Is God making people wicked, or are they wicked against his will?
This is a hard question to answer for someone who believes that God forces no one to sin while at the same nothing comes to pass against his will.
Calvinists often speak from the both side of the mouth when they on the one hand claim that God predestines people to become elect or non-elect from the foundation of the world, and on the other hand claim that God forces no one to be wicked. Sometimes they try to blame Adam for people’s “sinful nature”, but this does not solve the problem since he arrived on the scene after the “foundation of the world” (and the Bible does not claim we have inherited his sin anyway).
So which one is it? Are people wicked against his will or according to his will? (Any of his wills …) Does God force people to be sinners or not?
Calvinists might suggest that God merely “passes over” people and leaves them to their own devices, which means that such people will do what their nature urges them to do – which is performing all sorts of evil (like being wicked by default). Although, what choice do they really have? If only one single choice is available to them, and if God determines to turn them into non-elect (for no apparent reason), must they therefore not become exactly as God has determined? Surely they could not have become elect if God wanted them to be non-elect? Would it not be surprising if someone who God did NOT want to become elect – but rather non-elect – still ended up as elect? That could not possibly happen, right? Again, I can see no other option but one (1) for the victims that were forced to become non-elect. Is not “forcing” the proper word here?
The Bible tells us that people are separated from him due to their transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). This means that it is when people choose to SIN as they are spiritually “dead” and therefore also lost (until they repent, if they ever do). Calvinists often make a similar claim, but do they really mean it?
The whole Calvinistic process:
- People go to hell due to their sin. (So long it is fine, but it gets worse …)
- Why do they sin? Because they are bound by a sinful nature.
- Why are they bound by a sinful nature? Because they are wicked non-elect sinners.
- Why are they wicked non-elect? Because God created them as such from the foundation of the world – before they even existed, before they were born and long before they could sin.
- This means that people are not dead due to their sins after all, but due to their bad luck of having been chosen by God to be wicked – with no way to escape from this misfortune.
Again, this Calvinistic process means that sin is NOT the reason for their damnation, but GOD’S CHOICE is. So why do Calvinists so often say that people are lost due to their sin if they do not really mean it? (Sinning would just be a consequence of God’s refusal to let people seek him and do good – from the foundation of the world.) Add to this the Calvinistic idea that 1) God is sovereign in such a way that he micro-manages everything, and 2) nothing comes to pass against his will. This means that if we criticize anything or anyone, we are criticizing God himself who caused it all to happen.
Not all Calvinists would agree that this is a proper understanding of their belief system (but many do agree). Still, they cannot escape from the many contradictions resulting from trying to save Calvinism.
Sinners commit sin against their nature
The Bible teaches that sinners do wicked acts against their nature, and not according to their nature:
Rom. 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is AGAINST NATURE
Once I heard in a podcast where a Calvinist asserted that a person bound by his wicked nature would not choose the right thing (like seeking God). He was then asked by the host “Could he?”. The Calvinist replied “He wouldn’t!”. He was asked “Could he?”. The Calvinist replied “He wouldn’t!” He was again asked: “Could he, though?”, and the Calvinist continued to say “He wouldn’t!”. It is easy to understand why the Calvinist was reluctant to answer the question (which was “could he?” and not “would he?”). If a non-elect person not only would not choose the right thing but neither is capable of it (by no fault of his own), the guilt must be placed on someone else but him. Namely on the one who caused this awful dilemma – namely God.
Fortunately this is not the God of the Bible. If people are wicked, it is their own blame and not God’s. God pleaded with his people Israel to do right, just like he pleads with all of us.
Ex. 18:30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
People corrupt themselves
God is not the one corrupting people by determining/orchestrating/choosing/forcing/ordaining/predestining people to become wicked sinners before they are even born. The Bible says that man himself is to be blamed for being corrupt and not God. In order for someone to corrupt himself, he must first exist (and have a heart and a brain) in order to make choices. Man does not corrupt himself until he chooses to make sinful actions. Not a single day before.
Gen. 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
Deut. 9:12 And the Lord said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.
Deut. 32:5 They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.
Judge 2:19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.
Hosea 9:9 They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.
2 Pet. 2:19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
2 Pet. 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Jude 1:10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.