Question about Double Predestination: What is it?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
I've just read an earlier, but now closed thread, about how to preach double-predestination. However, it left me with some questions. I hope someone can throw some light on my questions / observations.

As I understand it, double predestination does not commit one to what Sproul has called "equal ultimacy" ... right? In other words, the reason that the reprobate end up damned is not as solely dependent upon God as the reason the elect end up saved. In other words, the reprobates are culpable for their sin, and it is their sin that ultimately determines their destiny.

Also, as I understand it, single predestination of the elect to salvation, necessarily involves preterition - the passing over of the non-elect. This in turn means - along with total depravity and original sin, that those passed over in election are necessarily damned. Furthermore, God has ordained all ... so it is right to say that he
has ordained the reprobate (and all of us!) to sin - without, of course, making himself the "author of sin".

The end result is that I cannot really understand the difference between double and single predestination. Is it merely a question of terminology, and whether or not one is prepared to speak "boldly" of God predestining the reprobate to damnation?

The thread I read here, seemed to conflate double-predestination with supralapsarianism. My understanding is that these are unrelated (or, at least, independent) truths. Am I wrong?
 
Last edited:

Brock Organ

Puritan Board Freshman
The end result is that I cannot really understand the difference between double and single predestination.
Hi Dr. Steve,

I found this analysis by Dr. Sproul, apologies if you've already worked through it before:

The distortion of double predestination looks like this: There is a symmetry that exists between election and reprobation. God WORKS in the same way and same manner with respect to the elect and to the reprobate. That is to say, 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 (destinare ad peccatum) and actively intervenes to work sin in their lives, bringing them to damnation by divine initiative. In the case of the elect, regeneration is the monergistic work of God. In the case of the reprobate, sin and degeneration are the monergistic work of God. Stated another way, we can establish a parallelism of foreordination and predestination by means of a positive symmetry. We can call this a positive-positive view of predestination. This is, God positively and actively intervenes in the lives of the elect to bring them to salvation. In the same way God positively and actively intervenes in the life of the reprobate to bring him to sin.
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 may be identified with what is often loosely described as hyper-Calvinism and involves a radical form of supralapsarianism. Such a view of predestination has been virtually universally and monolithically rejected by Reformed thinkers.
And here Sproul articulates, in contrast to the above "double-predestination" the "Reformed version" of predestination:

In sharp contrast to the caricature of double predestination seen in the positive-positive schema is the classic position of Reformed theology on predestination. In this view predestination is double in that it involves both election and reprobation but is not symmetrical with respect to the mode of divine activity. A strict parallelism of operation is denied. Rather 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.
Regards!
 

Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you, Brock, that was very helpful, but raises another couple of questions for me.

Is this positive-positive model what is actually what is normally meant by double predestination? I thought I had read that Calvin taught a double-predestination, but I am pretty sure that what he taught was not the positive-positive model that Sproul talks about in your quotations.

Also, the question in the earlier thread was all about how to teach "double predestination" pastorally. If the positive-positive model is what is usually meant, wouldn't more of us have reacted by saying, something along the lines of "hey, double-predestination is `a monstrous assault on the integrity of God' (to use Sproul's assessment)"?
 
Last edited:

Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
In part to answer my own question I looked up Berkhof ... he has an interesting discussion about Augustine.


"According to Pelagius,” says Wiggers, “foreordination to salvation or to damnation, is founded on prescience. Consequently he did not admit an ‘absolute predestination,’ but in every respect a ‘conditional predestination’.” At first, Augustine himself was inclined to this view, but deeper reflection on the sovereign character of the good pleasure of God led him to see that predestination was in no way dependent on God’s foreknowledge of human actions, but was rather the basis of the divine foreknowledge. His representation of reprobation is not as unambiguous as it might be. Some of his statements are to the effect that in predestination God foreknows what He will Himself do, while He is also able to foreknow what He will not do, as all sins; and speak of the elect as subjects of predestination, and of the reprobate as subjects of the divine foreknowledge. In other passages, however, he also speaks of the reprobate as subjects of predestination, so that there can be no doubt about it that he taught a double predestination. However, he recognized their difference, consisting in this that God did not predestinate unto damnation and the means unto it in the same way as He did to salvation, and that predestination unto life is purely sovereign, while predestination unto eternal death is also judicial and takes account of man’s sin." (Berkhof, L. (1938). Systematic theology (109–110). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co.)

