This is going to be a little long winded, just a warning. Jonathan Edwards is one of my favorite theologians to read if not the favorite. He’s on another wave length. He’s presses me into Jesus everytime I read him. Not only was he one of the greatest theologians of all time but one of the greatest minds, in general, of all time. I was reading on his work, Original Sin. This was probably the hardest read I’ve ever tried to make sense of. In short, Edward’s line of reasoning on original sin is that man’s volition (will to choose) is always prone to the motive to which he believes is best for himself. Basically that you will always choose what you think is best for yourself. Edwards goes on to say that God created Adam with two types of principles – inferior (which would be human nature to self love, passion, appetite) and superior (which would be divine love, man’s righteousness and true holiness). Adam was born holy and righteous before God, implied by the Fall. God walked with Adam in the Garden and there was no separation between man and God. When Adam and Eve ate of the tree, they came upon the knowledge of good and evil, which means before they ate of the tree, all that they knew was God and His righteousness. Edwards continues to address how we are born with sinful nature upon the imputation of Adam’s sin to all of mankind after him. Once the Fall happened, God removed the superior principles from man… leaving him in a state, prone to sin. But, Edwards doesn’t really address how Adam came to a place of sinning to begin with. Did he have the choice to sin? Did God create him knowing that he would sin? Did God author the sin to come about? Staying consistent with Edwards’ logic… if we always choose what we believe is best, then how did Adam choose to sin if before the Fall, all he knew was God? Why would he pick something other than God’s righteousness? Edwards refuses to identify with God’s authorship of sin, which is a hard stance to have, but it also leaves some holes in his stance on Original Sin. This is where my question came from…”How could Adam come by a wicked will is he was created Holy?”
I believe that God is sovereign. Sovereign over all things. “To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God, there is no other besides him.” Deut. 4:35 There is no other being like Him. This is His story. Not mine, not yours. He is all powerful, all knowing, everywhere, always. That is some background to where I’m coming from, writing this. The question at hand is… Did God author/ordain/cause/permit sin to come about? If God is sovereign over all, it must include evil and sin. I believe the question at hand is more or less a problem, not because of the theology behind this thought, but these word’s specific association with blame.
I’d say and I think you’d be willing to agree that the greatest sin ever committed was killing Jesus. Who’s to blame for that? I’d say the Jews were, and if we were alive at the time, me and you as well, although our sins definitely put Jesus on the cross. Let’s look at Acts 2:23.
“this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”
It was plan A, from the beginning, for Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. It was plan A, from the beginning, for Adam and Eve to fall in the garden. God did not set things in motion waiting to see if Adam picked path A or B. Not only did God know it was happen this way, but rather He knew because He planned it this way.
Wayne Grudem explains, in Systematic Theology, an author-story model that I believe will help a lot of you with this issue as it helped me. Let’s look at Shakespeare’s work on Macbeth. Macbeth killed Duncan. Well, who gets the blame for Duncan’s death? Macbeth or Shakespeare? Macbeth is the one that killed Duncan but Shakespeare is the one that wrote it in that way. You could say both are the cause of Duncan’s death. Shakespeare is the author of the story but Macbeth is obviously the one guilty of Duncan’s death. Adam is the one who is responsible for the Fall, but God is the author of the story. John Calvin teaches on remote (distant) and proximate (close) causes. Take the death of Jesus for example. According to Acts 2:23, God would be the remote cause and the Jews would be the proximate cause. But it’d be ridiculous for us to say that God is the one that killed Jesus. Our sins killed Jesus.
Let’s look at Job as well. After all the suffering afflicted upon Job, who does he say is responsible? After losing his family, his property, and everything else, Job says in Job 2:21
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Job accredits his suffering and affliction to God. Satan, the Sabeans, nature… those things would be proximate causes for his suffering, but Job accredits God as the remote cause, and yet as in Job 2:22 “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”
I conclude with this. We must be careful when selecting which words we use to describe God so that we give him all the glory and honor due Him. With that being said, I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that Adam was doing anything but merely walking out the path ordained for him by God, and God alone. It’s still Adam’s sin… but it’s God’s plan. God is sovereign. Jesus was plan A. I am truly thankful for that.
Soli Deo Gloria
I leave you with these two scriptures:
Romans 9:19-21 – You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
1 Corinthians 1:19-20 – For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?