Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology
The Error of the Doctrine
of "Double Predestination"
by Tony Warren
Is the Reformed doctrine of "Double Predestination" intrinsic or interpretative? For not only is it a phrase that is not found anywhere within the scriptures, but that which it implies is clearly antithetical to the nature of God. And yet this phrase is used by many of our Reformed brethren religiously to refer to a doctrine that postulates that God has Predestinated some to justification, and also predestinated others to condemnation. Many go so far as to charge that those of us who believe in God's complete sovereignty, and yet reject the doctrine of Double Predestination, are denying Predestination--as if they were one and the same. The flaw in their thinking is that they believe we think that God is sovereign in His dealings with His elect people, but not with respect to the rest of mankind. Of course, that is simply their straw man and nothing could be further from the truth. Being sovereign over all things does not equate to creating reprobates simply to condemn them. God created man, but man is "responsible" for his own condemnation. And so he is not predestinated by God "unto" condemnation, he is by his own sins, and God's lack of mercy upon him, ordained unto it. As I see the problem with this phrase, God uses the word Predestination singularly, and it is man who adds the qualifying term "double" to it. Thus man's use of the qualifyer "double" is in conflict with how the actual word Predestination is used in scripture. And contrary to popular Reformed opinion, God does not use the words "Predestination," "Fitted" and "Ordained," synonymously. And thus I do not believe that Christians should presume to do so either. Ordained does not mean Predestinated.
Nevertheless, while the phrase "Double Predestination" may be unbiblical, often the actual doctrine held by "some" of those theologians using it is quite sound Biblically. But with others, it goes well beyond the boundaries of scripture. So while on the one hand I can certainly understand what I believe most Reformed Theologians intend in using this term, and fully agree with the view of God's complete sovereignty, I do have a major problem both with the phrase 'Double Predestination' itself, and the implied definition. Some of my friends have deemed this simply a case of semantics and thus not really important, and in some cases I think this probably is true. However, I do think that proper scriptural terms and phrases are important, especially with such a potentially confusing issue as this. For while many think that they are protecting God's sovereignty by using such language, I believe that this phrase actually distorts the undergirding of truth by implying that as God Himself has predestinated men to be drawn to Christ unto salvation, so He has predestinated men to sin so that they might be condemned. That is the obvious "Double Predestination" implication.
More than that, it is self evident that the term 'double predestination' does not sufficiently delineate the true biblical position. Which is that God, from eternity, chose individuals to be predestinated and conformed to His image, and consequently 'did not choose' unto salvation a host of others who were desperately wicked on their own accord. That's Predestination of some and not others. This truth alone should give us reason to pause. For this is the Biblical doctrine of Predestination and has nothing to do with "Double Predestination." The subtle difference is that Predestination in scripture is always an 'action' by God which moves something or someone to assure that something will occur. For example, God had to take an action to spiritually move us (Predestining we do it), that we actually could/would seek after Christ and become conformed to His image. In other words, it wouldn't have happened except God took some action to "force" it to happen. By contrast, God never took pre determining action to force or Predestinate that anyone would 'not' seek after Christ, nor did He move them to continue in sin unto their condemnation. He merely (albeit consciously) allowed our own sinful actions to go unrestrained by Him. And therein is the Biblical difference between what is by God's action Predestinated to happen, versus what is by His inaction Preordained. God predestinating men to condemnation would put the causative action to condemnation directly upon God, thus rationally and obviously freeing man of his very real responsibility for his own condemnation. To say anything less is to dabble in absurdity. We cannot righteously in any form or fashion exclude the responsibility of unbelievers for their own condemnation by claiming that God predetermined them condemned. In plain language, it wasn't by a predetermined action by God that men would sin unto condemnation, it was a preordination by His inaction, allowing them to continue in their sin unto that condemnation. That's God's Sovereign right to do so. God didn't 'actively' predetermine it, it was by His inaction or refusal to stop it that it is ordained or pre-appointed. These are different words used in different contexts within scripture. The problem is that some theologians, taking intellectualism (and I'm sorry to say "scholistic elitism") to the extreme, seem to imagine God's inaction (freely allowing man to sin unto condemnation) as an action in and of itself. As if conclude that, "by God's inaction, God took action." But only on the pages of hyper-predestinationist literature does that make sense. By contrast, the way that the scripture uses the term "Predestination" is only in the sense of God determining to 'impose' a direct course of action beforehand, either upon or for those elect who would believe. The word predestination in scripture is never, ever used in any other sense. Indeed, there are many different reasons for conscientious Christians not to use the phrase "Double Predestination," not the least of which is that sovereignty doesn't require it. And there is only the pretext of recent 'Reformed Tradition' in favor of holding to this phrase.
