God's sovereignty and man's responsibility, part 4
If God is sovereign over all events, including human action, then somehow or other, God is the ultimate cause for the motives that cause people to act, whether doing good or doing evil. Granted, God does use secondary means to accomplish his will, but I'm talking about utlimate causes. You can trace all these secondary causes back to God. Does that make God the author of sin? Is God responsible for sin? Is God evil?
Remember that the will is the proper object of command since the will is the faculty of choice. What makes a person worthy of praise is that they act on a good motive (i.e. make a good choice). What makes them worthy of blame is that they act on a bad motive (i.e. make a bad choice).
Now let's go back to that post I mentioned a while back on "Debunking Calvinism." The author said that if God causes John to kill Bill (whether by decreeing or implanting the desire), then John is blameless. God killed Bill.
But as we can see from my arguments, two agents were involved since two wills acted from two desires. God is ultimately responsible for Bill being killed, but God was not the one who actually killed Bill. John killed Bill. Since two different persons with two different wills were involved in Bill's death, we have to assess them individually to determine whether we should praise or blame them. We have to look at the individual motives that caused them to act.
The reason is because whether a person is morally justified in their action or not depends on the motive they acted on. That's why we always want to know what somebody's intention was. We ask, "Why did you do that?" And when we have inadvertently caused somebody else harm, we justify ourselves by saying, "I had a good reason for doing that," or "That's not what I meant to do; it was an accident. I meant to do something else." If they intended good, then we praise them, and if they intended bad, then we blame them. When looking at God and John, we are looking at two different actions. God's willful action was to decree or implant a desire in John. John's action was to kill Bill.
In the story of Joseph in the Bible, we find that God had a different intention than Joseph's brothers did in selling him into slavery. God meant it for good, but Joseph's brothers meant it for evil. God's intention was to save lives. Joseph's brothers intended to take out their jealousy on Joseph and rid him from their midst. Likewise, God's intention for having Judas betray Jesus was to save people, but Judas' intention was to make money.
So, to answer the question of whether God is the author of sin, he is in one sense, but not in another. He is not the author of sin in the sense of being the doer of a bad thing. God never acts on bad motives. God always acts on good intentions to bring about good results. However, God is the author of sin in the sense of bringing it about that others sin. This, however, does not make God wicked since God does it for good and praiseworthy ends. God is responsible for sin, not in the sense of committing it, but in the sense of disposing the world in such a way that others commit sin.
to be continued...