Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Total Depravity’

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XXII- That it contradicts the universalistic Scripture passages

February 19, 2020 Leave a comment

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XXII

That It CONTRADICTS THE UNIVERSALISTIC SCRIPTURE PASSAGES

3. THE TERM “WORLD” IS USED IN VARIOUS SENSES

When it is said that Christ died “not for our sins only but for the sins of the whole world,” 1 John 2:2, or that He came to “save the world,” John 12:47, the meaning is that not merely Jews but Gentiles also are included in His saving work; the world as a world or the race as a race is to be redeemed. When John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world!” he was not giving a theological discourse to saints, but preaching to sinners; and the unnatural thing then would have been for him to have discussed Limited Atonement or any other doctrine which could have been understood only by saints. We are told that John the Baptist “came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him,” John 1:7. But to say that John’s ministry afforded an opportunity for every human being to have faith in Christ would be unreasonable. John never preached to the Gentiles. His mission was to make Christ “manifest to Israel,” John 1:31; and in the nature of the case only a limited number of the Jews could be brought to hear him.

Sometimes the term “world” is used when only a large part of the world is meant, as when it is said that the Devil is “the deceiver of the whole world,” or that “the whole earth” wonders after the beast, Revelation 13:3. If in 1 John 5:19, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one,” the author meant every individual of mankind, then he and those to whom he wrote were also in the evil one, and he contradicted himself in saying that they were of God. Sometimes this term means only a relatively small part of the world, as when Paul wrote to the new Christian Church at Rome that their faith was “proclaimed throughout the whole world,” Romans 1:8. None but believers would praise those Romans for their faith in Christ, and in fact the world at large did not even know that such a Church existed at Rome. Hence Paul meant only the believing world or the Christian Church, which was a comparatively insignificant part of the real world. Shortly before Jesus was born, “There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled,”…”and all went to enroll themselves,” Luke 2:1, 3; yet we know that the writer had in mind only that comparatively small part of the world which was controlled by Rome. When it was said that on the day of Pentecost, “there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven,” Acts 2:5, only those nations which were immediately known to the Jews were intended, for verses 9-11 list those which were represented. Paul says that the Gospel was “preached in all creation under heaven.” Colossians 1:23. The goddess Diana of the Ephesians was said to have been worshipped by “all Asia and the world,” Acts 19:27. We are told that the famine which came over Egypt in Joseph’s time extended to “all the earth,” and that “all countries came into Egypt to Joseph to buy grain,” Genesis 41:57.

In ordinary conversation we often speak of the business world, the educational world, the political world, etc., but we do not mean that every person in the world is a business man, or educated, or a politician. When we say that a certain automobile manufacturer sells automobiles to everybody, we do not mean that he actually sells to every individual, but that he sells to every one who is willing to pay his price. We may say of one lone teacher of literature in a city that he teaches everybody, — not that everybody studies under him, but that all of those who study at all study under him. The Bible is written in the plain language of the people and must be understood in that way.

Verses like John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life,” give abundant proof that the redemption which the Jews thought to monopolize is universal as to space. God so loved the world, not a little portion of it, but the world as a whole, that He gave His only begotten Son for its redemption. And not only the extensity, but the intensity of God’s love is made plain by the little adverb “so,” — God so loved the world, in spite of its wickedness, that He gave His only begotten Son to die for it. But where is the oft-boasted proof of its universality as to individuals? This verse is sometimes pressed to such an extreme that God is represented as too loving to punish anybody, and so full of mercy that He will not deal with men according to any rigid standard of justice regardless of their deserts. The attentive reader, by comparing this verse with other Scripture, will see that some restriction is to be placed on the word “world.” One writer has asked, “Did God love Pharaoh? (Romans 9:17). Did He love the Amalekites? (Exodus 17:14). Did He love the Canaanites, whom He commanded to be exterminated without mercy? (Deuteronomy 20:16). Did He love the Ammonites and Moabites whom He commanded not to be received into the congregation forever? (Deuteronomy 23:3). Does He love the workers of iniquity? (Psalm 5:5). Does He love the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, which He endures with much long-suffering? (Romans 9:22). Did He love Esau? (Romans 9:13).”

