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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Single or Double?
Having no time to write blog entries seems to agree with me...

Truly, contrary to appearances, I really do have very little time - I am just pumping this out as fast as I can type, so be generous to me as I am not really going to proofread it, or check for logical consistency - hopefully it won't flop.

Now, some of you who read this may not be savvy with respect to various, almost useless theological nuances, so please allow me to savvify you (at least inasmuch as differentiating between single and double predestination):

Single and double predestination are the theological children of supra- and infralapsarianism. Supra (before), and infra (after) are combined with the word lapse (fall) to describe two opposing views (supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism) of God's perspective with regards to election. These opposing views try to answer the "how" question behind what scripture plainly teaches regarding election - that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

We want to be careful to recognize that however we consider these two points, both share this common concern - they both impose a temporal perspective upon something that took place in eternity - that is they took place in a realm wherein "before" and "after" have no temporal frame of reference. Frankly, no matter which position we endorse, we -must- be aware that just because we perceive time as chronological does not give us freedom to impose that same chronological perspective upon the "order of events" with regards to God's election. Our musing about what took place when, ought never to become more in our estimation than an imperfect model by which we attempt to examine the "how" questions of election.

That having been said, single predestination (or as I like to say, "redemptive predestination") is the idea that when God predestined sinners to redemption - that is, that God determined to predestinate men unto salvation from the perspective/foreknowledge that -all- men would earn condemnation through sin, such that God's election is redemptive as opposed to preemptive. When we say that God's decision was to redeem sinners we say that God's decision to save took place (at least logically) after His decision to allow the fall - we call that infralapsarianism (infra = after, lapse = fall).

"Double predestination" or as I like to call it, "condemnational predestination" is the idea that before God ever contemplated the fall He had already made up his mind to send some men to heaven and others to hell - that is, that God predestinates some men to heaven, and others to hell. This view, since it places God's decision before the contemplation of the fall, is called supralapsarianism (supra = before).

Now, because one of the main philosophies of our day is humanism, our perspective is often tainted in that direction - that is, we imagine that human life (both temporal and eternal) is more important than everything else including God. We might not articulate it that way, but if we are -consistent- we will note that the main objection we have to God creating men to destroy them is because we believe that it is fundamentally wrong for anyone to end the life of a human, and that the "anyone" here includes God - thereby when God commands men not to murder one another we imagine that this binds God - so that God would be wrong if -He- put anyone to death, even if the death were judicially sanctioned. When a person exalts their own creation-o-centric, human-o-centric moral perspective upon God, they stand in judgment of God if God dares to take a human life - and since they don't want to do that, they instead reason that God would never, ever transcend their self-generated moral standard.

The end result is that they say God could not create a man for the purpose of allowing him to sin and thereby condemn himself - for if he did, God would be "wicked" (according to their humanistic philosophy). Thus, there can be no such thing as predestination or election, because according to their worldly philosophy, that would make God a murderer, since they reason that if God allows men to sin, it makes God guilty somehow.

That was the point of the previous posts - to bring us to the place where we examine this humanism in the naked light of truth - to expose it for what it is - a clashing of biblical moralism, with human moralism. The fact is, God can create a man and kill him and there would be no sin in it. Likewise, God can create a man knowing that the same man will eventually sin - and God is not culpable for that man's sin when he does. God gives life and God takes away life because it is God's prerogative to do so. Truly, sin happens when man does a thing that God has not given him the authority to do - does a man have the authority to take life? No - that is why it is sin - not because the taking of life is sinful, but doing so without the authority to do so is sinful - God has that authority all the time - we only have that authority when we are acting in accord with God's judgment (the sword is not wielded in vain by those authorities God places over us). Thus what is sin for a man is only sin because God has limited man's authority - this doesn't limit God's authority, so that what is sin for man is not necessarily sin for God. God is not a man, and as such God is not bound to the boundaries the Creator has put on the creature. The potter indeed has all authority over the clay to do his will whatever it is - but the clay has no authority except what is granted by the potter. The potter can destoy any vessel he makes, but the vessel does not share that authority.

Now some who understand this go the way of double predestination (supralapsarianism) - they (rightly) reason that God is certainly able to elect some men for salvation, and others for condemnation, and that He does no wrong if that is what he chooses to do, He is not a man, He is God - and for this reason those of this theological persuasion see no fault in double predestination - God is God, after all - who are we to moralize? If God creates men to destroy them in hell, he is not unjust in doing so for the laws that bind the creation are given by the Creator, and do not necessarily bind the Creator.

