Predestination: Anything But Arbitrary *UPDATED*

Read the entire article here.

I think that an obvious objection to predestination is that the election is, by its nature, unconditional. Most people take that to mean random or arbitrary. If that were so, then it logically leads to fatalism. You then end up with the following thought process:

Why go and preach the gospel as we are charged to do if God has already picked us out? Too many scriptural contradictions my friend. GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF CONFUSION. How many times must I point that out?

But predestination is anything but random or arbitrary. Glenn Miller has an excellent article that addresses the same topic here from a neutral perspective. I will use one of Miller’s quotes that come from a Calvinist perspective to illustrate the point that, according to Reformed theology, this predestination is anything but arbitrary. “Particular election is thus and so far not absolute, as though it were arbitrary: it rather has its moral ground (inconceivable of course to man) in God’s essentiality,” quotes Miller. Cross referencing this:

Although no cause outside God can be given on man’s side, as we warned you earlier, why this man rather than that is elect or reprobate, as Isaac rather than Ishmael, Jacob than Esau, since in themselves they were both equals and equally unworthy of election: still we must not think that on His side God had no reasons or causes for doing– – since the divine will always conspires with His wisdom and does nothing without reason or rashly; although these reasons and causes have not been revealed to us, and accordingly they neither ought to nor can be probed by us apart from His will.-And it is this also which the chief doctors of the Reformed Church are often repelling from themselves, when they are reproached with setting up here some absolute will of God. Firstly they say it is not absolute, because it includes means by which the appointed end is achieved ; next because God also does not lack just reasons for having acted thus or thus, although these are hidden from us. Thus CALVINUS says (De occults Dei proved. P-1013 statim in initio) : ” Although for me God’s will is the supreme cause, yet I everywhere teach, that where in His counsels and works no cause is apparent, it is yet hidden with Him, so that He has decreed nothing save justly and wisely. Therefore the triflings of the Scholastics on absolute power I not only repudiate but also detest, because they separate His righteousness from His rule.”


This will or this decree of His we never sever from righteousness and true right reason, and as always most orderly, although we believe it to be inscrutable even for the very angels ; and accordingly we admire and adore it and refuse to recognise any other absolute will in God. (Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics: Set Out and Illustrated from the Sources, Baker: 1950, p. 165)

Miller concludes:

This is very, very far from a cold, detached, arbitrary election of individuals…In the Reformed system–according to their classic documents–this decree of God in eternity past is characterized by reason, wisdom, justice, righteousness, non-rashness, and ‘gratuitous love towards us’…

What this means for our study is this: the Reformed doctrine of ‘unconditional election’ is NOT even close to being the same as ‘unCAUSED election’ or ‘ARBITRARY election’ . It affirms only that the causes/reasons are not grounded in the deeds of humans in time. There ARE reasons and causes, and these are wise, just, righteous–and unrevealed.

Ultimately, predestination is rooted in God’s love, which I stated in the previous article on this topic. Remember, we love because He first loved us (1 Jn 4:19).

This leads us to speculate on what the reasons for election might possibly be.  First, I believe that they are not grounded in what the elect person himself does or does not do.  But, that doesn’t eliminate the intriguing possibility that it may be grounded in what others do.  For example, God may choose someone on the basis of that person encountering a believer’s evangelism.  He may also choose someone on the basis of the prayers of others.

Why evangelize?  The reasons for election, as well as the elect themselves, are unrevealed to us.  God may choose someone on the basis of your act of evangelism toward that person.  I think that this is a reasonable proposition and a very good reason to continue efforts at evangelism.

About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on February 26, 2008, in Apologetics, Theology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

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