Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 13, 1957

"Predestination Is Foolish Preaching"

James E. Cooper, Campbellsville, Kentucky

In our last article, we considered the foolish preaching done about "original sin," or "hereditary total depravity." We noticed that it is "foolish preaching" for the theory is condemned on at least four counts: (1) The nature of sin itself — Sin is an act of transgressing God's Will. Since an act cannot be transmitted, sin cannot be transmitted. (2) The origin of the soul — Since the Bible teaches that God is the Father of our spirits, we cannot believe that we were born totally depraved, for that would be calling God the father of totally depraved sinners. (3) The Bible teaches that little children are innocent, and "of such is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:3). (4) The Bible teaches that each one of us is responsible for his own sins, not the sins of his parents.

In this issue, we shall study a direct offspring of the doctrine of hereditary total depravity — i.e., the doctrine of "predestination" or "unconditional election." Assuming the doctrine of hereditary total depravity to be the truth, John Calvin produced the theory of predestination to explain how individuals may be saved. In fact, if the doctrine of hereditary total depravity he true, the theory of unconditional election would necessarily follow. If one is hereditarily total depraved, he is so completely dead in sin that he cannot hear, think, say or do one single thing pleasing unto God until and unless God "operates" on him. Since not everyone shall be saved, God chooses certain ones to be saved and leaves the rest to be damned. Friend, the doctrine of predestination says that "God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass. . . . By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto life, and others foreordained to everlasting death. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished." (The Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., chap. III, "Of God's Eternal Decree."). That, friend, is the most hideous doctrine that was ever conceived by men and incorporated into a human creed. Imagine that! Some foreordained to everlasting death from all eternity! With their number so fixed that it cannot be increased nor diminished!! And it never would have been devised, if it had not been for the theory of hereditary total depravity.

We have already seen that the foundation is rotten, and there is no basis, nor need, for predestination. I shall now present several objections to the doctrine of predestination.

First, the doctrine makes God a respecter of persons. The doctrine says that God made up a list of his children before the world began. But the Bible plainly says that "God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him. and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him." (Acts 10:35). And, For there is no respect of persons with God." (Rom. 2:11). Since the Bible teaches that God is no respecter of persons, the theory of predestination cannot be true.

Second, the theory of predestination, or unconditional election, nullifies the atoning death of Christ. If God fixed the number of the saved and the lost before the world began, the death of Christ could not make the salvation of the elect any more secure, nor could it change the chances of the reprobate. But, the Bible teaches that Christ died for all men. In Heb. 2:9, we learn that Jesus came in the flesh "that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." In Rom. 5:18, we read. "So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life." Then, in John 3:16-17, Jesus said, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."

Not only does the Bible teach that Christ died for all, but it specifically says that he died for such as might be lost. In connection with eating meats offered to idols and causing a brother to violate his conscience, Paul said, "But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died." (Rom. 14:15). And he asked, "And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died." (I Cor. 8:11). Since Christ died for all men, the theory that would have him dying for only the "elect" must be false, and to preach it must be "foolish preaching."

Third it nullifies the Great Commission. Jesus said, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mk. 16:16). If the doctrine of "unconditional election" be true, God is responsible for the damnation of the non-elect as much as he is for the salvation of the elect. It would have Jesus commanding the apostles to go and preach to the non-elect, and tell them they will be damned, and there is nothing they can do about it. God has fixed their destiny, and it cannot be altered. Good neighbor, I don't worship a God like that. The God I worship teaches us to preach the gospel to every creature, and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. I cannot believe the doctrine of predestination and worship the God revealed in the Bible.

Fourth. Calvinistic theology concerning unconditional election contradicts itself, as well as the Bible. If God has unalterably fixed the destiny of man before time began, why do Calvinistic preachers exhort sinners to "flee from the wrath to come," and "lay hold on eternal life?" As suggested already, the sects have a Calvinistic creed, but an Armenian priesthood. They preach that man cannot do anything because he is so depraved, and then turn around and try to persuade him to be saved. The Bible teaches the elect to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Phil. 2:12).

If the theory of unconditional election were true, no one could consistently pray for the salvation of sinners, for to pray for the elect would imply that they could apostatize and to pray for the non-elect would imply that they might be saved. But, if it is possible for the elect to apostatize or the non-elect to be saved, the theory of predestination is false. Thus, those who engage in this "foolish preaching" preach one thing, and practice another.

Friend, God has made salvation available to all who will come to Him. Almost the last words God has written to man are. "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Rev. 22:17). Some things are so free that we fail to appreciate their value. Who would not give you a drink of water? Not a store would charge you for it. But suppose that some day you became lost in the desert. There, under the blazing sun, dying of thirst, what would you not give for the opportunity to climb up to the old spring and drink of the clear, cool water? So it is with the water of life. How many times have those not Christians heard the invitation to come to Christ? How many times have they heard the plea, "come unto me"? But in eternal torment, racked with pain, tortured with the regret of opportunity thrust aside, how much would it be worth to hear another sermon about the love of God and the gift of his son. How much would it be worth to hear another invitation song and to have the opportunity to come? While we have life, that opportunity is ours, and no man can take it from us. Do not despair because of the false doctrine of unconditional election. Jesus said, "Whosoever will