“By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of those ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or death.” (John Calvin).
As you are aware, not all Reformed or Calvinist websites are “equal”. Some who claim to be Calvinists do not agree with what Calvin said when he said that some people were create for eternal damnation. What about those on this web
“created for” “eternal damnation”
My response is as follows:
I would need to write a book in response to that question. Let’s just say that GOD is sovereign, that He chose to create the world as we now know it, fully aware of everything that would come to pass (including the knowledge of those who would reject Him and suffer His wrath) and yet He still chose to create as He did. I do not believe there are limitations on God’s involvement with creation. There are times where He chooses to be passive (though it is according to His will, and His agency is less involved) and times when His agency is interventionist in nature. He can frustrate the kings, raises up leaders, pulls down leaders, is able to kill (Ananias and Sapphira) whenever and whoever He pleases.
Since I believe that God was not constrained and bound to create the world as we know it, and that He freely chose to create the world as we know it, then people being damned is well within His providential counsel. I believe that He could have created a world with no hell, He could have destroyed the Serpent before creation of the world, He could have given Adam no prohibitions, He could have done a lot of things. Such speculation isn’t helpful when we think in constant hypotheticals, but it does show us that God either created freely, or in constrained fashion, or He really didn’t know what was to come to pass and is either voluntarily bound from seeing the future (open theism) or necessarily bound from seeing free acts in the future (process theology). Even non-Calvinists who assert God’s exhaustive foreknowledge, if they believe God was free to create otherwise while hypothetically looking at different outcomes, still must deal with the fact that God created with the knowledge that some would suffer damnation and chose not to create otherwise.
You can say all you want about a person’s damnation being wholly their choice, which I agree with, but the mere fact that they even exist is according to God’s will, unless you’re a deist and deny to God the freedom over even who comes into existence. Anyhow, I don’t think that a person who asserts God’s exhaustive foreknowledge can conveniently pass off eternal wrath to Calvinists. This is why an increasing number of “Arminian” theologians have adopted a middle knowledge position, open theism, process theology, and some forms bordering on deism. You can’t avoid the very things you disagree with in Calvinism if you yourself believe that God foreknew the rejection of many people who would suffer wrath…that he could have created otherwise a world in which there was no potential for sin (which will be realized in New Heavens and Earth); but still chose to create as He did; with suffering, evil, and wrath included. It is what it is and I tremble before this Sovereign God, shut my lips against any accusation, “Why did you make me this way? Why did you crate the world as you did? etc etc etc”. Paul warns us from giving counsel to God or questioning His providential wisdom in all things.
Whether you believe that God is more or less active in the reprobation of sinners is somewhat besides the point if you still believe that God freely chose what we now know, fully aware of everything that would come to pass. If you reserve the right to God to have changed the outcome as we know it, then you are “Calvinistic”. We can bicker over supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism, or whether God actively condemns the sinner, or merely passes over the sinner and is more active in the redemption of the elect, but I think such discussions are somewhat vain if the intent is to somehow exclude reprobation from God’s eternal purposes. If the concern is more directed towards understanding God’s disposition and heart in the matter, then that would be a discussion perhaps worth having. Let me know what your intent was in asking my understanding of Calvin’s quote. Thanks.
Brother in Christ,
Rick Hogaboam, Pastor, Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Nampa (ID)
For blog readers, George Bryson is the director for the Calvary Chapel Church Planting Mission Ministry and I am grateful for his service to the Kingdom and pray for God’s blessing upon their ministry.
© 2010, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.