Charles Hodge: Heretic (3)

Charles Hodge in his Systematic Theology writes:

“Whatever God foreordains, must certainly come to pass. The distinction between the efficient (or efficacious) and the permissive decrees of God, although important, has no relation to the certainty of events. All events embrace in the purpose of God are equally certain, whether He has determined to bring them to pass by his own power, or simply to permit their occurrence through the agency of his creatures. It was no less certain from eternity that Satan would tempt our first parents, and that they would fall, than that God would send his Son to die for sinners. The distinction in question has reference only to the relation which events bear to the efficiency of God. Some things He purposes to do, others He decrees to permit to be done. He effects good, He permits evil. He is the author of the one, but not of the other” (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1 pp. 540-541, Hendrickson publishers).

Charles Hodge presumes that if God actively causes (as opposed to “efficaciously permits”) evil, then He is automatically the author of evil. The phrase “author of evil” must be defined since different people mean different things by it. It appears that for Hodge, to be the “author of evil” is to be the actual perpetrator or performer of the evil (i.e., the evil action). Let’s take an example in order to further examine Hodges statement:

If God ACTIVELY CAUSES Mr. Reprobate to write the most sexually perverse book in all the world in order to justly punish Mr. Reprobate for writing it, then who is the AUTHOR of this sinful book (and hence, this sin)? Obviously it depends on how we define “author.” If by “author” we mean the person who actually wrote this book of filth (and sinned in so writing), then clearly, when God ACTIVELY CAUSES writing God Himself is not the One writing. To ACTIVELY CAUSE a person to write is not to write.

Evidently Charles Hodge thinks that if God actively hardens a person in sin, then He cannot justly find fault with them since they could not resist His hardening will (cf. Romans 9:19). The apostle Paul’s objector desires to shift the fault with God. The objector thinks that Paul is making God the author of sin — thus, Paul’s mutinous objector and Calvinist Charles Hodge are of a kindred spirit. Marc Carpenter sums this up nicely:

“Hodge and others like him are afraid of, and in rebellion against, God’s sovereign causing of evil. So they make up things that are absolutely unbiblical and anti-God in order to make God more palatable to depraved minds (including his own). To “permit their occurrence through the agency of his creatures” means that, at times, the creature is “permitted” to do things apart from God’s controlling sovereignty. It’s like what an Arminian told me once about God’s sovereignty — God decrees the limits, and man is free within those limits, like if I put a mouse in a box, and he’s free to do what he wants within that box, but he cannot use his free agency to get out of the box. So, when it comes to evil, God permits and restrains within certain boundaries in order to accomplish His will, but He never causes a person to sin — He merely leaves it up to the free agency of the creature (according to God-haters like Hodge). And I think Hodge and others would say that this is to keep God pure from the taint of sin, because to say that God causes sin would be to say that God actually sins.”

Charles Hodge (and others) would have to say that when God ACTIVELY CAUSED Pharaoh to sin God was sinning.

“So, then, to whom He desires, He shows mercy. And to whom He desires, He hardens. You will then say to me, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will?” (Romans 9:18-19)

The (decretive) will of God was to unconditionally and actively harden Pharaoh. This hardening was thus fulfilled in God’s providence. If God’s will is to ACTIVELY HARDEN like this (so implies Paul’s critic), then He cannot find fault with Pharaoh (or anyone else for that matter). If the fault lies not with the sinner whom God ACTIVELY CAUSES to sin, then TO WHOM does the fault lie with? The conclusion is clear:

“Charles Hodge agrees with the implied sentiments of Paul’s God-hating critic that seethes: ‘Since God ACTIVELY CAUSES a person to sin then He ought not to ‘yet find fault’ with the sinner but with Himself since the sinner could not resist His hardening will.'”

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