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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Moral Outrage, Evil and Fatal Inconsistencies | Main | Why I am not an atheist »

    An Inconsistency in Opposing Divine Election

    Some within the visible church teach that it is unjust or unfair for God to choose some and not others unto salvation. But this assertion reveals an inconsistency in their view. Here's why. If you ask the same persons whether it would be just of God to save NO ONE, they would all answer in the affirmative since all Christians, without exception, affirm that fallen men all justly deserve the wrath of God. So, if it is true that God would be just if He saved no one, why then, ALL OF THE SUDDEN, would it be unjust if God saves some and not others?. Fact is we either get justice or mercy in this life, but no one gets injustice. If God leaves someone in their sins, they are receiving their just deserts, no? If in Christ He sovereignly grants mercy on some of these ill-deserving sinners, then by definition, they are not getting what they justly deserve. So it is wildly inconsistent to claim that any injustice is being done here. To do so reveals that somehow deep down these people still believe that we human beings DESERVE to be saved. This inconsistency exposes this is an invalid argument against the sovereignty of God in election.

    Posted by John on April 18, 2013 01:10 PM

    Comments

    Actually, John, you have demonstrated a straw man, by assuming that persons who see divine election as problematic would also argue that it would be "just" for God to save no one.

    My position would be that it is neither just to be subject to election or not saved at all, particularly when I had no "free will" with which to decide whether I would be created or not and, thus, be subject to such injustice.

    Election may be inferred by certain scriptural excerpts, but that hardly makes it an ironclad fact.

    Angela, you need to re-read what I wrote. It begins with "some" believe it is unjust or unfair. I did not say this was everyone's objection to election. I have heard many other objections as well - some more well-informed than this. I am merely responding to THIS particular objection. This is not the end-all be-all answer to those who reject divine election but an answer to this ALL TO FREQUENT objection that I hear. It would only be a strawman if I claimed that ALL persons who reject election use this as their only argument and have therefore proved all dissenters wrong. They don't all use this. But many do. I hear it all the time.

    Hi John, it sounds like you are primarily addressing objections to single predestination and not double. If so, as an Arminian, I would not disagree. It would be perfectly within the bounds of reason and divine freedom to choose some and not others from a population of freely fallen sinners. The stronger objection comes with double predestination, which argues (as I'm sure you know) that God chose some to be saved and others to be damned prior to their creation. That's where I would call it injustice.

    Matthew,

    Thanks for your note. I think you may be inadvertently distorting the doctrine of double-predestination. I would encourage you to re-study it from source material. No reformed theologian I know believes reprobation is a monergistic work of God. Likewise I don't know any person who teaches reprobation without regard to sin.

    As for your other comment, since God is omniscient, even Arminians affirm God knows (with absolute certainty) the final destination of a person prior to creation. So all views believe God makes a determination before creation. In the Arminian's case why did God go ahead and create someone knowing absolutely that they would be lost? and it cannot be otherwise.

    Here is a fairly good article on double predestination (and its real meaning) which is worth reading:
    http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/double-predestination/

    Thanks for the article, John. That was a good explanation of the issues at hand. It would seem to set up the difference between the two positions (Arminian vs. Calvinist) as merely semantic. On the one hand, Sproul argues that the asymetrical nature of double predestination still implies divine choice to damnation (not to choose is to choose in this context), and in this he seems to soften the apparent injustice of election to reprobation. I use the qualifiers seem and apparent because I do not believe he succeeds in doing so. He fails for the same reason you see Arminians as failing, for on the other hand even Arminians must agree that God created knowing beforehand the results. So foreknowing is equated with forechoosing, effectively (you used the word "determination" in this regard). That's how it seem to reduce the difference - at least in this respect - to mere semantics. The difference being, perhaps, that you see Calvinists as being more honest about the necessary conclusion that asymmetrical double predestination is the only possible answer. I disagree, but I won't offer my arguments here, as these debates go around and around without resolution. I will offer, however, that I feel the resolution lies in the location of mystery. Calvinists locate the mystery in the existance of sin (often subconsciously). How could sin exist at all if God is sovereign in the orthodox understanding of the doctrine? Arminians locate the mystery in freedom (again, often subconsciously). How could freedom exist if God is sovereign in the orthodox sense? I find neither position exhaustively satisfying, but I prefer the problems and benefits of the Arminian approach to that of the Calvinist. Do you see your position as exhaustively satisfying, or do you admit that logical obsticals (mysteries) block us at some point along each path?

    Good thing there's no way to edit comments. I do know how to spell obstacle...usually.

    Another question, I wonder how you reconcile the possibility of synergistic damnation to monergistic salvation? The arguments I have heard for monergism would seem to rely on logic that precludes any form of synergism. Thus it strikes me as a bit duplicitous to retreat to it in support of asymmetrical predestination. But I am open to your defense!

    Matthew,

    I don't see how anyone is softening anything here. God ordains all that come to pass (Eph 1:11). If God is not mistaken in what He foreknows, then what He foreknows must necessarily come to pass. And if God foreknows something of necessity then it is no different than if he decreed it. But no injustice is being done because God did not force anyone against their will (coercion) to rebel again him. For example, in Acts chapters 2&4 it clearly states that evil men nailed Christ to the cross, but God predetermined that this would take place. The Bible indicates this was CERTAIN to take place because of God's decree but imputes the guilt to man alone. So whether you understand that or not, is not the issue. This is what the Bible teaches and we should yield to it.

    "...this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." - Acts 2:23

    & 4:27 Peter's prayer
    "...for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place."

    So that God is utterly sovereign over everything that comes to pass, ordaining all of it, yet the sin is imputed to man alone, even if God ordained it.

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