In this case, double-predestination seems to be just recognising that all actions are based on God sovereign foreordination, and not merely salvific ones which God works in us for our salvation. In other words, rejecting of double-predestination (as apparently Augustine sometimes did) is a confused position which adopts the Pelagian/Arminian position for some actions ... i.e that foreordination is based on foresight, rather than vice versa, for those actions which result in a person's condemnation.

However, if this is what it means, how is single-predestination a valid Reformed position at all?

I am not sure, however, that Augustine's (sometimes) confusion is actually what is meant by single-predestination ... so again, I am struggling to understand the difference between single and double-predestination.
 

Brock Organ

Puritan Board Freshman
so again, I am struggling to understand the difference between single and double-predestination.
Hi Dr. Steve,

No problem, I understand; its easy to struggle with something that seems to not have a single specific definition, but has different definitions in different contexts when referenced by different persons. So my guess is that, the only possible way out of the quandry is to find the "right"/"correct" definition of the terms ... in my own (limited) investigations, Sproul's characterization seems to be a most responsible and careful definition, so I go with that one when interacting with folks on the issue ... :)

Best Regards!
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
Steve:

You got it when you said that single predestination is not a Reformed position at all. Double predestination is simply election and reprobation. Those who deny double predestination have no doctrine of reprobation as such. Everyone has some doctrine of election or predestination, including Arminians and Roman Catholics, but it's not the double predestination that we as Reformed confess.

Everyone who acknowledges that God decrees all that comes to pass--as do all the Reformed--must of necessity have a doctrine of double predestination. Sproul makes the appropriate qualifiers, however, to note that neither is God the author of sin nor is there an equal ultimacy between the two. Notice he does not say that supralapsarians simpliciter make such errors, but that all those who do make the positive-positive error tend to be hyper-Calvinists of a usually radical sort of supralapsarianism.

It is the case that Calvinism, especially as we see it at the Synod of Dordt (1618-19), came to a clearer position on this than Calvin, at least the later Calvin who could tend to construct double predestination a little carelessly (closer to a parallelism that neither Dordt nor Westminster teach). Some Reformed then, possibly including Calvin himself, have constructed double predestination a little more positively than the confessional tradition. There is room, arguably, for some leeway here and every difference need not raise the cry of "hyper-Calvinism!" or "radical supralapsarianism!" I do not read, for example, the confessions as teaching supralapsarianism as such (Dordt seems to lean in an infralapsarian direction, in fact), but I also do not see them clearly proscribing such. I don't think that it is the intent of either Dordt or Westminster to seek to solve that dispute.

Peace,
Alan
 

Steve Paynter

Puritan Board Freshman
So ... to summarise ... there are various definitions in play in this whole single-predestination vs double-predestination debate, and depending upon which of these one adopts, to be "sound" you should hold to either single or double predestination!


When we define the terms this way we should hold to single-predestination:

1a) Single Predestination: God elects according to his own good pleasure, monergistically foreordaining them to salvation, passing over the reprobate, and hence, inevitably, because of their sin they bring damnation upon themselves.

2a) Double Predestination: God monergistically foreordains the elect and the reprobate according to his own good pleasure, with equal ultimacy


But when we define them this way, we should hold to double-predestination.

1b) Single predestination: God elects according to his own good pleasure, monergistically foreordaining them to salvation, but he merely foresees the reprobates sin which leads to their damnation

or

1c) Single predestination: God elects and "reprobates" based on foreseen behaviour and "free" choices.

2b) Double predestination: God monergistically foreordains the elect to salvation, and permissively foreordains the sins of the reprobate, but without being the author of sin and without their being equal ultimacy between the two.


So ... there isn't a real distinction between 1a) and 2b), right?

Thanks to both Alan and Brock for helping to clarify this for me.
 

