Continued from part 3, on the monstrousness of double predestination
If there’s one “obvious” problem with predestination that strikes pretty much everyone straight away, it is this:
If God has already predestined the elect to salvation, then they will be saved no matter what, and so we can all sit home and have tea because there’s no need to go through the hard work of evangelizing.
It seems like an obvious problem until you work through some basic questions, like, how does God achieve the ends that he desires?
In the case of salvation, we know that…
- We are justified by faith (Romans 5:1)—not just by God’s fiat. Justification may be a legal declaration of our righteousness, but God doesn’t make it until we respond to him in faith.
- Our faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17)—God doesn’t manufacturer it in us ex nihilo, but rather we manufacture it in response to his word, out of our regenerated hearts.
- The word of Christ is delivered, usually, by a person—God does not produce the words of Scripture as random thoughts in our minds in a spare moment when we aren’t thinking of anything else. Rather, the words are produced in our minds through the natural mechanism of hearing or reading them.
This being the case, if God has predestined someone to salvation, then he has predestined them to hear the gospel and to respond in faith. So if you think, “Well, the Imbubu Tribe* has never heard the gospel and I am the only person who can bring it to them, but I shan’t go because if God has predestined some of them to salvation they will be saved regardless of what I do,” you are simply making a nonsense-statement. If in fact God uses the means of evangelism to save his people, and if in fact you are the only person who can evangelize the Imbubu Tribe, and if in fact you refuse to go, then in fact God has not predestined any of the Imbubu Tribe to salvation. If he had, you would not be having such silly thoughts, and you would be going to evangelize them instead.
The mistake of this objection becomes much clearer when we realize that, under Calvinism, everything is predestined. Whether I will have cereal tomorrow is just as predestined as whether I will be saved.
But imagine if I said, “Well, I don’t have any cereal in the house, and I would like some tomorrow for breakfast, but I shan’t go to the shops because if God has predestined me to have cereal then it will happen regardless of what I do.”
You would think me mad. That’s not how God has made the world to work. He uses natural means, secondary causes to achieve the results he predestines. Indeed, those means and causes are themselves predestined. Yet this example of cereal ex nihilo, which is manifest nonsense, is precisely the same statement as the one about evangelism—only with salvation swapped out for something a little more mundane.
If it is comically absurd to think you could have cereal for breakfast tomorrow without buying cereal, because of predestination; or that you could get fit without diet or exercise, because of predestination; then it is also comically absurd to think anyone can be saved without hearing the gospel, because of predestination.
So this thorny problem, like many that apply to Calvinism, turns out to be simply a case of not thinking through one’s intuitions.
To be continued…
* Not a real tribe. Hopefully.