Just an excerpt here from ‘ol Billy Birch (http://www.outsidethecamp.org/efl262.htm) that brings out some exceedingly blasphemous implications from Matthew 18:7, Matthew 26:24, Romans 3:3-8, and Romans 9:19. The Lord willing, I’ll intersperse some comments between Billy’s.
The most atrocious and reprehensible aspect of Calvinism’s deterministic philosophy is that, if God, by His will and not by foresight of free will decisions and choices, decrees or creates sin, then God Himself is a sinner.
CD: I’m not sure how well ‘ol Billy boy understands “Calvinism’s deterministic philosophy” since certain “permissive” aspects of Calvinistic philosophy appears indistinguishable from Billy’s self-proclaimed Arminian philosophy when it comes to explaining how God “decrees” or “forsees” the sinful actions of created beings. The “permissive will” Calvinist certainly uses the word “decree,” but since this “decree” is permissive rather than active — and thus fails to give a coherent account of how sinful events are inevitable — then it really just ends up looking just like Billy’s philosophy of “foresight of free will decisions and choices.”
In the above illustration, I would be convicted of manslaughter for pushing the woman into heavy traffic, were she to die. I brought about her death by causing her to do as I pleased, even though the impact of the car is what actually killed her. I would still be responsible for causing her death, and I — theologically at least — would have sinned and be deemed a sinner.
CD: To “push” into traffic is to “force” into traffic, right? Did God “push” Pharaoh into traffic? Like we’ve seen so many times before, words like “push” are WAY TOO WEAK. God is doing MUCH MORE than less-than-omnipotent pushing when He actively hardens the heart of Pharaoh. But despite this, we clearly see Billy judging God by his own mutinous standard.
Obviously, the word “cause” or “caused” must be defined since from Isaiah 10:12-15 we infer that when the woodsman with the axe cuts down a tree, then BOTH the woodsman and the axe are the “cause” of the fallen tree. Some people throw around terms like “mediate cause of sin” versus “immediate cause of sin.” If we find this terminology confusing then we just need to ask what a given person means by these terms. “Mediate” is with means; “immediate” is without or apart from the use of means. It is by no means necessary to employ this terminology but since I’ve already mentioned them, I think it correct to say that the axe is the “immediate cause” since the axe made a direct hit while the woodsman is the “mediate cause” since it was by means of the axe that he swung to bring down the tree. I think you could say that the woodsman was the indirect cause of the fallen tree. Other synonymous terms that people have used are primary (direct, immediate) and secondary (indirect, mediate) causality.
I take the time to mention all this since these words and phrases are used to affirm both the true Sovereign God of Scripture and those gods that by nature are not gods (cf. Galatians 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). As far as I am aware those like-minded with Birch would not use the word “cause” (in any sense). It is the “permissive will” Calvinists that use these terms. This is how BOTH of the aforementioned philosophies — Billy Birch’s and the “permissive will” Calvinist’s — adulterate Isaiah 10:15:
Billy’s woodsman (i.e., his “god”) is NOT chopping down the tree in a “mediate” or “immediate” fashion. Billy’s woodsman is NOT even holding the axe at all! The axe is swinging all by itself; it is cutting the tree down all by itself. Billy’s woodsman is just standing there, looking on, as the axe does pretty much whatever it wants.
So what about the permissive will Calvinist’s woodsman? The Calvinist’s woodsman (i.e., his “god”) is CLAIMED to be chopping down the tree in a “mediate” fashion. The Calvinist’s woodsman is SAID to be holding the axe. Billy’s woodsman is more honest and forthright than the Calvinist’s woodsman since he makes no pretense about holding the axe. The Calvinist’s woodsmen is disingenuous and deceptive since he desires to give the appearance of being IN CONTROL of the axe without actually CONTROLLING it. He wants to SAY that he is “directing” and “overruling” the axe’s movements apart from actually taking an active and firm grip on it.
The Calvinist’s woodsman would like you to believe that he is swinging the axe in a permissive or passive fashion. The reality is that either the Calvinist’s woodsman is just like Billy’s woodsman and the axe is swinging all by itself; OR, the Calvinist’s woodsman is a bit different than Billy’s woodsman in that he is actually holding the axe (albeit in a “passive” manner). But even with this alleged “slight difference” the axe is STILL swinging all by itself. Whether the Calvinist’s woodsman is CLAIMED to be holding the axe or not, it really makes no difference since in both instances the axe is still swinging by itself rather than being efficiently and actively swung by the woodsman.
If the axe is NOT in the Calvinist’s woodsman’s hand, then the axe is swinging all by itself. If the axe IS in the Calvinist’s woodsman’s hand, then the axe is still swinging all by itself and then the woodsman has to “control” it by a supposed “common restraining grace” (or something).
