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The Second Helvetic Confession on Divine Permission of Sin

May 13, 2009

Bullinger:

Chapter 8: Of Man’s Fall, Sin and the Cause of Sin

God Is Not the Author of Sin, and How Far He Is Said to Harden. It is expressly written: Thou art not a God who delights in wickedness. Thou hatest all evildoers. Thou destroyest those who speak lies (Psa. 5:4 ff.). And again: When the devil lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Moreover, there is enough sinfulness and corruption in us that it is not necessary for God to infuse into us a new or still greater perversity. When, therefore, it is said in Scripture that God hardens, blinds and delivers up to a reprobate mind, it is to be understood that God does it by a just judgment as a just Judge and Avenger. Finally, as often as God in Scripture is said or seems to do something evil, it is not thereby said that man does not do evil, but that God permits it and does not prevent it, according to his just judgment, who could prevent it if he wished, or because he turns man’s evil into good, as he did in the case of Joseph’s brethren, or because he governs sins lest they break out and rage more than is appropriate. St. Augustine writes in his Enchiridion: "What happens contrary to his will occurs, in a wonderful and ineffable way, not apart from his will. For it would not happen if he did not allow it. And yet he does not allow it unwillingly but willingly. But he who is good would not permit evil to be done, unless, being omnipotent, he could bring good out of evil." Thus wrote Augustine.

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