Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Legitimacy of Paradox as a Theological Model - Part 9

Pastor Richard Ostella of Westminster Reformed Church in Plymouth, Michigan has graciously granted permission to re-publish his March 2009 ETS paper on theological paradox here at THEOparadox. To understand these thoughts in context, please begin with part 1.

4) Free will doctrine misses the full depth of evil28

 Do we overstate when we say that fallen sinners do nothing good whatever? No, because though people may do some “good” outwardly, the natural man fails to meet three conditions of a good act: the right standard (according to God’s law), the right motive (arising from love for God), and the right goal (aiming at the glory of God).29

 Hence, Jeremiah argues that fallen man can do something good if the Ethiopian can change his skin or the leopard his spots, but both are impossible, so he is not able to do anything good: Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil (Jer.13:23; cf. Gen. 6.5, wickedness of… his heart was only evil continually).30

 This is paradoxical: he has full responsibility and complete moral inability.  

Pastor Ostella's Footnotes 
28 Free will doctrine yields a definition of sin by which fallen man is able to do some good but it is difficult to accept the idea that this good is acceptable in the eyes of God though it may be such in the eyes of man. Both good and evil actions of fallen man are (re)-defined in human terms before human eyes.  
29 Van Til finds the solution to the good act by asking and answering three questions: “(a) What is the motive of human action? (b) What is the standard of human action? (c) What is the end or purpose of human action? Christian Theistic Ethics (Philadelphia: den Dulk Christian Foundation, 1971), 3.  
30 We might say that a serial killer “loves” his mother, but even that love does not meet the three conditions of a good act, so it is not good in the eyes of God.  

PART 10 - Click Here

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