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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Man's First Sin - The "Mystery" Solved



In the link at the bottom I argued that Adam's first sin was not a choice but rather his nature the moment it became fallen. By way of review, I argued that if Adam's first sin was the action of taking and eating the forbidden fruit, then the act of sin would have come from a nature and inclination not to sin, which in turn would have made the act an unintended act, which of course is not consistent with an act being morally relevant. Accordingly, the first sin was the nature upon becoming fallen. Adam, in other words, had concupiscence prior to acting sinfully. To deny that Adam's first sinful choice came from a nature that had already fallen is to affirm that a sinful action came from a non-sinful nature, a monstrosity indeed.

God is not a legalist, a reductio:

If Adam intended to act sinfully and was tackled prior to acting upon his intention, wouldn't he have sinned just the same? Moreover, had Eve abstained from eating the forbidden fruit solely because she was concerned for her figure, would she not have sinned just the same in the eyes of God? Certainly God is not a legalist who overlooks the intentions of the heart!

Mystery, mystery when there is no mystery:

The reason people call the first sin a mystery is because they begin their reasoning with the false premise that the action of taking and eating the forbidden fruit was the first sin. If we get back to first principles and focus on what precedes any action, whether sinful or not, we can begin to recognize that the first sin was the desire to be like God and not the action that proceeded from that desire. The question that we should be concerned with is not how did an unrighteous act spring from an upright being (which is a question that proceeds from a false premise), but rather how did an upright being acquire an intention to act sinfully? The answer is no different than the answer to the question of how does any intention and subsequent action come into existence. Doesn’t God providentially orchestrate circumstances that come before the souls of men thereby moving them by secondary causes to act in accordance with new inclinations that are brought into existence according to God’s providence that He decrees? By God's pre-interpretation of the otherwise brute particulars of providence, the intentions of men and their subsequent actions fall out as God so determines.

For Calvinists to argue that an act of sin proceeded from an upright nature is to assert a contradiction – and no amount of mystery can save a contradiction! The only thing I find mysterious is that so many Calvinists find the entrance of sin into humanity so mysterious. Note well that I am not pretending to know how God pre-interprets particulars or how the mind of man relates to the movement of the body. That’s not in view at all. My simple point is that Calvinists do not generally find it mysterious that actions necessarily follow from intentions and that God’s orchestrating of circumstances are an ordained means by which intentions come into being. Why, therefore, should we not apply the same theological reasoning to the first sin as we do to God’s sovereignty over the intentions of fallen men?

Ron

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http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2006/05/adams-first-sin-not-choice.html

21 comments:

razzendahcuben said...

Doesn’t God providentially orchestrate circumstances that come before the souls of men thereby moving them by secondary causes so that they act in accordance with new inclinations that are according to God’s decree?

If this is the case then I must admit that I am extremely comfortable living in sin! My struggle may or may not end---God decides. So I'll just chill until God gives me the desire to change.

Seems like quite the excuse for spiritual laziness!

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Raz,

You say you're not an Arminian, yet you affirm libertarian free will - unwittingly! Are you suggesting that you can choose your strongest inclination at the moment of choice? If so, are those choices of those inclinations according to a more primitive strongest inclination that too are chosen ad infinitum? OR, are you suggesting that you sometimes choose contrary to your strongest inclination at the moment of choice, which of course would destroy moral accountability!

Ron

Anonymous said...

you seem to just back the problem up: how can a sinful nature come from a nature not to sin?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

All intentions that spring from finite creatures have an inception. Please explain why it is more mysterious that an upright man gain his first sinful intention than it is that a fallen man gain his first righteous intention? Or that a converted man gain a new righteous or sinful intentions for that matter!

Ron

Anonymous said...

Obtaining a 'fallen nature' would be sin would it not? So one has sinned by 'falling' into this nature... Or are you saying that man was created with this nature? But this doesn't seem to be so since you say "I argue that Adam's first sin was not a choice but rather his nature the moment it became fallen." Why consider 'unintended acts' not to be morally relevant?

If Adam's nature was fallen prior to manducating the forbidden fruit, how did it obtain that nature prior to the consumption? It would have to go from a state of no inclination to sin to one that has an inclination to sin, which is apparently ruled out by your argument. But this is exactly what you say would be 'a monstrosity indeed'.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

"Obtaining a 'fallen nature' would be sin would it not?"

