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Double Predestination

Question: You seem not to believe in double predestination, but how do you explain 1 Peter 2:8 where the Bible speaks about the disobedient and says "whereunto also they were appointed"? And how about Romans 9:19-24?

Answer: While 1 Peter 2:8 speaks about a definite design and plan, the language does not force us to believe that these individuals were destined to disobedience. Both the verse itself and the context suggests that these individuals were appointed to stumbling as a consequence of their disobedience but not apart from their disobedience. God's plan was that if they disobeyed they would suffer the consequences.

The context suggests that this is exactly what verse 8 is teaching. Verse 7 states: "Unto you therefore which BELIEVE he is precious: but unto them which be DISOBEDIENT, the stone which the BUILDERS DISALLOWED, the same is made the head of the corner." Their doom was not due to some fixed, pre-ordained plan of God. Their doom was due to their disobedience which carries the divine penalty of doom.

In Romans 9:21-23 Paul uses the potter and clay imagery found in Jeremiah 18:1-6. However, in this Old Testament passage there is a dual promise that hinges on man's response. In verses 7 and 8 of Jeremiah 18 the Lord states: "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it, If that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them." It is hard to believe that Paul was not aware of this teaching in Jeremiah and that he was discounting human response. While Romans 9 speaks about God hardening pharaoh's heart (vs. 17-18), this is not an example of a good man being made bad, but a bad man being confirmed in his own sin and evil. Pharaoh was a proud and vainglorious man who thought he was divine. In fact, there have not been found any extensive written law-codes in ancient Egypt, as was true in other parts of the ancient Middle East, because the words of the pharaohs were regarded as being "law." When God hardened pharaoh's heart, God simply confirmed pharaoh in his own arrogance.

The serious student of Scripture must not forget that Romans 9 closes with statements about the determinative significance of faith and unbelief. "What shall we say then?" asks Paul in Romans 9:30. "That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness even the righteousness WHICH IS OF FAITH." Verse 33 says: "As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH ON HIM shall not be ashamed." If Romans 9 is only about God's choice of some to be saved and others to be damned, why do these final verses speak of the faith of the gentiles and the unbelief of the Jews?

No doubt some Sovereign Grace Baptists and Reformed Presbyterians will claim that this is a "rank Arminianism" that robs God of His glory. However, it is hard to see how the belief that God chooses some people to be damned makes God glorious!

Double predestination may have a certain "logic" to it, but double predestinarians need to be reminded of the danger of creating an artificial theological system that puts God in a strait jacket of their own making. In a day when chemical and environmental determinism is often the basis for acquitting violent criminals—"I couldn't help it, it's in my genes"—Christians need to affirm biblical teaching on divine sovereignty and human accountability.

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