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

 

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XXII- That it contradicts the universalistic Scripture passages

February 12, 2020 Leave a comment

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XXII

That It CONTRADICTS THE UNIVERSALISTIC SCRIPTURE PASSAGES

2. THE GOSPEL IS FOR JEWS AND GENTILES ALIKE

In some instances the word “all” is used in order to teach that the gospel is for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews. Through the many centuries of their past history the Jews had, with few exceptions, been the exclusive recipients of God’s saving grace. They had greatly abused their privileges as the chosen people. They supposed that this same distinction would be kept up in the Messianic era, and they were always inclined to appropriate the Messiah exclusively to themselves. So rigid was the Pharisaic exclusivism that the Gentiles were called strangers, dogs, common, unclean; and it was not lawful for a Jew to keep company with or have any dealings with a Gentile (John 4:9; Acts 10:28; 11.3). The salvation of the Gentiles was a mystery which had not been made known in other ages (Ephesians 3:4 6; Colossians 1:27). It was for that reason that Peter was taken to task: by the Church at Jerusalem after he had preached the Gospel to Cornelius, and we can almost hear the gasp of wonder in the exclamation of the leaders when after Peter’s defense they said, “Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life,” Acts 11:18. To understand what a revolutionary idea this was, read Acts 10:1-11:18. Consequently this was a truth which it was then peculiarly necessary to enforce, and it was brought out in the fullest and strongest terms. Paul was to be a witness “unto all men,” that is, to Jews and Gentiles alike, of what he had seen and heard, Acts 22:15. As used in this sense the word “all” has no reference to individuals, but means mankind in general.

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

 

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XXII- That it contradicts the universalistic Scripture passages

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XXII

That It CONTRADICTS THE UNIVERSALISTIC SCRIPTURE PASSAGES

1. The Terms “Will” and “All.” 2. The Gospel is for Jews and Gentiles Alike. 3. The Term “World” is Used in Various Senses. 4. General Considerations.

1. THE TERMS “WISH,” “WILL,” AND “ALL”

It may be asked, Is not the doctrine of Predestination flatly contradicted by the Scriptures which declare that Christ died for “all men,” or for “the whole world,” and that God wills the salvation of all men? In 1 Timothy 2:3, 4 Paul refers to “God our Saviour, who would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (And the word “all,” we are dogmatically informed by our opponents, must mean every human being.) In Ezekiel 33:11 we read, “As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live”; and in 2 Peter 3:9 we read that God is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” The King James Version reads, “Not willing that any should perish…”

These verses simply teach that God is benevolent, and that He does not delight in the sufferings of His creatures any more than a human father delights in the punishment which he must sometimes inflict upon his son. God does not decretively will the salvation of all men, no matter how much He may desire it; and if any verses taught that He decretively willed or intended the salvation of all men, they would contradict those other parts of the Scripture which teach that God sovereignly rules and that it is His purpose to leave some to be punished.

The word “will” is used in different senses in Scripture and in our every day conversation. It is sometimes used in the sense of “decree,” or “purpose,” and sometimes in the sense of “desire,” or “wish.” A righteous judge does not will (desire) that anyone should be hanged or sentenced to prison, yet at the same time he wills (pronounced sentence, or decrees) that the guilty person shall be thus punished. In the same sense and foe sufficient reasons a man may will or decide to have a limb removed, or an eye taken out, even though he certainly does not desire it. The Greek words thelo and boulomai, which are sometimes translated “will,” are also used in the sense of “desire,” or “wish;” e.g., Jesus said to the mother of James and John, “What wouldest thou?” Matthew 20:21; of the scribes it was said they “desire to walk in long robes,” Luke 20:46; certain of the Scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, we would see a sign from thee,” Matthew 12:38; Paul said, “I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that I might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue,” 1 Corinthians 14:19.