I personally reject that position, though I don't dismiss it as though the reasoning were flawed.

I don't have a problem with God creating a man ordained to hell - but I personally don't think it fits in well with what I see of God's character in scripture, nor what I see of God's character in creation. God created all things "very good" - they became corrupt of their own accord (even if God perfectly anticipated that same corruption), and did not enter into creation pre-corrupted as it were. I want to be careful here to say that I believe that because of the curse we see a whole lotta corruption -but that is the fault of the curse, and not creation.

Likewise, I do not find anything of this ordained corruption revealed in the character of God - that is, while I see God granting mercy and grace to those who fail to deserve such throughout all of history (and scripture for that matter) yet I nowhere find God dispensing condemnation unless where it was not first earned.

Perhaps for that reason, more than any other, I tend to regard single predestination as more consistent with the character of that God that is revealed to us in scripture.

Now, to be sure - it really doesn't matter to me which is right - it doesn't affect the gospel, it doesn't affect my witness, and it in no way changes any conclusions I might draw - God is sovereign in both scenarios, and the biblical case for double predestination (as opposed to single) is not that convincing.
posted by Daniel @ 8:50 AM  
  • At 11:17 AM, December 14, 2006, Blogger jazzycat said…

    Good post. These issues need to be presented, discussed and reconciled. It seems that the church in many cases is content to go around stating to people "God loves you unconditionally" and not facing up to God's other attributes such as wrath. The Bible does not ask us to leave our logic and brain at the door when we explore God’s revelation in his word and his creation.

  • At 11:58 AM, December 14, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jazzy -

    Predestination is a doctrine that cannot be grasped while one holds a humanistic bias.

    If we insist that God -must- cherish human life above all else, then we are forced to regard God as guilty if He ordains the fall of man.

    Humanism cannot tolerate this level of sovereignty, and in order to preserve God's "good character" (that is, God's subversion to humanism), the sovereignty of God is watered down until man (and not God) is ultimately sovereign; and God's sovereignty is just an empty title since in practice God has no control over events, and his foreknowledge is not fore ordinance, but just crystal ball gazing as though God were trapped in the "present."

    More later.

  • At 11:56 AM, December 15, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What do you do with Proverbs 16:4?

  • At 4:06 PM, December 15, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    What do you do with Proverbs 16:4?

    I remember Genesis 1:31, and remember the greater context.

  • At 6:50 PM, December 15, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    That is, I know that Genesis 1:31 is talking about creation, and I ask myself if the "made" in Proverbs 16:4 means what I am imposing on it...

  • At 9:46 PM, December 15, 2006, Blogger mark pierson said…

    I loved your thoughts here...

    :(or as I like to say, "redemptive predestination") is the idea that when God predestined sinners to redemption - that is, that God determined to predestinate men unto salvation from the perspective/foreknowledge that -all- men would earn condemnation through sin, such that God's election is redemptive as opposed to preemptive."

    Great thoughts. That is something to chew on; that and considering Gen. 1:31 in this mix as well.

    Thank you,

  • At 11:58 PM, December 15, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Blogger ate my comment. Oh well, here's the short version.

    All God made was good because it will bring about His glory. There is nothing in the slightest bit contradictory with then saying creation was made God, even though people in it where made for Hell becasue in going to Hell they with bring glory to God.

    I use to hold to single predestination, and fought hard against double, but once I looked at the logic of it, and the biblical data, I couldn't but give it up for double predestination. It was Piper's most excellent book on Romans 9 that was the final nail in the coffin of single predestination for me.

  • At 3:19 PM, December 16, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bryan, you are not alone in your conviction - Romans 9 drives the nail in the coffin of SP for many people.

  • At 8:05 AM, December 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Another piece of scripture that needs to be taken into account here is 1 Peter 2:4-10. I speak of the whole section so the flow of thought can be seen.

    [4] As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, [5] you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. [6] For it stands in Scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."
    [7] So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone," [8] and "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense."
    They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. [9] But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. [10] Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:4-10 ESV (Emphasis added)

    Notice how the Scripture speak of those who stumble over Jesus the rock of stumbling, "disobey the word, as they were destined to do."

    Following that scripture speaks of the calling of believers out of darkness into the light of God. It certainly seems like double predestination to me.

    I don't have time to expand on this, but I do think it needs to be taken into account.

  • At 4:03 PM, December 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dan, I would love to see a consistent single predestination explanation of Romans 9, but I don't hold my breath.

