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Monday, May 01, 2006

Adam's First Sin Not A Choice


Obviously Adam needed something additional to sustain him because given the circumstances presented to the soul he fell. Could Adam have defied the eternal decree anymore than Pilate? For Adam not to have fallen he would have needed to possess libertarian free will. Adam certainly possessed liberty, which is simply the ability to act according to one’s intention; he also possessed moral ability, which is the natural propensity or moral nature to act in a manner consistent with what is pleasing to God.

To choose is to act according to one’s intention or strongest inclination at the moment of choice. All choices, being rational, are intended; but intentions are not chosen. If intentions were chosen then each choice of an intention would require a more primitive intention that would also need to be chosen ad infinitum. Consequently, Adam’s action to choose contrary to God’s law was preceded by a sinful intention to act that was not chosen. Adam did not choose this (sinful) intention to act contrary to God’s law; for if he had, then that supposed choice of the first sinful intention would have required an even more primitive sinful intention.

Adam’s first sin was his un-chosen fallen nature, from which a specific intention to act sinfully proceeded. To deny this is to argue that Adam acted sinfully with a propensity and inclination to act uprightly! If Adam acted sinfully when his strongest inclination at the moment of choice was to act uprightly, then he could not be held responsible for his action of sin. It would have been a purely contingent act and, therefore, not one that he intended.

Options were presented to a man who was upright. The action was made in accordance to an intention, as all actions are if they are real choices made in accordance with liberty, the ability to choose as one wants. The choice was sinful. The question is whether a sinful action of choice can proceed from a pure intention. Can a choice to sin proceed from a strongest inclination that is not sinful? Can morally relevant choices be contrary to the strongest inclination at the moment of choice? If not, then the choice to sin must have proceeded from an inclination to choose contrary to God's precepts; and a sinful inclination toward a particular sinful choice can only come from a nature that is already fallen. There’s no mystery here. There are only two possibilities. Either the strongest inclination to act sinfully was a sinful inclination or it wasn’t. If it wasn’t, then the strongest inclination to act uprightly was followed by a sinful action, which would destroy the moral relevancy of the action since it would not have been according to what was intended at the moment of choice. If the strongest inclination was sinful, then the first sin was Adam’s inclination to act sinfully and not the action that followed from the sinful inclination. It’s not any harder than that folks. In sum, Adam was no less a slave to his strongest inclination at the moment of choice than an unconverted man. The issue is not whether Adam was created upright, which he was, but whether Adam possessed a radical freedom of the will that would have enabled him to choose contrary to how he intended. Such freedom, however, would destroy moral accountability for with such "freedom" one could end up intending to praise and end up cursing instead.

Ron

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6 comments:

razzendahcuben said...

I think you demonstrate that any attempt to resolve the paradox of man's liberty and God's sovereignty results in rank determinism---indeed that is the consequence of your philosophy. And scripture is quite clear that God does not cause men to sin. Yet according to your philosophy, He does. Some might argue that God merely imposed a sinful nature on Adam (which contradicts scripture) but did not actually cause Adam to sin, but this is the equivalent of blaming a computer virus on the computer instead of the programmer. Not only am I unpersuaded by philosophy in such paradoxical matters, but largely I think such a discussion is a waste of time. Adam sinned and a sin nature was imputed to all mankind. We need a savior---end of story. I'm more concerned with telling others about how the latter works than the former.

Nevertheless, its something interesting to think over. Thanks for writing it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron,
I'm a Calvnist and I have a friend who is a staunch Arminian (minus the losing salvation part).

I have been trying to convince him of Calvinism for a time now but he refuses to accept that God determines all things including sin.

I have presented the argument as full as it possibly could be from scripture and logic.

One thing he is having trouble with is that if God "causes" someone to sin then God is responsible for sin. I have tried to argue that what makes men "responsible" is determined by God and not by us.

You stated to the above poster "It would seem that you have a dysfunctional view of causality."

I was wondering if you could explain this more as it might help me answer his question of how God being the first cause can cause all things and not be responsible.

Thanks.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Hi Anonymous,

What needs to be distinguished is responsibility from guilt; and then motive needs to be considered. God is certainly responsible for anything that occurs in his universe. Notwithstanding, responsibility does not always incur guilt. For instance, I am responsible for my household but I am not *guilty* of all sin that occurs within my household.

Now let's move to the matter of motive. God has a morally sufficent reason for the sin he ordains. As for God causing sin, doesn't He have the right to harden hearts as he so determines? He is the potter and we are the clay... The material point is that man is judged according to the sin he delights in performing. God on the other hand is vindicated of any wrong doing because he, unlike man, has pure motives for the sin he causes. The only alternative is that God has no original eternal purpose for the sin that occurs and that his knolwedge and plan is contingent upon man. Please refer to my blog entry future tense truth propositions.

Keep up the good work!

Ron

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled upon this blog and i was shocked at the amount of information and understanding you have here on doctrine and belief of Reformed theology. But I have one concern, following the earlier post of another anonymous comment; it feels as though you are more concerned with the evangelism of reformed theology than the gospel itself. Let me ask you what the purpose of our faith is, and what does God want us to do with it?

I too am a theologian and appreciate good arguments, of which you have many, but let us never even beging to put too much weight on know about God instead of knowing God! Maybe you could post also how God is using what you are learning in your own life, not just what you think.

Also, a question, do you think that there is a problem among Reformed theology that most Christians who hold to reformed thought are unwilling to confess that (because there are some brilliant theologians out there who disagree with this line of thought) they might actually be wrong about what they think, but this is their best guess? It feels that there is a bit of un-needed pride in the reformed camp that we could all do without. Your thoughts?

Just also wanted to let you know I appreciate your mind and desire to Follow Christ with all your heart soul MIND and strength.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I'm very concerned with evangelism. In fact, my wife and I were blessed to have an evangelistic Bible study in our home last spring, which was well attended by people in the neighborhood. Our church prayed faithfully for the study and we hope to begin again in the fall, Lord willing. What's interesting is that by all appearance it would seem that the study would not have begun apart from our church's prayers. The reason I blog on the topics I do is because I feel I can do a greater amount good defending the implications of Reformed thought since my gifts might be more in that area.

In response to: "Maybe you could post also how God is using what you are learning in your own life, not just what you think."

Don't you believe that to know the ways of God is to glorify him and, therefore, enjoy him? Accordingly, God is using what I am learning by causing me to be more in awe of Him since what I am learning is indeed about Him. In addition, if you've been blessed by what I am learning, then God is using what I am learning to bless you! :)

"It feels that there is a bit of un-needed pride in the reformed camp that we could all do without. Your thoughts?"

Of course there's pride in the Reformed camp. We live in a fallen world. Truth be told, I find a bit more of pride in the non-Reformed camp. Maybe it's because the non-Reformed Christian thinks that he causes himself to differ from another, as opposed to confessing that God and God alone causes one man to differ from another.

Just also wanted to let you know I appreciate your mind and desire to Follow Christ with all your heart soul MIND and strength.

Thank you so much for your encouraging words.

In His Grace,

Ron

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Raz said: "I think you demonstrate that any attempt to resolve the paradox of man's liberty and God's sovereignty results in rank determinism---indeed that is the consequence of your philosophy."

Raz,

If God is alone eternal, omniscient and omnipotent, how can he avoid determining whatsoever comes to pass? To deny determinism is to implicitly deny God’s attributes.

Raz states: "And scripture is quite clear that God does not cause men to sin."

"And scripture is quite clear that God does not cause men to sin."

It would seem that you have a disfunctional view of causality. At the very least, did God cause you to exist and weren't your formed in iniquity?

Ron