By Mike Willis
As we examine the Calvinist doctrines of salvation, we need to also examine what Calvinists teach about reprobation. The strict Calvinists have no hesitancy in stating emphatically that God has decreed the damnation of certain men. They state,
By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter III, No. 3).
After having stated their belief about God electing some to salvation, the writers of the Westminster Confession of Faith stated their belief about God’s treatment of the reprobate.
The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extended or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to passby, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice (Chapter III, No. 7).
Even the early Baptists wrote openly of their conviction that God has predestinated some unto life and others unto eternal damnation. The Philadelphia Confession of Faith states this doctrine as follows:
By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated or foreordained to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace; other being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice (Section III, No. 4).
Their creed goes on to discuss how the reprobate are damned because God withholds from them a sufficient amount of grace to cause them to be saved. Hence, strict Calvinists had no trouble stating their belief in both election and reprobation.
But, my brethren, Calvinists have long ago perceived that the doctrine that God damned some people to hell was not all that popular. Who wants to believe that this reprobate baby who died in infancy long before it was old enough to commit a single sin will burn forever in hell because God predetermined that this should occur to the praise of His glory?
Yet, this is what strict Calvinism teaches. Most rational men want nothing to do with such a damnable, pernicious doctrine. Hence, in recent years, Calvinists have begun to back off of the doctrine of reprobation. They want to continue to
believe in election but deny that they believe in reprobation.
In Present Truth magazine, Klaas Runia wrote as follows about this problem:
When L. Berkhof gives his proof for the doctrine of reprobation, he begins with the following statement. “The doctrine of reprobation 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.” And L. Boettner opens his discussion of “Reprobation” with these words: “The doctrine of Predestination of course logically holds that some are foreordained to death as truly as others are foreordained to life. The very terms `elect’ and ‘election’ imply the terms `non-elect’ and `reprobation.’ When some are chosen out others are left not chosen.”
It is of course true that `logic’ does play an important part in theology. Reformed theology has always freely acknowledge its good right. The Westminster Confession states that “the whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture or by good and necessary consequence, may be deduced from Scripture” (Ch. 1, vii. By this very means the church has developed its doctrine of the Trinity also its Christology, yet the question must always arise; is a particular consequence `good and necessary’? In general we must say that especially at the point of an eternal decree of reprobation we have to be most careful. And one should ask oneself: why does Scripture itself not draw this conclusion, if it is so natural and so logical! (Vol. V, No. 6, p. 28).
The author in Present Truth chose to call this a “paradox” and left it unresolved. The truth of the matter is that some Calvinists want to believe in election without accepting the logical conclusion of the doctrine, reprobation. That doctrine is just a little too sour for their taste. Hence, they choose to abide in inconsistency rather than accepting the logical consequences of their damnable heresy.
My brethren, please keep in mind the logical conclusions to which Calvinism leads. It states that God has predetermined every event in history. Hence, God has predetermined, not foreknew, that the greater majority of men would die in sin, whether inherited or committed, and be eternally punished in hell. He predetermined that this would happen for the praise of His glory. We must not allow the Calvinists the luxury of not accepting the logical consequence of the doctrine of election.
Does God Want Men To Perish?
It seems ridiculous to pose such a question, yet this is exactly the question we must pose to deal with reprobation. This doctrine teaches that God has decreed, predetermined, and foreordained that the great number of men in this world would end up in hell for the praise of His glory. Inasmuch as God wants to be praised by men, He certainly wants these men to end up as He has willed that they be. Hence, this is by all means a legitimate question for Calvinists to answer. Does God want the greater portion of mankind to burn eternally in Hell. Calvinists say yes; the Bible says no. Read the following passages:
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (1 Tim. 2:5-6).
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (Jn. 3:16).
Contrary to what Calvinists teach, God gets no pleasure out of watching the wicked perish and burn forever in Hell. The prophet Ezekiel stated this plainly as he wrote:
But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? (Ezek. 18:21-23).
Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, 1 have no pleasure in death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (Ezek. 33:11).
The God which the Calvinists worship is a horrible God indeed. He obtains some kind of sadistic pleasure in watching people burn forever in hell. He creates a large number of men for the express purpose of watching them die in sin and burn forever in hell! Who can worship such a God?
The Calvinist doctrine destroys the plain statement of Scripture that God is love. Rather, Calvinism demands that God be a god of hatred. He hates more people than anybody else; He hates them longer than anyone else can hate them inasmuch as He hates them prior to their coming into this world and forever after they come into this world. Having hated more people than anyone and harboring this hatred forever, God would become a God of hatred! As a matter of fact, God would have this hatred toward every man except that select little group of “teacher pets” whom He arbitrarily chose to elect to salvation.
This doctrine of Calvinism is by all means the most repugnant of the doctrine presented in that system. Men tend to turn their eyes away from it and look at the positive points of Calvinism. Indeed, some among us are even intrigued at the idea of “once in grace, always in grace.” Others like the idea that God personally called me to give me faith and repentance so that I could be saved. These doctrines which attract men cannot be logically maintained without accepting the conclusion that God damns the non-elect of His own will. They doctrine of reprobation is one of the main reasons for rejecting Calvinism in all of its parts.
Truth Magazine XXII: 31, pp. 499-500
August 10, 1978