Vacuous Visions

In his section on “Divine Attributes,” W.G.T. Shedd writes:

” … sin has the creature for its ultimate and sole efficient. Unlike holiness, sin does not run back to God as its author. When obedience takes place, the infinite will works in the finite will, both to will and to do. But when disobedience takes place, the finite will works alone. In the act of sin, man is an original and unassisted, though not unsupported author. He [man–CD] performs an act that is analogous to the divine act of creation ex nihilo.  It is true that the faculties of the creature by which sin is committed are created and upheld by the Creator. God sustains the being of man or angel in and during the very acting of sin. But the wrong agency is the creature’s alone. God does not cooperate in the act of transgression, and hence its demerit is absolute and not relative.

At this point we notice the doctrine of divine concursus. A distinction has been made between an action and the viciousness of an action. The first is called the ‘material’ part of the action, and the latter the ‘formal’ part. God, it is said, concurs in the material, but not in the formal part of sin:

‘Every action is good by a physical goodness, as it is an act of the mind or hand, which have a natural goodness by creation; but every action is not morally good: the physical goodness of the action depends on God, the moral evil on the creature’ (Charnock, On Holiness, 499)” (W.G.T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, pp. 295-296; underlining emphasis mine–CD).

The Bible is too clear for Shedd to deny that “in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28).  The Bible is ALSO too clear for Shedd to deny that God’s war club IS NOT its “ultimate and and sole efficient.” But Shedd denies it anyway. The finite war club is NOT the Great I AM (Exodus 3:14), and thus it does not and cannot “[work] alone.”

“You [are] My war club [and] weapons of war, for with you I will shatter nations and with you I will destroy kingdoms” (Jeremiah 51:20).

Shedd asserts God’s war club is “an original and unassisted, though not unsupported author.”  Shedd is right to say that the war club is not unsupported (see Acts 17:28).  But Shedd is wrong to assert that war clubs ultimately originate and assist their own movements.  Contrary to Shedd, war clubs do NOT swing themselves since they are swung by the One who wields them.

Shedd’s vacuous vision is of war clubs being UPHELD and SUSTAINED by the Wielder, but NOT SWUNG by the Wielder.  Shedd’s view is that war clubs are held, supported, and sustained while they swing, but they are not actually assisted in their swing.

According to candid Shedd, a war club “performs an act that is analogous to the divine act of creation ex nihilo.”  And the necessary implication is, what?  What does Shedd dare attribute to a mere creature?  Does he attribute self-existence to creature-man?  The attribute of “Holy, Holy, Holy” to sinful man?  Answer:  No.  So, what incommunicable Divine attribute does Shedd believe that man possesses by nature?  Think about it.

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