An All-Embracing Decree

Chapter 2 is called “Statement of the doctrine.” The doctrine being referred to is the doctrine of predestination. Boettner:

“In the Westminster Confession, which sets forth the beliefs of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches and which is the most perfect expression of the Reformed Faith, we read:

‘God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established'” (p. 13).

Boettner says that the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) is “the most perfect expression of the Reformed Faith,” of which many in Reformed circles would heartily agree. I have dealt at length with the WCF in my article, “The Wicked Westminster Confession of Faith,” and so a few comments should suffice:

When God took hold of the king of Assyria, the rod of His anger, and actively swung him against a hypocritical nation in order to tread them down like the mire of the streets, did God become the “author” of the king’s sins? Obviously, a clear answer depends on a clear definition of the phrase, “author of sin.”

For now, let it be duly noted that God had determined to punish the Assyrian king for his stout heart, and the boastfulness of his haughty looks (cf. Isaiah 10:12). Wherein lieth this king’s pride that God would punish him so? In reading Isaiah 10:13-15, the answer is clear: The wicked king’s extreme arrogance was his Arminian and Calvinist boast that God had not actively caused him to sin by destroying many nations — his vaunt (and the Arminian and Calvinist vaunt) was that axes are able to swing, or be permitted to swing themselves.

As we will see later, the Lord willing, not only do most who call themselves Reformed or Calvinist resonate with Paul’s mutinous critic in Romans 9:19-20, but they also mimic the saw that dares magnify itself against Him who saws with it. Boettner continues:

“Everything outside of God Himself is included in this all-embracing decree, and that very naturally since all other beings owe their existence and continuance in existence to His creative and sustaining power. It provides a providential control under which all things are hastening to the end of God’s determining” (p. 13).

To continue the Biblical analogy of the vaunting axe in Isaiah 10:15, it is quite strange how an axe is alleged to be under a “providential control” when there is actually no active controlling, but only a “willing permission” and “powerful bounding” (WCF V.4). Evidently, the woodsman allows or “willingly permits” the axe to swing itself — all while “powerfully binding” the axe as it initiates its own swing — but does not actually swing the axe himself. An extremely important and pertinent question is this: Does an axe swing the woodsman, or does a woodsman swing the axe? Next Page (3)

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