Picking a lane on election and predestination

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Note: While I’m unapologetic about holding to Reformed theology, I’m not evangelical about it. I share the gospel without mentioning it, and gladly fellowship with authentic Christians who hold other views. However, I don’t appreciate the ignorance and arrogance of those who condemn those who believe Reformed theology.

If God didn’t choose to save some particular sinners destined for Hell, then it is because He couldn’t save them, or He wouldn’t save them.

Reconciling God’s sovereignty with man’s responsibility is important to think through for orthodox Christians – whether Reformed, Arminian, Molinist, or whatever you like to call yourself (i.e., anyone who agrees that God knew before creation began who would ultimately choose to repent and believe, and that open theism is false because God is omniscient and not learning as He goes). But I see too many people making the task unnecessarily difficult because they forget that our default destination is Hell. They unwittingly create a straw-man situation where God owes an opportunity for salvation to everyone. But then it wouldn’t be mercy and grace; it would be justice.

In other words, aside from Adam and Eve, who could have chosen otherwise but ultimately needed a Savior because of their choices, everyone else was initially destined for Hell. (For simplicity, I’m leaving out any miscarriage and age of accountability scenarios, however one fleshes those out).

So absent God’s mercy and grace, everyone would end up in Hell. People overcomplicate this to try to get God off the hook for eternal damnation. But it is they who put him on the hook. Everyone deserves to go there, but by God’s mercy and grace, He elects and predestines to save some. So humans are always the cause of them not being saved, not God.

I’ve yet to see someone with orthodox Christian beliefs come up with any alternative besides these reasons for why people end up in Hell:

  1. God didn’t elect them (Reformed)
  2. God couldn’t persuade them (Arminian or Molinism)
  3. God wouldn’t persuade them (Arminian or Molinism)

Even if you hold the view that God “looked down the corridor of time” and elected and predestined those who would choose him of their own “free will,” you are still left with those choices for the remainder.

Option 2 means that nothing God could have done would have convinced you to repent and believe.  It wouldn’t have mattered if He sovereignly put a stellar apologist next door to you and gave you lots of encounters with solid Christians (i.e., good experiences with Christianity and complete access to the facts and logic behind the faith). That sounds like Reformed theology to me, as it means that God created these people knowing that nothing would persuade them to believe. In his foreknowledge, He elected not to make them spiritually alive (a la John 3:8 “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”). They allegedly could choose him freely, but He was powerless to convince them.

Option 3 means that God could have persuaded them but elected not to. Again, that sounds Reformed to me.

I’ve heard of people trying to use Molinism (the concept of middle knowledge, where God knows every possible scenario that could have happened) to get around this, saying that God picked the universe where the most people would choose him. But that means that some would go to Hell in this universe but wouldn’t have in another universe, so God chose them to go to Hell. So they unwittingly end up with the same (false) scenario they are trying to explain away.

It is more biblical and logical to say that people have “free will” within their given nature. But as you can’t choose to fly like a bird because it isn’t in your nature, you can’t choose Jesus when it isn’t in your spiritually dead nature. But if God makes you spiritually alive (again, John 3:8) then you can and will choose Jesus because it is now in your nature to be able to do so.

If God didn’t choose to save some particular sinners destined for Hell, then it is because He couldn’t save them, or He wouldn’t save them.


Bonus thought: Why would Paul anticipate this argument if he was presenting anything but the Reformed view? Romans 9:19–20 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?”

7 thoughts on “Picking a lane on election and predestination”

    1. Yes! Glad you are as well. I came to it slowly. I didn’t even know what it was for the longest time, as no one in the Methodist church talked about it. Then I learned more and more and realized it explained things so much better. Now we’re in the PCA.

      As I said, I’m not aggressive about pushing Reformed theology, but I do like to highlight to people how their criticisms of Reformed theology fall back on their theology as well. They are so hung up on “free will” that they don’t realize the implications.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I had to shake the dust off my feet from one blog that I used to really enjoy. That writer seemed to truly hate the Reformed position and spent every opportunity he could find in tearing it down. Problem was, he tore down the TULIP acronym, not the actual, biblical position of the Calvinist. He would mock and sneer at TULIP so badly, but would never confront the actual Bible verses that explain the position. He became so hateful, I had to leave. Don’t know why people aren’t willing to realize their position is against the Bible, and that God is in control. Upon writing that, it makes sense, they don’t want to recognize that God really is in control.

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    1. Agreed! I don’t bother trying to convince them of the Reformed view, as they can be so toxic. But I like to give them something to think about. Again, the logical conclusion of their view is that God can’t or won’t persuade people to repent and believe. So how is that different/worse than what they rail against?

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  2. I’ve been around and around with Stan on this issue and I’m still not sure I’ve any reason to alter my position regarding free will versus God’s sovereignty. I don’t believe God allowing us free will means He abdicates His sovereignty and don’t believe He could, since our very existence depends solely on Him allowing it. I do believe He calls us to Him…or at least some portion of us…or does so allowing us to freely respond one way or another. Thus, I do agree He doesn’t send anyone to hell so much as He allows people to choose to go.

    If you see a problem with my take, I’m totally open to how you might explain what I’m missing.

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    1. I don’t disagree with anything you said. I think people get caught up in loaded terms or preconceptions sometimes. I also think that if you get people talking long enough, they sound like Calvinists J. By that, I mean that some Baptists will strenuously oppose Calvinism but argue aggressively for “once saved, always saved” – which Reformed folks would call perseverance of the saints. And people who don’t like evangelism yet lash out against Reformed theology will say how only the Holy Spirit can save people. We agree, of course, but don’t use that as an excuse not to share the Gospel.

      Again, this isn’t something I divide over. I just like to point out to those who hate on Reformed theology that their version of God has the same “liabilities” (of course, I don’t find them liabilities at all).

      Liked by 1 person

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