John MacArthur - God is passive with the reprobate

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Herald, Sep 26, 2007.

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  1. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    Sure, I got you there, and am happy to accept the difference in voices (and am not, as one whose understanding of Biblical Greek is at the level of an acquaintance, not any deep and intense study, sure of what to make of that difference in voices) as a reason at least to think about a difference in active/passive acts of God. This passive/active voice distinction has many uses, doesn't it? Certainly it doesn't connote a difference in intentionality?

    This verse needs to be read in context of 9:21, though - as Ken pointed out - some are made for honorable use, and some for dishonorable... are the verbs there active and passive, respectively, also? It would certainly strengthen the case for a strict difference if that were so.

    My main point in the discussion is not to make an argument for double predestination, per se - but to uphold God's active intentionality with respect to the destinations of all people, elect and non-elect alike. I find that most of the time when there is being made a strict active/passive distinction, (and i know you guys aren't doing this) what is being said is that God didn't exercise his will to send people to hell... that it's against his wishes, but he, being the gentleman that he is, allows people to have what they want despite his desire - and so the impetus for their going to hell is solely in their hands. People in the camp are usually Amyraldian in their theology, saying that Christ died as an atonement absolutely for the elect, and as an atonement conditionally for the non-elect.

    If God actually 'passes over' the non-elect, as we believe, then it seems to me that he is making a definite decision to fore-ordain their destruction by not decreeing their salvation. Sure, the means to that end are absolutely active on God's part for salvation, and passive on God's part for damnation. God simply has to leave the non-elect in their sins in order for them to find their destination, whereas he absolutely has to work a miracle in the elect to bring them to his intended destination for them.
  2. Calvibaptist

    Calvibaptist Dallas Cowboys' #1 Fan

    I guess, I would agree with you by phrasing it this way: God is active in his selection of those who he will redeem and those he will not. He is active in bringing the elect to redemption and passive in leaving the non-elect in their sins.

    I believe this is MacArthur's view as well.
  3. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Is it possible that we read too much into this analogy of Paul's? Paul is using the analogy to prove a point. We as mere humans do not have the authority to question God in the matter of election. We are mere vessels in the hands of the potter with no right or authority to question the righteousness of God. Are we going one step too far when we interpret Paul as using the analogy not just to stop our mouths but also to teach exactly how the election/reprobation process works?

    I would hate to be guilty of reading too much into 'word pictures' like some of the early church fathers did.

    This subject is very important to me because I am preaching through Rom 9 right now and I want to get it right!
  4. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    I was just repeating the words of the writ K. Nothig more, nothing less. My other point being is make sure you make this a triune activity and not soley on the decree. Ones salvation/damnation is not only connectedto how one was created. Redemption/election in Christ is the focus of Pauls overall arguement in his writings.

    I guess hte one thing that bothers me about this "passing by" is I am not an infra. That verse says same lump to MAKE both unto honor and unto dishonor. There is no way this lump is fallen. If it was fallen, the Holy Spirit would have guided Paul to only speak about the ones made/fitted unto honor, and then just leave the rest. Now to guard against this 'author of sin' business, one must make a distinction between election/reprobation and salvation/damnation. Reprobation does not equal damnation. Men are damned becasue of sin. Reprobated becasue of His good pleasure.
  5. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I nowhere called the reprobation of the wicked passive. I called it a passing over. I don't believe either decision is passive in God but I am merely pointing out that what God foreordains for one compared to the other is not symmetrical with respect to activity and that the Grace showered upon one cannot be equated to the passing by of the other. I think R.C. noted it well that the elect are predestined to a monergistic work of Grace while the reprobate glorify God through Divine concurrence.
  6. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    The is the same point I made earlier, however. One could easily use the etymology of a word to go into Romans 8:30 and conclude that the reprobate are included in the "foreknowledge" of God. One could use the term "Elect" to refer to the reprobate. It's not a matter of etymology, however, but being careful to guard ideas. Note how often most Arminians caricature "double predestination" to mean that God is monergistically working damnation into people. It is necessary to stop to consider that Paul uses foreknown, predestinated, etc. to refer to the elect. I don't care what English words are used but the "special care" that the Confession talks about is not immaterial.
  7. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Yes but in a Concurrent way - permitting their evil and their just punishment for His own glory. I'm not trying to minimize His control but we ought not to seek to argue for more activity here where Paul is primarily emphasizing how God saves. I'm not afraid of reprobation but I don't want to push it too hard to start causing a man to misunderstand and begin believing that Romans 5-8 could be completely re-written, with a negative polarity, to be spoken of about the reprobate.
  8. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Both election and reprobation are in God's decree. It is much more than just leaving them in a fallen condition. This is what I find wrong with the thought of passing by...

