Archive for the ‘Election’ Category

Elected for the Non-Elect

November 12, 2013

My friend, Dr. James White, recently reviewed a portion of a sermon by Eric Hankins, in which Pastor Hankins tried to argue that the elect were chosen for the non-elect. There is a certain intuitive appeal of that position: Christ is the Elect One, and Paul and Jeremiah were chosen for service. It doesn’t do full justice to passages like Romans 9, though.

Was Jacob chosen for the benefit of Esau? Or was it written, “the elder [Esau] shall serve the younger [Jacob]”? Surely the latter.

Was Moses chosen for the benefit of Pharaoh? Or was it almost the reverse? Again, the latter seems to be the case.

Hankins tried to say that God never gives up on anyone. But is that really true? Did God never give up on Pharaoh or the Egyptians? What about the households of Ahab and Jeroboam? Or let’s get more dramatic – what about the whole earth in the days of Noah? Did God ever give up on the rest of the world except the eight souls on the ark? The answer has to be “yes,” since God sent the flood on them.

Hankins’ rhetoric may sound nice, but it is wrong. The elect are chosen for the glory of God, first and foremost, and they are also chosen to serve one another:

2 Timothy 2:10
Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.


Of Predestination – by Franciscus Gomarus (1563-1641)

April 24, 2010
Of God’s Predestination
(extracted in various parts from Arminius’ answer to this treatise, in the Works of Arminius, volume 3, pages 521-658, 1875 edition)

I. Since the difference between those who are to be saved and those who are to be damned, and God’s Predestination, is set forth by Prophets (Exodus 33:19; Malachi 1:2; Isaiah 10:22), Christ (Matthew 25:34, 41; John 6:43), and by Apostles (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1; 1 Peter 1; Jude 4),for the instruction and consolation of the Church; and since it is a principal part, as it were, of Divine Providence, and subject-matter of the Gospel; we affirm that it may usefully be taught in Schools and Churches, and ought so to be, with reverence, truth, [and] prudence.

II. With reverence; that we may handle sacred mysteries with a sacred mind and tongue religiously and with constancy, nor carp at what we do not understand; but, as if about to ascend the mount of God, with Moses, let us put off the impure shoes of prejudice and affections. (Exodus 3:5) With truth; that we may sincerely follow the canon of Scripture and the measure of faith (Deuteronomy 4:2; Galatians 6:16); in order that we may be able “not to think more highly than we ought to think, but to think soberly.” (Romans 12:3) With prudence; that – regard being had to the edification of the hearers – synthetically, for the more advanced, more solid and generous food, as it were, may be provided; but for the more tender, analytically, by leading up little up little by little from the lowest and middle grades to the highest, more sparing diet, and such as excels, as it were, in perspicuity. Being about to rehearse this doctrine from the beginning, under the guidance of God, for the understanding and glory of His predestination, we will begin with the words.

III. Ὁριζειν properly notes to “limit, define”: whence the metaphor derived from it, ἀπὸ τῆς ὁροθεσίας, “from fixing limits or boundaries,” (Acts 17:26) sometimes in Sacred Scripture signifies to “declare.” (Romans 1:4; and Chrysostom on the same place) More often, however, it is transferred to a purpose of the mind, a destination and decree (Acts 11:29) – just as by similar transfer τιθέναι, “to lay down” (in the mind), (1 Thessalonians 5:9; 1 Peter 2:8) and τάττειν, “to ordain,” (Acts 13:48 & 15:2) ἑτοιμάζειν, “to prepare.” (Matthew 25:34, 41) And as both the place of a thing is said to be “determined” by an agent, and a thing to be “bounded” by the place containing it, so both the decreed and destined purpose of God, and the thing decreed and destined, is said to be ὡρισμένον, “determined,” but in a a quite different degree. (Luke 22:22; Acts 15:42) For the former is determined by the will, and therefore ὡρισμένη Βουλή, “determinate counsel;” (Acts 2:23) but the latter, by the action and decree of the former, which therefore is commonly accustomed to be called ὁρισμός, “limitation” or “appointment.”

IV. Hence is deduced, in the same sense, but with expression of the circumstances of the relative time, προορίζειν, “to determine beforehand,” “to prescribe,” or “limit” “to foreknow” “to predestinate” (Acts 4:28; 1 Corinthians 2:7) – to which agrees προτιθέναι, “to propose” or “purpose” (Romans 1:13; Ephesians 1:19), and προτάττειν, “to preordain” (Acts 17:16), προετοιμάζειν, “to prepare” (Romans 9:23; 1 Corinthians 2:9 and 7) – from which the ancients, for the sake of teaching, formed the word προορισμόν, “predestination;” to which answers πρόθεσις τῆς καρδίας, “purpose of heart” (Acts 9:23).