One Little Nail

Puritan Board Sophomore
How is it that God chose Isaac & rejected Esau before they had done any good or evil,
where the great mystery arises is in this that God positively Determines or Ordains
sin,without monergistically authoring sin,to call it "Hyper"Calvinism or "Radical"Supra-
lapsarianism is a caricature,God is Sovereign so nothing happens or comes to pass
without him Determining the thing.God has Ordained all things sin included without
Him sinning or violating his Holiness or Character through the use of secondary means
determining the the thing at the same time as not violating or coercing the will of the creature,a
great hidden mystery.
For there to have been a permitting only or a passing by or a leaving them to themselves this
would be no Predestination but an arminian/pelagian forenkowledge of a thing & non involvement
from God at best & a dependency by God on the Creature for his actions which would not make
Him a Sovereign at worst. I think sproul cant understand that God could positively Ordain sin without
being the author of it so resorts to misrepresentation of the Biblical Supra position.
hope this has been helpful, you must also remember that the flesh is at enmity to the things
of The Spirit of God so it will naturally despise God & hate the fact that He has this power over
the clay to make from the same lump vessels of honour & vessels of wrath so will we slander
Him & call him a capricious tyrant for so doing?
heres a website which will give you more info on the subject:
Supralapsarian's Weblog | seeing the LORD Jesus Christ high and lifted up
 
Last edited:

Brock Organ

Puritan Board Freshman
So ... to summarise ... there are various definitions in play in this whole single-predestination vs double-predestination debate, and depending upon which of these one adopts, to be "sound" you should hold to either single or double predestination!
LOL! It is almost always profitable to ask for the doctrine specifics up front to see what the other party means by the terms they are using. It resolves a lot of conflicts right out of the gate. Its another way in which reformed confessionalism shines, as the confessions, creeds and catechisms are generally detailed, specific and useful. :)

So ... there isn't a real distinction between 1a) and 2b), right?
I think it would likely depend upon who the discussion involves, and what the counterparty means by the terms they are using. For my part, I had encountered the issue in light of Sproul's definition, but other posters on this thread seem to have encountered the issue differently ...

Thanks to both Alan and Brock for helping to clarify this for me.
Best Regards!
 

Brock Organ

Puritan Board Freshman
How is it that God chose Isaac & rejected Esau before they had done any good or evil,
where the great mystery arises is in this that God positively Determines or Ordains
sin,without monergistically authoring sin,to call it "Hyper"Calvinism or "Radical"Supra-
lapsarianism is a caricature,God is Sovereign so nothing happens or comes to pass
without him Determining the thing.God has Ordained all things sin included without
Him sinning or violating his Holiness or Character through the use of secondary means
determining the the thing at the same time as not violating or coercing the will of the creature,a
great hidden mystery.
For there to have been a permitting only or a passing by or a leaving them to themselves this
would be no Predestination but an arminian/pelagian forenkowledge of a thing & non involvement
from God at best & a dependency by God on the Creature for his actions which would not make
Him a Sovereign at worst. I think sproul cant understand that God could positively Ordain sin without
being the author of it so resorts to misrepresentation of the Biblical Supra position.
hope this has been helpful, you must also remember that the flesh is at enmity to the things
of The Spirit of God so it will naturally despise God & hate the fact that He has this power over
the clay to make from the same lump vessels of honour & vessels of wrath so will we slander
Him & call him a capricious tyrant for so doing?
heres a website which will give you more info on the subject:
Supralapsarian's Weblog | seeing the LORD Jesus Christ high and lifted up
Good points, thank you for the blog link. One of the best summarizations of the issue that I've found is from Dr. Greg Nichols summarizing John Murray's treatment:

