God: Author of Sin?

Maybe the insomnia is finally getting to me, but it seems Jerome Zanchius is articulating God to be the architect, designer, etc of sin.  I have no problem with this idea and Reformed [Calvinistic] Christians shouldn’t either, especially the way Zanchius explains how the ultimate end will result in good…somehow.

God, as the primary and efficient cause of all things, is not only the Author of those actions done by His elect as actions, but also as they are good actions, whereas, on the other hand, though He may be said to be the Author of all the actions done by the wicked, yet He is not the Author of them in a moral and compound sense as they are sinful; but physically, simply and sensu diviso as they are mere actions, abstractedly from all consideration of the goodness or badness of them.

Although there is no action whatever which is not in some sense either good or bad, yet we can easily conceive of an action, purely as such, without adverting to the quality of it, so that the distinction between an action itself and its denomination of good or evil is very obvious and natural.

In and by the elect, therefore, God not only produces works and actions through His almighty power, but likewise, through the salutary influences of His Spirit, first makes their persons good, and then their actions so too; but, in and by the reprobate, He produces actions by His power alone, which actions, as neither issuing from faith nor being wrought with a view to the Divine glory, nor done in the manner prescribed by the Divine Word, are, on these accounts, properly denominated evil. Hence we see that God does not, immediately and per se, infuse iniquity into the wicked; but, as Luther expresses it, powerfully excites them to action, and withholds those gracious influences of His Spirit, without which every action is necessarily evil. That God either directly or remotely excites bad men as well as good ones to action cannot be denied by any but Atheists, or by those who carry their notions of free-will and human independency so high as to exclude the Deity from all actual operation in and among His creatures, which is little short of Atheism. Every work performed, whether good or evil, is done in strength and by the power derived immediately from God Himself, “in whom all men live, move, and have their being” (Acts 17.28). As, at first, without Him was not anything made which was made, so, now, without Him is not anything done which is done. We have no power or faculty, whether corporal or intellectual, but what we received from God, subsists by Him, and is exercised in subserviency to His will and appointment. It is He who created, preserves, actuates and directs all things. But it by no means follows, from these premises, that God is therefore the cause of sin, for sin is nothing but auomia, illegality, want of conformity to the Divine law (1 John 3.4), a mere privation of rectitude; consequently, being itself a thing purely negative, it can have no positive or efficient cause, but only a negative and deficient one…[end quote]

Before Zanchius brought us to this point, showing that God acting “directly or remotely” is not the “Author of them in a moral and compound sense,” he teaches in Position 2;

That God often lets the wicked go on to more ungodliness, which He does (a) negatively by withholding that grace which alone can restrain them from evil; (b) remotely, by the providential concourse and mediation of second causes, which second causes, meeting and acting in concert with the corruption of the reprobate’s unregenerate nature, produce sinful effects; (c) judicially, or in a way of judgment. “The King’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of waters; He turneth it whithersoever He will” (Prov. 21.1); and if the King’s heart, why not the hearts of all men? “Out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth not evil and good?” (Lam. 3.38). Hence we find that the Lord bid Shimei curse David (2 Sam. 16.10); that He moved David himself to number the people (compare 1 Chron. 21.1 with 2 Sam. 24.1); stirred up Joseph’s brethren to sell him into Egypt (Genesis 50.20); positively and immediately hardened the heart of Pharaoh (Exod. 4.21); delivered up David’s wives to be defiled by Absalom (2 Sam. 12.11; 16.22); sent a lying spirit to deceive Ahab (1 Kings 22.20-23), and mingled a perverse spirit in the midst of Egypt, that is, made that nation perverse, obdurate and stiff-necked (Isa. 19.14). To cite other instances would be almost endless, and after these, quite unnecessary, all being summed up in that express passage, “I make peace and create evil; I the Lord do all these things” (Isa. 45.7). See farther, 1 Sam. 16.14; Psalm 105.25; Jer. 13.12,13; Acts 2.23, & 4.28; Rom. 11.8; 2 Thess. 2.11, every one of which implies more than a bare permission of sin. Bucer asserts this, not only in the place referred to below, but continually throughout his works, particularly on Matt. 6. § 2, where this is the sense of his comments on that petition, “Lead us not into temptation”: “It is abundantly evident, from most express testimonies of Scripture, that God, occasionally in the course of His providence, puts both elect and reprobate persons into circumstances of temptation, by which temptation are meant not only those trials that are of an outward, afflictive nature, but those also that are inward and spiritual, even such as shall cause the persons so tempted actually to turn aside from the path of duty, to commit sin, and involve both themselves and others in evil. Hence we find the elect complaining, ‘O Lord, why hast Thou made us to err from Thy ways, and hardened our hearts from Thy fear?’ (Isaiah 63.17). But there is also a kind of temptation, which is peculiar to the non-elect, whereby God, in a way of just judgment, makes them totally blind and obdurate, inasmuch as they are vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” (See also his exposition of Rom. 9.)[end quote]

Now I have to find Bucer’s works!  I’ve read this work online over the years but it’s much better reading in physical book form.


Ps: Zanchius was a frightening looking fella, don’t ya think?



