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Human Elements in Predestination
Note: In the following correspondence, the e-mailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My replies are in red.
In your review on Amazon.com of [the book] Predestination and Free Will [also posted on this site at Predestination and Free Will], you state that "low Calvinism" "does not have God creating people in order to damn them as the high-Calvinist view does". Yes, it does! In either view, God determined before each person's birth whether they were "chosen" and would thus be enabled to believe, or else passed over so that their only possible destination would be eternal torment in Hell. Whether that divine determination was made before or after the Fall, the result is the same.<
My comments are referring to the initial creation of the human race, as in Adam and Eve, not in regards the birth of each person. There is a distinction here, as I learned in seminary and as any good book on Calvinism would discuss. See, for instance, R.C. Sproul's book Chosen by God .
> Where are authors who are weary of splitting theological and philosophical hairs, and dare to face what the Bible actually says without trying to explain it into some other (more palatable) meaning?
Sproul's books does so, and so do I on my Web site. I would suggest you check out my Calvinism pages. I deal with many concerns such as you express on them.
>Thank you for responding. I once owned Chosen by God, but I found R. C. Sproul's arguments unsatisfying. Also, in this and some of his other works, there is a kind of arrogant attitude that I find unpalatable.
As for your postings on your website, there seems to be a lot of concentration on trees, but little contemplation of the forest and what it really means. I knew what you were saying about when God determined who would be "chosen," but my point, which you did not take up, was what the implications of that choosing are in the very real lives of people.
So I am back to my original dilemma of wanting others to honestly face what predestination and free will means for loved ones, for questions about actual episodes of evil in our lives, and what it says about the character of the biblical God. It interested me that you didn't respond to these "human" elements in my original e-mail, and chose to stick to doctrine as though it exists apart from our flesh and blood -rather like that elder who held up his son
[Note: He's referring to an incident where an elder held up his newborn son in church and said something like, "I'm not sure if God chose my son for salvation or not." I remember reading this, but I'm not sure where it was. If it was something "John" said previously or if it was related in another review of this book on Amazon."]
My search continues. Thank you anyway.
I didn't respond to your "human elements" issues as I didn't have the time. And even if you didn't see it, I address such issues on my site. And personally, since I accept the Bible as my absolute authority, I submit my feelings to it's teachings.
That said, I wouldn't have done something like the man you mentioned as there is no reason for it. Moreover, there really is not that much of a practical difference between low-Calvinism and Arminianism on this point anyway.
Both the Calvinist and the Arminian parent would pray for their children; both would witness to them and do whatever else they think would be helpful in leading them to Christ. And both would have great struggles if a child were to die who they believed was not saved. But both should recognize that if their child is damned, they are justly damned for their sins.
Remember, the Calvinist believes that prayer, evangelism, etc. are the means God uses to bring about His chosen children to Himself. And I do reiterate there is no double predestination here. The elect are saved wholly and solely by the grace of God; the non-elect are rightly damned for their sins. That is the low-Calvinist view; if you want to make it mean something it doesn't, then I really cannot help you.
I hope that someday you'll be able to step outside your Everything's Explained/I Have All the Answers Box and see such thoughts for what they are.
I won't bother you again.
I have never said I had all of the answers. There are many issues for which I have not been able to come to a decision on, such as eschatology. But when people ask me a question that I do have an opinion on, I explain it to them as best as I can.
Note also, I have NEVER "hoped" that a person who disagreed with me on a secondary issue like Calvinism would come to agree with me. I really do not have a great need that every one agree with me, just that they study the Bible and decide for themselves if I am correct or not. If you can't get settled in your own mind what to believe on this issue, that is fine. But please don't "hope" that I become like you.
You wrote in response to someone recently that there is little difference in human response to their children between a Calvinist and an Arminian. Perhaps this is true from the perspective of a Baptist, but this is not true for those who see Abraham as an example of the Christian and that God normally chooses His elect out of the generations of believers.
In this case, we would raise our children as if they already were believers. We would instruct our children in God's Word and pray for them but we would raise them as if they were believers unless they demonstrated otherwise and we would not evangelize our children. All the Reformed Confessions that were written for the sake of teaching the children are written from the perspective that the child is already a believer.
God saves whom He will. I have only in the past few years come to the knowledge of the truths of the Reformed teachings, but I cannot remember a time in my entire life where I did not have a desire to follow God. God can save people in infancy or even in the womb, as he did John the Baptist....
You're correct that I didn't respond from a "covenant theology" perspective. And from that perspective there would be a difference. But covenant theology is not my perspective nor the one of the person who asked the original question.
For books on Calvinism, see Reformed Theology Books: Books-A-Million Recommendations.
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