An Evaluation of the Insoluble Problems Associated with the Fall into Sin
Professor Murray deals sufficiently with three insoluble problems associated with the fall.89 I simply mention them briefly. You must, however, know what they are. There are two ways to flunk. You can accomplish that feat either by remaining ignorant of these insoluble problems or by solving them! Professor Murray dubs these: the ontological problem; the dispensational problem; and the psychogenetic problem. Simple words for them would be: Who? Why? and How?
A. The Ontological Problem
This problem is about God’s relationship to sin. Although God completely controls everything, man alone is completely and exclusively responsible for his sin. God decrees that sin shall certainly come to pass, and at the same time, God commands man not to bring it to pass. A similar tension exists regarding the free offer of the gospel and God’s secret decree of reprobation. This problem involves an apparent or seeming contradiction between God's decretive will and God’s preceptive will. 90 This tension safeguards both God's sovereignty and man's accountability. This problem focuses on the question: Who? Who is in control? Who is responsible? Someone supposedly once asked Spurgeon how he would reconcile God's sovereignty and man’s responsibility. He reportedly replied that there was no need to reconcile friends.
B. The Dispensational Problem
The second problem focuses on the question: Why? Why did a good God ever allow and decree the fall, and all the suffering and misery that result from it? Ultimately, he designed it for his own glory. All we can say is that the God who decreed the fall is both wise and good, and that it seemed good to him in his infinite wisdom and goodness. We can never plumb the depths of this decree. It is incomprehensible.
C. The Psychogenetic Problem
This final problem focuses on the question: How? How could Adam, a perfect and flawless man, sin? He sins by choice, but his moral nature, the condition of his heart, regulates his choices. Thus, for Adam to sin, his heart condition must change. Man’s heart condition changes by choice. He must will it to change. For him to will his heart condition to change, his heart condition must change. In short, change of heart condition necessitates prior change in will; yet a change in will necessitates prior change in heart condition. Thus, the fall is psychologically unexplainable. Efforts to avoid this problem have led to both to the error of Pelagianism and to the error of denying man’s original integrity.
These three problems often come up in discussion. Many futile and misguided efforts have been made to avoid the tensions inherent in them. All such efforts lead to serious error. We must frankly admit that these problems exist and humbly acknowledge our inability to solve them. This is an instance in which solutions pose worse problems than the problems.
Regards!
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
As much as Sproul is considered infallible by many in the Reformed communions, I still get this picture of God playing peek-a-boo with Himself when I read his explanation of double predestination. Isn't a determination not to act an action?
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
As much as Sproul is considered infallible by many in the Reformed communions, I still get this picture of God playing peek-a-boo with Himself when I read his explanation of double predestination. Isn't a determination not to act an action?
I suppose it depends on what you mean by action. If I choose to do nothing when presented with several options, I am choosing not to act. You could say that I have 'acted' in a certain sense of the term, but in common language the terms 'choose' and 'act' mean different things. If you choose to do nothing, then that is what you are doing...nothing. You are not making an action in any way. You are ALWAYS making a choice, but I would say there is an important difference between choosing and action.

In the sense of predestination, God truly does not have to do anything for people to remain slaves to sin. Certainly he has made a choice not to save some, and that is a legitimate choice that he has made. But I do not think it is the same thing as saying that God performed an action in order for people to remain slaves to sin. 'Choose' and 'act' are very much different terms. Thoughts?
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
Sounds like a difference without a distinction to me, Eric. God is not like us in that we have a plethora of possibilities to choose from, none of which we are certain will result in what we plan or hope, and so many that we are incapable of being aware of them all. He knows meticulously every possibility and exactly what their result will be. There is nothing that He does not know. When you and I decide to not intervene in a situation there are all sorts of things that could happen, but when God decides not to intervene He knows exactly what will result. That looks to my feeble mind like a positive action towards that known and inevitable end has been taken. And I don't see how that would imply that God has authored sin. Sin is an evil intent of the heart, and none of this demonstrates that on the part of God as far as I can tell. Maybe I'm just thick.
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
Sounds like a difference without a distinction to me, Eric. God is not like us in that we have a plethora of possibilities to choose from, none of which we are certain will result in what we plan or hope, and so many that we are incapable of being aware of them all. He knows meticulously every possibility and exactly what their result will be. There is nothing that He does not know. When you and I decide to not intervene in a situation there are all sorts of things that could happen, but when God decides not to intervene He knows exactly what will result. That looks to my feeble mind like a positive action towards that known and inevitable end has been taken. And I don't see how that would imply that God has authored sin. Sin is an evil intent of the heart, and none of this demonstrates that on the part of God as far as I can tell. Maybe I'm just thick.
I agree with everything you have just said. But I think we would all agree that God is free to save whom he desires to save. He is not obligated to save anyone. All I am trying to say is that God does not have to do anything (in the sense of 'drawing' or 'calling' or 'regenerating') in order for man to remain a slave to sin. Yes indeed God has decided who will be redeemed and who will not. But in order for his Elect to actually be redeemed, God must 'do' something. In order to accomplish his purpose of leaving the reprobate enslaved to sin, God does not have to do anything at all, because all mankind is born into that slavery. That is where the distinction lies. Both are ultimately the result of God's sovereign decree. But only in the case of redemption and salvation does he have to act upon the hearts of men, replacing the heart of stone with a heart of flesh. God does not have to do anything to the natural man's heart in order for that man to remain enslaved to sin. That is why I think it is important to recognize the distinction and difference with God's positive act of redeeming a particular people as his own, and God's passing over those whom he has chosen to remain enslaved to sin.
 