V. But as, by virtue of the diversity of the efficient will, there is one destination and predestination which belongs to the Creator, and another which belongs to the rational creature (Acts 11:29); the former, on account of its infinite excellence, is deservedly sometimes denoted synechdochically by the general word. (Luke 22:22)

VI. Then again, as all predestination is distinguished by its object and its subject, so also that of God; which either regards generally any things whatever, and signifies universally God’s eternal decree (Acts 2:23, 4:28, 17:26; 1 Corinthians 2:7); or regards specially rational creatures solely, and their supernatural ends, and the means thereto belonging, and is related to part of God’s decree and providence.

VII. And this in some measure we define as the purpose of God (Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:9), whereby out of rational creatures indefinitely foreknown, He preordained certain ones, of His own right and good pleasure (Romans 9:15, 18; Ephesians 1:5, 11; Matthew 11:26), to their own supernatural ends, and to creation in the upright state of original righteousness (Genesis 1:27, 31) and His other means; to the glory of His saving grace, wisdom, and most free power. (Romans 9:21-23)

VIII. The purpose of God is as it were the remote genus, indicating at once the efficient and the perfecting cause: whence these general attributes of predestination necessarily follow. First, eternity (Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9); because it is an internal action of God, in which there is nothing temporal, nay, and, on account of its supreme simplicity, nothing which is not Himself. “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.” (Acts 15:18) Then again, immutability, which flows forth from eternity (in which there is no change), and which belongs to Him by His simple and unchangeable nature and counsel. (Numbers 23:9; Malachi 3:6; Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 14:27, 46:10; James 1:17) From the certain supposition of which, and of the destined end, arises the certainty of the predestinated, and the necessity ἐξ ὑποθέσεως, “from hypothesis,” and of the consequence (which, according to the correct and perpetual consent of philosophers and divines, can come with absolute contingency and with that of the contingent).

IX. But in order that this remote genus may become proximate, we restrict according to the matter, as they say, both the objects and the subjects by this common difference – “whereby, out of rational creatures indefinitely foreknown, [He foreordained] certain ones.” (Revelation 17:8) They differ in order and number.

X. In order: because the object is antecedent, but the subject proceeds from its predestination. In number: because the former is the whole, the latter part of it. For the object presented to the predestining will by the boundless foreknowledge of the Divine intellect – which is the knowledge of things possible and not yet defined, whether they are future, or not to be – is, all rational creatures that can be saved and created: but the subject of predestination is, certain ones out of them. For as God was able to destine innumerable other creatures also and otherwise, and to create them, by virtue of His omnipotence (1 Timothy 6:15), and offered that as an object to His will, by virtue of His infinite and unbounded knowledge (1 Timothy 1:17), so He predestinated only a certain number of them, and certain persons, by the purpose of His will, by virtue of His liberty. (Matthew 20:15)

XI. The mystery of which number, and of the particular persons in it, He alone knows who predestinated them without counselors. (Romans 11:34; 2 Timothy 2:19) Wherefore the Gospel may be styled the Revelation and Book of Predestination, not absolutely, but only relatively (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:9, 3:9); since it denotes absolutely neither the matter nor the form of the number: that is, it does not declare whom severally He would predestinate, (with the exception of a very few, John 17:12) nor how many, but only in general of what sort. (Romans 8 and 9; Ephesians 1)

XII. The form of the predestination of rational creatures consists in preordination to their supernatural ends, and eternal state, and the creation thereto belonging, and other means. (Acts 13:48; Matthew 20:23; Matthew 25:34, 41; Jude 4) To which since God leads them in time, it is evident from the event, the Divine wisdom, constancy, and eternity, that He has predestinated them to the same from everlasting. (Matthew 25:34, 41) Whence there is a twofold predestination, as is evident: one, to supernatural ends (Revelation 21:27; Romans 9:21-22) (which, although it be coincident with duration of eternity, yet precedes in the order of nature; since the end on account of which a thing is, is first in the intention of the wise man); the other, to the creation in the upright state of original righteousness, and other means. (Genesis 17:31 [? 1:27, 31]; Proverbs 16:4; Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 2:8) And therefore predestination cannot be called “conditional” without a contradiction in terms. Inasmuch as the end has been ordained before the means, so the means are certainly subordinate to it.

XIII. Therefore, also, the object of predestination to its own ends – to speak accurately and without prolepsis (which, when used in this argument, begets obscurity) – are rational creatures, not as actually about to be saved or lost, to be created, about to fall or stand fast, or about to be restored; but, so far as remote and indefinite ability goes, savable, damnable, creable [creatable], liable to fall, restorable. And that is proved, beyond controversy, by the nature and order of the object and of the cause both efficient and final. For the object, in the order of nature, precedes the operation of the power attached to it and occupied about it, and therefore also the object of predestination precedes predestination itself; nay, and exceeds it in extent also, as we have shown (in Thesis X): but being about to be saved, to be created, to fall, to be restored, does not exceed nor precede predestination, but follows it: Therefore it is not the object of it. For, as the creable depends on the indeterminate and absolute omnipotence of God, so what is to be created depends on that omnipotence determined to creation by predestination of the will; and therefore cannot come before predestination, which is its efficient cause.

