Predestination

1. What are the different senses in which the word predestination is used by theologians?

1st. As equivalent to the generic word decree, as including all God's eternal purposes.
2d. As embracing only those purposes of God which specially respect his moral creatures.
3d. As designating only the counsel of God concerning fallen men, including the sovereign election of some and the most righteous reprobation of the rest.
4th. It is sometimes restricted in the range of its usage so far as to be applied only to the eternal election of God's people to everlasting life.

The sense marked as 3d, above, is the most proper usage.—See Acts 4:27, 28.

2. In what senses are the words προγινώσκω (to know beforehand), and πρόγνωσις (foreknowledge), used in the New Testament?

Προγινώσχω is compounded of πρό, before, and γινώσκω, of which the primary sense is to know, and the secondary sense to approve, e.g., 2 Tim. 2:19; John 10:14, 15; Rom. 7:15. This word occurs five times in the New Testament. Twice, e.g., Acts 26:5 and 2 Pet. 3:17, it signifies previous knowledge, apprehension, simply. In the remaining three instances, Rom. 8:29; 11:2; 1 Pet. 1:20, it is used in the secondary sense of approve beforehand. This is made evident from the context, for it is used to designate the ground of God's predestination of individuals to salvation, which elsewhere is expressly said to be "not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace," and "to the good pleasure of his will," 2 Tim. 1:9; Rom. 9:11; Eph. 1:5.

Πρόγνωσις occurs but twice in the New Testament, e.g., Acts 2:23 and 1 Pet. 1:2, in both of which instances it evidently signifies approbation, or choice from beforehand. It is explained by the equivalent phrase "determinate counsel."

3. What is the New Testament usage of the words ?κλέγω (to elect) and ?κλογή (election)?

?κλέγω occurs twenty-one times in the New Testament. It is used to signify, 1st, Christ's choice of men to be apostles. Luke 6:13; John 6:70. 2d. God's choice of the Jewish nation as a peculiar people.—Acts 13:17. 3d. The choice of men by God, or by the church, for some special service.—Acts 15:7, 22. 4th. The choice made by Mary of the better part. Luke 10:42. 5th. In the great majority of instances God's eternal election of individual men to everlasting life.—John 15:16; 1 Cor. 1:27, 28; Eph. 1:4; James 2:5.

?κλογή occurs seven times in the New Testament. Once it signifies an election to the apostolic office.—Acts 9:15. Once it signifies those chosen to eternal life.—Rom. 11:7. In every other case it signifies the purpose or the act of God in choosing his own people to salvation.—Rom. 9:11; 11:5, 28; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Pet. 1:10.

4. What other words are used by the Holy Ghost in the New Testament to set forth the truth on this subject?

Προορίξειν occurs six times in the New Testament.—Acts 4:28; Rom. 8:29, 30; 1 Cor. 2:7, and Eph. 1:5, 11. In every case it signifies the absolute predestination of God.

Προτίθημι occurs three times in the New Testament. In Rom. 1:13 it signifies a purpose of Paul, and in Rom. 3:25 and Eph. 1:9, a purpose of God.

Προετοιμάξειν occurs twice, Rom. 9:23 and Eph. 2:10, prepare or appoint beforehand.

5. To whom is election referred in the Scriptures?

The eternal decree, as a whole, and in all its parts, is doubtless the concurrent act of all the three persons of the Trinity, in their perfect oneness of counsel and will.

But in the economy of salvation, as revealed to us, the act of sovereign election is specially attributed to the Father, as his personal part, even as redemption is attributed to the Son, and sanctification to the Spirit.—John 17:6, 9; 6:64, 65; 1 Thess. 5:9.

6. State that theory of Predestination designated by its advocates the "Theory of National Election."

This is the theory that the only election spoken of in the Bible concerning the salvation of men consists of the divine predestination of communities and nations to the knowledge of the true religion and the external privileges of the gospel. This form of election, which undoubtedly represents a great gospel fact, is eminently illustrated in the case of the Jews. This is the view advocated by Archbishop Sumner in his work on "Apostolic Preaching," quoted by Dr. Cunningham.

7. State the theory styled by its advocates the "Theory of Ecclesiastical Individualism."

The view advocated by Mr. Stanley Faber in his "Primitive Doctrine of Election", and by Archbishop Whately in his "Essays on some of the Difficulties in the Writings of the Apostle Paul," and others, is styled the doctrine of "Ecclesiastical Individualism," and it involves the affirmation that God predetermines the relation of individual men to the outward church and the means of grace. Thus by birth and subsequent providences he casts the lot of some men in the most favorable, and of others in the least favorable circumstances.

