9 Does God Ordain Sin?

If all things occur because of the predestined will of God, and if even Adam and Eve’s original sin was according to the arrangement and good pleasure of God, then God must will and ordain sin. Let us consider some rather blatant quotations from Calvinists:

“God worketh all things in all men even wickedness in the wicked for this is one branch of his own omnipotence.”[1]

~Martin Luther

 “It is certain then, that the existence of sin was the ordination of the divine will … Sin could not have existence, without, or contrary to the divine will: its being, must be the consequent of the divine purpose … Sin is the wise and holy ordination of God.”[2]

~William Tucker

 “[A]s nothing exists contrary to the will of Him who says I will do all my pleasure. It certainly was his determination to permit it, and his will, that sin should have being.”[3]

~William Tucker

 “When God makes angels or men sin, he does not sin himself, because he does not break any law.”[4]

~Ulricus Zuinglius

 “God is the author of that action, which is sinful, by his irresistible will.”[5]

~William Twisse

 “God necessitates man unto sin …”[6]

~John Piscator

 “God does holily drive and thrust men on unto wickedness.”[7]

~John Piscator

 “God justly wills that sins be committed by us, and indeed absolutely wills that they be committed; nay, procures in time these sins themselves.”[8]

~John Piscator

 “God procures adultery, cursing, lyings.”[9]

~John Piscator

 “God … is the cause of those actions which are sins …”[10]

~Peter Martyr

 “The basic principle of Calvinism is the soveriegnty of God. [He] creates the very thoughts and intents of the soul.”[11]

~Loraine Boettner

“God controls everything that exists and everything that happens. There is not one thing that exists or that happens that he has not decreed and caused—not even a single thought in the mind of man. Since this is true, it follows that God has decreed and caused the existence of evil. He has not merely permitted it, because nothing can originate or happen apart from his will and power. Since no creature can make free or independent decisions, evil could never have started unless God decreed and caused it, and it cannot continue for one moment longer without God’s will for it to continue or without God’s power actively causing it to continue.”[12]

~Vincent Cheung

 “Sin is one of the ‘whatsoevers’ that have ‘come to pass,’ all of which are ‘ordained.’”[13]

~William Shedd

 “It is even Biblical to say that God has foreordained sin. If sin was outside the plan of God, then not a single important affair of life would be ruled by God.”[14]

~Edwin Palmer

 “If the Lord directs the steps of a man, is it not proof that he is being controlled or governed by God? … Can this mean anything less than, that no matter what man may desire and plan, it is the will of his Maker which is executed?”[15]

~Arthur W. Pink

 “We also note that we should consider the creation of the world so that we may realize that everything is subject to God and ruled by his will and that when the world has done what it may, nothing happens other than what God decrees.”[16]

~John Calvin

 “When [Augustine] uses the term permission, the meaning which he attaches to it will best appear from a single passage (De Trinity. lib. 3 cap. 4), where he proves that the will of God is the supreme and primary cause of all things, because nothing happens without his order or permission.”[17]

~John Calvin

 “But when they call to mind that the devil, and the whole train of the ungodly, are, in all directions, held in by the hand of God as with a bridle, so that they can neither conceive any mischief, nor plan what they have conceived, nor how much soever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless in so far as [God] permits, nay, unless in so far as he commands; that they are not only bound by his fetters, but are even forced to do him service,—when the godly think of all these things they have ample sources of consolation.”[18]

~John Calvin

 “God desired for man to fall into sin. I am not accusing God of sinning; I am suggesting that God created sin.”[19]

~Robert C. Sproul Jr.

 “God wills all things that come to pass.”[20]

~Robert C. Sproul Jr.

 “Since, therefore, God moves and does all in all, He necessarily moves and does all in Satan and the wicked man.”[21]

~Martin Luther

 “All things including even the wicked actions of wicked men and devils—are brought to pass in accordance with God’s eternal purpose.”[22]

~John Machen

 “Both the elect and the reprobates were foreordained to sin, as sin, that the glory of God might be declared thereby.”[23]

~Jerome Zanchius

 “[I]t was God’s will that sin should come into the world. He wished to enhance his glory by means of its punishment and removal.”[24]

~Cornelius Van Til

 “Sin, or moral evil, is no accidental thing, but a wise and holy ordination of God for the manifestation of his own glory, in the person of his dear Son, the adorable Redeemer from it.”[25]