  • At 1:25 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good post. I'm still up in the air on my view of election . . . not because I don't understand the various perspectives, but because I struggle with believing that some really do have no hope in this world.

    If I were to go with one of the two options you discuss here, Daniel . . . it would be, w/o a doubt, infra. To me supra flows from a metaphysical framework that straight-jackets God into the unmoved mover: the implication, God becomes the God of decrees who does not respond to His creation (which would undercut His supposed impassibility which means He cannot have "movement" in his being, otherwise according to this philosophical understanding of God, he no longer, by definition is the impassible actual infinite--i.e. if he responds to His creation this implies contingency of some sort upon his creation--which is unacceptable given this view of God).

    Rather, infra seems much more scriptural to me, since God in this schema can actually be the God who "responds" and moves towards His creation (cf. Phil. 2:5-8). Much more biblical.

  • At 8:40 PM, December 19, 2006, Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said…

    I recently wrote a post on Double Trouble: Double Predestination in Scripture? and really didn’t feel like there were good arguments for SP concerning Prov 16:4 and Rom 9:21-23. I don’t see how appealing to Genesis 1:31 helps with the texts.

    I think I would have to modify your version of DP a bit, but it seems like that is the way to go. I agree with Bryan that Piper's book is excellent.

  • At 8:53 AM, December 27, 2006, Blogger jazzycat said…

    What do you think of Job 1? This interaction between God and Satan has always fascinated me. To me it points to something that is not fully revealed in Scripture. Maybe Deut. 29:29 applies here....

  • At 2:40 PM, December 27, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jazzy - I think Job 1:22 can be confusing - it seems to suggest that Job would have sinned had he pointed at the finger of God as the cause of his calamity.

    When I wed my wife, we two became one. I am still me, and she is still she, but together we are one, even though I am not able to describe what precisely it means to be "one" in this way. It isn't that we form one marriage union (I mean, we do, but that isn't what the text is talking about). There is a spiritual truth there that we are only barely (and incompletely) able to model because it is a spiritual reality that lacks a tangible, physical counterpart.

    What do we do when scripture describes a spiritual truth for which there is no tangible counterpart in creation? Consider the Trinity, or even our union with Christ (We are presently seated in heavenlies with Christ at the right hand of God - how do we comprehend and examine such things??)

    We understand that the one who is able to do good and fails to do so is sinning. That is why we have laws about criminal negligence - as members of society we have an obligation to preserve life - if I build a bridge and set aside safety protocols to save a buck, then someone gets hurt or killed - I am held responsible for contributing to their injury of death - we understand this without a lot of explanation.

    So it seems quite reasonable for us to say that if God can save six, and chooses to save only three, his choice to save three implicityly is a choice to condemn the other three. That is because we think as men think.

    But what if spiritually speaking, God could elect to save three without implicitly condemning the other three? It would be impossible to model such a thing - but is is wise to dismiss it just because we cannot model it?

    That is, if scripture makes it plain that God elects some for salvation we do well to stand on such an item. But if scripture does not make as unambiguous a claim for the election to damnation - are we really qualified to fill in the gaps?

    For myself, I -do- find double predestination in scripture, when I go into scripture specifically looking for it, but I hold that in check against the fact that I can do the same with all sorts of other things. Prooftexting works best when all of scripture resonates with the text.

    This isn't my defense of single predestination however, it is just my way of saying that I don't hold the case for double predestination as being as "open and shut" a case as some would do - not that I regard their argument as flawed, but rather that I see greater room for alternatives than they do.

  • At 4:21 PM, December 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel, you said,

    "We understand that the one who is able to do good and fails to do so is sinning. That is why we have laws about criminal negligence - as members of society we have an obligation to preserve life - if I build a bridge and set aside safety protocols to save a buck, then someone gets hurt or killed - I am held responsible for contributing to their injury of death - we understand this without a lot of explanation."

    So it seems quite reasonable for us to say that if God can save six, and chooses to save only three, his choice to save three implicityly is a choice to condemn the other three. That is because we think as men think.

    But what if spiritually speaking, God could elect to save three without implicitly condemning the other three? It would be impossible to model such a thing - but is is wise to dismiss it just because we cannot model it?"

    What immediately strikes me is that the illustration doesn't really fit. By that I mean, from a human perspective we generally have no right to take the life of someone else because all human beings a created in the image of God.

    However, when speaking of God saving people, not one deserves it. We all stand condemned.

    I know that doesn't answer the question of double or single predestination, but the illustration struck me as somehow lacking.