Yes, the nature that is prone to sin is itself sinful in and of itself, yet Rome denies that.

"So one has sinned by 'falling' into this nature... Or are you saying that man was created with this nature? But this doesn't seem to be so since you say "I argue that Adam's first sin was not a choice but rather his nature the moment it became fallen."

Correct, man was NOT created with a sin nature.

Why consider 'unintended acts' not to be morally relevant?

Unintended actions of the will are not morally relevant, nor possible. A choice by definition is intended and, therefore, according to the strongest inclination at the moment of choice.

If Adam's nature was fallen prior to manducating the forbidden fruit, how did it obtain that nature prior to the consumption?

How is any strongest inclination obtained? Obviously not by the mind choosing it according to a more primitive strongest inclination, lest we'd be left with an infinite regress of strongest inclinations and volitional actions for any single choice.

The desire to act sinfully was formed in Adam like any desire is formed in any man at any time.

It would have to go from a state of no inclination to sin to one that has an inclination to sin, which is apparently ruled out by your argument.

My argument rules that out? How so? All intentions that are acted upon have an inception that is not itself chosen, so why should the first intention to sin be any different?

"But this is exactly what you say would be 'a monstrosity indeed'."

The monstrosity is to think that the volitional action that was contrary to God's precepts came from a nature that was still upright. The action of the will is not the nature nor the strongest inclination but rather the mind choosing.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Ron:

This is very clear to me but I've read your posts on derekwebb for years. All you're saying is that we always choose what he wants the most. If this was not true that we did that then we could end up choosing to sin where we wanted to not to choose to sin. If we ever could choose opposite of what we aimed to choose then God could not hold us responsible and the choices would not be knowable by God in advance because they would be random and not caused by our wills.

You raise a great point on the first sin of Adams. I agree with yuo that our "strongest inclinations" are not chosen since that would lead to what you called an infinite regress,and I agree with you that Adams first choice of sin had to be one that came from a nature that had already fallen into a sinful nature. If this was not true then he would have chosen to eat the apple when he was upright but someone without a sin nature cannot choose to sin and someone cannot act contrary to the nature he has right? I agree that the nature changed first and then the choice then followd after. If i undertand you the nature fell just like our desires change and thats not by a choice we make cause of infinte regress problems. The desire to sin came just like any desire to do anything comes to us, and thats not by choice but by circumstances that come to us by God's will. Do I read you righT?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

A,

I should make your post a blog entry!

Actually, I did go to Derek Webb last night but the site required me to re-register,which I wasn't in the mood for... You know, my strongest inclination at the moment of choice was to refrain from registering! Now if I were to believe the Arminian theory, then either I could have acted contrary to my strongest inclination at the moment of choice, which could have ended in my registering when I truly intended not to register, which would be a chaotic choice that was most irrational. OR, maybe I chose my strongest inclination of not wanting to register and prior to doing that I chose a more primitive inclination that inclined me to choose my inclination not to register. But prior to choosing that more primitive incliniation, I would have needed to have chosen an even more primitive inclination.... How do Arminians get anything done with all the choosing that needs to take place for any one choice?!

PM me on D-webb so I know who you are!

Ron

Anonymous said...

Ron,

So what you're saying is that a choice springs from an inclination (or desire), and an inclination springs from a fallen nature. Or...

Fallen Nature --> Strongest Inclination --> Choice

If I'm understanding you correctly then from whence does the fallen nature itself spring? By secondary causation? If so, can the specifc secondary cause be identified?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

"So what you're saying is that a choice springs from an inclination (or desire), and an inclination springs from a fallen nature. Or..."

The inclination is consistent with the nature, whether fallen or not.

"If I'm understanding you correctly then from whence does the fallen nature itself spring? By secondary causation? If so, can the specifc secondary cause be identified?"

We are all born with a fallen nature so I'm assuming you are asking about the first fallen nature of our parents or Satan for that matter. First a word about causality. Aren't causes simply otherwise brute particulars that God preinterprets in an intelligible way? Accordingly, I would suggest that God preinterpreted a relevant state of affairs that when presented to the soul of our first parents necessitated the fallen nature. Obviously the fallen nature must have preceeded the action of taking an eating since the action of taking and eating could not have proceeded from an upright nature (since an unpright nature cannot act sinfully). The nature fell and then the action became consistent with the new fallen nature; that action was specfic to how God preinterpreted how the particular action would proceed from the particular state of affairs.

