Nothing can get an Arminian’s (quasi Arminians too) blood boiling like predestination. But double predestination is sure to cause our Arminian brethren a heart attack! The doctrine of double predestination has evoked much anger and venom from many people. It has been falsely depicted and grossly presented by it’s objectors. “It makes God to be the author and creator of evil”, “It makes God to be an evil tyrant”, “Only a cruel god would create someone just to damn them.” Those are just some of the objections often presented.
They may even turn to the Prince of Preachers- Charles Spurgeon an ardent believer in unconditional election- to state or support their case. Spurgeon once preached:
Do you believe that God created man and arbitrarily, sovereignly—it is the same thing—created that man, with no other intention, than that of damning him? Made him, and yet, for no other reason than that of destroying him for ever? Well, if you can believe it, I pity you, that is all I can say: you deserve pity, that you should think so meanly of God, whose mercy endureth for ever.*
It does seem that Spurgeon held to single predestination. That is that God only predestines some people to salvation but did not predestine those whom to damn. There are a few things to point out here. One is that Spurgeon may be taking aim at hyper-Calvinists. Outside of the hyper-Calvinist (I’m using the historical definition not the Norman Geisler redefinition) camp I know of not one person who believes God “arbitrarily” creates people simply to damn them. Sinners are not damned simply because God wants to damn them. No, sinners are damned because of our rebellion against God. Both in our corporate sin in our federal head Adam and for personal sins that follow.
The second is that when God decrees to damn sinners it must never be viewed apart from the fall (sin). In both the infralapsarian view and the supralapsarian view the fall is always in mind when reflecting on God’s decree to damn those whom He withholds His saving grace from. R.C Sproul puts it in this way:
If God, when He is decreeing reprobation, does so in consideration of the reprobate’s being already fallen, then He does not coerce him to sin. To be reprobate is to be left in sin, not pushed or forced to sin. If the decree of reprobation were made without a view to the fall, then the objection to double predestination would be valid and God would be properly charged with being the author of sin. But Reformed theologians have been careful to avoid such a blasphemous notion…God’s decree of reprobation, given in light of the fall, is a decree to justice, not injustice. In this view the biblical a priori that God is neither the cause nor the author of sin is safeguarded…The importance of viewing the decree of reprobation in light of the fall is seen in the on-going discussions between Reformed theologians concerning infra- and supra-lapsarianism. Both viewpoints include the fall in God’s decree. Both view the decree of preterition in terms of divine permission. The real issue between the positions concerns the logical order of the decrees. In the supralapsarian view the decree of election and reprobation is logically prior to the decree to permit the fall. In the infralapsarian view the decree to permit the fall is logically prior to the decree to election and reprobation.
Simply put when God decrees to save some and reject others passing them over decreeing their damnation He is not doing so from a mass of innocent humans all deserving to be saved. Rather, the fall must always be kept in mind since God decreed the fall and in it all humanity is guilty of sin and deserving of God’s just damnation. This is precisely why the words of Rom. 9:14-16 are so humbling and precious, “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”
Dr. Louis Berkhof, in his Systematic Theology, is wise to define predestination in regards to man in light of the fall. He writes:
In passing from the discussion of the divine decree to that of predestination, we are still dealing with the same subject, but are passing from the general to the particular. The word “predestination” is not always used in the same sense. Sometimes it is employed simply as a synonym of the generic word “decree.” In other cases it serves to designate the purpose of God respecting all His moral creatures. Most frequently, however, it denotes “the counsel of God concerning fallen men, including the sovereign election of some and the righteous reprobation of the rest.” In the present discussion it is used primarily in the last sense, though not altogether to the exclusion of the second meaning (emphasis mine).*
Keep that in mind as we read his writing on election:
The purpose of election. The purpose of this eternal election is twofold: (1) The proximate purpose is the salvation of the elect. That man is chosen or elected unto salvation is clearly taught in the Word of God, Rom. 11:7–11; 2 Thess. 2:13. (2) The final aim is the glory of God. Even the salvation of men is subordinate to this. That the glory of God is the highest purpose of the electing grace is made very emphatic in Eph. 1:6, 12, 14. The social gospel of our day likes to stress the fact that man is elected unto service. In so far as this is intended as a denial of man’s election unto salvation and unto the glory of God, it plainly goes contrary to Scripture. Taken by itself, however, the idea that the elect are predestined unto service or good works is entirely Scriptural, Eph. 2:10; 2 Tim. 2:21; but this end is subservient to the ends already indicated.