    It is also called an appointing to wrath. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath”. (I Thess. 5:9)

    It is also called being appointed to disobedience. “Even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (I Peter 2:8)

    It is also called being fitted to destruction. “What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” (Rom. 9:22)

    It is also called being before ordained to condemnation. “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men. .. .“ (Jude 4)

    Here is the best article I have read in plain clear language..

    Election by Rev. G. H. Kersten
  9. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Does Rom 9:18 allow for a third party?

    Does Paul allow for a group who are not elect for grace and yet are also not hardened? In other words,, God actively elects some and actively hardens some but are there others who are not elect, but neither are they actively reprobate? (I doubt it, but I want to be sure)
  10. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Ken, for the life of me I cannot find a writing of Edwards on this exact subject. I had it years ago, and now have no clue where it ended up. In the article, Edwards actually believed there were 3 categories of people.

    1) Elect actively
    2) Reprobated actively
    3) Some middle of the road group whoGod wills for them to decide after receiving some sort of grace.

    Now before anyone here thinks I am impugning Edwards with this fairy tale, I am not. All I know is the writting was attributed to him, and I was not there when he wrote it.
  11. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I don't know if you're purposefully refusing to interact with the substance of what I've presented. Either way, I've made myself plain to the casual observer. If you want to claim that God's electing Grace is monergistic in its application to the Saints and monergistic in how the reprobate are damned then you are outside the bounds of the Confessions on this point. supralapsarianism is OK here but not hyper-Calvinism.
  12. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    edit, sorry
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2007
  13. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    I hope it is OK. It is Scriptural. I honestly do not know why you would call me a Hyper- Calvinist Rich. I believe I have intereacted with what you wrote. I deny a mere passing by of the reprobate. But it is not a hill I will die on. The Gospel, the Salvation of His redeemed is my main focus in belief.

    I must ask though Richard, why are you calling me a HC? I am not bothered by it becasue I am not one for labels. How are you defining a hyper-Calvinist?

    If you read the articler b G H, I am sure you will see where I am coming from.

    1)Election and reprobation are symmetrical. God is both active in both. He MAKES/creates both for a purpose. He does just create the elect and leave the rest in their sins.

    2) Reprbotion is not the same as damnation

    3) Christ is the reason for Salvation to Glory. I connect election/reprobation to the Cross.

    4) God does not create men to just damn them. The reason for reprobation is His divine sov. the reason for damnation is sin and His justice.
  14. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Is the word 'predestination' ever used in a context speaking of the reprobate or is strictly used in describing those who have been elected?

    Also, I believe the infralapsarian position of God passing by those who have not been elected is called preterition.
  15. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    I am not calling you a Hyper-Calvinist. I do think that you are either not reading what is being presented or you are too quickly passing over it to notice the difference in substance between what I am talking about. Even in your delineation above you failed to address the principal issue of concern: monergism or concurrence.

    I frankly don't really care much about the supra-, infra- debate. I think far too much is made of the issue and many delve too much into why or how God chose men. I don't have a problem with a supra- position on the issue.

    My problem comes out in what men are foreordained unto. That is, foreordination is not merely something God does in His decree but it is also something that He carries out Sovereignly.

    Now, you can argue all you want about the active choice of God as to the identity of the reprobate or the identity of the elect but the issue that has been discussed so far moves beyond that and on to the issue of how the elect are purposefully and monergistically not only foreknown but predestined. Not only predestined but called. Not only called but justified. Not only justified but glorified. In other words, the elect are predestined to a monergistic work of Grace.