#1. It "implies" the unbiblical doctrine that God actively caused man to sin unto predestinated condemnation.
#2. God's inerrant word does not ever use this confusing phrase, thus at best it is unnecessary for us to use.
#3. Inevitably the phrase breeds a misunderstanding of the true intended doctrine of the all pervasive Sovereignty of God.
#4. Predestinated to condemnation declares God before determined that men would sin, "so that" they would be condemned.
Let's take a look at these:
#1. It "Implies" That God Actively Caused Man To Sin Unto His Predestinated Condemnation.
Sadly the phrase 'double predestination' is often used by many theologians in a very misleading and ambiguous fashion as to imply that God has created the wicked specifically to suffer in Hell and be condemned. Not only implied, often this is flat out declared by those using both this term, and its near cousin "Double Election." However, these are terms that come from the minds of men, and not from the pages of the Bible. Its obvious implication is to deny that the message of salvation we take to the world includes any sincere proposal of mercy to sinners. This is not the case. The scriptures teach us that God foreknows that the wicked will not come to Christ, thus if God does not draw them the outcome is foreordained. But that is not electing or predestinating that they won't. This would be a totally different doctrine. Unlike man, when God inspired the term Predestination used within scripture, the context always makes clear precisely who God is Predestinating. And it is always Christ, or those redeemed out of the earth by His redemptive work. It is never used in scripture for those who will be condemned. Why is that not enough for some theologians?
The word translated predestination [pro'orizo] is from the two Greek words [pro], meaning before, and [horizo] which means to set a boundary or establish confines or limits. By extension this word means to determine this action beforehand. To make sure that an action occurs by the setting of the power, ability and boundary for the action. That's why God uses the term only for the elect. It is not ordaining something by God's inaction. And this definition is confirmed not by men, but by God's use of this word throughout scripture. This Greek word [pro'orizo] in scripture is always used in relationship to the work of Christ in Salvation. It is never, ever used in pre-determining men to be wicked or even unto condemnation (as some Theologians use it today). Only in predetermining or predestinating men to righteousness in Christ Jesus. It is basically used synonymously with being determined beforehand to receive power to do the work of Christ. When God says, "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will," it is literally the same as God making an active choice of whom would actively be conformed to His Image before they were born, according to the purpose of His will. It is an 'active' predetermination in drawing some (the election) of mankind to come that they may obtain the inheritance in Christ. In other words, not only did God preordain it, He predetermined by active power to make it (force it to) happen. No man "could" come to Christ except He Predestinated him to this. This word [pro'orizo] is never used in scripture in relationship to the condemned. Though proponents of its improper use (to include the condemned) would like you to 'ignore' that very potent fact, it is something that is very pertinent and not to be deemed insignificant. For if God differentiates between the election whom He says were Predestinated, and the reprobates whom God never uses this word on, then why would Reformed Theologians go to such great lengths to un-differentiate this? The wicked are merely vessels 'before ordained' [prographo] to condemnation (Jude 1:4). This means [pro] before, and [grapho] scribed, or by implication, described or written before. In other words, their destiny is already known of God, already written beforehand because of God's knowledge of their sin. It illustrates that the condemnation of the wicked is before known unto God, and was before prescribed of God. Obviously, by God not predestining these to be (an action) conformed (Romans 8:29) to the image of Christ, He has by His inaction preordained or appointed them to their condemnation because they sin. That God has not Chosen or Elected them to salvation, automatically ordains their condemnation. This was already immutably foreknown and thus prescribed of God by His "not choosing" to give them His Spirit to actively change them that they would be saved.
