When it comes to the belief systems of the calvinists and the arminians, it is commonly perceived that arminian theology is more pleasant to accept while calvinism is logically undeniable. Even arminians have been found to grudgingly accept that the calvinists’ system of beliefs does seem logically airtight, though intolerable. And yes, while calvinism has captured the truth in many important doctrines, it does have its limitations in the doctrine of eternal unconditional reprobation or double predestination. From where then does it get its logical credence?
To answer that, we must first acknowledge that Logic too is a reflection of the glory of God – and hence we must embrace and support the calvinists using such logic to draw out the right observations, and correct them where they misstep into the wrong conclusions. Secondly, we must be clear ourselves on what exactly we are refuting – it is specifically unconditional reprobation that we hold as untrue. This has been termed double predestination, though a case can be made for why even this term is still a misnomer.
For the ‘double’ of predestination arises only from perhaps faulty logic in the first place. It is true that God did choose the elect unconditionally before the foundation of the world and as valid corollary, it is true that there are the non-elect from before the foundation of the world who are the rest apart from the elect. And it is true that God did predestine the elect unto salvation – and as corollary, it is true that the remaining non-elect were not predestined unto salvation. But here’s where it probably went wrong. An invalid corollary is wrongly assumed – that the non-elect not being predestined to salvation is the same as them being predestined to reprobation.
Note, it is not the doctrine of reprobation as such that is being refuted – for even the single predestiner believes that many are reprobate because of their evil disobedience toward God. It is more specifically the doctrine of unconditional reprobation of non-elect man before the foundation of the world that is being questioned – for how can man be decreed reprobate before the evil of unbelief has been committed, and if the evil has been factored into the decree of reprobation, then how is it unconditional?
So it is only the predestination part that is untrue of reprobation – God shut no doors on the non-elect being offered mercy before the foundation of the world, neither did He hate them from eternity before they had done any good or evil. He simply made no comment on their destiny at that point in time. (Romans 9 will be reconciled in a later post). The calvinist may then ask if the single predestiner believes that the non-elect can somehow escape through the opened door and be saved – and the answer is a vehement No. None of the non-elect will finally be saved, and that is because of their own evil in totally depraved flesh and not on account of an eternal decree to reprobate them. To say God reprobated them on the basis of their total depravity is to refute Rom 9:11 which states that God does not consider any good or evil done by any creature during His electing.
To see the internal contradiction within calvinism concerning this one doctrine of eternal reprobation, one need look only at the sub-denominations of supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism. The former believe that God’s election and reprobation occurred in His mind before He considered the fall of man – while the latter believe it occurred logically after the consideration of the fall. The supras question the contradiction in the infras’ position given Rom 9:11 which refutes that God could factor in any good or evil of the creature in its election. And the infras question the contradiction in the supras’ position where Rom 9:15 mercy is rendered irrelevant when no evil has been committed yet – and in fact makes God quite sadistic to decree a fall with no initiation by the creature just so that He can have mercy upon them.
As seen in the article “Double” Predestination by R.C. Sproul,
If the decree of reprobation were made without a view to the fall, then the objection to double predestination would be valid and God would be properly charged with being the author of sin. But Reformed theologians have been careful to avoid such a blasphemous notion.
Though RC Sproul is careful to maintain a “positive-negative” symmetry between election and reprobation – where God is active in unconditional election but passively permits the evil by man to be the basis of His decreeing reprobation – is there logical validity to it in the case of mankind? The symmetric complement of unconditional election is unconditional reprobation, but even Sproul concedes that reprobation without a view to the fall (the condition) is blasphemous.
In the case of the angels, where there is simply a fall unto condemnation with no offer of redemption, this “view to the fall” can be derived consistently from the doctrine of creational entropy (any creature that is not God will eventually inevitably fall short of the Glory of God). And this is why the Single Predestiner is not against the doctrine of double predestination as such, for it too does show forth the glory of God as manifested in His election of angels unto perfect preservation from the fall. The issue is with extending this same doctrine to mankind too when Scripture does not say so. This is not so much as feeling good about ourselves or about favoring mankind but about being faithful to the truth about God as revealed in Scriptures.
In the case of mankind, there is a fall from having been created good AND there is an offer of redemption from the fall. Man, both elect and non-elect, have been commanded to receive justification by faith – and both again disobey and continue in the condemnation of the fall (the elect alone then being redeemed by grace, having been predestined to salvation). So in effect, it is this disobedience of man that God uses to decree him reprobate and not rather the eternal decree of God preceding the disobedience.
So, the double predestination of the angels is not the same as with man, since the view to the fall of the angels can be derived from just the attributes of God without considering the specific good or evil by the creature (creational entropy) – whereas to decree reprobation of man without being the author of sin or unbelief, God, in addition to the fall, also needs to factor in the self-determined unbelief of mankind into election – which essentially amounts to considering the specific evil by man, refuting Rom 9:11. (Unlike deriving the view to the fall from a doctrine of creational entropy without consideration of specific evil, there is no equivalent doctrine to derive the inevitable unbelief of man. Only the doctrine of total depravity explains it, which however necessitates consideration of one’s specific evil). Alternately, the only way eternal reprobation can be maintained is by proving that God never intended to offer redemption to the non-elect, which is what I suppose the calvinists maintain through the doctrine of limited atonement.
While I do believe in limited atonement, I hold it to atonement alone and not the offer of redemption itself – the universal offer of redemption goes out to both elect and non-elect, both reject it, God of His mercy regenerates and births the elect of the Holy Spirit to now be justified through faith by grace while the non-elect reject themselves worthy of salvation and are reprobate in unbelief. And only those in the faith are atoned for, thereby limiting the atonement to only the elect. But God did offer redemption to all, even the non-elect, in the very Gospel that is preached to them, showing forth His intent that the non-elect too be saved.
And the only way to reconcile God’s desiring the non-elect to repent and live while having decreed them to perish in their fall is to hold a variant of the two wills of God theory – which has been disproved in the previous post, for lack of logical validity. This leaves only the single predestination belief system to be logically consistent and scripturally faithful.