~William Tucker

 “Not an impure thought, word, or act, more or less, can arise among the creatures, than God has actually determined the being and permission of. Omnipotence cannot pervade, or absolute wisdom guide his arm; if any thing comes to pass and he commands it not.”[26]

~William Tucker

 “Foreordination means God’s sovereign plan, whereby He decides all that is to happen in the entire universe. Nothing in this world happens by chance. God is in back of everything. He decides and causes all things to happen that do happen. He is not sitting on the sidelines wondering and perhaps fearing what is going to happen next. No, He has foreordained everything ‘after the counsel of his will’ (Eph. 1:11): the moving of a finger, the beating of a heart, the laughter of a girl, the mistake of a typist – even sin.”[27]

~Edwin Palmer

Having looked at these many quotations, is it really necessary to continue to question whether Calvinism necessitates that God is the author of sin? Nothing could be clearer.


Nevertheless, it should be noted that some Calvinists attempt to seek refuge from this charge by teaching that God permits sin. In other words, God does not will or decree that a person sin. Instead, God permits that person to sin if his heart is bent on sinning.


Aside from the fact that the foundation for this argument rests in the Arminian doctrines and is completely opposed to everything the Calvinist believes about God’s sovereignty and foreordination, John Calvin adamantly opposes such thinking. He writes:

It is easy to conclude how foolish and frail is the support of divine justice by the suggestion that evils come to be not by His will, but merely by His permission. Of course, so far as they are evils … I admit they are not pleasing to God. But it is quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely [idly] permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing but the author of them.”[28]

Elsewhere John Calvin writes, “But why shall we say ‘permission’ unless it is because God so wills?”[29]


The doctrine of Calvinism necessitates that nothing happen apart from God’s will. John Calvin declares, “My doctrine is that the will of God is the first and supreme cause of all things.”[30] John Calvin is convinced that, “Nothing happens except what is knowingly and willingly decreed by [God].”[31] If this is true, then God must knowingly and willingly decree man’s sin. It is in this sense that, as John Calvin said, God cannot be said to merely permit sin but rather to will and to author it.*[32]


  1. Toplady, The Works of Augustus M. Toplady. Vol. V, 210, Source: Benson, The Revival and Rejection of an Old Traditional Heresy, 146.
  2. Tucker, Predestination, L. xvi, 119, 121—L. xv, 112, Source: Benson, The Revival and Rejection of an Old Traditional Heresy, 2.
  3. Tucker, Predestination Calmly Considered from Principles of Reason, 179.
  4. Foster, Objections to Calvinism As It Is, 267.
  5. Ibid, 266.
  6. Benson, The Revival and Rejection of an Old Traditional Heresy, 39.
  7. Benson, The Revival and Rejection of an Old Traditional Heresy, 41.
  8. Newman, A Manual of Church History, Vol. II, 338.
  9. Foster, Objections to Calvinism As It Is, 266.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 32.
  12. Cheung, The Problem of Evil, God's Sovereignty.
  13. Shedd, Calvinism:  Pure and Mixed, 31.
  14. Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism, Ch. 3: Perseverance of the Saints.
  15. Pink, On the Sovereignty of God, 42.
  16. Calvin, Acts, 66.
  17. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book I, Ch. 16, Sect. 8.
  18. Ibid, Book I, Ch. 17, Sect. 11.
  19. Sproul Jr., Almighty Over All, 54.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Luther, The Bondage of the Will, 94.
  22. Machen, The Christian View of Man, 46.
  23. Foster, Objections to Calvinism As It Is, 266.
  24. Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 160.
  25. Tucker, Predestination Calmly Considered from Principles of Reason, 102.
  26. Tucker, Predestination, L. xxiv, 192, Source: Benson, The Revival and Rejection of an Old Traditional Heresy, 102.
  27. Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism, 30.
  28. Calvin, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, 176.
  29. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Ed. McNiel, Book III, Ch. 23, Sect. 8, Source: Vance, The Other Side of Calvinism, 288.
  30. Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, 266.
  31. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Ed. McNiel, Book III, Ch. 23, Sect. 7, Source: Vance, The Other Side of Calvinism, 289.
  32. “God can foreordain things in different ways. But everything that happens must at least happen by his permission. If he permits something, then he must decide to allow it. If He decides to allow something, then in a sense he is foreordaining it.” (Sproul, Chosen By God, 26.)


Is God the Author of Sin? Copyright © 2011 by Timothy Zebell. All Rights Reserved.


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