- "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"
That doesn't mean God predestinated them to sin and walking in their own councels, that means God stopped restraining them from sinning, as He gave them up to their own lusts and to walking in their own cousels. A practical analogy would be if I were to have wild flowers growing in my yard and there came forth a long drought. But I CHOOSE not to water them. By that inaction or non-action it is preknown to me that they will die because of the drought. Thus I have by my inaction preordained their death. But I didn't predestinate or actively kill them. As I was under no obligation to water wild flowers. I allowed them to die "naturally" on their own, by not reaching out and doing something to save them when I could have done so. Now that of course is an imperfect analogy, but it is what Preordained is like. God reaching out and saving some (Predestination), while not saving others (Preordaining). There is no Double Predestination. I had foreknowledge that it wouldn't rain, and thus I prescribed or prewrote their demise because they had no rain. Not because I reached out and ripped them out of the ground. Likewise, by God not saving the wicked (when He could), He has appointed them to be condemned "because" of their sins. But, in the way the term "Predestination" is used in scripture, in my analogy of the Wild Flowers I would have had to 'actively' intervened to predetermine and ASSURE that the plants would get no water. I couldn't just allow it them to die, I would have to Pre-determine it by causing the drought. In this way, God never predestinates anyone to sin unto condemnation, He allows it. The key being, preordination is often an inaction by God, not an active Predetermination as Predestination is. Mankind is condemned for his own disobedience, his own sins which he has committed. God didn't will him to sin, he sinned by his own fallen will, which was in bondage. God in no way predestinated these people to sin or preset their boundaries that they would be condemned. He ordained or wrote it before, as being omniscient He had foreseen it, and then in His complete sovereignty allowed it for His own purposes.
- "But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.
- So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels."
1st Peter 2:8-9
In this passage we can see the difference between those passively appointed to their "position" of condemnation, and those actively "Predestinated" that they are chosen of God to be a Royal Priesthood. A passive appointment [tithemi] as opposed to an active predetermining or choosing each and every soul unto salvation in predestination [proorizo}. The wicked stumble at the word that they will not obey, because that was already layed out or appointed by God when they were "not" chosen unto salvation (Predestination). In this we can better see the 'contrast' between the wicked appointed unto condemnation because of their disobedience, and the chosen of God who were actually Predestinated "to be" a royal priesthood in Christ. To say the wicked are Predestinated is a misuse of the word God inspired used only for the election and Christ.
- "And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
- But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"
So while some may call this a matter of semantics, I see it as a more important distinction. For God is Omniscient and He knows the end from the beginning. Thus He was aware that by choosing (electing) some in Christ unto salvation, fully aware that others who could not come to Him without this action, He was ordaining or immutably allowing all others to be condemned for their sins. And that was His divine sovereign right to "not" Predestinate all the wicked unto salvation. Thus He chose never to inspire those who wrote the scriptures to use this word "Predestination" in reference to these wicked. So our using the term "Double Predestination," when God has not, is a misnomer that twists and warps these divine differentiations. And by its use Christians often confuse God allowing the wicked to be condemned in their own lusts, with God not merely allowing sin unto condemnation, but pre-determining that they would sin and be condemned. So no doctrine, no matter how well intentioned, should be asserted, or can be maintained, that is contrary to the nature of God, as using His sovereignty to postulate that He causes people to sin unto condemnation to fulfill His divine will.
God cannot sin, God cannot cause man to sin, God cannot predetermine (Predestinate) that man will sin as He in fact Predestinates that man will come to Christ. That is a moving action, and God's nature is antithetical to causing men to sin unto condemnation. Therefore the view that He predestinates them to it is foolish at best. Again, Predestination implies a positive action in God's using His Spirit to "force" something to happen to those chosen, thus God only uses this Greek term for those He elected. What does God mean when He says that He predestined 'some' to be like Christ? It obviously means that some were predestinated, and likewise it must also mean that some were not Predestinated. It does not mean some were predestinated, but only to condemnation. If God had meant that, He would most assuredly have said that. For we were 'all' under condemnation to begin with. But God having foreknowledge of that fact Predestinated some 'out of this whole' to be conformed to Christ that there is now (Romans 8:1) no condemnation. That's not rhetoric, that's exactly what His word says.
- "To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him."
Not just foreknow as in knowing they existed before. Because in that sense, God foreknows everyone. But He foreknew in the sense of a spiritual foreknowledge (Matthew 25:12, Matthew 7:23) unto their salvation. In other words, whom He foreknew, them He also Predestinated. These are the elect. When we are Predestinated, we are pre-determined of God beforehand "to, of His Spirit, be" drawn to conform to the image of Christ. Wherever we find this word Predestination in scripture, it implies a positive operation of God in before-establishing this election that God will save "from the midst of" all the condemned. It is never used with relationship to God pre-establishing anyone beforehand "to, of His Spirit, be" conformed to the image of the beast and be condemned. That is a contrast, a difference, a contradiction to the nature of God. The word is not used in relationship to the unsaved Period. Despite the protests of theologians and authors alike, that fact cannot ever be considered trivial.
