“Double Predestination” - An 'Other Side of the Coin' Assumption.

The New Testament clearly teaches the wonderful doctrine of the Predestination of the Saints, but so-called “double predestination” is not and never has been part of it - except in the reasonings of certain reformed theologians and writers. A full definition of 'double predestination' can be found here.

The error of this teaching works something like this:

Jesus specifically warned His disciples not to assume that few could be saved (Matt. 19:25-26).

The Scripture is clear that God's own Elect are effectively 'set aside' from the foundation of the world. God alone is Elector and Caller. The place of true Christians is safe: We have an eternal home with God when these physical bodies expire! John 6: 39, 44, 55-58, 65. John 10: 27-30. Ephesians 1:3-14. Romans 8:1-2, 16-39. 2 Cor. 5:1-8.

Emil Brunner

The great Swiss theologian Emil Brunner (1889-1966) who found it necessary to point out that 'double predestination' never occurs in the Scriptures.

John Calvin vividly saw this and then made an assumption and a jump of logic in believing that this must also apply to the uncalled, or to the 'reprobates' – so, just as true believers will surely be saved, and are assured of heaven, unbelievers will surely be lost and are assured of, or, predestined for hell. Of course, he was aware, as all later Calvinist writers have been aware, that the Scriptures referring to predestination only refer to true elect believers and are completely silent about unrepentant sinners, so Calvinism went outside of these Scriptures to attempt to find support in Scriptures such as Matthew 7:13-14 and in Romans 9-11. Calvin was a deeply sincere man who is rightly admired, but - away from the more hard-line reformed writers - many now believe that his exegesis of Romans 9-11 was in error, since a series of verses which he believed referred to those God whom had decided for eternal destruction, really do not appear to be referring to hell or to final destruction at all but, rather, to God's right to use people, nations and circumstances on earth and in this present life to work out His grand purposes (see Predestination of the Saints: Biblical. 'Double Predestination': Unbiblical).

Unfortunately most Calvinist fundamentalist theologians, and several reformed writers still hold to Calvin's original exegetical schema which they appear to treat with something approaching religious awe, laying them open to the charge that they consider Calvinism of equal importance to Scripture.

In fact, the Scriptures never draw an exact parallel between the saved and the lost in quite this mechanical sort of way. In New Testament teaching, for example, only those specifically rejecting Jesus (John 3:18; Acts 10:43), those abusing the Gospel for personal gain (Matt. 7:21-23; Jude 4-13), and those refusing to repent (Luke 13:1-5; Rev. 9:20-21), appear to be under threat of eternal damnation. While certain Scriptures might appear to suggest that few can be saved (Matt. 7:13-14), Jesus specifically warned His disciples to avoid this leap of logic (Matt. 19:25-26).

But (It Could Be Asked) Doesn't the 'Sheep and the Goats' Draw a Parallel Between the Saved and Lost?

Yes, it does, but carefully look at Matthew 25:31-46 and notice a few things:
1. Firstly, it is confirmed that the kingdom has been prepared for God's people, 'since the creation of the world' (verse 34. NIV throughout).
2. There is no indication anywhere here that the 'goats' are of huge number but that the 'sheep' are few.
3. The only distinction drawn between these groups is that the saved manifested the love of God in their lives and the unsaved did not (verses 34-46).
4. While the predestination of the saints is confirmed (verse 34), nevertheless, as always in the New Testament, the reverse (or, 'double predestination') is absent and the 'eternal fire' to which the wicked and evil are sent (verse 41), is only described as being 'prepared for the devil and his angels' - not "prepared" for the reprobate!

Emil Brunner's Accurate Assessment of "Double Predestination"

...But of double predestination -- that God has chosen one from eternity for eternal life and has rejected the other from eternity to eternal damnation, there is no word to be found in the Holy Scripture. One can scarcely avoid drawing this conclusion from the teachings of the Scripture. Logic always misleads in that direction. But the Scripture itself does not do it, nor should we. We should leave the Scripture as it is, unsystematic, in all its parts; other- wise we pervert its message. The Scripture teaches a divine predestination of election; it also teaches the judgment of the unbelieving. It teaches, too, that nothing happens without God's will, but it never teaches — let me repeat it -- even in one single word -- a divine predestination of rejection. This fearful teaching is opposed to the Scripture, while the doctrine of eternal election is not only according to the Scripture, but truly the center of the Holy Scripture, the heart of the Gospel reason cannot fathom this. That is always reason's fate with the Word of God. The dogma of Double Predestination is a product of human logic which can- not withstand the a-logical teaching of the Scripture. Let us rejoice in our eternal election, let us be wary of defection! Let us say with Paul: "We who are saved," and let us be warned of him: "He that standeth let him take heed lest he fall," for he cannot then escape the Judgment. The life of the Christian, like a door hung upon two hinges, must swing upon this promise -- and this warning. If it slips out of the one or the other it ceases to swing true.”

(Taken from Our Faith, Chapter Seven: Eternal Election, by Emil Brunner, translated by John W. Rilling, and published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, NY, 1954. A section of this book can be found online here).

Robin A. Brace, 2006.


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