    In contrast, the reprobate are not foreordained to a symmetrical process of damnation. God superintends their reprobation but not in a way that He works sin in them. I presume that you are reading more in this thread than what I write to you. I noted that Paul spends a great deal of time in Romans 5-8 developing the utter surety of our salvation on the basis of God's choice. This he does throughout his Epistles. In contrast, he does not develop a process of damnation that sees God working in a symmetrical yet precisely oppposite way. In fact, Romans 5 is a perfect example where this would not work at all. Christ is called the second Adam and His satisfaction is said to superabound to cover not only Adam's sin but the sins we commit. The passages would have to be re-written to state that it's not Adam's sin that is the reason for our condemnation but that God is causing sin in mankind to abound while God works against Himself to abound Grace above where He is actively reprobating in other areas.

    Thus, if you merely want to preserve God's choice of election and call it somehow symmetrical in terms of activity, I find it to be needlessly speculative but not precisely un-Confessional. If, after reading again everything I've written, you still claim that what the reprobate are ordained unto is symmetrical in terms of the monergistic work of God then we've got real problems.
  16. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Now I understand what you are getting at, Rich! And it has been very helpful. This would be a good and necessary argument from silence, would it not? Or at least a caution for us in that if God did not go there, neither should we go there?
  17. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    Understood Rich - I appreciate the dialog, and agree; you couldn't write Romans 5-8 in an exactly parallel way concerning the reprobate. I'm not much one for "permission" language, though, since God does ordain everything that comes to pass... but I hear you and appreciate the sharpening.
  18. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Thanks Todd. I didn't presume you disagreed but these dialogs are helpful. I remember being struck for the first time several years ago by the fact that the Confessions do, universally, speak in different ways about the elect and the reprobate. Salvation is not seen to be of us but of the Lord. In contrast, sin is said to be our fault and never God's. I do think that, whether one want to use the term permission or "endures with longsuffering" as Romans 9 does, that the fact that God's decree and control includes allowing men to sin against Him when He can stop it is a Biblical motif. What men intend for evil, God intends and uses for good.

    Perhaps it's because many of us come from backgrounds where the free will of men is overwrought that we are too wary at times to acknowledge that men do, yet, bear real responsibility for their willful rebellion and that men are punished for the sins that they freely commit. It is men who suppress Truth and God's wrath is seen as being meted out against their rebellion and not because He plants the desire in them to rebel simply so He can get glory out of judging what He immediately caused.

    It is a good study to go through the Book of Romans to follow Paul as he leads men to be sure of God's intentions from Romans 4-11 with these "course-corrections" that make sure people don't jump to the wrong conclusions. One of those "course corrections" is Romans 10, which follows on the heels of God's sovereign choice. Not for a second is the unbelief of Israel to be seen because God has withheld the News from them or has forced them to rebel. Romans 10 dispels any misconception that Israel is justly condemned and that God is not capricious in that judgment.

    Thus, you can really see in Romans, especially, this strong motif of God saving His elect and Paul screwing that down so tight that nobody could ever unscrew it. Yet, he then makes sure that somebody doesn't try to apply that same activity to the reprobate by saying that those that God has passed by are still responsible for their rebellion. I wouldn't want to speculate too much on how God superintends rebellion and I think the Confessions do a fine job of noting that God permits sin for His own glory in the manifestation of His justice in punishing sin and how He lavishes Grace upon His elect but is not the author of sin. I also believe that one of the primary purposes that Paul introduces reprobation is not to provide the full orbed understanding of it for our curious minds as to how God works it but as an added support to help us understand how our election is sure. That is to say, Romans 9 is not principally to be understood as a naked theological text to make sure we can fill in all our curiosities but it is presented to undergird Romans 8 and the natural doubt that would have arisen concerning Israel according to the flesh.