Reprobation may be defined as that eternal decree of God whereby He has determined to pass some men by with the operations of His special grace, and to punish them for their sins, to the manifestation of His justice…
The doctrine of reprobation naturally follows from the logic of the situation. The decree of election inevitably implies the decree of reprobation. If the all-wise God, possessed of infinite knowledge, has eternally purposed to save some, then He ipso facto also purposed not to save others. If He has chosen or elected some, then He has by that very fact also rejected others. Brunner warns against this argument, since the Bible does not in a single word teach a divine predestination unto rejection. But it seems to us that the Bible does not contradict but justifies the logic in question. Since the Bible is primarily a revelation of redemption, it naturally does not have as much to say about reprobation as about election. But what it says is quite sufficient, cf. Matt. 11:25, 26; Rom. 9:13, 17, 18, 21, 22; 11:7; Jude 4; 1 Pet. 2:8.*
This leads to a third point regarding the use of Spurgeon’s quote. That is unless one is willing to adopt universalism or a modified Arminianism then one cannot hold to a consistent view of single predestination. A firm belief in unconditional election logically leads to double predestination as Dr. Berkhof points out in the above quote. Or better expounded on by Dr. Sproul:
Theoretically there are four possible kinds of consistent single predestination. (1) Universal predestination to election (which Brunner does not hold); (2) universal predestination to reprobation (which nobody holds); (3) particular predestination to election with the option of salvation by self-initiative to those not elect (a qualified Arminianism) which Brunner emphatically rejects; and (4) particular predestination to reprobation with the option of salvation by self-initiative to those not reprobate (which nobody holds). The only other kind of single predestination is the dialectical kind, which is absurd. (I once witnessed a closed discussion of theology between H. M. Kuitert of the Netherlands and Cornelius Van Til of Westminster Seminary. Kuitert went into a lengthy discourse on theology, utilizing the method of the dialectic as he went. When he was finished, Dr. Van Til calmly replied: “Now tell me your theologywithout the dialectic, so I can understand it!” Kuitert was unable to do so. With Brunner’s view of predestination the only way to avoid “double” predestination is with the use of “double-talk.”
Thus, “single” predestination can be consistently maintained only within the framework of universalism or some sort of qualified Arminianism. If particular election is to be maintained and if the notion that all salvation is ultimately based upon that particular election is to be maintained, then we must speak of double predestination (emphasis mine).*
As for the illogical leap that double predestination must make God evil and the author of sin, I will turn to Dr. Martin Luther:
When men hear us say that God works both good and evil in us, and that we are subject to God’s working by mere passive necessity, they seem to imagine a man who is in himself good, and not evil, having an evil work wrought in him by God; for they do not sufficiently bear in mind how incessantly active God is in all His creatures, allowing none of them to keep holiday. He who would understand these matters, however, should think thus: God works evil in us (that is, by means of us) not through God’s own fault, but by reason of our own defect. We being evil by nature, and God being good, when He impels us to act by His own acting upon us according to the nature of His omnipotence, good though He is in Himself, He cannot but do evil by our evil instrumentality; although, according to His wisdom, He makes good use of this evil for His own glory and for our salvation.*
Tis always good to use the minds of learned and godly men. For a better article on the subject by Dr. R.C. Sproul go here.
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?- Romans 9:19-24
*Spurgeon’s sermon on Rom. 9:13, “Jacob I have Loved but Esau I have Hated.”
*R.C. Sproul, Double Predestination
*Berkhof, L. (1938). Systematic theology (109). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co.
*Ibid, p. (115)
*Ibid, p. (116)
*Ibid, p. (117–118)
* R.C. Sproul, Double Predestination
*Cited from R.C. Sproul, Double Predestination