In like manner the word “all” is unmistakably used in different senses in Scripture. In some cases it certainly does not mean every individual; e.g., of John the Baptist it was said, “And there went out unto him all the country of Judea, and all they of Jerusalem; and they were baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins,” Mark 1:5. After Peter and John had healed the lame man at the door of the temple, we read that “all men glorified God for that which was done,” Acts 4:21. Jesus told his disciples that they would be “hated of all men” for His name’s sake, Luke 21:17. Paul was accused of “teaching all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place” (the temple), Acts 21:28. When Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself,” John 12:32, He plainly meant not every individual of mankind, for history shows that not every individual has been drawn to Him. He certainly does not draw the many millions of heathens who die in utter ignorance of the true God. What He meant was, that a large multitude from all nations and classes would be saved; and this is what we see coming to pass. In Hebrews 2:9, we read that Jesus tasted death “for every man.” The original Greek, however, does not use the word “man” here at all, but simply says, “for every.” So in principle, if the meaning is not to be limited to those who are actually saved, why limit it to men? Why not include the fallen angels, even the Devil himself, and the irrational animals?

1 Corinthians 15:22 is probably the one verse most often quoted by Arminians to refute Calvinism. There we read, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” The verse is, however, entirely irrelevant. This is from Paul’s famous resurrection chapter, and the context makes it plain that he is not talking about life in this age, whether physical or spiritual, but about the resurrection life. Verses 20 and 21 read: “But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the first fruits of them that are asleep. For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead.” Then follows verse 22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive”; and that he refers not to a regeneration or a making alive in this present world but to the new life which is given in the resurrection is made clear by what follows immediately in verses 23 and 24: “But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ’s, at His coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father,” etc. Christ is the first to enter into the resurrection life, then, when He comes, His people also enter into their resurrection life. Then comes the end, that is, the end of the world, and the introduction of heaven in its fullness; and what Paul says is that at that time a glorious resurrection life will become a reality for all of those who are in Christ. This is possible because Christ is their federal head and representative. Through His power all of His people shall be raised to newness of life with Him. And this point is illustrated by the well understood fact that the race fell in Adam, who acted as the federal head and representative of the entire race. What Paul says in effect is this: “For as all born in Adam die, so also all born in Christ shall be made alive.” Verse 22, then, refers not to something past, nor to something present, but to something future ; and it has no bearing whatever on the Arminian-Calvinistic controversy.

It was not the whole of mankind which was equally loved of God and promiscuously redeemed by Christ. John’s hymn of praise, “Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by His blood; and He made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto His God and Father,” Revelation 1:5, evidently proceeds on the hypothesis of a definite election and a limited atonement since God’s love was the cause and the blood of Christ the efficacious means of their redemption. The declaration that Christ died for “all” is made clearer by the song which the redeemed now sing before the throne of the Lamb: “Thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation,” Revelation 5:9. The word all must be understood to mean all the elect, all His Church, all those whom the Father has given to the Son, etc., not all men universally and every man individually. The redeemed host will be made up of men from all classes and conditions of life, of princes and peasants, of rich and poor, of bond and free, of male and female, of young and old, of Jews and Gentiles, men of all nations, and races, from north to south, and from east to west.

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XXI- That it precludes a sincere offer of the Gospel to the non-elect

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XXI

That It Precludes A Sincere Offer Of The Gospel To The Non-elect

2. THE OFFER IS SINCERELY MADE

God commanded Moses to gather together the elders of Israel, to go to Pharaoh and demand that they be allowed to go three days’ journey into the wilderness to hold a feast and offer sacrifices. Yet in the very next verse God Himself says, “I know that the king of Egypt will not give you leave to go, no, not by a mighty hand,” Exodus 3:18,19. If it is not inconsistent with God’s sincerity for Him to command all men to love Him, or to be perfect (Luke 10:27; Matthew 5:48), it is not inconsistent with His sincerity for Him to command them to repent and believe the Gospel. A man may be altogether sincere in giving an invitation which he knows will be refused. A father who knows that his boys are going to do wrong feels constrained to tell them what is right. His warnings and pleadings are sincere; the trouble is in the boys.