8. What is the Arminian doctrine of election?

The Arminians admit the foreknowledge of God, but they deny his absolute foreordination as it relates to the salvation of individuals. Their distinguishing doctrine is that God did not eternally make choice of certain persons and ordain their salvation, but that he made choice of certain characters, as holiness and faith and perseverance; or of certain classes of men who possess those characters, e.g., believers who persevere unto the end.

Since they admit that God foreknows from eternity with absolute certainty precisely what individuals will repent and believe and persevere therein to the end, it follows that their doctrine admits of the statement that God eternally predestinated certain persons, who he foresaw would repent and believe and persevere to life and salvation, on the ground of that faith and perseverance thus foreseen.

9. Point out the several principles in which the above-mentioned views agree and wherein they differ

The theories of "National Election" and of "Ecclesiastical Individualism," both teach universally admitted facts, namely that God does predestinate individuals and communities and nations to the external privileges of the gospel and the use of the means of grace. This neither any Arminian nor any Calvinist will deny. But these theories are both vicious and both identical with the Arminian theory, in that they deny that God unconditionally predestinates either the free actions or the ultimate salvation of individuals. They admit that he gives certain men a better chance than others, but hold that each man's ultimate fate is not determined by God's decree, but left dependent upon the free wills of the men themselves. Nevertheless, while these theories are all consistently Arminian in fundamental principle, yet they differ in the manner in which they attempt to bring the Scriptures concerned into harmony with that system. These theories differ among themselves as to the objects, the ends, and the grounds of this election. As to the objects of the election spoken of in Scripture, the Arminian, the Calvinistic, and "Ecclesiastical Individualism" theories agree in making them individuals. The theory of "National Election," makes them nations or communities. As to the end of this election the Calvinistic and Arminian theories make it the eternal salvation of the individuals elected. The theories of "National Election" and of "Ecclesiastical Individualism" make it admission to the privilege of the means of grace. As to the ground of this election spoken of in the Scripture, advocates of the Calvinistic, the "National Election" and the "Ecclesiastical Individualism "theories agree in making it the sovereign good pleasure of God, while the Arminians hold it is conditioned upon the faith, repentance, and perseverance certainly foreseen in each individual case.

It is obvious that the Calvinistic Doctrine of Decrees includes the absolute election of both individuals and of communities and nations to the use of the means of grace and the external advantages of the Church. It is also obvious that the admission of the principle of absolute election, as far as this, must be made by all Arminians as well as Calvinists, and hence this admission alone does not discriminate between the two great contesting systems. The only question which touches the true matter in debate is, What is the ground of the eternal predestination of individuals to salvation? Is it the foreseen faith and repentance of the individuals themselves, or the sovereign good pleasure of God? Every Christian must take one side or the other of this question. If he takes the side which makes foreseen faith the ground, he is an Arminian no matter what else he holds. If he takes the side which makes the good pleasure of God the ground, he is a Calvinist.

This division among themselves, and this alternate agreement with and difference from the Calvinistic positions on this subject, is a very suggestive illustration of the extreme difficulty the advocates of Arminian principles have in accommodating the words of Scripture to their doctrine.

In a polemic point of view the Calvinists have the capital advantage of being able to divide their opponents, and to refute them in detail.

10. State the three points involved in the Calvinistic doctrine on this subject

Calvinists hold, as shown in the preceding chapter, that God's Decrees are absolute and relate to all classes of events whatsoever. They therefore maintain that while nations, communities, and individuals are predestined absolutely to all of every kind of good and bad that befalls them, nevertheless the Scriptures teach specifically an election (1) of individuals, (2) to grace and salvation, (3) founded not upon the foreseen faith of the persons elected, but upon the sovereign good pleasure of God alone.

