First, I am guessing this person implies that my view is foreign to the Bible, so that the questions are raised against my view in particular and not against the Bible itself. Coming from a Christian, this indicates ignorance and prejudice. I am not using these words as insults but to label the problem areas. There are numerous passages in the Bible indicating that sin is God's idea not that he condones it, but that he decrees it both in general and in particular instances. Given the fact that it is the Bible that teaches this, the person who asks these questions against my view is ignorant of and/or prejudiced against those passages teaching that it is God who devises evil against people and that he decrees that people should commit certain sins so that they would be judged and destroyed, or otherwise be disciplined or to further some other purpose.
People often disassociate a teaching in the Bible that they dislike from the person who teaches it from the Bible, and then they make the pretense of attacking the person for the teaching, when in reality they are attacking the Bible itself. Relative to these questions, it would make no difference even if God were to "passively" cause evil (whatever that means) since the idea of evil would still originate in God. The only way out is to say that God has no concept of evil at all, and that evil must be wholly attributed to another entity. This is the heresy of dualism the logical conclusion that God is not the author of sin. Second, the questions are incomplete. They make an assumption that the person fails to justify or even mention. Since it is so ingrained, he is probably unaware of it. He asks, "How can God actively cause and control the evil thoughts of unregenerate men without nullifying his holiness?" But what is the problem? The question does not tell us. The assumption seems to be that to directly control evil is to commit evil to cause sin is to commit sin, and to author sin is to be a sinner. But where does the Bible teach this?
Evil is defined by God, not by man, and unless God says that for him to directly control evil is to commit evil, then for him to directly control evil is not to commit evil. It is not up to man to say otherwise. In fact, the person who asks the question has placed himself above God. To paraphrase, the question is really, "How can God remain holy if he does something that is against my standard of what it means for God to be holy?" I shudder at the idea that someone would dare think this way, but this is what the question implies. Then, as for the question, "That is, isn't God thinking the evil thoughts before he causes men to think them?" My first reaction is, "So what?" The same is true with foreknowledge (here the word means prescience, and not the biblical meaning of foreordination). Are we now saying that God cannot foreknow any evil in order to remain holy? If so, does God know about evil after someone has done it? Would not that taint his holiness as well? Imagine all the thoughts of murder, rape, perjury, theft, and countless other sins that are in God's mind! From this perspective, God has more evil thoughts in his mind than even Satan himself. Scripture and I do not think that this is a problem, but the question implies that it is.
Do you see how unbiblical and sinister this line of reasoning is? But this is the common way of thinking. People do not realize how inconsistent and wicked it is to disallow to God something that he never forbids to himself. Of course, with foreknowledge, when God thinks thoughts of murder and rape, it is because he possesses information about how his creatures would violate his laws in these ways. It is certainly not that God would commit murder and rape. But if this is a satisfactory explanation for foreknowledge, then it is also satisfactory for the active ordination and causation of sin. It is not that God would commit these sins, but that he would actively cause his creatures to do them. And here is the important point there is no revealed moral law and no revelation about his nature saying that he could not or would not do this. The problem occurs only when man invents the premise and imposes it on God, and in doing so, actually thinks that he is protecting God's holiness. Third, if we are against the idea that God actively causes evil, what does it mean when we say that he passively decrees or causes it?
Yes, you can say it, but does it mean anything? Or is it nonsense? Ask someone to explain it and prove it. Bust through the standard slogans, go deeper, and see what you get. How is it metaphysically possible to infallibly ordain something and not cause it? And how is it metaphysically possible to unfailinglycause something, but do it passively? How is it possible to ordain the precise types and numbers of all sins, and the ways that they would be performed, so that all things must turn out as he has ordained, without using any active power to bring it about? How is it possible for God to merely permit evil without causing it when he is the one who sustains all things, moment by moment? Either we must attribute to man a metaphysical status and power that the Bible says he does not have that is, the power of self-existence and self-causation, thus making man into God or we must say that God actively causes all things.
Not everyone is oblivious to the inconsistency, but instead of deducing their theology from the Bible, they appeal to "mystery" in order to hold on to their nonsense. The view that I espouse has no mystery and no inconsistency. People do not like it just because it is againstwhat they have imposed upon God. Moreover, if they can appeal to mystery whenever they want, then I should be allowed to say mystery, mystery, mystery over and over until the critics leave me alone. But somehow their mystery is superior to my clarity. What the Bible clearly tells us is not mystery, but revelation. The appeal to mystery is often a diversion from the fact that a person sinfully refuses to accept what the Bible plainly reveals. In short, the answer is that causing evil is different from committing evil. To cause evil refers to a metaphysical relationship, while to commit evil refers to a transgression of divine moral law. For it to be wrong for God to cause evil, he must establish a self-imposed moral law stating that it is wrong for him to cause evil. If he does not do this, then he has not defined it as evil. Rather, precisely because God is righteous, all that he does is righteous by definition. Therefore, it is righteous for him to cause evil whenever he wishes.
And it is evil to oppose or to question him in this. In other words, the question skips a premise or, it assumes a premise that is either unjustified or unmentioned. This is the assumption that for the creator to cause a creature to perform evil is for the creator himself to perform evil. This view is both irrational and blasphemous. The topic is very educational and revealing. It exposes how common it is for us to dictate to God how he must behave he must adhere to our standard in order to remain what he says he is! Just look through all the theological publications in church history. It is almost unanimous that God cannot be "the author of sin" but none of them can tell you why, even if some of them mention the unjustified and unbiblical assertion that for him to cause evil would be the same as to commit evil. No one in church history has ever been able to prove this premise, and few even try.