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Against Double Predestination and Arminianism

July 14, 2006

This post uses some big theological words without defining them. If I defined and clarified all of them then this would be a book on soteriology (see there, the first big theological word) and not a blog post.

If you desire to know what all the terms mean then look them up on the following web sites here, here, here and here.

Predestination has gotten a bad rap among some Christians and one reason is because of the false characterization of it as “double.” Here is an excellent statement by R. C. Sproul on this false concept:

The distortion of double predestination looks like this: [It says] there is a symmetry that exists between election and reprobation . . . from all eternity God decreed some to election and by divine initiative works faith in their hearts and brings them actively to salvation. By the same token, from all eternity God decrees some to sin and damnation . . . and actively intervenes to work sin in their lives, bringing them to damnation by divine initiative . . . This distortion of positive-positive predestination clearly makes God the author of sin who punishes a person for doing what God monergistically and irresistibly coerces man to do. Such a view is indeed a monstrous assault on the integrity of God. This is not the Reformed view of predestination, but a gross and inexcusable caricature of the doctrine . . . Such a view of predestination has been virtually universally and monolithically rejected by Reformed thinkers.

Dr. Sproul continues with the correct view of our subject:

. . . predestination . . . is not symmetrical with respect to the mode of divine activity . . . we view predestination in terms of a positive-negative relationship. In the Reformed view, God from all eternity decrees some to election and positively intervenes in their lives to work regeneration and faith by a monergistic work of grace. To the non-elect God withholds this monergistic work of grace, passing them by and leaving them to themselves. He does not monergistically work sin or unbelief in their lives. . . . Thus, the mode of operation in the lives of the elect is not parallel with that operation in the lives of the reprobate. God works regeneration monergistically but never sin. Sin falls within the category of providential concurrence.

Here is the entire excellent article by R. C. Sproul. Also see; Bruce Demarest, The Cross and Salvation, p. 135-8 and Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, p 372-6.

A problem with double predestination is the same as one of the many problems with Arminianism, they both require and are based on a wrong understanding of God’s foreknowledge which leads to a wrong understanding of the status of humanity before God.

For a correct understanding of God’s foreknowledge go here.

God knows people and events as they actually are and He deals with them as they actually are.

God, in His omniscience, knows what, from a human perspective, “could” have happened and what “might” happen, but that is just knowledge of what we humans call “possibility” and God does not base His actions on, nor does He interact with possibilities.

Possibilities are never realities with God and they never become realities because God, due to His omnipresence and transcendence in relation to time, functions in and outside of time and is right now “in” the past and right now “in” the present and right now “in” the future. But, there is no past, present or future with God, He is in the ‘eternal now’ in relation to time.

This means God knows people and events as they actually are because He is there with them now knowing them as they actually are (as you can tell, I’m not an open-theist).

God knows the elect as the elect because that is their status in reality. He also knows the non-elect as the non-elect because that is their status in reality. Because of God’s foreknowledge – because God knows us as we actually are – there is no third option, no third group of humanity.

The Arminian says that there is a neutral pool of humanity, neither elect nor non-elect, and from this neutral pool people are deciding of their own free will to either jump into heaven or jump into hell.

Double predestination requires the same neutral pool of humanity, but this time it is God who is tossing some into heaven and others into hell. This view of God’s sovereign predestination is the error that Dr. Sproul refutes at the beginning of this post.

Adam and Eve were created in a right relationship with God. They sinned, fell and died, but they did not lose their salvation. They were never in a neutral position with God.

Since then all of humanity has been born in sin and estranged from God and not one person has ever been in a neutral position in relation to God. This is total depravity, see here for more on this subject.

This is why salvation is described as – salvation, deliverance, redemption. It is a rescuing of a person from the pool of lost humanity described in Romans 1-3 & 5, a pool that we all, every single human being who ever lived, voluntarily jumped into with Adam.

We have all like sheep gone astray, we made the wrong decision. God in His mercy and grace rescues us from the pool of lost humanity and He knows us as His dear children.

The others? They are not predestined, they are permitted to continue on.

For double predestination and Arminianism to be true there must be a neutral pool of humanity filled with people who are neither on their way to heaven or hell. No such pool has ever existed.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Cole permalink
    June 11, 2014 12:29 pm

    You recommended this six months ago or so- I didn’t forget. Very helpful, Great post Steve!

    -cole

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