XIV. From which it is necessarily proved that, since those who are to be created are not the object of this predestination to their own ends, the efficient impulsive cause also is not external – that is, one that will follow the worthiness of those to be created, or the condition of obedience or disobedience – but internal – the antecedent, and on no condition suspended, good-pleasure of God about creables (Romans 9:11-13, 15-16, 18; Ephesians 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:9): which, although it has not in the object a cause beyond God, yet is not without a right reason, because the supremely and solely Wise Author of reason cannot act without reason. (James 1:5, 17; 1 Timothy 1:17; Romans 11:33, 16:27) But the cause of predestination to the means is also their end, by whose favor they exist.

XV. The end of the predestination of rational creatures is the glory of Divine and saving power, and (in the destined diversity of vessels belonging to this great house of the world) wisdom, and grace (Romans 9:21-23, 11:36; 2 Timothy 2:20; Proverbs 16:4); not internal glory, for the perfection of God – because he is in need of none (Acts 17:25), שַׁדַּ֔י “the Almighty” (Genesis 17:1), “the blessed and only Potentate” (1 Timothy 1:11; 6:15) – but external, for the due manifestation of it amongst the creatures. (Proverbs 16:4; Romans 11:36)

XVI. The effect of predestinated things in God is definite prescience: not as prescience, but as definite. For God’s prescience is as it were a book, on which God’s will for predestinating has inscribed the things predestinated. (Revelation 17:8; Jude 4) For God foreknows definitely future things, because He has fore-ordained them by decree.

XVII. Moreover, there are two species of predestination, on account of the opposition both of its special form and of its contrary terms. The one is to eternal life and glory, and the means thereto (Matthew 25:34, 41; Romans 9:22-23; 2 Timothy 2:20; Augustine Enchiridion, Chapter 100; Fulgentius, Book I, Chapter 27); which, as being prior in order of nature and κατʹ ἐξοχήν, “by pre-eminence,” is called predestination (Romans 8:30): the other is to eternal death and ignominy. As, also, is clear a posteriori and from the event: because God does nothing in time which He has not decreed from eternity. The former predestination is named election – which noting adoption and separation relatively, according to the proper nature and use of the word, has reference partly to God’s purpose, partly to its opposite, the residue and the rejected (Romans 11:7); and therefore cannot be called absolute and universal – the latter, casting away and reprobation (Romans 11:2); and in both way by synechdoche.

XIII. For, since the one election of God is internal and eternal and of design, the other external, temporal, and actual; and both again are either to the offices and benefits, civil or ecclesiastical, of this life – as Saul and David were called to the kingdom (1 Samuel 16 & 10:24); Judas, with the Eleven, to the Apostolate (John 6:70); the Israelitish people to the visible society of the Church for a time, by the formula and symbol of a covenant (Deuteronomy 7:6; Psalm 105:6; Romans 11:5, 20) – or to the inheritance of eternal life, which is called election “to salvation” (2 Timothy 2:13); it is this latter, indeed, and not the temporal and actual, which is efficacious calling (1 Peter 1:2; John 15:19), but the eternal and of design (Ephesians 1:4), which is understood, whose subject is called metonymically by the same name. (Romans 11:7) Similar is the ratio of reprobation opposed to election. (1 Peter 2:4; Isaiah 7:15)

XIX. [Definition of Election] But this election is God’s predestination; by which He has fore-ordained, from among rational creatures indefinitely foreknown, certain individuals, in virtue of His own right, good-pleasure, and gratuitous love (Matthew 20:15; Romans 9:23, 11:35-36; Ephesians 1:5-6 & 11), to life and eternal glory (Romans 8:30, 9:23), and the way thereto (Ephesians 1:4; Hebrews 1:14; Psalm 103:21), as well as creation in an upright state of original righteousness, as the obedience of holiness; to the glory of His power, wisdom, and saving grace. (Romans 9:21, 23; Ephesians 1:6, 3:10)