One Little Nail

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sounds like a difference without a distinction to me, Eric. God is not like us in that we have a plethora of possibilities to choose from, none of which we are certain will result in what we plan or hope, and so many that we are incapable of being aware of them all. He knows meticulously every possibility and exactly what their result will be. There is nothing that He does not know. When you and I decide to not intervene in a situation there are all sorts of things that could happen, but when God decides not to intervene He knows exactly what will result. That looks to my feeble mind like a positive action towards that known and inevitable end has been taken. And I don't see how that would imply that God has authored sin. Sin is an evil intent of the heart, and none of this demonstrates that on the part of God as far as I can tell. Maybe I'm just thick.
I agree with everything you have just said. But I think we would all agree that God is free to save whom he desires to save. He is not obligated to save anyone. All I am trying to say is that God does not have to do anything (in the sense of 'drawing' or 'calling' or 'regenerating') in order for man to remain a slave to sin. Yes indeed God has decided who will be redeemed and who will not. But in order for his Elect to actually be redeemed, God must 'do' something. In order to accomplish his purpose of leaving the reprobate enslaved to sin, God does not have to do anything at all, because all mankind is born into that slavery. That is where the distinction lies. Both are ultimately the result of God's sovereign decree. But only in the case of redemption and salvation does he have to act upon the hearts of men, replacing the heart of stone with a heart of flesh. God does not have to do anything to the natural man's heart in order for that man to remain enslaved to sin. That is why I think it is important to recognize the distinction and difference with God's positive act of redeeming a particular people as his own, and God's passing over those whom he has chosen to remain enslaved to sin.
No God didn't have to do anything? He didn't cause man to sin, God had to ordain a fall before he Could in time
choose to not do anything? what He chose was this He chose to love His elect & He chose to hate the reprobate,
Esau have I hated, this sounds like an active action as opposed to a passive one.
by ordaining there fall,ruin & reprobation through there participating in the Original Sin,
by Adam being the Representative & Natural Federal Head of our Kind & We also being in his Loins.
Also for the fall of man to occur there had to be an agent who would seduce Eve to eat, & this was accomplished
by Satan,who himself was predetermined & ordained to fall from a pristine spiritual estate whereas man was only
in a fleshy state of innocence,God placed man in the garden & actually placed there the instrument for his temporal
ruin , eternal for some, so do you still think that God had to do nothing! I'm not saying He is the author of
sin but He had to ordain everything as it happened,this was no contingency plan! neither was the redemption of man
 
Last edited:

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
Robert,

My goal was simply to make a distinction between ordaining something and acting in such a way as to directly cause it to happen. Did God send the Holy Spirit to tempt Adam or cause him to disobey God? No. It is true that God ordained the fall and everything that resulted from that, but eternally decreeing and ordaining something to take place is different than actually being the direct/immediate cause. I believe that God uses secondary causes and means to accomplish his purposes.

With that in mind I still stand by my position that God takes action (in the sense of replacing the heart of stone with a heart of flesh) in order to accomplish the regeneration and salvation of his Elect. God does not need to take a similar action in order to ensure that the reprobate remain enslaved to sin. Yes BOTH have been ordained by God in eternity past, but again, I believe that there is a distinction between choosing/ordaining something to happen using secondary causes and means, and taking action directly in order to bring about a particular result.

Do you believe that God himself actually tempted Adam and Eve? Did God send the Holy Spirit to move in their hearts and lead them to sin? Or did Satan do those things? Believe me, I completely agree that God ordained these things to happen, but we must maintain a distinction of secondary causes and means from primary causes and means. Thoughts?
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Robert,

My goal was simply to make a distinction between ordaining something and acting in such a way as to directly cause it to happen. Did God send the Holy Spirit to tempt Adam or cause him to disobey God?
Did God send satan may be an interesting question. Though God did not tempt Adam he was "connected" to what he (Adam) did in that God is the first or ultimate cause of everything that passes.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
As I understand it, double predestination does not commit one to what Sproul has called "equal ultimacy" ... right?
Equal ultimacy with respect to the decree itself and with respect to the means are often confused. There is equal ultimacy with respect to the decree inasmuch as the eternal decree of God is fundamentally one and originates from the mere free will of the Creator with no dependence on the creature. Where there is not equal ultimacy is in the means to the end. The reprobate do not require progressive de-sanctification by any unnatural means. They wax worse in wickedness when merely left to their natural fallen state.