- "For whom he did foreknow, he also did Predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Whom God predestinated 'He also' called, justified and Glorified. So here God tells us whom He Predestinates. It is those whom He also called, justified and also glorified. So then, where is the mystery? We surely know that God never justified and glorified those He ordained unto condemnation. Therefore this man made term of a "Double Predestination" is untenable in the way God has inspired the word Predestination to be used in scripture. It's used synonymously with those being pre-chosen unto salvation. God has Predestinated us before the foundation of the world and He has pre-chosen us before the foundation of the world--unto salvation. It is an active Predetermination to become something that we were not before. Active meaning, He used His divine power to move us out of the bondage of sin and certain condemnation, to assure our conformation unto the likeness of Christ. All scriptures paint the very same portrait:
- "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
The believers are those predestinated or chosen before the foundation of the world in Christ, the unbelievers are those who are left after that choosing of God. God did not have to Predestinate anyone who would not be saved. They were already ordained unto condemnation by their own lust and sins, and thus we should not use the term "Double Predestination" as if God predetermined them to sin and condemnation. According to scripture (which is our final authority), He only Predestinated one. Double Predestination is not a Biblical phrase in any sense.
- "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
- Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,"
Again, I want to reiterate that I have no argument with the truth that by God not appointing the rest of mankind unto salvation, He has thus ordained them to condemnation, but this is a non-action in the divine economy of God. The re-action of condemnation was against our own sin against God, not in His (alleged) predestining us to it. There was no action by God to allow us to sin unto condemnation, but there was an action by God to make us righteous unto salvation. It was His Sovereign right to non-action that ordained or appointed the rest of mankind to condemnation when He chose whom He loved. In other words, God was obligated to save no one, thus without His active Predestination of some (the Elect), we all would be appointed or ordained unto condemnation. God's choice was of an election, and the group of humanity that were not part of this selection process are not then called predestinated damnation, rather, they are those not rescued from the damnation they bring upon themselves because of their own sin. So the term "Double Predestination," as well as "Double Election," puts the onus on God for man's sin and consequent damnation. And the truth is, that rightfully belongs upon man himself. Condemnation is God's judgment against sin, which He "in no way" predestinated man to.
#2. God's Word Does Not Use This Confusing Phrase, Because It Is Unnecessary
Even if this were in some way intellectually accurate (which I don not believe that it is), why would a conscientious Christian truly concerned for the Church, insist on using such a term which #1) wasn't used in scripture, #2) is a misnomer and decidedly confusing, and #3)and is more often than not, misapplied and misunderstood? The only logical answers I can come up with is either our own ego, our pride, or our recent Church traditions. The truth is, this term is unnecessary, mostly counterproductive, and inordinately divisive for no good reason. So much so that many theologians who might 'intellectually' believe in what they believe some Reformed theologians mean when using the term "Double Predestination," will defer to call it that. And in my view, rightly so! For there is only one Predestination mentioned in the Bible, and that is the Predestination of Christ and His own. To label God's Sovereign right to choose some (and thu not choose others), a Double Predestination, is I believe to take undue liberties with the word of God.
God could have very easily inspired His prophets to write that the wicked were [proorizo] or 'predestinated' to be condemned, but He didn't. Was that an oversight, or did God purposely inspire the word used for the ordaining of the wicked to condemnation as a different word? Again, the answer 'should be' obvious. Is it different by coincidence, accident, or is God making a distinction? God knows what He is doing, even when we do not. God says the Elect are those Predestinated, [proorizo], and those condemned are Preordained [prographo], and why can't theologians just leave it at that. Why must we invent phrases and adjectives to conjure up new ways to confuse people? Is it a misguided elitist intellectualism, or is it inspired by a sincere desire for most Christians to come to clarity in truth? Is it to the Glory of God to confuse the many in order to receive praise of a few? As Christians are we, attempting to make a point, at the expense of missing the real point of the gospel?