Will any one contend that God cannot sincerely offer salvation to a free moral agent unless in addition to the invitation He exerts a special influence which will induce the person to accept it? After a civil war in a country it often happens that the victorious general offers free pardon to all those In the opposing army, provided they will lay down their arms, go home, and live peaceable lives, although he knows that through pride or malice many will refuse. He makes the offer in good faith even though for wise reasons he determines not to constrain their assent, supposing him possessed of such power.

We may imagine the case of a ship with many passengers on board sinking some distance out from shore. A man hires a boat from a near-by port and goes to rescue his family. Incidentally it happens that the boat which he takes is large enough to carry all the passengers, so he invites all those on the sinking vessel to come on board, although he knows that many of them, either through lack of appreciation of their danger, or because of personal spite toward him, or for other reasons, will not accept. Yet does that make his offer any the less sincere? “If a man’s family were with others held in captivity, and from love of them and with the purpose of their redemption, a ransom should be offered sufficient for the delivery of the whole body of captives, it is plain that the offer of deliverance might be extended to all on the ground of that ransom, although specially intended only for a part of their number. Or, a man may make a feast for his own friends and the provisions be so abundant that he may throw open his doors to all who are willing to come. This is precisely what God, according to the Calvinistic doctrine, has actually done. Out of special love to His people, and with the design of securing their salvation He has sent His Son to do what justifies the offer of salvation to all who choose to accept it.1

When the Gospel is presented to mankind in general nothing but a sinful unwillingness on the part of some prevents their accepting and enjoying it. No stumbling block is put in their way. All that the call contains is true; it is adapted to the conditions of all men and freely offered if they will repent and believe. No outside influence constrains them to reject it. The elect accept; the non-elect may accept if they will, and nothing but their own nature determines them to do otherwise. “According to the Calvinistic scheme,” says Dr. Hodge, “the non-elect have all the advantages and opportunities of securing their salvation, that, according to any other scheme, are granted to mankind indiscriminately. Calvinism teaches that a plan of salvation adapted to all men and adequate for the salvation of all, is freely offered to the acceptance of all, although in the secret purpose of God He intended that it should have precisely the effect which in experience it is found to have. He designed in its adoption to save His own people, but consistently offers its benefits to all who are willing to receive them. More than this no anti-Calvinist can demand.” 2

Arminians object that God could not offer the Gospel to those who in His secret counsel were not designed to accept it; yet we find the Scriptures declaring that He does this very thing. His commands to Pharaoh have already been referred to. Isaiah was commissioned to preach to the Jews, and in 1:18, 19, we find that he extended a gracious offer of pardon and cleansing. But in 6:9-13, immediately following his glorious vision and official appointment, he is informed that this preaching is destined to harden his countrymen to their almost universal destruction. Ezekiel was sent to speak to the house of Israel, but was told beforehand that they would not hear, Ezekiel 3:4-11. Matthew 23:33-37 presents the same teaching. In these passages God declares that He does the very thing which Arminians say He must not do. Hence the objection now under consideration has arisen not because of any Calvinistic misstatement of the divine plan, but through erroneous assumptions made by Arminians themselves.

The decree of election is a secret decree. And since no revelation has been given to the preacher as to which ones among his hearers are elect and which are non-elect, it is not possible for him to present the Gospel to the elect only. It is his duty to look with hope on all those to whom he is preaching, and to pray for them that they may each be among the elect. In order to offer the message to the elect, he must offer it to all; and the Scripture command is plain to the effect that it should be offered to all. Even the elect must hear before they can believe and accept, Romans 10:13-17. The attentive reader, however, will perceive that the invitations are not, in the strict sense, general, but that they are addressed to the “weary,” the “thirsty,” the “hungry,” the “willing,” those who “labor and are heavy laden,” and not to those who are unconscious of any need and unwilling to be reformed. While the message is preached to all, it is God who chooses among the hearers those to whom He is speaking, and He makes this selection known to them through the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit. The elect thus receive the message as the promise of salvation, but to the non-elect it appears only as foolishness, or if their conscience is aroused, as a judgment to condemnation. As a rule, the non-elect are not concerned about salvation, do not envy the elect their hope of salvation, but rather laugh and scorn at them. And since the secret as to which ones in the audience belong to the elect is hidden from the preacher, usually he does not know who got the message to salvation and who got it to judgment. Among the elect themselves there are so many weaknesses, and on the other hand the evil one is so able to appear as an angel of light and to make such an outward show of good deeds and words, that the preacher usually cannot be sure of the outcome. The effect of the preaching is not in the preacher’s hands, but in God’s hands; and it often happens that the sermons which seemed unsuccessful were strengthened and made effective by the Holy Spirit.