    As for double predestination. What do you make of the passage I mentioned earlier in the comments from 1 Peter 2? Its context is dealing with God's choosing of people for salvation, and then it speaks of those who disobey the word "as they were destined to do"

  • At 8:12 AM, December 28, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim V - 2 Peter 2:9, tells us [1] that the Lord has understood how to rescue the pious out of temptation and [2] has also understood how to ensure the punishment of the unjust on the day of punishment.

    Unless I am mistaken, the word "oiden" describes the act of understanding how to do something, as in perceiving it, discerning it - so that one knows "what must be done" - and it is used only once in the verse and thereby describes both scenarios - that is, the Lord knows what must be done in order to rescue the pious out of temptation and He knows what must be done in order to ensure that the unjust are punished in the day of judging.

    What the verse is saying is that the Lord is reserving punishment for the unjust, as opposed to the Lord reserving the unjust for punishment.

    The word however (terein) can be used metaphorically to mean "keeping one in the state in which he is currently in" - and I will admit, given the context the metaphor fits well enough - but that in and of itself is not enough to demand the bypassing of the literal meaning.

    The NASB is a less nuanced translation of the verse.

    Of interest is that even if we take it metaphorically, as many do - we would really be saying that the unjust are right now being punished (in this lifetime) and will continue to be likewise punished until the day of judgment, which again, doesn't convice me of double predestination, since it does not say that they are predestined to hell, but only to punishment in the here and now.

    I don't suggest that my exegesis is to be regarded as anything more than my explanation of what I do with that verse however. If the verse -must- mean that God reserves the unjust for punishment, then I will have to adjust my theology a bit, but if it does not, then I find nothing in the verse that destroys the idea of single predestination.

    I do appreciate that my explanation in the previous post is lacking - it is not exactly "filling" to say something like "it is a spiritual reality that we cannot hope to model" - since that seems for all the world to be a cop out - nevertheless, I can't dismissed it just because it doesn't satisfy my curiosity (and trust me, it doesn't).


  • At 10:57 AM, December 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for dealing with 2 Peter 2:9, now what about 1 Peter 2:8?

    NAB 1 Peter 2:8 and, "A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE"; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this
    doom they were also appointed.

    RSV 1 Peter 2:8 and "A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall"; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they
    were destined to do.

  • At 12:27 PM, December 28, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim V.- sorry about that, I must have been half asleep this a.m., but for whatever reason I thought you were talking about 2 Peter, and verse nine was about the only verse I could see that might be bent in that direction.

    In the context of 1 Peter 2, Peter was making reference to Isaiah's Messianic prophesy (c.f. Isa 8:13-14). Peter's reasoning is that Christ is the chief Cornerstone, and as such we should expect not only the Chief Priests to reject him, but also all who follow their lead - this was prophesied, or said another way, these who are presently (2000 years ago) rejecting the Messiah have been ordained to this very thing 800 years ago (well, 2800 years ago now) when Isaiah gave us this prophesy.

    Peter is not making a theological case for God predestinating men to hell, he is making a case that one needn't disqualify Jesus as the Messiah on the basis that his Messianic claim was rejected by the chief priests; rather they should understand that since it has been foretold that the builders would reject the Chief Cornerstone, their rejection did not deny, but in fact affirmed Christ's Messianic claim.

    Isaiah's prophesy did not specifically ordain individuals to this role, but rather identified that men were going to respond this way when the Messiah came. There is an imprecision inherent in the context (and even in the grammar) that gives me genuine pause - I find I cannot in good conscience interpret this text to imply that Peter is passively endorsing double predestination - he is not arguing that God causes men to do this, he is arguing that God said this very thing would happen - and though the distinction may seem trivial, it is significant to me. I think Peter is simply saying that these rejections were prophesied, and the men who were currently rejecting Christ were doing so in perfect accord with Isaiah's prophesies - and because these were foretold we (i.e. the early church) shouldn't be surprised to see the chief priests rejecting Christ.

    Because the text directly links the chief priest etc. to Isaiah's prophesy - I think it is not extreme or even unusual to understand the terminology used by Peter here as contextually motivated, that is, when the text says the chief priests were set aside for this very thing we understand that God allowed their sin to harden them (just as he allowed Pharaoh's). This is not to suggest that God initiated their rejection, but rather that God did not restrain it. My point is not about the mechanics behind how God ordains such things, but rather that I don't see from this text at least enough evidence to demands that God's foreknowledge of man's rejection is in fact manipulative.

    If that makes any sense.

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