  19. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Rich correctly draws attention to the two distinct terms used by the Westminster Standards. Foreordination is generic and predestination is specific. But they are both terms which point to absolute determination of individual persons to specific destinies. WCF 3:3 can't be read in any other way. When we come to sects. 5, and 6, "election in Christ" and "foreordained means of salvation" are subordinate to the predestination of men to life. It is therefore natural to read sect. 7, and its reference to "preterition" and "ordination to wrath for sin," as subordinate to the foreordination of men to everlasting death.
  20. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Phew! :lol:

    Thanks for that Rev. Winzer. I was a bit nervous about how you might weigh in.
  21. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Don't worry about my judgment, Rich; I hope it is tempered with mercy. As long as we're on our guard against any kind of conditionality in God's decree of individual destiny, I think it is right to show the differences between election and reprobation. Even in Rom. 5, Adam's disobedience prefigured Christ's obedience antithetically. This means the outcomes of both were unconditionally certain, even though both were effected in different ways.
  22. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    It wasn't your judgment I was worried about but my energy level and ability to continue to interact in a fruitful way. I've been tired and impatient over the past few days and didn't really have the energy if you were going to detect a major ommission in my thinking. I fully agree with the above.
  23. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Ok Richard. Is there any way you can differentiate between what you mean of monergistic vs concurrent. THis language is new to me in regards to this subject. Are you speaking of the distinct steps from election to salvation vs reprobation to damnation?

    The saved are completely saved becasue of God alone. Where as the damned are damed becasue of Gods decree and their own sins, which would involve some sort of synergy. IS this what you mean? If so I agree
  24. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Yes. Read the Sproul excerpt above for a brief note on concurrence.
  25. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Then I think we agree...

    God does not have to continue to actively compel men to sin and continue to blind them.

    HEre is an excerot from the article by Kerster.

    On that ground the second accusation also falls away, that it makes God to be an author of sin. We have already opposed that attack. God does not work sin; He grants rational creatures all the necessary gifts to resist sin. Angels and men fell according to the determined counsel of God, but not because God worked sin. The creature did so himself, and that without compulsion, entirely voluntarily.

    Others, opposing reprobation, think it is unjust. God has concluded all under sin. Thus man, they say, must sin, and therefore the sentence to perdition is unjust.

    To this we respond: (1) reprobation does not compel men to sin; but righteous judgment follows his voluntary action: and (2) reprobation is a decree of God, immanent in the Essence of God, and is an act of sovereignty, not of justice. The exercise of justice follows the sin, and therefore the condemnation is just. The righteous sentence over sin condemns it, but reprobation does not. Yet the decree of God determined this sentence, therefore the reprobates are called vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. (Rom. 9:22)

    Do you agree with this and his whole article? If yes, then we may be on the same team here Richard
  26. Calvibaptist

    Calvibaptist Dallas Cowboys' #1 Fan

    I just listened to JM's message that bill is mentioning. I disagree with his statement on this. He very clearly goes to the original decree and says that God does not go down the list of humanity and say "You are going to heaven. You two are going to hell. You four go to heaven. You ten go to hell."

    But, later he mentions that God determines every man's destiny. It sounds to me that he is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Being that I like JM, I am going to assume that he doesn't realize he is doing this, but he clearly is.

    Obviously, as has already been established in this thread, God determines who is going to heaven and who is going to hell, but only actively works in those whom He has chosen for glory. The others he leaves to their own sinful ways.
  27. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I wonder though, Doug, since I haven't listened to it, if he's trying to speak from an infra- perspective.

    I wouldn't want to describe God's choice by the above either. It sounds too simplistic. It's not because I don't believe that God is very selective in His choice but I don't like the anthropomorphic picture of God going over a list. I think His selection is more profound.
  28. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    And ultimately He has not revealed that process to us. (Thankfully) So we best not try to describe it anthropomorphicly or otherwise.
  29. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Wouldn't that be God actively working his 'justice' and not 'reprobation'?

    Sorry I missed this post earlier.
  30. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Rich, your posts in this thread have been very helpful. Thank you.

    Also, can you tell us where this great quote by Sproul can be found?
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