Yet while it is certain that the non-elect will not turn to God, repent of their sins, and live good moral lives, it is, nevertheless, their duty to do so. Though members of a fallen race, they are still free moral agents, responsible for their character and conduct. God is, therefore, perfectly consistent in commanding them to repent. For Him not to do so would be for Him to give up the claims of His law. We commonly hear the idea expressed that man is under no obligation to do anything for which he has not full and perfect ability in himself. The reasoning, however, is fallacious; for man labors under a self-acquired inability. He was created upright and voluntarily sank himself into sin. He is, therefore, as responsible as is the person who in order to escape military service deliberately mutilates a hand or an eye. If inability canceled obligation, then Satan with his inherent depravity would be under no obligation to do right, and his fiendish enmity toward God and men would be no sin. Sinners in general would then be lifted above the moral law.

In conclusion it may be further said that even in regard to the non-elect the preaching is not altogether vain; for they are thus made the objects of general restraining and directing influences which prevent them from sinning as much as they otherwise would.

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XXI- That it precludes a sincere offer of the Gospel to the non-elect

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XXI

That It Precludes A Sincere Offer Of The Gospel To The Non-elect

1. The Same Objection Applies Against God’s Foreknowledge. 2. The Offer Is Sincerely Made.

1. THE SAME OBJECTION APPLIES AGAINST GOD’S FOREKNOWLEDGE

Although the Gospel is offered to many who will not, and who for subjective reasons cannot, accept, it is, nevertheless, sincerely offered to all. The objection so strenuously urged on some occasions by Arminians, to the effect that if the doctrine of Predestination is true the Gospel cannot be sincerely offered to the non-elect, should be sufficiently answered by the fact that it bears with equal force against the doctrine of God’s Foreknowledge. We might ask, How can the offer of salvation be sincerely made to those who God foreknows will despise and reject it, especially when their guilt and condemnation will only be increased by their refusal? Arminians admit that God knows beforehand who will accept and who will reject the message; yet they know themselves to be under a divine command to preach to all men, and they do not feel that they act insincerely in doing so.

The difficulty, however, in both cases is purely subjective, and is due to our limited knowledge and to our inability to comprehend the ways of God, which are past finding out. We do know that the Judge of all the earth will do right, and we trust Him even though our feeble reason cannot always follow His ways. We know definitely that abundant provision has been made for all who will come, and that every one who sincerely accepts will be saved. From Christ’s own lips we have a parable which illustrates the love of God for His children. The father saw the returning prodigal when he was still a great way off, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the welcome given to this prodigal God is willing to give to any prodigal.

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XX- That it is unfavorable to good morality

January 15, 2020 5 comments

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XX

That It Is Unfavorable To Good Morality

3. THE PRACTICAL FRUITS OF CALVINISM IN HISTORY ARE ITS BEST VINDICATION

Calvinism answers the charge that it is unfavorable to good morality, not merely by opposing reason against reason, but by putting facts of world-wide reputation over against these fictitious claims. It simply asks, What rival fruits can other systems oppose if we point to the achievements of the Protestant leaders of the Reformation period, and to the high moral earnestness of the Puritans? Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and their immediate helpers were all thorough-going “Calvinists,” and the greatest spiritual revival of all time was brought about under their influence. Those in England who held this system of faith were so very strict regarding purity of doctrine, purity of worship, and purity of daily life, that by their very enemies, who thus were their best witnesses, they were called “Puritans.” The Puritans in England, the Covenanters in Scotland, and the Huguenots in France, were men of the same religious faith and of like moral qualities. That the system of Calvin should have developed precisely the same kind of men in each of these different countries is a proof of its power in the formation of character.