As for whether this is related to the infra/supra distiction, I think probably so. I think most infralapsarians would be uncomfortable with what I said about the equal ultimacy of the decree, but I am not sure how their position can square with the simplicity of God and his decree, the freedom of God, etc.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
The Confessions teaches that the decree of God in regards to the elect, and the decree of God in regards to the nonelect are different, but to the same end. Both are ultimately for the glory of God, but how God gets from A to B in each case is different.

WCF 3:III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.

Thomas Beattie:

Secondly, Foreordination is a general term which is used to express the fact that the divine ordination is related in some way or other to all that happens. The word really means to arrange beforehand, and so to predispose all events and their conditions in such a way that all shall come to pass according to the eternal plan. This fact pertains alike to the sphere of the natural order of the physical universe, and to that of the moral order of the divine government of responsible agents. Foreknowledge and foreordination are closely related, inasmuch as God foreknows events because he has in some way prearranged the happening of these events. To admit foreknowledge carries foreordination with it.

Thirdly, Predestination is still a stronger word, and it needs to be thoroughly understood. It literally means to bound or limit, and so to fix very definitely the happening of any event. Usually it stands as the word which specially denotes the Calvinistic views upon this subject, and so to express the plan of God as it relates to the acts and destiny of moral agents. In the Standards it is uniformly applied to the case of the elect, but never to that of the non-elect. The case of the latter is always denoted by the term ordination. Predestinated to life and ordained to death is the fixed language of the Standards, and this should never be forgotten.
Thomas Boston:

(1.) He hath elected some to everlasting life by an irreversible decree, (Rom 8:29,30; Eph 1:4; 2 Thess 2:13). From eternity God elected some from among the lost posterity of Adam to everlasting life and glory, according to the good pleasure of his own will. Therefore all is referred by our Saviour to the good pleasure of God, (Matt 9:25, 26). And all the means for accomplishing the ends of election are likewise of divine appointment; particularly the redemption of ruined sinners by the death and sufferings of Christ (Eph 1:4) The Father did first, in the order of nature, choose Christ to the Mediatory office, and as the chief corner-stone to bear up the whole building; whence he is called God's elect, (Isaiah 42:1). And then he chose a company of lost sinners to be saved by and through Christ; and therefore he is said to predestinate them to be conformed to the image of his Son.

(2.) God hath passed by the rest of mankind, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, and hath ordained them to dishonour and wrath for their sins, to the praise of his glorious justice. Hence Christ is said to be 'a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence to them that stumble at the word being disobedient: whereunto also they were also appointed,' (1Peter 2:8; 2 Tim 2:19,20; Rom 9:22,23).
This is an area where I think the LBC is weaker than the WCF.
 

One Little Nail

Puritan Board Sophomore
Robert,

My goal was simply to make a distinction between ordaining something and acting in such a way as to directly cause it to happen. Did God send the Holy Spirit to tempt Adam or cause him to disobey God? No. It is true that God ordained the fall and everything that resulted from that, but eternally decreeing and ordaining something to take place is different than actually being the direct/immediate cause. I believe that God uses secondary causes and means to accomplish his purposes.

With that in mind I still stand by my position that God takes action (in the sense of replacing the heart of stone with a heart of flesh) in order to accomplish the regeneration and salvation of his Elect. God does not need to take a similar action in order to ensure that the reprobate remain enslaved to sin. Yes BOTH have been ordained by God in eternity past, but again, I believe that there is a distinction between choosing/ordaining something to happen using secondary causes and means, and taking action directly in order to bring about a particular result.

Do you believe that God himself actually tempted Adam and Eve? Did God send the Holy Spirit to move in their hearts and lead them to sin? Or did Satan do those things? Believe me, I completely agree that God ordained these things to happen, but we must maintain a distinction of secondary causes and means from primary causes and means. Thoughts?
Yes I agree it is a true & rightful distinction to have,as I will reply to Earl Satan must have appeared before God & desired
the sifting of Adam & Eve like he desired to do to Job & Peter Later
 