XX. The impulsive cause is the good-pleasure of God’s will, and His gratuitous love. (Ephesians 1:4-5, 11; Romans 9:16) Wherefore the election is said to be “of grace” (Romans 11:5-6, 9:11), that is, gratuitous; and is opposed to the consideration of works; nay, it is ordained as the fountain of good things (Ephesians 1:4, 2:10); and is called “love.” (Malachi 1:2) For men choose, or elect, those whom they deservedly love – whence a “chosen” man, by metonymy, for “a good man, worthy of choice” (2 Corinthians 13:7); as opposed to ἀδόκιμος, “a bad man, deserving rejection” (ibid.; and Jeremiah 6:40; Hebrews 6:8; 1 Corinthians 9:27) – God, on the contrary, loves from eternity those whom He choose without merit. For to love is to wish good to any one, and, in this instance, to will eternal salvation and its means; but to elect is to will this good in preference to others. Therefore the good-pleasure here is twofold – towards the thing and the person; because God approves of both: and therefore the elect are called ὄντες αὐτοῦ, “they that are His.” (2 Timothy 2:19; John 17:9) Which love is, by metonymy, designated “foreknowledge” (Romans 8:29, 11:2; Psalm 1:6) – whence the Sophists, incorrectly, oppose the foreknown to the predestinated and elect, contrary to the usage of Scripture – and, by synecdoche, “purpose” (Romans 8:28; 2 Timothy 1:9), namely, the gratuitous purpose of blessing; and, in like manner, is opposed to the worthiness and consideration of works in effecting salvation. (2 Timothy 1:9)

XXI. The form consists in preordination and separation to eternal life – on which account it is called “ordaining to eternal life” (Acts 13:48), “preparation of the kingdom” (Matthew 20:23; 25:34), “good pleasure of giving the kingdom” (Luke 12:32), “inscription in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 21:27), “appointing to the obtainment of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:9); and the elect are termed “blessed of God” (Matthew 25:34), “prepared unto glory,” and “vessels to honor” (Romans 9:21, 23) – and to its way; as well creation in an upright state of original righteousness, as the obedience of holiness due to God (Ephesians 1:4); whence, according to Augustine, it is commonly named “the predestination of the saints.” From which form, and from the immutability of the Divine counsel, it follows, that these elect never become reprobates and perish. (Matthew 24:24; Romans 8:28-30, 35; John 10:28; 2 Peter 3:9)

XXII. The end, indeed, of election to life is the glory of saving power, wisdom, and grace (Romans 9:22-23; Ephesians 1:6): but the end of election to the means is holiness (Ephesians 1:4, 2:10): just as the end of this, the terminus of election, is life. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)

XXIII. But casting away, or reprobation, is God’s predestination by which He has foreordained certain from among rational creatures indefinitely foreknown, in virtue of His own right and good-pleasure, from eternity rejected from eternal life (Revelation 17:8; Matthew 7:23), to death and eternal ignominy (Romans 9:21-22), and to its way (Proverbs 16:4; Romans 9:21-22) – creation in an upright state of original righteousness, permission of falling into sin and loss of original righteousness (Matthew 10:29); being forsaken therein – to the glory of His power, wrath, dominion over the reprobate, and of His saving grace towards the elect. (Romans 9: 18, 21-23)

XXIV. The termini of reprobation are two: the first, from which its beginning is taken, eternal life; the last, to which it tends, eternal death. Whence arise two – not species, but as it were – parts and degrees; destination of rejection, first from life eternal, and then to death. Of which the former is commonly accustomed to be called negative reprobation; the latter, affirmative and positive: the former is properly non-election, contradictorily to election; but the latter, including the former – whence it is also by synecdoche called by its name (Revelation 17:8, 20:15) – is opposed contrarily [to election], and ought to be understood in this place. Because non-election, since it is a simple negation, appertains also to those not to be created, not predestinated: and then, on the other side, reprobation, since it is predestination, necessarily puts forth and marks out a certain scope.

XXV. [The Form of Reprobation] The form of reprobation consists in the pre-ordination of rejection from life to eternal death, and the way thereto – creation in an upright state of original righteousness, permission of lapsing into sin, loss of original righteousness, the being left therein. Hence it is called non-inscription in the book of life from the beginning of the world (Revelation 17:8), designation to damnation (Jude 4), preparation of eternal fire (Matthew 25:41 with 33), appointing to wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9); and the reprobate are styled “vessels of wrath,” and “unto dishonor,” “fitted to destruction.” (Romans 9:21-22) Wherefrom it is also concluded that the reprobate never can become elect, and partakers of righteousness and life.

XXVI. The impulsive cause is God’s good-pleasure toward the thing, which He approves (Matthew 11:25-26); not towards the person, whom He reprobates. Wherefore reprobation is also called hatred (Romans 9:13); and the reprobated are named “never known” and “cursed.” (Matthew 7:23, 25:41) The justice of which depends on the right and wisdom of God, the heavenly Potter, and supreme Lord of all, and debtor to none. (Romans 9:20, 11:35-36; Matthew 20:15) Right: because (as it is said in a most apposite allegory about God), “Hath not the potter power over the clay, to make of the same lump one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?” (Romans 9:21) Wisdom: as well because a variety of vessels, to honor and dishonor, appertains to the ornament of the world, as if it were the house of the Lord (2 Timothy 2:20; Ephesians 3:10); as because He does not lead them down to their destined destruction, except by permitting the desert of the reprobated, as a subordinate means. For “willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, He endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” (Romans 9:22) So that the cause and matter of perdition, efficient and sufficient, may be found in the reprobate.