I'll bet most people are unaware that The Reformers and the Puritans simply called it, "The Doctrine of Predestination." You would have never guessed by Reformed Theologians today. They called it that because there is one Predestination. There was not this attempt to make election of the Saints and the ordaining of the wicked by their non-election to condemnation, one and the same Predestination. God ordained both, He did not Predestinate both. To which we whole heartily agree. Yes, we confess God chose to save some and not others before the foundation of the world, and this has never been in debate. But He did not predestinate anyone to be condemned, this is never declared in scripture, and we should not declare it 'as' scripture. Unfortunately, many people use the word Predestination as if it simply means God simply decided. As in, God decided to save some, and decided not to save others. But God didn't use the word decided, or ordained, or appointed, because the word Predestination delineates more than that, as illustrated in it's use for only the elect.
So often when we read what many of these theologians who speak of "Double Predestination" write, it is more times than not a mostly Biblical doctrine. But it's truth is hidden in unadvisedly unbiblical clothing. The value of these writings are often overshadowed and obscured by these valueless terms like Double Predestination" and "Double Election." We who believe in Predestination most certainly believe in the destiny of the non-elect being ordained by God from before, because God is sovereign and knows all, but He did not Predestinate them unto condemnation. More than semantics, it is a mindset of what is right and wrong. Playing word games in insisting that, "if God allowed it, then He Predestinated it," is of no value and is certainly self-serving. It should be self-evident that allowing something to happen is not the same as Predestining it to happen. While it may 'seem' to be valid to speak against the belief that God only determines those who will be saved, upon closer evaluation we understand that "ALL" were to be condemned, and God 'did' determine those to be saved out of them. And in doing this, the rest, by God's immutability, are ordained to remain in their condemned state. God didn't add anything, He didn't put on an extra condemnation, they were all under condemnation for their sin to start with.
We know that the Bible is it's own interpreter, and the scriptures their own dictionary. Thus we can determine what God intends in His use of the word Predestination by where and how 'He' uses it. And in humility and in being honest with ourselves (which is rare these days), when we see that God always uses it in context of Christ and His elect, then why would we use it in context of the condemned? God has not done this, so are we wiser than God, or just plain stubborn?
#3. Inevitably it breeds a misunderstanding of the intended doctrine
This term almost without exception leads those unfamiliar with what many theologians mean by it (and even some of those familiar), to the wrong conclusions. And this is because the phrase itself is inherently confusing. For we know what Predestinated unto salvation means, and it appears inconsistent to then claim Predestinated unto damnation does not mean that very same drawing or forcing one to move in the direction to accomplish this predisposition. Therefore do many surmise that God before Predestinated men to sin, as He Predestinated men to conform to Christ that they sin not. They logically (and in my view, rightly) surmise that Predestining the wicked would likewise mean that the wicked are Predetermined and drawn to move to conform to Satan. Since Predestining those to Christ means they are drawn to move to conform to Christ.
This is the misunderstanding inherent in the idea of God Predestining the wicked to be condemned. And nothing could be further from the truth. For every man is moved to condemnation by his own sin, and God does not tempt or try men that they would sin. We're all inherently sinners. Thus God can hate any one of us that He wants. But by the same token, God can love anyone of us He wants, and Predetermine that these will be drawn to Christ and obtain mercy. The fact that God hates the sinner does not mean that He Predetermined His sinfulness and therefore His condemnation. There is no unrighteousness with God, He doesn't tempt or move any man to sin. He saves those He loves from sin, while using those vessels He hates to His glory. The example of Esau and Jacob immediately comes to mind.
God Predetermined from among all the wicked of this world polluted with sin, just whom He would love. He had mercy on whoever He wanted and Predestinated 'them' that they would come to Christ and obtain salvation. He did not Predestinate Esau, He hated him and thus did not save him from his own sin unto condemnation. He allowed him to sin willfully by taking away His ever present hand of restraint, and using Esau's own hardness of heart to His own glory. i.e., He did not actively 'make' Esau sin, He removed his hand of restraint over his sin. It is extremely important to understand this most basic of truths, in that God makes no man to sin. That is a constant, a given, and an immutable law. Therefore, let no man say that by God hardening his heart, He was Predestining, or actively predestining Esau to sin unto condemnation. That is an indefensible position. Thus again, Double Predestination is an untenable doctrine.
- "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
- What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
- For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
- So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."
It is also evident that God foreknew those whom He elected unto Salvation in a way that He never knew the non-elect. So what does that tell us of those that are not Predestinated unto salvation? It is quite clear that God did not know them personally, nor love them that they would be elect. Obviously it is not necessary that God actively work to 'not-know' the vessels of destruction, they simply do not actively receive the blessings, care, and love that is given to the chosen. In other words, God knows those whom He loves actively, Spiritually and intimately, and He chose them, while there was no action taken for the rest to condemnation. They simply are allowed to continue in their sins unto judgment.
