Is Foreordination of Sin inconsistent with His Holiness?

Hodge (v 1 p 546-ff)

It is further objected that it is inconsistent with the holiness of God that He hould foreordain sin. There are two methods of dealing with this and all similar objections. The one may be called the Scriptural method, as it is the one often adopted by the sacred writers. It consists in showing that the objection bears against the plain declarations of Scripture, or against the facts of experience. In either case, it is for us sufficiently answered. It is vain to argue that a holy and benevolent God cannot permit sin and misery, if sin and misery actually exist. It is vain to say that his impartiality forbids that there should be any diversity in the endowments, advantages, or happiness of his rational creatures. It is vain to insist that a holy God cannot permit children to suffer for the sins of their parents, when we constantly see that they do thus suffer. So it is utterly irrational to contend that God cannot foreordain sin, if He foreordained (as no Christian doubts) the crucifixion of Christ. The occurrence of sin in the plan adopted by God, is a palpable fact; the consistency, therefore, of foreordination with the holiness of God cannot rationally be denied.

The second method of dealing with such objections is to show that the principle on which they are founded is unsound. The principle on which the objection under consideration rests, is that an agent is responsible for all the necessary or certain consequences of his acts. The objection is, that a holy God cannot decree the occurrence of sin, because his decree renders that occurrence certain. That is, an agent is responsible for whatever his act renders certain. That principle, however, is utterly untenable. A righteous judge, in pronouncing sentence on a criminal, may be sure that he will cause wicked and bitter feelings in the criminal's mind, or in the hearts of his friends, and yet the judge be guiltless. A father, in excluding a reprobate son from his family, may see that the inevitable consequence of such exclusion will be his greater wickedness, and yet the father may do right. It is the certain consequence of God's leaving the fallen angels and the finally impenitent to themselves, that they will continue in sin, and yet the holiness of God remain untarnished. The Bible clearly teaches that God judicially abandons men to their sins, giving them up to a reprobate mind, and He therein is most just and holy. It is not true, therefore, that an agent is responsible for all the certain consequences of his acts. It may be, and doubtless is, infinitely wise and just in God to permit the occurrence of sin, and to adopt a plan of which sin is a certain consequence or element; yet as he neither causes sin, nor tempts men to its commission, He is neither its author nor approver. He sees and knows that higher ends will be accomplished by its admission than by its exclusion, that a perfect exhibition of his infinite perfections will be thereby effected and therefore for the highest reason decrees that it shall occur through the free choice of responsible agents. Our great ground of confidence, however, is the assurance that the judge of all the earth must do right. Sin is, and God is; therefore the occurrence of sin must be consistent with his nature; and as its occurrence cannot have been unforeseen or undesigned, God's purpose or decree that it should occur must be consistent with his holiness.

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