By Mike Willis
In last week’s article, I sought to show the system of Calvinism to be so interrelated that one cannot accept one part of it without accepting the entire doctrine. In this week’s article, I propose to list some objections to the Calvinist doctrines of predestination and election.
It Changes The Ground of Our Salvation
According to the Bible, man is saved through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Without the atonement on Calvary, no one could be saved. However, the Calvinist doctrine of election and predestination makes one’s salvation dependent, not upon the blood of Jesus, but upon the election of God prior to all the ages began. Before the world ever began, God had already decided who would and who would not be saved. Before the blood of Christ was ever shed, God had already decided to save some and condemn others. The shedding of the blood of Christ was just the enactment of a salvation drama according to the doctrine of election.
It Is Repugnant To The Nature of God
According to the Scriptures, God is presented as all wise, all good, and all just. Yet, according to the doctrine of election, God decreed something for a particular end which neither is nor can be good. He is supposed to have created the greater portion of men for eternal damnation to the praise of His glory. In order to demonstrate the glory of God, some men and angels were created and predestinated to eternal damnation. Yet that which is supposed to demonstrate the glory of God is contrary to His mercy and justice. It is repugnant to His justice because it affirms that God saves and damns men without regard to how they live. It is repugnant to the goodness of God because it teaches that God has willed the greatest possible evil-eternal damnation in Hell-to the greater number of His creatures. Hence, this doctrine is contrary to the revealed nature of God.
It Is Contrary to the Nature of Man
Not only is the Calvinist doctrine of election contrary to the nature of God, it is also contrary to the nature of man. Man is presented in the Scriptures with the ability to choose life or death (cf. Josh. 24:15). Yet, according to Calvinism, man cannot of his own volition choose whether or not to be saved. God has made that choice for him before the ages began. I think you can see this point more clearly by examining the fall of man in the Garden of Eden from this point of view.
According to Calvinism, God created Adam and Eve in such a way that they could not keep from sinning. Indeed, He had decreed that they would sin. Then, when they carried out the will of God by sinning, God turned and punished them. Similarly, God has created some men and angels in such a way that they cannot keep from sinning. Furthermore, He withholds from them such a portion of His grace as to enable these men to have the ability to repent and accept the gospel. Then, He condemns them to Hell for being in the condition of being an unrepentant sinner.
Contrast this idea with the nature of man presented in the Scriptures. In the Bible, man is presented as having the ability to choose whether or not to be saved. Man can either reject the will of God (Lk. 7:30) or accept it (Psa. 119:30). Any view of man which teaches the doctrine that man cannot affect whether or not he will be saved is contrary to the nature of man as revealed in God’s holy word.
It Is Hostile To the Nature of Eternal Life
Eternal life is presented in the Bible as the “inheritance of the sons of God” (Tit. 3:7); it is presented as the “reward of obedience” (Mt. 5:12); it is the recompense of those who fight the good fight of faith and who run well; it is the crown of righteousness (Rev. 2:10; 2 Tim. 4:7-8). Yet, according to the doctrine of predestination, eternal life is given arbitrarily because God chose to give it to man. It is not based on the reaction of man to the offer of salvation by God; it is based on God’s choice to save men.
It Is Hostile To The Nature of Eternal Death.
Eternal death is presented as the wages of sin (Rom. 6:23) and given to those who do not obey the gospel (2 Thess. 1:9). It is for the enemies and adversaries of God (Mt. 25:41; Heb. 10:27). Yet, according to predestination, God created man in such a way as He cannot keep from sinning. Then, He withheld from man a sufficient portion of His grace as to enable him to believe and obey the gospel. Then, He condemned to hell the man who could not keep from doing this, who simply carried out God’s will. Hence, the doctrine of predestination is contrary to the nature of both eternal life and eternal death.
It Is Injurious to the Salvation of Man
When the doctrine of predestination is presented, the man is told that he can do nothing to affect his salvation in either way. Hence, why should a man want to do any good thing? Doing good, trying to obey God’s word, will not help him in any way if he is part of the reprobate. Doing evil, disobeying God’s holy word, will not affect his soul in any way if he is part of the elect. Why, therefore, should a man even be concerned about his salvation if what the Calvinists teach is true? Why should he pray? Why should he study God’s word? Why should he try to help the ones who need his assistance? In short, why should man be concerned about his own salvation? Why should man be concerned about taking the gospel to his fellow man?
It Makes God A Respecter Of Persons
The Scriptures clearly present that God is no respecter of persons. Peter said, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35). “For there is no respect of persons with God” (Rom. 2:11; cf. Deut. 10:17; Gal. 2:6; Eph. 6:9; etc.). Yet, according to the doctrine of election, God arbitrarily chose who would and who would not be saved. Without any concern as to whether or not man was trying to live pleasing or displeasing to Him, God showed a willingness to save one man and condemn another. That is favoritism, respect of persons.
It Destroys the Comfort of the Gospel
The gospel is presented as a gospel of comfort in such passages as the following: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt. 11:2$-30). Is it comforting to tell people that God chose that Jesus die only for an elect group of people and that they might not be one of those for whom Jesus died? Is it comforting to tell people that God arbitrarily elected some to salvation and some to damnation and that the greater likelihood is that they are among those who are elected to damnation? Is it comforting to tell people that if God chose them to damnation that they will be lost even if they devoted all of their life to the service of God?
This damnable doctrine destroys the very idea that God is love. If God does not love all sinners and wish that all sinners were going to be saved, what guarantee do I have that He wishes that I be saved or that He loves me? This abominable doctrine leaves one with no assurance whatsoever that God loves Him enough to wish that He would be saved. Indeed, according to this doctrine, God hates the greater portion of mankind and loves only a select few!
It Destroys Basis For God’s Opposition To Sin
God is presented in the Bible as being altogether opposed to sin. Calvinists say that God is opposed to sin but their doctrine makes that impossible. According to predestination, God has predetermined everything that is going to come to pass. When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, God had willed that he sin. Furthermore, when a man lies today, he lies because God so willed it; when a man commits adultery, he commits adultery because God so willed it. This view of predestination makes sin the accomplishing of the will of God! How could God punish a man for doing what He willed that he do? Hence, this view of God destroys the basis for God’s opposition to sin.
There are insurmountable objections to the Calvinist view of predestination and election. We have touched only a few of them in this article. We trust that you will continue to examine this doctrine with us remembering that Calvinism is a system of theology. One cannot accept one portion of Calvinism without consistently accepting all of it. Those today who are teaching the imputation of the perfect obedience of Christ are logically bound to accept the total Calvinistic package or establish on what basis one can consistently accept part of it and reject the rest of it. By knowing the conclusions to which this system leads, we are better prepared to oppose the first inroads of Calvinism among us.
Truth Magazine XXII: 34, pp. 547-549
August 31, 1978