  1. christianclarityreview · January 25, 2011

    note that the whole of such arguments are based on a flawed definition of sin itself. Sin is always implied to be ONLY an act. Literally, “sin” is always implied to be an abstract that suddenly takes concrete form as acts that pop in and out of existence and leave “consequences” behind..

    God is the author of sin in that sin is a living creature ( the “spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience” ) and God has created all things and is the only creator.

    Such debates have been skewed by the lie of human free will. After one is deceived free will is real, then sin must be only a particular act done in that idealized free will to keep the original lie afloat. The whole argument over “the origin of evil”, etc WITHIN the lie of human free will is really over an implied origin of certain actions in certain idealized circumstances that make those actions appear “moral or immoral” based solely on the idealised ‘motivation’ of an idealised free willed being who “committed them”. It is an attempt to assign blame/guilt within a lie while having the appearance of reality.

    Always look at the peripheral definitions that have to be true in order for some proposition to be true, no matter how many are used to simply repeat them.

    Understanding that sin as a living creature, ( as it really is ) completely does away with:

    1. the lie of human free will
    2. inane arguments that are themselves clever lies meant to deceive while those involved with them think of themselves as pious to get involved with them
    3. the ancillary lie that God can’t be the author of evil “or God is evil”. In fact, God creating and controlling evil as living beings proves God can create SPIRITS not of His Own character which proves ultimate power and unrestrained use of that power. It actually proves He is God AND that His Son is Jesus Christ, the Word of God as differentiated from the speech which can create nothing. How clever of Satan to have defined sin as an act –in the speech that can create nothing. God creates a lot of things. But we don’t read of God “creating acts”. God controls spirits and creates spirits and real physical things. There are no abstracts.

    more on sin is a living creature, with Scripture proofs.


    Isaiah 45: 7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these [things].

    In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

  2. John T. "Jack" Jeffery · January 26, 2011

    See my reply below from Yahoo groups, “strict-particular-baptist” as follows:

    “Zanchius may have more carefully articulated this most difficult doctrine for humans to grapple with than any other theology teacher in the history of the Church. However, even in his work you can see what he is struggling to affirm and to avoid.

    I heard John Armstrong (Reformation & Revival) preach this in a church near here some years ago. I never thought I would hear someone actually proclaim God’s absolute sovereignty like that, that God ordained sin.

    I questioned R. C. Sproul and Sinclair Ferguson at a Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology years ago about their defense of the use of sublapsarian “language of accomodation” so common in Reformed circles (infralapsarian) where they inject they word “permit” and couple it with “decree” in doctrinal formulations, creeds, and catechisms.

    This flies directly in the face of the principle of non-contingency, i.e. there is no contingency in the mind of God. The decree is either singular or it is not. The decree is either sovereign or it is not. The decree either embraces all events in creation or it does not. If God decreed it, he did not “permit” it. This “faltering at the brink” undermines the sovereignty of God, and the very foundations of Reformed theology.

    The struggle often seems to be over the understanding of the term “Author”. However, arguing from the greater to the lesser: If the greatest sin that was ever committed, i.e. the murder of the Son of God, came about by “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23; cp. 3:18; 4:28), why do theologians “flinch” at speaking of His decree embracing the lesser, i.e. the sin of Adam and his seed? What they did was “wicked” (Acts 2:23) as the responsibility of man is considered, and yet what their “wicked hands” did was “determined before to be done” by the hand and counsel of God as His sovereignty is considered. Did God decree/ordain the murder of His Son? Yes. Were those who murdered His Son wicked, and was this deed done by them wicked? Yes. Was God wicked for decreeing or ordaining this sin? No. The sovereignty was His and His alone. The responsibility was theirs and theirs alone. Sovereignty does not presuppose responsibility, and neither does responsibility presuppose ability! We may not understand. We may not be able to adequately explain. We can believe and bow! He is the Author, and He is the Judge. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Gen. 18:25)”

  3. christianclarityreview · January 27, 2011


    Right. They miss the point while quoting those same passages. God planned to sacrifice himself and specifically Himself as Incarnate Word all along. God did and does it all.

    Sproul and the rest have always tried to dance around the edges. They will almost do anything to keep a group together and so play to the largest common denominator. Their definitions are vague for that purpose.

    But sin, in my lifetime, has always been defined as an act and thus has always skewed the argument. The Westminster Standards were a compromise document that very loosely define sin for the same reason as Sproul’s vagueness.

    Once you say “act”, that ‘act’ is then moral or immoral according to a set of rules. Then to say God forced a person to “act” a certain way as immoral or moral is to overtly say there is no free will. Sproul and the rest will never say that. They have defined themselves into a corner of weakness when they thought they were being strong by keeping large groups of people together for the sake of keeping large groups of people together with vagueness.

    All the cries for “responsibility” is out of fear of loosing a control no one ever had. Sin is a living creature that God created. The whole set of definitions that have to be true for sin to be an act, and thus for the past 200 years of arguments over God’s sovereignty based on that foundation are false and vanity –from both sides. Look where we are now as a society while they played both sides and gave God “all the glory” for what never was.

    John 1: 1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.


    In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

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