Concerning the Puritans in this country McFetridge says: “Amongst all the people in the American colonies, they (the Puritans, Calvinists of New England) stood morally without peers. They were the men and the women of conscience, of sterling convictions. They were not, indeed, greatly given to sentimentalism. With mere spectacular observances in religion they had no sympathy. Life to them was an experience too noble and earnest and solemn to be frittered away in pious ejaculations and emotional rhapsodies. They believed with all their soul in a just God, a heaven and a hell. They felt, in the innermost core of their hearts, that life was short and its responsibilities great. Hence their religion was their life. All their thoughts and relations were imbued with it. Not only men, but beasts also, were made to feel its favorable influences. Cruelty to animals was a civil offense. In this respect they were two centuries in advance of the bulk of mankind. They were industrious, frugal and enterprising, and consequently affluence followed in their path and descended to their children and children’s children. Drunkenness, profanity and beggary were things little known to them. They needed neither lock nor burglarproof to secure their honestly-gotten possessions. The simple wooden bolt was enough to protect them and their wealth where honesty was the rule of life. As the result of such a life they were healthy and vigorous. They lived long and happily, reared large and devoted families, and descended to the grave ‘like as a shock of corn cometh in his season,’ in peace with God and their fellow-men, rejoicing in the hope of a blessed resurrection.” [5]

It is further to be remembered as a diadem upon the brow of Calvinistic morality, that in all the history of the Puritans there is said to have been not one case of divorce. What a crying need there is for some such influence today! Lawlessness in general was scarcely, if ever, more unknown than among the Puritans. If, then, Calvinism was actually unfavorable to morality, as charged, it would indeed be a strange coincidence that where there has been the most of Calvinism there has been the least of crime. “This is the problem,” says Froude, “Grapes do not grow on bramble bushes. Illustrious natures do not form themselves upon narrow and cruel theories. Spiritual life is full of apparent paradoxes . . . . The practical effect of a belief is the real test of its soundness. Where we find heroic life appearing as the uniform fruit of a particular opinion, it is childish to argue in the face of fact that the result ought to have been different.” [6]

“There is no system,” says Henry Ward Beecher, “which equals Calvinism in intensifying, to the last degree, ideas of moral excellence and purity of character. There never was a system since the world stood which puts upon man such motives to holiness, or which builds batteries which sweep the whole ground of sin with such horrible artillery. They tell us that Calvinism plies men with hammer and with chisel. It does; and the result is monumental marble. Other systems leave men soft and dirty; Calvinism makes them of white marble, to endure forever.” [7]

Instead of being a system which leads to immorality and despair, it has worked out exactly the opposite way in every-day life. No other system has so fired people with ideals of religious and civil freedom, nor led to such high ideals of morality and endeavor in all phases of human life. Wherever the Reformed Faith has gone it has made the country to blossom like the rose, even though it was a poor country like Holland, or Scotland, or New England. This has been admitted by Macaulay and many others, and is a very comforting thought.

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XX- That it is unfavorable to good morality

January 8, 2020 1 comment

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XX

That It Is Unfavorable To Good Morality

2. LOVE AND GRATITUDE TO GOD FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR US IS THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE AND ONLY PERMANENT BASIS FOR MORALITY

Those who make the objection that we are now considering assume that believers — those who through the almighty power of God have been brought from death to life, from sin to holiness; who have partially beheld the love and glory of God as it is revealed in Christ — are still incapable of being influenced by any motives except those which arise from a selfish and exclusive regard to their own safety and happiness. And, as Cunningham says, they do virtually make a confession, “first, that any outward decency which their conduct may at present exhibit, is to be traced solely to the fear of punishment; and, secondly, that if they were only secured against punishment, they would find much greater satisfaction in serving the Devil than in serving God; and that they would never think of showing any gratitude to Him who had conferred the safety and deliverance on which they place so much reliance.” [2]