Those who were not elect, were not chosen, and God never foreknew them in the Spiritual Predestination sense where He determined their conforming to the image of Christ. Did that include the wicked? Let's test that. Romans 8:30 says "Moreover whom he did Predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." is this including the wicked? God says whom He predestinated He also called and justified. Are those allegedly Predesinated unto condemnation justified? God forbid. Biblically and logically, we can see there is no Double Predestination, no Double Election, and no Double Knowing. Those He knew, He Predestinated! God directed all these 'actions' to those whom would become saved by His love only. The rest of the human race are addressed not as those 'Predestinated' unto condemnation, but those 'ordained' to condemnation. A divinely inspired different word for the wicked for a very good reason. Namely, God did not mean them to be synonymous with those Predestinated to salvation.
- "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
Fore-ordained can be used in the sense that God either passively or actively determines something will happen, while Predestination is always used to mean God took an active role, made an active determination that we would be conformed to Christ. i.e., He forced or actively predetermined it would occur, not passively. It is always used in scripture in 'this context' of God actively bringing about an action. This being a concept illustrated in many different ways, and understood in the truth that indeed no one 'would come' to Christ without God's Predetermination or Predestination.
- "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God."
In other words, when God looked at mankind, He saw that there was none, no not one who would seek after Him. They were thus all going to come under condemnation. So God before actively determined that the elect would move to come to Christ, and it is purely by His power and sovereign will that we do so. That is God 'Predestining' our actions ahead of time, as the scriptures we've already looked at show. On the other hand, God foreordained that Judas would betray Christ by foreseeing the desperately wicked nature of man and allowing him to have the power to carry out the sin already in his heart. God 'allows' him to sin against Christ to the glory of God. The difference being, God did not Predestine Judas to sin (heresy) by forcing Him to be a thief when he didn't want to, while God did Predestinate believers to come to Christ when we didn't want to. We were just as obstinate as everyone else, but God Predetermined our action, that we would be saved. He did not Predetermine sinners actions that they would be damned. That is the difference in the words, and I do not believe that it is merely semantics. The sinners are moved to damnation by their own lusts of the flesh. Herod and Pilate were responsible for their own sin in Killing Jesus, but the crucifixion of Christ was by God's hand and counsel, and God actively 'predestinated' it to be done. He did so in order that, by this work, salvation would come to the elect. Without that active Predestination, there would be no crucifixion and no salvation.
- "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."
Again a clear declaration of an active Pre- determination [proorizo] beforehand that Christ was before determined of God to be put to death. I.e., God FORCED this to happen. Did He Predetermine before to put Jesus in the position to be killed? Absolutely! Just as God could have very easily left Jerusalem that this not happen, but it was Predestinated. Did God make or actively move Herod or Pilate to commit sin and kill Christ? Absolutely not! These wicked were gathered together of their own sins and lusts in their own heart, but that God would "use" their own sin as an action to His Glory is the Predestination that Christ would be crucified. The scripture is clear, It was By God's hand and counsel that Christ was determined before (Predestinated) to be crucified for the salvation of the world. But God predestines NO MAN to sin unto condemnation. This truth as so gloriously expressed in the book of James:
- "For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
- For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done."
God tempts no man, nor predetermined that any man would sin, nor places anything before any human being with a view to induce him to commit sin. Therefore it is self-evident, God being the living truth, that God cannot predestinate any human being to condemnation. This Greek word [peirazo] translated tempted here means tried or tested. God doesn't test anyone with the view that they would sin. And so we see that while Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were gathered together against Christ, it was because of their own sins and lusts and not because God tempted them so that they would sin and fulfill His will. His will was fulfilled in allowing them to sin. It was not because God Predestinated them to sin against Christ. What was by God's hand and counsel determined before (Predestinated) to be done, was that Christ actively (willingly) go to the cross as a lamb to the slaughter without a word of protest from His lips, for the sins of His people. Our God Predestinated His Son to be crucified for the salvation of the world. He did not Predestinate man to sin and be condemned. These men (and indeed all men) are tempted or tried of their own sin and lusts, and thus we should not use the term Double Predestination to refer to the wicked's appointment to condemnation.
- "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
- But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."