One Little Nail

Puritan Board Sophomore
Robert,

My goal was simply to make a distinction between ordaining something and acting in such a way as to directly cause it to happen. Did God send the Holy Spirit to tempt Adam or cause him to disobey God?
Did God send satan may be an interesting question. Though God did not tempt Adam he was "connected" to what he (Adam) did in that God is the first or ultimate cause of everything that passes.
I think yes that Satan had appeared before him wishing to sift the wheat so to speak just like was the case with
Job & Peter,he seemed to get the better of Adam!
It is a good point you make for God is the first & ultimate cause yet not the tempter or the author of sin,
this way God through the agency of Satan brought to fruition his eternal purposes ,being able in time to redeem his Elect
because they are now fallen & reprobating the wicked,whom he hated before they had done any evil through there fall
in Adam & there willfull ongoing sinfulness & rebellion,this fits the supralapsarian position as God in eternity was not moved to choose his Elect on condition that they were viewed as fallen,though they were brought by the fall to share
a sinfull nature,by nature the children of wrath, so they could be redeemed to the Praise of the Glory of His Grace.
 
Last edited:

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
God does not need to take a similar action in order to ensure that the reprobate remain enslaved to sin.
This still seems to be a difference without a distinction. If God forms all of humanity out of the same lump, for the purpose of showing forth His wrath and make His power known, as vessels of wrath that He tosses into the garbage dump, He has done one thing. Then, so as to show forth His mercy, if He reaches into that dump and plucks out a few of those vessels and washes them off and sets them aside for His own use, then He has done a second thing. Both of those are things done, the end result for both groups is a result of one of those things, neither of which are things 'undone'. The actions may not be similar, but they are both actions.

And I still don't see how the first instance, the forming and tossing, can be construed as an indictment against God, or imply His authorship of evil. Those implications in my opinion can only arise either from a view of moral neutrality of the 'lump', or a view of God that places Him ontologically in the same category as man, both of which are scripturally untenable concepts.
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
This still seems to be a difference without a distinction. If God forms all of humanity out of the same lump, for the purpose of showing forth His wrath and make His power known, as vessels of wrath that He tosses into the garbage dump, He has done one thing. Then, so as to show forth His mercy, if He reaches into that dump and plucks out a few of those vessels and washes them off and sets them aside for His own use, then He has done a second thing. Both of those are things done, the end result for both groups is a result of one of those things, neither of which are things 'undone'. The actions may not be similar, but they are both actions.

And I still don't see how the first instance, the forming and tossing, can be construed as an indictment against God, or imply His authorship of evil. Those implications in my opinion can only arise either from a view of moral neutrality of the 'lump', or a view of God that places Him ontologically in the same category as man, both of which are scripturally untenable concepts.
I agree, the lump was already dead in sin and on the way to the garbage heap. Out of that lump God chose a group to be set aside for salvation. The two acts are entirely different means. God actually 'acts' in order to pull his Elect out of the lump. God does not have to reach into the lump at all in order for it to be going to the garbage heap. It is already going there. So both are equally ultimate in regard to eternal decree, but not in the means by which he accomplishes and fulfills his decree.

Again, does God actually have to DO something to man's heart in order for man to remain in slavery to sin? Is this not different and distinct from what God does in order to redeem his Elect?
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
For me it comes down to what does God see in the "lump" before Him.

Does God see the lump fallen "in Adam" or does He not? This entails the argument of the logical order of the decree, that is, was man seen as fallen or not. From there and it seems to me only from there, can the distinctions be drawn as knowledge presupposes an object. Without the object existing, in this case, a lump fallen in Adam, then we are left with the standard supra position that this lump of clay was not yet seen as fallen in Adam. Again, for me, there must be balance between God's sovereignty and his justice. God elected because he is sovereign. Was that act an act of grace or an act of love? I believe the act of election to salvation was an act of grace (bestowing favor upon those that do not merit favor). I presuppose that the Fall of mankind also reveals God's attributes properly working in conjunction with one another. Therefore if the lump of clay is an unfallen mass of humanity out of which God equally elects and reprobates then his election is an election primarily of love, not grace. God's subjective grace presupposes the objects of that grace do not merit his gracious act. Yet if these objects are an unfallen mass of humanity, wherein is their guilt that would warrant God's grace? Moreover, how does God’s justice appear to be balanced with his sovereignty in this case?