11. State the Presumption of the truth of the above arising from the fact that impartial infidel and rationalistic interpreters admit that the letter of the Scriptures can be interpreted only in a Calvinistic sense

Besides the presumption in favor of Calvinism arising from the fact above stated, that anti-Calvinistic interpreters of the Scripture are reduced to all kinds of various hypotheses in order to avoid the obvious force of the Scriptural testimony upon the subject, we now cite the additional presumption, arising from the fact that rationalists and infidels generally, who agree with Arminians in their intense opposition to Calvinistic Principles, yet not being restrained by faith in the inspiration of the Bible, are frank enough to confess that the Book can be fairly interpreted only in a Calvinistic sense. This is thus the impartial testimony of an enemy. Wegscheider in his "Institutiones Theologiæ Christianæ Dogmaticæ", Pt. III., Ch: iii., § 145,* the highest authority as to the results of German Rationalists in Dogmatic theology, says that the passages in question do teach Calvinistic doctrine, but that Paul was misled by the crude and erroneous notions prevalent in that age, and especially by the narrow spirit of Jewish particularism. See also Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," Chapter xxxiii., Note 31.—"Perhaps a reasoner still more independent may smile in his turn, when he peruses an Arminian Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans."

12. Prove from Scripture that the subjects of election are individuals and that the end of election is eternal life

1st. They are always spoken of as individuals, and the election of which they are the subjects is always set forth as having grace or glory as its end.—Acts 13:48; Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13. 2d. The elect are in Scripture explicitly distinguished from the mass of the visible Church, and hence their election could not have been merely to the external privileges of that Church.—Rom. 11:7. 3d. The names of the elect are said "to be written in heaven" and to be in "the book of life."—Heb. 12:23; Phil. 4:3. 4th. The blessings which it is explicitly declared are secured by this election are gracious and saving, they are the elements and results of salvation, inseparable from it, and pertain not to nations but to individuals as their subjects, e.g., "adoption of sons," "to be conformed to the image of his Son," etc.—Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:5; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Thess. 5:9; Rom. 9:15, 16.

13. Show that this election is not founded on works whether foreseen or not

This follows—1st. From the general doctrine of Decrees which has been established in the last chapter. If God's decrees relate to and determine all events of every class, it follows that no undecreed events remain to condition his decree or any element thereof, and also that he has decreed faith and repentance as well as the salvation which is conditioned upon them.

2d. It is expressly declared in Scripture that this election is not conditioned upon works of any kind.—Rom. 11:4–7; 2 Tim. 1:9; Rom. 9:11.

14. Show that in Scripture it is habitually declared to be founded on "the good pleasure of God," and "the counsel of his own will."

Eph. 1:5–11; 2 Tim. 1:9; John 15:16, 19; Matt. 11:25, 26; Rom. 9:10–18.

15. State the argument derived from the fact that "faith," "repentance," and "evangelical obedience" are said to be the fruits of the Election

It is self-evident that the same actions can not be both the grounds upon which election rests, and the fruits in which that election is designed to result. Since the Bible teaches that "faith," "repentance," and "evangelical obedience" are the latter, they can not be the former. The Scriptures do so teach in Eph. 1:4. "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love."—2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2; Eph. 2:10.

16. The same from the fact that faith and repentance are said to be the gifts of God

If faith and repentance are the "gifts of God," then a man's possessing them results from God's act. If it results from God's act it must result from his eternal purpose. If they be the results of his purpose, they can not be the conditions upon which that purpose is suspended. They are affirmed to be the "gifts of God" in Eph. 2:8; Acts 5:31; 1 Cor. 4:7.

17. State the argument derived from what the Scriptures teach as to the nature and extent of innate depravity and inability

The teaching of Scripture on these heads will be found stated and established in Chapters XIX. and XX. Now if men are born into the world with an antecedent prevailing tendency in their nature to sin, and they are ever, until regenerated by the Spirit of God, totally and inalienably averse to and incapable of all good, it follows that unregenerate human nature is incapable either of tending to or of perfecting faith and repentance as the conditions required. It election is conditioned upon faith and repentance, then the man must produce his own faith and repentance, or help to produce them. But if human nature can neither produce nor help to produce them, it follows either that no man can be elected, or that faith and repentance can not be the condition of election.

18. State the same from what the Scriptures teach of the nature and necessity of regeneration

In Chapter XXIX. it will be proved that the Scriptures teach (1) that regeneration is an act of God; (2) that with respect to that act the soul is passive; (3) that it is absolutely necessary in the case of every living man. Hence it follows that if it be in no sense man's work, but in every sense God's act alone, it can not be the condition upon which God's purpose is suspended, but an event determined by that purpose.