I don't wish to paint everyone with the broad brush, but I can only see one reason why anyone would 'insist' upon using the term 'Double Predestination' when it is unnecessary, and it is summed up in the words, self absorbed egotism. Let us not bring occasion that a weaker brother should stumble because of our respect of persons or our arrogance. Since the phrase is not in scripture, and the word Predestination is used "exclusively" in contexts opposing the condemned, at best we can say it is not-scripturally supported. So why use this term when so many think that it means God not only Predestines some to do the will of God, but He Predestines some to do the will of the devil. This is what is implied by Double Predestination. All denials notwithstanding. It is an unnecessarily confusion kept going more by stubbornness, pride and arrogance, than by a Christian desire for the widest understanding of truth. The question must then be posed, why would conscientious and concerned Christians insist upon using the phrase? What does it profit, and who does it profit?
#4. Predestinated to condemnation implies God caused them to sin that they would be condemned.
The term "Double Predestination" is actually a Theological misnomer that is not borne of sound exegesis, not affirmed in the scriptures nor implied in it. It arouses strong passions by those who think they are 'protecting' God's sovereignty, and by those who understand God's complete sovereignty needs no protecting. As noted, while most of those using this phrase would deny it, the term 'Double Predestination' in fact does imply that God has taken a determinate action to destine some to be conformed to Christ unto good works, and taken the same opposite action to destine others to be conformed to Satan unto bad works. It bridges dangerously close to what is improperly called Hyper Calvinism. As previously stated, though the act of God in choosing a people for Himself has surely by default left those 'not-chosen' as vessels fitted for destruction, that is not Double Predestination, it is not Double Election, and it is not a double imaging. Some were chosen despite their sins, and the rest were not chosen and not Predestinated. They bear the responsibility for their own condemnation, not God in His (alleged) Predestining it unto their condemnation.
By default they are considered vessels fitted for destruction, and the only reason God is longsuffering or 'patient' with them is because of the vessels of mercy which He has 'chosen' from among them, which he has 'before prepared' [proetoimazo] unto Glory. An active before preparing or predestining. This word is 'also' used only with regard to the believers and is not used for those ordained to condemnation. Again, most certainly not by coincidence. The only other place it is found is in Ephesians:
- "What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
- And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,"
We are his active workmanship, those who were before prepared. Here the word is translated ordained. This verb [proetoimazo] is from two Greek words, [pro] meaning before, and [proetoimazo] meaning adjusted, and by implication fitted or prepared. Here it is plainly used to illustrate the believers were created in Christ, before-fitted "that we should" walk in Christ. The same as we saw before about being Predestinated "to be" conformed to the image of Christ. It's an active action of God to make us do and be something. Did God before-adjust or fit the wicked that they should walk in Satan? No, absolutely not! Therefore God does not use this word to describe those ordained or appointed unto condemnation. So for Theologians to then call this doctrine "Double Predestination" I believe is a subtle distortion that takes away from what has truly occurred. For God did not prepare before or predestinate or predetermine some to be common, for all of us were common vessels. We would have all been fitted or appointed to destruction if not for God's predestining us (believers) out of this group. And those that are left (by their non-election) are thus ordained or appointed by this non-choosing to be condemned 'for their sins.'
- "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
Many who joy in using this phrase are quick to point to the book of Jude, where God declares these were ordained. But they nearly always neglect to mention that this word is a different word than that used for Predestining the Saints. ..as if this is insignificant!
This word translated ordained is [prographo], and means before [pro], and [grapho] means to scribe, and by implication to write. In other words, it means before written. I.e., it was before scribed or written of old that they would do this unto their condemnation. For example:
- "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ."
The Greek word translated written there, is the very same Greek word [grapho]. so this word [pro-grapho] means before-written, not Pre-desinated. So these Theologians are reading scripture in a vacuum. The whole of scripture is very clear that God Predestines us so that we are not condemned, and that those who are condemned, are condemned "because" of their own lusts, sins and actions, not because God predestinated them to this condemnation. And it can't be both! Any doctrine which doesn't illustrate this fundamental truth is inherently misleading. The elect of God receive salvation which they have not merited, for it is entirely by the Sovereign will of God. While those who are 'NOT' elect receive damnation which they have merited, and condemnation is because of their sins, not their before Predestination. God makes it clear the responsibility for condemnation is not His, but man's. Man in his intellectual dementia tries to put the responsibility back on God, while deeming it nothing more than sovereignty. How could anyone claim God is responsible for Predestining anyone to condemnation, without claiming God is responsible for that man's sins, that lead to condemnation? An enigma wrapped inside a puzzle. No, God pre-chose the elect, and by this predestining some to salvation, God ordained or consciously allows the wicked to (by their own responsibility) come into condemnation. To use the term 'Double Predestination' supports a flawed and fatalistic view of those who are condemned, and gives the wrong impression. It implies we are immutable programs executing our own destruction codes which God has planed before for us. May it never be so. Selah! This is a form of what is the unbalanced and unbiblical defining of God's sovereignty in ways which negate human responsibility. Even while insisting they're not negating human responsibility or accusing God of making men sin unto condemnation.
- "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
Let me make another simple analogy. There is a basket of fruit, and I, as the owner of the basket look into the basket and see that they "all" are not fit to eat. But I mentally pre-select a few of the fruit that I favor out of that bunch, and decide that I will cut off their bad parts and make use of them. That doesn't then mean that I pre-chose the remaining fruit to be either bad, or thrown away. They were already bad, and so what else were they good for? What I did was predetermine that those I favored would be made good, and by that Predetermination, I appointed or consciously left the rest to be cast away. And what if by casting them away, I can use them for fertilizer for the good of the ground to bear good fruit? Does that mean I predestinated them to be cast away in the ground? Not at all. But this is the flawed logic that Theologians use to try and support the doctrine of Double Predestination.
Of course, that is an imperfect analogy, but you get the point. By the same token God's choice doesn't create a by-product from the Human race, it draws out those He favors 'from' the human race who were all under condemnation. The rest are not those double chosen or Predestinated. Only one was Predestinated, only one was Preordained for the work of Christ. On the contrary, those left are those not-chosen and not predestinated, and thus fitted by that non-choosing, to be used or cast away as unfit.
Again, God makes it perfectly understandable where the responsibility is for condemnation, and it is not His Predestination. To assign responsibility of condemnation to God Predestining anyone to this, is a gross error. As it implies God created the human race just to send some to hell and some to heaven. It is disjointed, strained, unbiblical and inconsistent.
- "But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
- And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
- For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
- Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
- For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."
God chose His election from eternity out of a world that God foresaw as desperately wicked and completely corrupt. These Predestinated are His people, not the condemned. The decree of God to Predestinate a people for Himself, in Christ Jesus, was one decree, not a double decree. It produces two results, that is true, but this is not Double Predestination. It is the natural outcome of what's left after God 'chooses' the Elect. God's plan is of our blessed redemption, and the justice is what man deserves for the wages of his sin. Both truths come from two precepts, God's justice and God's mercy. His mercy is Predestination because He has predetermined ahead of time an action that would bring some unto salvation. His immutable justice on those left is called ordained or fitted unto condemnation because God is omniscient and their destiny is from before the foundation of the world, prescribed or pre-written. We should not use the term 'Double Predestination' because it does not 'signify' this truth, it is confusing, and it implies that in using the wicked God has Predestinated some to sin to the good of others. It is self evident that the harm such terms do to the cause of Christ far outweighs any egotistical pleasure we might derive from our insistence upon using them.
So, in conclusion, we gladly affirm the Biblical position that Predestination is the belief that from eternity past, and prior to the creation of the universe, God chose a people for Himself whom he would actively move to conform to the image of His dear son (Romans 8:29). We affirm that in doing so, God passed over the remainder of man, and reprobated them to their own devices. This is the doctrine of Predestination which the Bible teaches, not Double Predestination which man has invented. We affirm there is no such term in scripture, and that the word Predestination is never used by God or the Holy Prophets with reference to the condemned. I see the reprobate as being eternally punished on their own merit, and not in any wise because of an eternal decree by God that they should be created to be condemned or punished. Thus, in the true doctrine of Predestination, the sinner is the author of his own sin unto condemnation, not God. While I'm sure many would argue that in 'Double Predestination,' man is the author of His own sin as well, however, a doctrine that teaches God Predestinated man's condemnation doesn't at all illustrate this. In point of fact, it is in conflict with it. Selah!
May the Lord God who is gracious above all, give us the guidance, humility and understanding, to not only be faithful, but also careful, wise, prudent and conscientious in the dissemination of His Holy word. Let us not place the ideas and words of men above the ideas and words of Holy writ. Let us pray we can discern the difference between Church tradition, and the truth of the authority of God's word.
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Copyright ©2002 Tony Warren
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