To have chosen the fallen nature would have been a sinful choice but how could a sinful choice have proceeded from a nature that had not yet fallen? We're left with no mystery when we lay hold of the notion that the nature fell and that the action of choosing followed necessarily, just as God determined and wanted - for his own glory.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron,

My previous question pertained solely to Adam's situation and not our own. Like you, I am Reformed and agree with total depravity. Sorry I wasn't clear on that before. Also, what exactly do you mean by this statement?

"that action was specfic to how God preinterpreted how the particular action would proceed from the particular state of affairs."

Thanks.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

You were clear because the context was this blog entry on the fall. I wanted to make sure just in case since I have been discussing this topic with someone else of late in a more general sense that goes beyond the initial fall of man. I wasn't sure whether you were that person.

With respect to your question: "that action [the action to choose to eat of the forbidden fruit] was specfic to how God preinterpreted how the particular action would proceed from the particular state of affairs. [In other words, the state of affairs in an of themselves did not necessitate the action; rather God for that specific instance determined to have the state of affairs be the means of triggering the fallen nature from which the action to eat sprung.] Which is to say, even identical states of affairs, if they could be duplicated, need not result in the same actions that proceeded from other identical states of affairs. The result is up to God's preinterpretation of the particulars since God upholds and directs all things according to the word of His power.

Ron

Anonymous said...

The result is up to God's preinterpretation of the particulars since God upholds and directs all things according to the word of His power.

Wait a minute.

Identical sets of conditions could create different "strongest inclinations" in a man depending on what God wills?

So nothing is really connected through causality independent of the will of God then?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

correct

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Keep in mind, I`m speaking of the will of man with respect to causality and not all causality with my answer to your query. In other words, I am not addressing whether F=M*A is a matter of the Divine Will.

Anonymous said...

In other words, I am not addressing whether F=M*A is a matter of the Divine Will.

Have you ever? Or does Edwards or anybody speak to the issue?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Hmmm, I don't know that Edwards has but Poythress would be a good one to search out. I haven't addressed it but I have leanings. Obviously formulas such as above are simply mapping what God appears to be doing. The question is whether physical laws are like the laws of logic, a reflection of God's thinking. My guess is yes, they are. That God chooses to part the red sea is a matter of his will. That he does so by forces that are causal would seem to be necessary. After all, what would be the alternative, non-causal forces?

Blessings,

Ron

danielj said...

I'm not sure I can get my point across properly since I'm so dumb but here goes:

Regarding the will of man being bent different ways under the exact same circumstance:

If our behavior is solely grounded in God's will (i.e. our inclination is independent of circumstance) doesn't that create a condition that is essentially "moral" or "causal" occasionalism in regard to human action?

[those last couple anon's were me]

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Hi Daniel,

Our behavior is according to God's will and according to the circumstances he determines - the latter determination serving the former. It's not an "either- or" but rather both.

Ron

danielj said...

Keep in mind, I`m speaking of the will of man with respect to causality and not all causality with my answer to your query. In other words, I am not addressing whether F=M*A is a matter of the Divine Will.

Could you clarify this a bit. What could the physical laws be grounded in if not grounded in God's will? Grounded in his nature like the laws of logic?

Our behavior is according to God's will and according to the circumstances he determines - the latter determination serving the former. It's not an "either- or" but rather both.

Yes but (am I'm not trying to be contrary at all and I acknowledge my inferiority) doesn't that present us with some violation of logic.

I'll try my best to spell it out.

If God's will = W
specific set of circumstances = C
human action = A
different human action = A2

then:

W + C could = A or A2

when A is not equal to A2...

Isn't that wrong? Or, am I missing something here?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I don’t know that linear velocity X angular velocity must relate to a tangential force by divine necessity, but it seems to be that way in this world. However, logic is an attribute of God that cannot be suspended in any world.

As for your second query, God could have (had he wanted) granted the same state of affairs with a different consequence than what he did, but given his decree, the effect cannot be different than what it will end up being. Consequently, causality and necessity obtain with respect to choices that fall out in any state of affairs.