Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Double Predestination

Another great question from the same friend who asked about God changing his mind. He writes, "My biggest question with Calvinism deals with the concept of double predestination. How do you handle this topic? Does that bother you?"

I did struggle with double predestination (election/reprobation) at one time. What helped ease the discomfort was understanding how they differ from one another. Predestination unto salvation require God to act positively (causally) in the life of the believer, extending grace that will awaken them to spiritual things and bring them to saving faith. Predestination unto judgment (reprobation) doesn’t require that kind of active (causal) influence of God. It simple requires that he not extend grace to some. Apart from this grace no one will saved, no one will come to faith and love for Christ. And since grace isn’t deserved, we can’t charge God with being unjust.

Scripture does speak of God hardening hearts, which seems to be close to a positive (causal) act of predestining someone to judgment (Pharaoh, the Canaanites, John 12:40, Romans 9:18). Even here though, this act of God, as I understand it, is a removal of restraint that leads to further hardening. The best way I’ve come up with to explain it as that sinful man is on a slippery slope. Sin threatens to pull him ever downward in deeper depravity, deeper hardness of heart, etc. Sinners aren’t as bad as they could be, but only by the grace of God. When God removes his grace (which again, we need to see as undeserved), it’s like removing the blocks behind a truck on a steep incline. The slide to hardness of heart is inevitable.

Systematicians speak of the ‘asymmetry of predestination’ – it’s a positive-negative type of action. One group he chooses and acts decisively to bring about faith, the other group he leaves in their sin, he passes over (which also is decisive in that no one will come to faith if they are passed over).

John  Gerstner was helpful for me as a was thinking through this years ago (this and freewill), but I can’t remember what works in particular (probably A Primer on Free Will or A Predestination Primer). Once, when asked if he believed in double predestination he came back, "It's double or nothing."

Augustine articulated this doctrine of election/reprobation before Calvin. Cavin himself defended it as biblical and logically necessary (election and reprobation being two sides of the same coin) but called it decretum horrible (dreadful decree). or . Once, when asked if he believed in double predestination he came back, "It's double or nothing." Augustine articulated this doctrine of election/reprobation before Calvin. Cavin himself defended it as biblical and logically necessary (election and reprobation being two sides of the same coin) but called it decretum horrible (dreadful decree).

It's a doctrine that I'd say is hard to accept (in part due to my fallen concepts of fairness, etc.) but also hard to get away from biblical and logically.

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