XXVII. Wherefore, if God has destined and created any to destruction, He cannot be accused of injustice, on a twofold account and right: first, absolute, that of dominion: next, subordinate and related (as it regards sins), that of judgment. Wherefrom a twin sufficiency of justice shines forth; whose splendor is so great that its rays are reflected with luster in the confession of Papal adversaries and Lutheran Doctors; who, though they contend with our Churches about the will and the deed, yet acknowledge the justice of the free power. For so Dr. Chrys. Javellus (Tome 2, Question: Of the Cause of Predestination): “As the potter does not err not act unjustly in willing that this vessel be made to honor, but that to disgrace; so God would not sin, if He should will to save all, or to damn all; or to save this man according to his merits, and to damn that one absolutely.” Dr. Viguerius (Institutes, Chapter 20, Section 5, 8, vers. 2): “‘Shall the thing formed,’ &c. By these words the Apostle wished to intimate, that if God, of His own power, predestinated any one to glory, and reprobated any one to torments, He would not have regard to punishment, without previous guilt, but only to penality [cupability]; nor could the man complain of God.” The same sentiments are taught by the Lutherans, Dr. Jacobus Andreas (In the Mompelgart Conference, p. 508), Dr. David Rungius (On the Epistle to the Romans, Chapter 9, p. 196), and Dr. Georgius Major (On the Epistles to the Romans, Chapter 9, p. 76).

XXVIII. The subordinate and proximate end of destination to death is, the glory of the Divine power, wrath, and dominion over the reprobate (Romans 9:22; Proverbs 16:4): the preordained and ultimate end is, the glory of grace, bringing salvation to the elect, and immeasurable, reflected back with the greater lustre from comparison with the reprobate. (Romans 9:23) Of which so great is the dignity, that the elect, being seized with it in a holy contemplation, have desired to redeem the salvation of the reprobates of the Jewish people even by their own destruction and condemnation (Romans 9:3; Exodus 32:32), if that that might have been (Exodus 32:33; Romans 8:28, 35, 39): and so much the more ought the reprobate to acquiesce in it. (Romans 9:20-21)

XXIX. And so we have explained the nature of predestination, and of its species: which, on account of the diversity of the object and subject – the rational creature – is properly no further divided into species, because they are not of contrary form; but is distinguished into its circumstances. For the predestination of incorporeal creatures, or angels, is one kind; that of corporeal creatures, or men, is another kind: and both are distinguished by election and reprobation.

XXX. The difference between the election of angels and men is in regard of the means – that the former have regard to the perpetual obedience of holiness; the latter, to obedience begun and to be renewed: and therefore, in the former there is grace preserving in the upright state of original righteousness; in the latter, permission of the fall, and grace liberating from misery, by the communion of Christ (by the Spirit of the covenant in some persons, and in the adult by faith), and by justification, adoption, sanctification, flowing forth therefrom – begun in this life, in which we cannot keep the law perfectly (Catechisis Belgica, Question 114; Proverbs 20:9; Psalm 143:2; 1 John 1:8; Matthew 6:12); perfected after this life – and by conformity with Christ. By reason of which means (which distinguish the end), the elect are called “vessels of mercy” (Romans 9:23); and we are said to be “elect” in Christ to holiness (Ephesians 1:4), and “predestinated to adoption by Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:5), “predestinated that we might be conformed to the image of the Son of God” (Romans 8:29); just as Christ also was “foreknown” (as Mediator, and as the destined subordinate cause for salvation) “before the foundations of the world were laid.” (1 Peter 1:20)

XXXI. The difference between the reprobation of angels and that of men is that Christ was to be offered to the former never, but to many of the latter more often – outwardly by the word (Matthew 20:16), or inwardly also, in the mind, by the Spirit (Hebrews 6:4-5; Matthew 13:21) – in order that, when convicted of unbelief and stubbornness of heart, they might be thereby rendered the more inexcusable. (Luke 12:47; 2 Corinthians 3:16; Hebrews 6:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 12)

XXXII. The particular election becomes known ordinarily to the elect when grown up, in these lands, from a twofold revelation of God: partly external, by the Gospel; partly internal, by faith and the Holy Spirit. For the Gospel teaches, from the proper effects, what kind of men God has chosen to life, to wit, believers and penitents: (Romans 8:28-29): the sense of faith and repentance (2 Corinthians 13:5; John 6:39-40), and the consent of the Spirit (Romans 8:14, 16; Ephesians 1:13), sealing our hearts with His witness, confirm us that we are believers and penitents. From which, as from the antecedent proposition and assumption of a practical syllogism, by far the most certain, this conclusion is put together in our minds by the Holy Spirit, that we have been elected to life. Whence the Holy Spirit, “the earnest of our inheritance,” (Ephesians 1:14) and good works, are said to confirm our election. (2 Peter 1:10) Reprobation, however, ordinarily [becomes known] only to those who are reprobated on account of the sin against the Holy Ghost – because that cannot be remitted (Matthew 12:31) – and on account of unbelief and impiety lasting to the end of life; because the reprobate cannot believe; because faith does not belong to all, but to the elect. (2 Thessalonians 3:2; Titus 1:1; John 6:44, 39, 10:26)