I do not hold Reymond's argument as a strong one. If we accurately stating Reymond's views, God is represented as discriminating among men viewed as sinners and not among men viewed simply as men. Reymond goes on to state that that which is last in design is first in accomplishment, and that which is first in design is last in accomplishment. Yet then Reymond goes too far when he then obliquely argues that the infra position assumes God is decreeing to create the world with no purpose or decreeing to create for some purpose unrelated to his one final purpose (p.494). On the contrary, both positions view the ultimate end of God is to manifest his own glory.

Reymond presupposes that God’s perfectly rational mind would proceed with the end in mind in "retrograde movement" as described by Berkhof. Reymond then assumes that in order for God to manifest his mercy, he must first decide to positively elect and reprobate. This is not rational, despite the tortuous examples Reymond uses about a person buying a car, etc. He ignores the fact in his example that the car must first objectively exist, just as a fallen mass of humanity must potentially exist, which it would once God so decrees to create and allow to Fall. So Reymond, et al, have tried to create a nuanced view of the classical supra position in hopes of overcoming the objection I and other infralapsarians raise. The argument, while clever, is not to me persuasive logically or biblically.
 
Last edited:

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
Again, does God actually have to DO something to man's heart in order for man to remain in slavery to sin? Is this not different and distinct from what God does in order to redeem his Elect?
God DID DO something when He formed the lump whose purpose is to show His wrath and power - the lump had inherent in it all those things worthy of God's wrath. The lump didn't just float into God's purview from some unknown place; He created it, formed the vessels that are men out of it. Quite a bit of 'doing' if you ask me. Are you trying to defend God's innocence in the actions of men? Why would you think you need to do that? How does the concept of His positive action in creating that lump cast any aspersions upon Him? I really do not understand the need for this convoluted thinking.
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
God DID DO something when He formed the lump whose purpose is to show His wrath and power - the lump had inherent in it all those things worthy of God's wrath. The lump didn't just float into God's purview from some unknown place; He created it, formed the vessels that are men out of it. Quite a bit of 'doing' if you ask me. Are you trying to defend God's innocence in the actions of men? Why would you think you need to do that? How does the concept of His positive action in creating that lump cast any aspersions upon Him? I really do not understand the need for this convoluted thinking.
We both agree that God created the entire lump (all mankind). Of course I would agree that the lump did not float in front of God. But there are TWO so-called 'creative' acts here when we talk about the Elect. First God created the natural man (all men begin this way when they are born). But then at some point in time God 'creates' (in his Elect) the NEW man, with a NEW heart (we become a NEW creation). This is a distinctively separate act. God does not have to act upon a man spiritually in order for that man to be spiritually dead. God does not have to 'spiritually kill' anyone. However, in order for God to redeem a particular people as his own, he has to 'spiritually regenerate' those people. There is not an equal ultimacy at this point as far as I can tell. I honestly do not believe that this is convoluted in any way, but perhaps we should call it a day for now, and just agree to disagree. Good discussion!
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
God's complete sovereignty guarantees the metaphysical freedom of the will and responsibility of the reprobate, the secondary cause through which He acts. Because of His omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence He can do this.

The most consistent atheists - including Marxists - have always been hard and fatalistic determinists.

God only grants saving grace to the elect; those that are passed over earn their own condemnation by their sin.
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
God's complete sovereignty guarantees the metaphysical freedom of the will and responsibility of the reprobate, the secondary cause through which He acts. Because of His omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence He can do this.
I'm all good with that. Kinda the point I've been making.
The most consistent atheists - including Marxists - have always been hard and fatalistic determinists.
OK. Not sure what that has to do with this discussion, but sounds reasonable.
God only grants saving grace to the elect; those that are passed over earn their own condemnation by their sin.
Agreed. But this happens at a point downstream from an initial act of God, that is creating mankind with the eventual intent of his falling, and thus actively ensuring that all of Adam's descendants were to be totally depraved. After that initial positive action, He either positively acts to retrieve some (the elect) out of the otherwise inevitable course to destruction, or He passes over the rest (the reprobate). Each individual among both groups deserve eternal wrath by their own intents and actions. The purpose of their creation, according to scripture, is to show His wrath against evil, make His power known, and demonstrate His mercy. It seems as though some folks find His creating the reprobate for the purpose of demonstrating wrath to be inconsistent with those individuals being fully culpable for their sin and deserving of that wrath. I see no inconsistency there, so these curious attempts to obscure the fact that God has actively done SOMETHING that results in their condemnation make no sense to me. But I'm kinda thick.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top