One Calvinist explains: “17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.....I agree with this verse completely, but where in this verses does it say that no evil comes from His hand? It just makes the statement that every good gift comes from Him of which I absolutely agree. This verse simply does not state that ONLY good gifts come God. But we know from other Scripture that many not good at all things also come from God. Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? Job 2:10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”
Fact #1: Verse 17 is the climax for verses 13-16, and therefore to get v.17 right, you need to first consider the argument from which it is developed.
Fact #2: Verses 13-16 explicitly states that God “does not tempt anyone,” and instead that temptations to do bad comes from within ourselves, and our own lusts.
Fact #3: Verification that the bad, which we are tempted to do, and which is unique to ourselves, and not from God, is the fact that God is the source of every “good” thing given and every “perfect gift.” This is why Calvinist, William MacDonald, comments: “It is not unusual for people who fall into sin to blame God instead of themselves. They say, in effect, to their Creator, ‘Why have you made me this way?’ But this is a form of self-deception. Only good gifts come from God. In fact, He is the source of every good and every perfect gift.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, p.2221)
Fact #4: The fact that God is good, and set apart from our bad, is not a temporary situation, but a permanent situation, in which there is no alteration of God’s exclusivity toward goodness.
Fact #5: If temptations do not come from God, because He is good, then it would be inconsistent to say that He is the source of all gifts, both good and bad.
Fact #6: For the Determinist, God is the origin of all gifts, both good and bad, but that’s not the point that James is making, as he is not talking about God giving bad gifts, especially since the reinforcement that God does not tempt is because He is good.
Fact #7: If God was the giver of all gifts, both good and bad, then it is superfluous for James to highlight that “good” gifts come from God, instead of just saying: “Every gift [period] is from above.”
As for Isaiah 45:1-7, in terms of God “forming light and creating darkness,” this is explained in the following clause, in terms of God “causing well-being and creating calamity,” which speaks not of God decreeing wickedness, but of delivering Judgment, which “calamity” of Judgment is also echoed at Amos 3:5-6. Even Calvinists acknowledge that this is speaking of calamity, rather than of causing wickedness. Calvinist, William MacDonald, comments: “The rendering calamity is much better in context.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, p.993) No argument here.
As for Job 2:10, Job was mistaken several times, in thinking that God had it out for him, and was attacking him, and God corrected Job’s error at the end of the Book of Job, as one who speaks words without understanding, though not to degree of error as his friends. Job states: “If I should wash myself with snow and cleanse my hands with lye, yet You would plunge me into the pit, and my own clothes would abhor me.” (Job 9:30-31) The reality is that God was defending him, and allowed Job to enter a trial, in which the devil was tempting him, meaning that from God’s perspective of a trial, God wanted him to pass (after having praised Job’s character), while the devil was tempting Job, with the hope that he would fail, and curse God. Although Job never cursed God, he did waver, in thinking that God had it out for him, rather than being his defender. The fact that God took responsibility for what happened to Job is evident from Job 2:3, but only from the perspective that God permitted the devil to make his challenge. However, from the Determinist’s perspective, God caused every thought, caused the devil’s challenge, caused Job to waver, blamed Job for wavering, and thus makes nonsense of the entire body of Scripture, which I believe means little to the Determinist, as long as the most important thing of all is preserved: Determinism.