Corollary: Inquiry is made, whether that blasphemy follows from this doctrine – that God is the author of sin. For so indeed Castellio (Dialog regarding Election), and his follower Cornhart (Dialog regarding Predestination), and the the Lutherans (Jacob, Andreas, Colloquio Mompelgart; Aegidius Hunnius, &c.), are accustomed to object to our Churches, especially to Calvin and Beza (who have deserved very well of the Church and of the truth of predestination against the Pelagians), in order that, having brought those illustrious restorers of the Churches into odium, they may wound the truth through their sides, and the more easily sow tares of their own errors in the minds of men. We, however, with the Reformed Churches, with justice deny that; and do not in the least doubt that the truth and sanctity of this opinion will endure, in spite of the gates of hell.

The Video Everyone is Watching

November 11, 2008

The following is a reaction video provided by Dr. White regarding the recent election. It has had a surprising (to me) resonation within the blogosphere. If you haven’t already seen it, I would encourage you to watch it. I don’t endorse everything he has to say, but he makes a lot of good points.


An Electoral Day at the Beach

October 29, 2008

Part I: The Set Up

Imagine the voting populace as people out sunning themselves (or swimming, watching whales, searching for buried treasure, building sand castles, etc.) at a beach. Along the beach there runs a long boardwalk. On the boardwalk are two ice cream vendors, one “Republican” and one “Democrat.” Both have the same ice cream for sale (exercise of political power), but the selling point of the two vendors is convenience.

Initially, the vendors try to position themselves in the way that best suits the average beachgoer. The Republican cart is about one third of the way from the right end of the beach and the Democrate cart is about one third of the way from the left hand side of the beach.

This works fine for a while, as both of the vendors get about the same number of customers, and everyone is happy to have a convenient source of ice cream.

One day, however, the Republican vendor realized something: if he moves a little to the left, he’ll be more convenient for some of the folks in the “middle third” of the beach, who would otherwise go to the “Democrat” cart. The “Democrat” vendor realizes the opposite thing (he needs to move to the right) after sales start to drop off. Eventually, we wind up with two carts essentially in the very middle of the boardwalk. In reality, there are some aspects of tradition, inertia, marketing, and so forth that keep each of the two vendors from being right in the very middle.

Part II: The Movement

There is no reason that Republican vendor is going to move much to the right. If he does, the Democrat will follow, and now more than half the beach will find the Democrat more convenient. The same principle holds true for the Democrat – if he moves to the left, the Republican will follow and more than half the beach will find the Republican more convenient.

Frankly, the people at the middle of the beach are pleased as can be about the arrangement. They have easy access to the ice cream, regardless of which vendor is slightly closer to them. On the other hand, those at the ends of the beach (the “extremists” we will call them) are pretty unhappy about the “compromised” position of the vendors. It’s surely not convenient for the far left to go to the Republican cart, but it is only slightly more convenient for the far left to go to the Democrat cart.

Thus, both ends of the spectrum would like to see either a different system (a three-vendor system) or at least a change in the position of the vendors carts. The former approach turns out to be untenable in practice on this particular boardwalk. Although it sounds good on paper, for some reason it just doesn’t work in practice.

With respect to the latter approach: there are two main ways the extremists can change things:

1) By attracting more beachgoers to their cause. This, in effect, rebalances the beach. It gives the two vendors a reason to move slightly in their direction.

2) By leaving the beach. If they leave the beach, the vendors will move slightly away from the direction that they were.

Choosing not to vote in a given election is leaving the beach. The result when “Conservatives” refuse to vote for the more “right” candidate is that the vendors both move to the left. Likewise the result when “Liberals” refuse to vote for the more “left” candidate is that the vendors both move to the right.

Just a little ice cream for thought.


Voting Anguish

October 27, 2008

Many American voters with a conscience are torn by the anguish of the prospect of voting for a liberal Republican to prevent a borderline Marxist from being elected. One is reminded of the plight of the prophet Elisha.

2 Kings 8:11 And he settled his countenance stedfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept.

Why was he weeping? It was because of the bad things that Hazael, the person to whom he was talking, would do (link to graphic description).