19. Show that the Scriptures teach that all the elect believe, and that only the elect believe

All the elect believe.—John 10:16, 27–29; John 6:37–39; John 17:2, 9, 24. And only the elect believe.—John 10:26. And those who believe do so because they are elect.—Acts 13:48, and 2:47.

20. What argument is to be drawn from the fact that all evangelical Christians of every theological school express the sentiments proper to the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election in all their prayers and hymns?

That form of doctrine must be false which can not be consistently embodied in personal religious experience and in devotion. That form of doctrine must be true which all Christians of all theoretical opinions always find themselves obliged to express when they come to commune with God. Now all the psalms and hymns and prayers, written and spontaneous, of all evangelical Christians, embody the principles and breathe the spirit of Calvinism. They all pray God to make men repent and believe, to come to and to receive the Saviour. If God gives all men common and sufficient grace, and if the reason why one man repents, is that he makes good use of that grace, and the reason another does not believe, is that he does not use that grace, if the only cause of difference is in the men, it follows that we ought to pray men to convert themselves, i.e., to make themselves to differ. But all agree in asking God to save us, and in giving him all the thanks when it is done.

21. Show that Paul must have held our position on this subject from the nature of the objections made against his doctrine, and from the answers he gave them

Paul's doctrine is identical with the Calvinistic view. 1st. Because he expressly teaches it. 2d. Because the objections he notices as brought against his doctrine are the same as those brought against ours. The design of the whole passage is to prove God's sovereign right to cast off the Jews as a peculiar people, and to call all men indiscriminately by the gospel.

This, he argues, 1st, that God's ancient promises embraced not the natural descendants of Abraham as such, but the spiritual seed. 2d. That "God is perfectly sovereign in the distribution of his favors."

But against this doctrine of divine sovereignty two objections are introduced and answered by Paul.

1st. It is unjust for God thus of his mere good pleasure to show mercy to one and to reject another, v. 14. This precise objection is made against our doctrine at the present time also. "It represents the most holy God as worse than the devil, as more false, more cruel, and more unjust."—"Methodist Doctrinal Tracts," pp. 170, 171. This Paul answers by two arguments. (1.) God claims the right, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy."—Rom. 9:15, 16. (2.) God in his providence exercises the right, as in the case of Pharaoh, vs. 17, 18.

2d. The second objection is that this doctrine is inconsistent with the liberty and accountability of men. This would be an absurd objection to bring against Paul's doctrine if he were an Arminian, but it is brought every day by Arminians against our doctrine.

Paul answers this objection by condescending to no appeal to human reason, but simply (1) by asserting God's sovereignty as Creator, and man's dependence as creature, and (2) by asserting the just exposure of all men alike to wrath as sinners, vs. 20–24.—See Analysis of chap. 9:6–24, in Hodge's "Com on Romans."

22. Discriminate accurately the two elements involved in the doctrine of Reprobation

Reprobation is the aspect which God's eternal decree presents in its relation to that portion of the human race which shall be finally condemned for their sins.

It is, 1st, negative, inasmuch as it consists in passing over these, and refusing to elect them to life; and, 2d, positive, inasmuch as they are condemned to eternal misery.

In respect to its negative element, reprobation is simply sovereign, since those passed over were no worse than those elected, and the simple reason both for the choosing and for the passing over was the sovereign good pleasure of God.

In respect to its positive element, reprobation is not sovereign, but simply judicial, because God inflicts misery in any case only as the righteous punishment of sin. "The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sins.—"Con. Faith," Chap. iii., Sec. 7.

23. Show that these positions are necessarily involved in the general doctrine of Decrees and in the special doctrine of the election of some men to eternal life

As above stated, this doctrine of reprobation is self-evidently an inseparable element of the doctrines of decrees and of election. If God unconditionally elects whom he pleases, he must unconditionally leave whom he pleases to themselves. He must foreordain the non-believing, as well as the believing, although the events themselves are brought to pass by very different causes.

24. Prove that it is taught in Scripture

Rom. 9:18, 21; 1 Pet. 2:8; Jude 4; Rev. 13:8. "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes, even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight."—Matt. 11:25. "Ye believe not, because ye are not my sheep."—John 10:26.

25. Show that the same objection was made against Paul's doctrine that is made against ours

"Why doth he yet find fault?" If he has not given gracious ability to obey, how can he command?—See also "Methodist Doctrinal Tracts," p. 171.

