The calvinists hold on to the doctrine of eternal reprobation citing that this upholds the pillar of truth of God’s sovereignty. But how exactly does it do that? They reply, God’s sovereignty is upheld when He has the first and last word, ie when He isn’t dependent on any other for the initiation and fulfillment of His own desires – so when God commands man to repent and believe and be saved, God does not depend on man to choose to do so but instead man is to depend on God to choose him unto salvation. Yes, that would explain the nature of sovereignty in unconditional election – but the question remains, how does it explain eternal reprobation?
Why is there equal symmetry applied to the nature of choice when election and reprobation themselves are not at all equally symmetric? In other words, while it is acceptable to uphold God’s choosing man to be saved and not man first choosing God – why is it equally necessary for God to be first rejecting man to perish and not man rejecting God? In fact, as seen in the earlier post on the nature of reprobation, R.C. Sproul has been quoted where he quite clearly maintains that there is a positive-negative symmetry between election and reprobation. While God is active in election unto good and salvation, He merely passively passes over the active evil in man, leaving him in such reprobation unto condemnation.
Therefore, given that God does not cause evil / unbelief in man, it is imperative that the evil of unbelief in man is the preceding condition to his reprobation by God. And given that election is unconditional, its inverse should be unconditional too – requiring reprobation to not have any preceding conditions, which however is in direct contradiction to the earlier statement. Therefore reprobation is neither unconditional, nor an eternal decree until man commits evil.
Does this then nullify God’s sovereignty – not at all. The problem lies here – since God as first cause/determiner of everything makes Him sovereign, it creates a dilemma in those trying to uphold the pillar of God’s sovereignty. How do they make God the first determiner of man’s rejecting God in unbelief – they are forced to uphold the logically and scripturally inconsistent doctrine of reprobation for want of options. This is not to say that the Arminian doctrine is correct either – God is not waiting with bated breath to see which way the human soul would incline. This is no sovereignty of God in Him simply delegating sovereignty to man, for man is given the ultimate choice here. Rather, God has perfect knowledge that apart from Him, no man shall turn towards Him. The single predestiner simply believes that God does not consider such knowledge being factored in His electing, in order that every mouth be stopped and that He may be justified in not being a respecter of persons based on the good or evil done by them.
How then does one uphold God’s sovereignty by making Him the first determiner of man’s disobedience/unbelief apart from eternal reprobation and apart from God’s delegating sovereignty to man in an open theistic sense? How can God desire that the non-elect be saved and yet have it not amount to a disappointing helpless unfulfilled desire? Quite simply by allowing for totally depraved flesh to be ‘free’ to choose for itself, knowing full well its inevitable failure, and yet manifesting your perfect inclination/desire by doing everything (repeated commanding,exhorting) from your end to aid such flesh to obey – all with the intent to prove to such flesh the justification of God’s judgement and to demonstrate the glory of God in perfectly saving the elect being birthed from above by God in the spirit contrasted against the utter perishing of the non-elect in the flesh by their own doing.
Essentially, God purposes to demonstrate what He is capable of against what the creature is capable of. Given creational entropy, the fall of the creature is a certainty. This raises two scenarios – one where God works in the creature to preserve from the fall and one where the creature works self-deterministically. These two scenarios are played out in the elect and non-elect angels. Again, given the fall, there are two scenarios regarding the redemption of the creature – one where God works in the creature to redeem from the fall and one where the creature works self-deterministically. And these two scenarios are played out in the elect and non-elect humans. The final results are there for all to see – without God, it is impossible for the creature to be saved. But note, this is an after-the-fact conclusion based on the total depravity of the creature and not one fore-decreed or caused by God.
Therefore, while salvation is on account of unconditional election, it’s incorrect to hold on to eternal reprobation as occurring at the same time – and Single Predestination is consistent in upholding both the above horns of truth simultaneously.