The election in America will not yield another Hazael of Syria, but Americans with the right to vote in their election must surely be anguished between voting for the better of two rascals and letting the rest of the voters decide which rascal should serve (see more here). Weep, pray, search the Scriptures, and follow your conscience.


Response to Beowulf2k8 on Calvinism

October 11, 2008

I noticed that Beowulk2k8 had commented over at Triablogue on the topic of Calvinism (link to comment).

B2k8 writes:

You guys are so ridiculous. When Calvinism is ridiculed, it is funny because the Calvinist system is truly stupidity and Satan worship. When Arminianism is ridiculed it is just asinine lame Calvinists trying to look cool after being burned by the truth.

What the Calvinist dictionary says about what you believe is true.

Augustine: The first church father.

Free Will: Something that can’t exist because it would make God helpless if true.

Infant damnation: Something that brings God glory.

Glory: Praise we give to God for anything wicked that has ever happened (except for the birth of Charles Finney).

God’s secret will: To save a few and reprobate the rest (secret to Arminians but not to us)

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know: Misleading children’s song.

Jesus Loves the Little Children: Another terrible song, obviously written by someone who didn’t take the time to do a proper exegesis of scripture.

You love talking about exclusive Psalmody because you want to sing about killing your enemies rather than Christ’s love. You love ignoring every ecclesiastical writer prior to Augustine because they all taught free will and election based on foreknowledge of faith (including Augustine before he became an Imperial bishop). You relish in the doctrine of infant damnation as if damning innocent infants for another man’s sin was some great honor and glory to your manmade god.

Let’s hit a few points: “When Calvinism is ridiculed, it is funny because the Calvinist system is truly stupidity and Satan worship.” This is the sort of comment that cannot be backed up. One has to chuckle a bit, because one of the more frequent criticisms of Calvinism is that it is excessively intellectual. The “Satan worship” comment just demonstrates that B2k8 doesn’t know what the Gospels is and who God is. A person who says that Calvinism is “Satan worship” is either (a) not a Christian, or (b) someone who doesn’t know what Calvinism is.

B2k8 claims that “Augustine: The first church father” is actually a Calvinistic belief and B2k8 thinks that “You love ignoring every ecclesiastical writer prior to Augustine because they all taught free will and election based on foreknowledge of faith (including Augustine before he became an Imperial bishop).” This is absurd of course. While Augustine’s writings are certainly notable, and undoubtedly contrary to B2k8’s views, we find the same Calvinistic themes not only in the Old and New Testaments, but also in the Apostolic fathers – those ECFs that are the earliest to leave any writings behind. For one example, see this earlier post of mine (link). Incidentally I’d be highly interested in the supposed ECF that taught “election based on foreknowledge of faith” … if anyone knows, please inform me.

B2k8 claims that “Free Will: Something that can’t exist because it would make God helpless if true” is actually a Calvinistic belief. This is wrong as well. Calvinism teaches that men have a compatible free will, as opposed to the Arminian conception of an autonomous free will. The former kind of free will is compatible with predestination, that latter is not. The former kind can exist, and the latter – if true – would make God helpless to save those he wants to save. For more discussion, see my earlier post on deflating assumptions regarding man’s free will (link).

B2k8 claims that “Infant damnation: Something that brings God glory” is actually a Calvinistic belief. This is a confused objection. First of all, if God chooses to damn any infants, it certainly will bring God glory. “All have sinned” applies not only to adults but to infants as well. Adam’s sin is placed on the account of each of his natural descendants. Consequently, God would be just to condemn infants as well as adults. Nevertheless, God is also able to save infants, if he chooses. The standard Reformed position is that “elect infants, dying in infancy, will be saved.” Some Calvinists believe that the category of “elect infants” includes all those infants who die in infancy, and others believe that the number is a subset of the group of those who die in infancy (there may even be some who believe that no infants who die in infancy are among the elect, but I’ve never much such a person). For more discussion, consider my earlier article on the “innocence” of children (link).

Bk28 claims that “Glory: Praise we give to God for anything wicked that has ever happened (except for the birth of Charles Finney)” is the Calvinist position. Leaving out the parenthetical, the statement is true but incomplete. We give glory to God in all things, or at least we try. It can be difficult to be like Job and say, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21. Charles Finney’s theology is error-riddled, but God had a purpose in his life as well. The comment is incomplete, because we give God praise as well for the good things that he does. In all things, God is to be praised. (1 Peter 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.) Previously, I discussed the dangers associated with discerning God’s providence, which is connected with this fact that everything that happens is for the best (link).