Yet, in Calvinism, God can decree or bring about (or even create) sin and not be thought of as doing anything wrong (i.e., being a sinner — culpable or responsible for that which He decrees or brings about). Jesus says, “Woe [a pronouncement of judgment] to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!” (Matt. 18:7 NRSV). If Calvinism is true, then Jesus is wrong — unless Jesus is admitting that God is the One by whom stumbling blocks originate.
CD: Not sure what he means — or what the Calvinist author he’s referring to means — by “create” sin. Anyway, my focus here is on how Birch would define “author” or “originator”:
“That God sins, and God alone sins” if this is in fact, how sin is brought about. Birch clearly, necessarily, and explicitly says “Woe to God!” and he calls Jesus Christ a liar since he is laboring under the demonic delusion that for a man to be held “truly responsible” he must, well … be as God just like the devil told Eve in the Garden.
Also we see the implications for the Apostolic critic in Romans 9:19. Paul’s critic not only has a huge problem with being a creature — and with God being … well … God — he also engages in the height of blasphemy by calling Jesus a liar. Paul’s objector says that God should find fault with Himself and that Jesus is wrong to say “woe” to the sinner since the sinner could not resist His will. The objector to the apostle is saying pretty much the same thing as Billy is saying. There is no fear of God before Billy’s eyes.
Again, Jesus says, “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born” (Matt. 26:24 NRSV). Jesus is clearly referring to Judas — the one who betrayed Him. But was not God, Jesus’ Father, the One who decreed and brought to Judas’s mind the thought and act to betray Jesus Christ? According to Classical Calvinism the answer is yes. Hence, the “one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed” is actually God Himself, for He decreed that Judas betray Him, and He directed Judas to that end.
CD: Billy Birch blasphemes badly with his blatant logical blunder: To decree the sin — even on semi-dualist/semi-deist “Classical Calvinist” terms of a “permissive decree” — is NOT to commit the sin. Billy is extremely confused.
The implication here is that Billy thinks that when the bible speaks of God actively hardening Pharaoh for instance, then God must be Pharaoh (or something like that). In the instance of Pharaoh’s hardening, Billy would say that God is the One rebelling against Himself by not letting the people of Israel go.
Moreover, if, according to Jesus’ own words, it would have [sic] better for Judas to have not been born than to have betrayed the Son of God, what does that say about the character of God, if He was the One who decreed Judas’s decisions and actions? No matter what philosophical plea is afforded, Calvinists cannot avoid defaming God’s character, making Him the Author of sin, and charging God Himself as a sinner.
CD: The necessary implication here is that Billy believes that if God from eternity decrees — and then in time actively causes — Judas’ sin of betrayal, then “woe to God” and “it would have [been] better for [God] to have not [existed] than to have [allegedly] betrayed the Son of God.”
Birch is defining “author of sin” the way John Wesley is purported to have defined it, and that is that “God sins and God alone sins” (this being, I presume a paraphrase of Wesley). By defining “author of sin” the way he does, Billy is saying more than God sins when He actively causes the sin — no, Billy is saying that for God to actively cause the sin of betrayal is to actually, personally commit the sin as if He were the person.
In short, Billy Birch believes (and evidently so did John Wesley) that to actively control X is the same as being X. This is a non sequitur (and a nefarious one at that). Apparently, Billy thinks that anytime God acts upon one of His creatures He is somehow acting upon Himself. If Billy were consistent he ought to believe that God does NOT actively control ANYTHING (e.g., stars, sun, moon, etc.) in the whole created universe that is not Himself.
Billy believes that if God actively caused Judas’ sin then He would be unrighteous to lay wrath upon Judas. Billy’s implicit query is that if this be the case, then why is Judas still being judged as a sinner (cf. Romans 3:3-8)? Why is God finding fault with Judas (and judging him to be a sinner) if God is the One irresistibly causing Judas to sin (cf. Romans 9:19)? Evidently, Billy thinks that God should be the One who is judged as a sinner and that God ought to “yet find fault” with Himself.
This account is merely one instance of God’s sovereign wind actively and powerfully blowing across the mutinous sea (cf. Romans 9:22).
CD: Now here is R.L. Dabney commenting on what is basically Billy’s view:
“Conceive of God as just now about to create a free agent, according to His plan, and launch him out on his path of freedom. If God foreknows all that the free agent will choose to do, if created; does He not purpose the doing of all this, when He creates him? To deny this is a contradiction (Dabney, Systematic Theology, p. 217).
CD: Answering Billy Birch according to his folly:
Yet, in Birchism, God can create Judas — the alleged “free agent” — and thereby bring about the sin of Judas and not be thought of as doing anything wrong (i.e., being a sinner). Jesus says, “Woe [a pronouncement of judgment] to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!” (Matt. 18:7 NRSV).
If Birchism is true, then Jesus is wrong —- unless Jesus is admitting that God is the One by whom stumbling blocks originate. Birchism says that stumbling blocks originate in God since God brought these things about by means of His mere foreknowledge of what they would do once they were launched out on their path of freedom.
In other words, Billy is a hypocrite.