The apostle answers by showing, 1st (verses 20, 21), that God is under no obligation to extend his grace to all or to any; and, 2d, that the "vessels of wrath" were condemned for their own sins, to manifest God's just wrath, while the "vessels of mercy" were chosen not for any good in them, but to manifest his glorious grace (verses 22, 23).

26. Show the identity of Paul's doctrine with ours from the illustrations he uses in the ninth chapter of Romans

"Hath not the potter power (?ξουσία) over the clay of the same lump to make one vessel to honor, and another to dishonor, v. 21. Here the whole point of the illustration lies in the fact that there is no difference in the clay—it is clay of the same lump—the sole difference is made by the will of the potter. In the case of Esau and Jacob, the very point is that one is just as good as the other—that there is no difference in the children—but that the whole difference is made by the "purpose of God according to election"—"for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth," v. 11.

27. In what sense is God said to harden men?

See Rom. 9:18, and John 12:40.

This is doubtless a judicial act wherein God withdraws from sinful men, whom he has not elected to life, for the just punishment of their sins, all gracious influences, and leaves them to the unrestrained tendencies of their own hearts, and to the uncounteracted influences of the world and the devil.

28. State the objection brought against the Calvinistic doctrine of election on the ground that it is inconsistent with Justice

It is maintained that if God by a sovereign unconditional decree determines to pass by some men, and to withhold from them the grace necessary to enable them to repent and believe in Christ, it is unjust in God to hold them accountable, and to punish them for their want of faith.

29. State the fundamental view which necessarily underlies all Arminianism as to the relation which the remedial work of Christ sustains to the justice of God, and as to the relation which the human race by nature sustains to the divine government

When the Arminian system is sifted to its fundamental principles, it is found to rest upon the postulate that the gift of Christ is a necessary compensation to the human race for the evils brought upon it for the sin of Adam. It is admitted that the sin of Adam was the cause of his whole race becoming sinners, and that every one of his descendants comes into the world with a nature so far depraved as to be morally incapable of loving God and disposed to evil. But they maintain that men are by nature in the first instance not responsible for their moral condition, since it comes upon them each at his birth, antecedent to all personal action. They hold, therefore, that man can not be punished for original sin, nor could any man ever be held responsible for any act of disobedience springing as an inevitable consequence out of that original depravity, if God had not through Christ provided a remedy, giving to each man gracious ability to do all that is required of him as the condition of his salvation. This redemption and gracious ability to believe and obey God owes to all men, and they are necessary to render any man responsible and punishable for his sins, since thus alone is he, as far as this class of exercises go, endowed with the power of contrary choice.

Dr. D. D. Whedon, in the "Bibliotheca Sacra," April, 1862, p. 257.—"It is not then until there is redemptively conferred upon man what we call a gracious ability for the right, that man can be strictly responsible for the wrong." He says, p. 254, that after Adam sinned the only alternatives open to God in consistency with justice were either, 1st, to send Adam and Eve to perdition before they had children, or, 2d, to allow him to propagate his kind under the antecedent disabilities of sin, and provide a redemptive system for all.

He distinguishes between guilt or moral responsibility for character and moral corruption of nature. Under the conditions of pure nature, he teaches that only Adam and Eve were responsible, as well as corrupt, because they, having been created morally free, voluntarily made themselves vile by their own act. On the other hand their descendants are all morally polluted and spiritually dead, because they inherit corrupt natures from Adam; but they are not guilty, neither responsible for their birth sin nor for any of its consequences, because it was determined inevitably by an act not their own. In the actual state of things consequent to the gift of Christ every man is responsible because every man has sufficient grace.

Hence it follows—1st. That the provision of redemption was not a work of infinite free grace, but a mere act of justice in compensation for evils brought upon our nature by Adam. 2d. That this is owed equally to each and every man without exception. "I reject," says John Wesley, "Methodist Doc. Tracts," pp. 25, 26, "the assertion that God might justly have passed by me and all men, as a bold, precarious assertion, utterly unsupported by Holy Scripture." 3d. It follows also that the gracious help of the Holy Ghost is just as necessary to render men responsible sinners as to bring them to salvation. 4th. It follows that grace sends men to hell, as well as takes them to heaven, and that it has done far more of the former than

* Dr. Wm. Cunningham, "Hist. Theo.," Vol. II., p. 463.

Hodge, A. A. (1878). Outlines of Theology: Rewritten and Enlarged (pp. 214–225). New York: Hodder & Stoughton.

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