Mention the doctrine of double predestination and the gloves come off.
What is it about this doctrine that causes such ardent resistance? Could it be a confusion on what one means when they mention these dirty little theological terms? Or is it a doctrine where one picks his side based on emotions rather than the clear teaching of scripture? I do not plan on dissecting the nuances of double predestination, rather shed some light on the logic behind it and the remaining views we are left to choose from without it. I posit that there are ultimately four possible kinds of consistent single predestination views that can only be maintained within the framework of universalism or Arminianism.
When I refer to the doctrine of double predestination I am referring to the fact that God predestines some, not all, to eternal salvation and so he also predestines some to damnation which we call the reprobate. However this is not a parallel mode of divine operation, R.C. Sproul puts it like this: “It has also been used as a synonym for a symmetrical view of predestination which sees election and reprobation being worked out in a parallel mode of divine operation. Both usages involve a serious distortion of the Reformed view of double predestination.” In other words God does not elect the reprobate in the same way he elects some unto salvation for that would charge God with being the author of sin and we all know that only heretics think like that, not Calvinist. However, God does harden hearts and He does turn sinful, rebellious men over to their depravity (think Pharaoh and see the entire chapter of Romans 9). God damned Esau before the kid was born. 1 Peter 2:4-8 tells us there were two reasons Jesus came 1) to be precious to those who believe in order that we may be built up, and 2) to act as a stumbling block to the disobedient “to which they also were appointed.” God has made some vessels for glory and some for wrath. I fail to see, scripturally, how this doctrine could be any clearer. Yet we have some eisegesiticians that will rant over “nations” and try to murder what the original language says; “καθὼς γέγραπται· τὸν Ἰακὼβ ἠγάπησα, τὸν δὲ Ἠσαῦ ἐμίσησα.” Aorist means to hate or detest, and that hate has no distinction of a beginning or ending. I know there are some out there that will scream, “God is love! How dare you!” But just remember what Paul said, ” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.” That’s what we call crystal. Thanks, Paul.
Emotions are important, and messy. I remember when my brother, Josh, introduced the doctrines of grace to me and the only thing my mind kept returning to was the babies. What about the babies? Poor little innocent things. Surely God can not damn babies to eternal torment and hell-fire. I suppose that’s an entirely different conversation we can have one day but for the time being you get my point. Emotions are stirred up when we talk of God doing anything less than what we deem good and just, but I would refer the reader back to Romans 9. God does what He wants and it will always be for His glory. It will always be just and good and perfect and holy. Our emotional position has no bearing whatsoever on who God is and how He has revealed Himself to us through the scriptures. We must accept these truths and understand that God has the only thing that He is concerned about in His mind: His glory. This is why I have to consistently remind myself of the worm that I am. The wretch that I am. How unworthy of the grace that I have received. Thank you Jesus! Emotions are good for us because God has given them to us. But emotions do not dictate the meaning of scripture, and if they do you might be a charismatic.
God has also blessed us with logic. Logic is a fundamental means of operating in society and, more importantly, how we deduce our doctrinal beliefs. This is how we interpret things and whether the premise of those things, the “starting points”, are jointly plausible; and whether what is said to follow from them does so. Let’s take a look at the logic of some reformed folk who deny double predestination. They maintain that:
1) There is a divine decree of election that is eternal.
2) That divine decree is particular in efficacy.
3) There is no decree of reprobation.
I want you to think on this. Let it resonate. Does this make logical sense? If God, who knows all and decrees all, elects some and not others then what were the reprobate created for? Does He not know where they go once He has passed over them for election? Has He not, like Esau, judged them before they have committed a single act of disobedience? Does God create vessels of wrath for His glory? Of course He does. The very implication that God elects some and not others means that God has elected the non-elect for damnation. This is what Luther called “resistless logic”. What we have in the reprobate is an eternal choice of non-election. The doctrine could not be clearer.
What are we left with if we reject double predestination? I will borrow from R.C. Sproul once more in listing these four categories and they are: (1) Universal predestination to election (universalism); (2) universal predestination to reprobation (which nobody holds); (3) particular predestination to election with the option of salvation by self-initiative to those not elect (a qualified Arminianism); (4) particular predestination to reprobation with the option of salvation by self-initiative to those not reprobate (which nobody holds). When the argument gets down to the core of things on this doctrine of double predestination you will either hold Gods’ sovereignty in the highest esteem or you will succumb to the perils of Arminianism or fall into the heresy of universialism.
Just because a doctrine is hard to wrap your brain around does not make it wrong. Emotions can be deceiving and we as Christians should know this more than anyone. We rely on scripture alone to instruct us. We rely on the faculties that our God has given us to digest and understand His word. Logic is not the end all be all to discerning scripture, but it is crucial and we would be remiss to dismiss such clear teachings such as double predestination. I write this because I feel it is important. If you say that you hold Gods’ sovereignty above all else and admit that he controls each molecule that moves then to deny this doctrine is to deny the meaning of sovereign. I implore you to study this resistless logic.