B2k8 thinks that “God’s secret will: To save a few and reprobate the rest (secret to Arminians but not to us)” is an accurate picture of Calvinism. It seems clear that B2k8 doesn’t understand Calvinism, at least on this point. God’s secret will is his decree of Providence: his decision about what will happen. This is a “secret” will because God has given us very few details about what will happen. We know that there is a judgment day coming and that Christ will return, but we are not told whether the stock market will recover from last week’s down-turn, or whether Georgia will remain an independent European nation. We know that in general all of the elect will be saved, and that all of the reprobate will not, but Calvinists do not claim to know who the elect are. I have discussed this issue of God’s will many times, but one example would be in debating the issue with Seth McBee, as can be seen from this open question to him (link).

B2k8 thinks that “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know: Misleading children’s song” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children: Another terrible song, obviously written by someone who didn’t take the time to do a proper exegesis of scripture” are the Calvinist position. He’s mostly right. The first song tends to suggest that all children are in God’s present favor, the latter song explicitly says so. In point of fact, many (if not most) children are sinners in God’s disfavor and in need of salvation by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ. It is interesting to note that at least some Calvinists seem to like the first song (Pastor Bill Shishko, for example, seems to fall in this category). Nevertheless, generally both songs are theologically weak. I’ve previously addressed “Jesus loves Me” (link).

B2k8 thinks that “You love talking about exclusive Psalmody because you want to sing about killing your enemies rather than Christ’s love.” This sort of dualism is practically Gnostic in its radical dispensational bent. And it is just wrong. We don’t sing the Psalms because we want to sing about killing our enemies. I cannot think of any Psalms that are written with that focus (though there certainly some in which we ask for God’s judgment on his and our enemies). Moreover, the Psalms are full of Christ’s love. Psalm 1, for example, mentions that “the LORD knoweth (loves) the way of the righteous,” and Psalm 2 speaks particularly of Christ saying, “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” We could go on and on. My readers my recall my previous post contrasting certain modern worshipper-centered worship vs. God-centered worship (link).

Finally, B2k8 thinks that “You relish in the doctrine of infant damnation as if damning innocent infants for another man’s sin was some great honor and glory to your manmade god.” Mostly this is already addressed above. It is addressed at further link in this previous post (link).


Another Calvinistic Jewel in the Apostolic Fathers

March 3, 2008

CAVEAT: “Calvinistic” is an anachronism. Calvin wasn’t born yet. The proper chronological way to describe the situation is to say that Calvin was being Ignatian — or (better yet) that both Calvin and Ignatius were being Scriptural.

As I was concluding my reading of one book of selections the apostolic fathers, I read through the Syriac versions of Ignatius (in English translation) and came across this Calvinistic gem, taken from Ignatius’ Second Epistle to the Ephesians:

Ignatius, who is Theophorus, to the Church which is blessed in the greatness of God the Father, and perfected; to her who was separated from eternity to be at all times for glory that abideth and changeth not, and is perfected and chosen in the purpose of truth, by the will of the Father of Jesus Christ our God; to her who was worthy of happiness; to her who is at Ephesus in Jesus Christ in joy unblamable; much peace.



Gems of Calvinism from the Early Church: Ignatius

March 1, 2008

CAVEAT: “Calvinistic” is an anachronism. Calvin wasn’t born yet. The proper chronological way to describe the situation is to say that Calvin was being Ignatian — or (better yet) that both Calvin and Ignatius were being Scriptural.

In my reading of the Apostolic Fathers, another gem from the Apostolic Fathers caught my eye, this one from the Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians (opening sentence):

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus in Asia, deservedly thought happy, blessed in the greatness and fulness of God the Father, predestinated before the worlds to be for ever for a glory abiding, not to be overturned, united and elect in the true passion, by the will of the Father and of Jesus Christ our God, much joy in Jesus Christ and in blameless grace.



Canine Heroism

February 12, 2008

This news story (link) is both sad and happy. Dogs rescued their owners from death by fire, but lost their own lives in the process. Read the story. It may make you cry, particularly if you are fond of dogs.

The final sentence of the article really struck me:

“Everything I lost is nothing compared to them,” she said.

The analogy between the situation and our salvation is amazingly complete. We are saved from death by fire through the death of Christ, and that should endear him to us greatly. Furthermore, in the process, we will lose everything that we have. All our earthly possessions will be destroyed by fire. But our sentiment should be the same as that woman’s namely, that we everything we lose we should count as nothing compared to Christ.

And one can imagine the faithful dogs saying the same thing: they did not count their own lives worth saving, but considered that as nothing compared to saving those whom they loved. Now perhaps that is not the case, here. Perhaps here the dogs incidentally sacrificed themselves, or were simply trapped and coincidentally saved their owners. Furthemore, the dogs could have no assurance of success.

Not so with Christ. Christ considered the loss of his life for the salvation of the elect to be “joy.” Christ is God, so he knew he could no fail to accomplish what the Father sent him to do. Christ endured not only the loss of his life, but the wrath of God in our stead. He finished the work of salvation.

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

How much greater our Savior than the canine saviors in the news article! How much more greatly should we love Him who died for us!

Praise be to glorious name!


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