Reformed Theology

ElderDad's picture

There may have previously been a thread on this subject, but I don't find it high enough in the list to see it. Therefore, I will start a thread and let it take its course. The purpose of this topic is to provide a place other than the Study of the Gospel of John, where it has become a side issue with considerable activity. Unfortunately, it is off-track there, so here it is in the open forum. The purpose is to give a place to post items dealing with traditional Reformed Theology. Because CCEL comes out of the Reformed community, there are many books dealing with Reformed Theology and Preaching in the CCEL library. However, in keeping with the ecumenical effort of the founders and supporters of this site, there are also books in the CCEL library that disagree with Reformed Theology. Sooooo, let me remind all participants in this forum, "Keep it loving, or keep it at home."

bwarddvm's picture

Re: double predestination


I think the confusion or misunderstandings about 'double predestination' are largely a matter of semantics. Certainly Reformed and Presbyterian churches should be teaching a doctrine of 'single predestination' as that is, in fact, what Calvinism teaches and is the doctrine which they profess to avow. This is to say that God, through His sovereign foreknowledge, foreseeing the fall of mankind sovereignly and unconditionally (as near as man can comprehend based on Scripture) actively ordains those whom He will employ His divine initiative in bringing to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Here we note the terms 'actively' and 'His divine initiative'. Regarding the non-elect whose fate will be eternal perdition because all men were consigned (yes, by the curse of God) to that fate after the fall. But other than God's active initiative in pronouncing the universal curse on all men, He does not by any further divine initiative or active decree consign the non-elect to the condition they are already in. However, since God in His sovereignty controls all things that come to pass He could have theoretically elected all persons to salvation (universalism), but Scripture clearly teaches that He did not. Therefore, in the sense of God's activity at this point, it becomes a passive, and that is the key word 'passive', position on God's part whereby He allows the reprobate (non-elect) to remain in their willful rebellion against Him and choose what they prefer which Scripture teaches will never be God nor the things truly of God. Thus we in the Reformed camp say that God graciously gives mercy to those whom He chooses by the good pleasure His sovereign will and to the rest He gives justice. God never gives anyone injustice.

So, in conclusion, I would posit that both election and reprobation are under God's will and control, it is the matter of what God does by His active will (divine initiative) and his passive permissive will. But neither form of His will is unjust. The classic Reformed position is that predestination unto life is active and those not predestined unto life is passive as relates to God's actions.

This is deep stuff, to be sure. There is a saying in Reformed circles that is attributed to Dr Roger Nicole, a contemporary but now quite elderly Reformed theologian: "Every Christian comes to Christ as an Arminian". I know that was certainly true of me. I believe that is because that is where our natural sense of righteousness and justice are found. It just seems to us that it's the way things ought to be with an all loving God. It was only through an earnest study of what the Scriptures, in my final opinion, truly teach that brought me to the Reformed faith. However, let me be quick to point out that such great 'saints' of the church such as John Wesley and those of like mind (i.e. Billy Graham) who attained a much higher level of sanctification than I every expect to, held firmly to Arminianism their entire lives. So to a great extent I am mystified as why God doesn't unite his Church on these issues pertaining to salvation in which both camps could possibly be wrong, but both surely can not be correct.

Regarding God's irresistible grace, you are quite correct about unbelievers being able to resist and even to despise the outward call (evangelism) teachings of the Holy Spirit. However, once one is regenerated (born anew) by the Holy Spirit his/her heart is actively softened and he/she becomes both able and willing to accept the inward (true) call of the same Holy Spirit. Scripture teaches that only believers are capable of quenching or grieving the Holy Spirit.

Soli Deo Gloria!