The contrast between the Calvinistic and the Arminian basis for morality is clearly stated in the following section from McFetridge: “The two great springs by which men are moved are, on the one hand, conviction and idea, on the other, emotion and sentiment; as these control, so the moral character will be shaped. The man who is ruled by convictions and ideas is the man of stability; he cannot be changed until his conscience is changed; the man who is ruled by emotion and sentiment is the man of instability. Now, the appeal of Arminianism is chiefly to the sentiments. Regarding man as having the absolute free moral control of himself, and as able at any moment to determine his own eternal state, it naturally applies itself to the arousing of his emotions. Whatever can lawfully awaken the feelings it considers expedient. Accordingly, the senses, above all things, must be addressed and affected. Hence the Arminian is, religiously, a man of feeling, of sentiment, and consequently disposed to all those things which interest the eye and please the ear. His morality, therefore, as depending chiefly upon the emotions, is, in the nature of the case, liable to frequent fluctuation, rising or falling with the wave of sensation upon which it rides. Calvinism, on the other hand, is a system which appeals to idea rather than sentiment, to conscience rather than emotion. In its views all things are under a great and perfect system of divine laws, which operate in defiance of feeling, and which must be obeyed at the peril of the soul . . . . Its thought is not sentiment, but conviction . . . . It makes the voice of God, speaking in the soul, a guide in all conduct. It seeks rather to convince men than to fill them with a transient sensation. Thus a deep sense of duty is the greatest thing in the moral life of the Calvinist. His first and last question is, Is it right? Of that he must first be convinced. Hence with him conscience has the first place in all practical questions . . . . In the Calvinistic conception God has marked out the way in which man is to walk — a way which He will not change; and man is required to walk in it, joyously or sorrowfully, with as much or as little sentiment as he pleases. Hence the Calvinist is not, religiously, a man of demonstrations, but rather a man of thoughtfulness; so that his morality, whatever it may be otherwise, is characterized by stability and strength, which may sometimes lapse into stubbornness and harshness.” [3]

Our love to God would at best be only lukewarm if we believed that His love and favor toward us depended only on our good behavior. His love toward us is as an immense sun, which shone without beginning and which will shine without end, while ours toward Him is, at its best, as only a little flame. Hence the assurance that the objects of God’s love shall never be permitted to fall away. Love which is founded on self-interest is commonly recognized as not being moral in the highest sense; yet Calvinism is the only system of faith which presents a purely unselfish motive, namely the consciousness that it is alone the free grace and unmerited love of God, to the exclusion of all human merit, that saves men. When the Christian remembers that he was saved only through the suffering and death of Christ his substitute, love and gratitude overflow his heart; and, like Paul, he feels that the least he can offer Christ in return is his whole life in loving service. Seeing himself saved by grace alone, he learns to love God for His own sake and finds it the joy of his life to serve Him with the whole heart. Obedience becomes not only the obligatory but the preferable good.

The motive which actuates the saints on earth is the same in principle, though not so intense, as that which actuates the saints in glory, whose constant delight is to perform the noblest actions and service, namely, that of praising God, and punctually performing His will without interruptions or defeats. “As they have always a ravishing sense of His goodness to them, so they exercise their perfectly pure minds in ascriptions of praise and glory to him for delivering them from deserved ruin, and placing them in the blissful mansions where they find themselves possessed of ease, delight, complacency, and glory wholly unmerited.” [4]

Pure love and gratitude to God, and not selfish fear, is the very fuel of acceptable obedience, and these are the elements from which alone anything like high and pure morality will ever proceed. Jesus had no fear that a sense of eternal security would lead to licentiousness in His disciples, for He said to them, “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” The elect, therefore, have the utmost reason to love and glorify God which any beings can have, and it is a sheer calumny to represent the doctrine of Predestination as tending to licentiousness and as unfavorable to good morality.

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination