). Even temporarily supporting evildoers, loving the sinner though hating the sin, can be done with an eye toward achieving that goal someday.

If universalism isn’t true, then the answer is yes: God acts ultimately toward fulfilling non-fair-togetherness between at least some persons; whether God annihilates some persons out of existence (preventing them from ever being in fair-togetherness with Himself and with other created persons), or abandons them eventually by giving up acting to save them from their sins, or never even intended to save them from their sins to begin with.

But then, neither could orthodox trinitarian theism be true.


yes, I agree. I object to Jacob Arminius’ view that God could harden a sinner, further in his ways, that he rejects the truth knowing the person will continue to do so unto eternal damnation. For then love MUST take the back seat to justice - and that to me is a massive violation.

It seems to me that if God is the one “causing” greif or bringing it upon us then what does it matter if you were born that way (and I accept that God makes us that way) then how else can I render such ideas? What’s my alternatives? I can’t see them.


I’ve come to believe that evil as well as good are part of God’s plan, that He is truly the ultimate cause of all things. I believe that from the beginning God created us to be in relationship with Him, knowing, understanding experientially and intimately both good and evil. And Satan tempting Adam and Eve was part of His plan. He put Satan in the garden. He knew Adam and Eve would fall and that they/we would experience the reality of evil so that we can know the good. There can be no forgiveness without sin. There can be no reconciliation without being enemies. There can be to redemption without having been sold into evil. Adam and Eve wanted to know good and evil and that is what we all are learning.

You might have heard the contemporary song that says “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sins upon that cross…” I was singing that one day and I was overwhelmed with the reality that One Day I will know just how much my freedom cost the Lord, and I’ll be overcome more than ever before with love for my/our Redeemer!

This present evil age is surely Evil. We’re surrounded by death, destruction, wickedness, tortured souls, tortured bodies, oppression by evil, injustice, darkness, EVIL all around! But in this evil we, well some of us, are blessed with glimpses of light. Some of us though are never given even a glimpse of light, only knowing evil from birth. It takes many colors, shades, dark threads along with light threads to create a beautiful tapestry.


Btw, thanks Sonia for catching a composition error!–I had meant to write “independence” somewhere pretty important and instead wrote “dependence”. I blame the snot in my head. :mrgreen:

It would also mean that God’s justice has nothing, or maybe even less than nothing, to do with love.

That might be coherent with some kind of theism less than ortho-trin (insofar as any lesser theism could be coherent), but it couldn’t be coherent with ortho-trin.

If you mean that Arminian theology (per se) has no way to avoid principally affirming Calv notions of diselection, without affirming universalism (instead of Arm soteriology), then I certainly agree. :slight_smile:

Calvs, I have often thought, make a stronger use of soteriology from theology than Arms do, but the theology they work from tends to be effectively monotheistic at best (which also explains the similarity of hardcore Calv soteriology to Islam). Whereas Arms have a stronger intrinsic theological connection to trinitarian theism per se, but aren’t as good at making a point of deriving soteriology from theology as Calvs. And when they try, they often reduce back to only supernaturalistic theism (or even only mere theism!)–leading logically to Calv instead of Arm soteriology again.

If you meant something else by your question (other than a rhetorical observation about typical Arm failure to take seriously some things that Calvs typically do better at keeping in the account :wink: ) : the only thing I can briefly say, is that once I shifted over to positive aseity (where God is actively self-grounding) instead of privative aseity (where God is statically ungrounded), and began to better see thereby how the 1st and 2nd Persons inter-related with each other at and as the ground of all reality; then a lot of topical problems I had with derivative rational sentience (created free will), within Nature, and in relation to God, quickly smoothed out.

The foundational self-sacrifice of the Son makes (even literally so!) all the difference in the world. :slight_smile:




LOL! JP, sometimes you think we get it and bro, I couldn’t understand that last paragraph if I had 20 years of schooling at yale with Keith De Rose. Bring it down brother, from about the 54th floor to the basement for us maintenance and janitors.


The point and nature of the contact between God and the world—does it get any deeper? Wow.

Auggy: I’m one who holds that God causes both blessing and grief. If LFW is true then how does it square with the likes that God “causes” us to walk in his way or God causes us grief (in order to have mercy).

Tom: They don’t square. One view (the view you promote) is monergism. LFW entails synergism. So if we’re libertarianly free, God isn’t the only one deciding what goes on in the world.

Why God would choose to endow us with LFW is another discussion. I think that LFW is just the metaphysical price tag for getting finite creatures into a perfected state of mature and loving partnership with God. Maybe it has to do with what we think God’s whole reason for creating even is. To my mind, part of why God creates is to have persons who, like him, are defined by and filled with love and as such reflect God’s perfected image back to God for his enjoyment by replicating that love and goodness to one another throughout the universe. I think the end state God is interested in is one in which God does NOT micromanage or determine everything because he doesn’t need to. He specifically wants ‘personal others’ who creatively express love by means of their own irreducible personal uniqueness. I think of it this way—as if God is the white light shining through a stained-glass window and each of us is a uniquely shaped and colored piece of the whole.

To me, God creates expressly for synergy—of wills—that issues finally in unique personal others whom God enjoys precisely because he doesn’t have to determine their every movement. I often think of my kids when they were younger and loved coloring pictures. I’d ask my daughter to draw a picture for me. I’d never consider telling her EXACTLY what to paint (what composition to choose, what colors to pick, what medium to choose, etc.). On the contrary, I WANT her to determine the creative expression of her love precisely because the picture, so determined, would communicate HER–her own unique and irreplacable self. The picture was a condensation in creatively expressed form of HER. And it’s HER that I want. My determining everything about her doesn’t get me her. It just gets me me over again.

When it comes to evil, I basically argue that God, being perfectly benevolent, would always and everywhere seek to minimize evil and maximize good given the sort of free world he created. Does God sometimes go with a ‘lesser evil’? I think it’s clear he does and I don’t think that’s problematic. But when he does so, it’s always a response to less than ideal circumstances, and so conditional upon creational factors he has to deal with. (This is very different from Calvinistic determinism.) Why would circumstances be less than ideal? Because God took the risk in granting us freedom and he’s seeing the project through to the end. Why would he do that? Because love is worth the risk. God is sometimes, one might say, complicit in evil, yes (but understood carefully). An example might be God’s agreeing to give Israel a king. You all know the OT story of Samuel. You remember how Israel’s insisting that they have a king was a ‘rejection of God’. It seems clear that Israel’s being a monarchy wasn’t God’s first choice, not how God would have preferred history to unfold. But though their request for a king was sinful and a rejection of God as King, God consents to this evil and gives Israel what they want. Other concessions would be OT laws of divorce, which Christ said God agreed to “because of the hardness of Israel’s heart, but…” Jesus says, “It was never God’s original intention.” All this just means to me that to a certain extent God ‘plays the cards he’s dealt’ so far as his purposes entail creation’s freedom.

Does all this mean God sometimes doesn’t get what God wants? Yep. That’s what it means. :open_mouth:

My two cents,