I recently received an email from a mom whose son is being led into a destructive predestination theology (otherwise known as Calvinism, or reformed theology). She said it has divided her otherwise close family. She had come across my blog article “The Predestined for Hell Myth” and reached out for advice on how to approach her son. After I had given her some suggestions (such as watching the Bob Enyart vs James White debate), her son replied to her with a link from a recent article by Calvinist Dr. Jeff Robinson titled “Predestination Is Biblical, Beautiful, and Practical“. His article includes what he claims is a “knockout punch” for Calvinism. In this blog post I’ll respond to his “knockout punch” and also show how individual predestination is far from “Biblical, Beautiful, and Practical”.
Is Individual Predestination Biblical?
For a number of years I’ve been asking Calvinists to provide just one example from the Bible where God predestined an individual to salvation prior to conception. Click here for the sound of crickets! 🙂 This is important because if their viewpoint is true, you would think that the Holy Spirit would have provided at least one example in scripture to establish this. Yet everywhere we read of predestination in the Bible, it is always, without exception, in the plural! What the Bible actually teaches is corporate predestination. God predestined that there would be a church of believers. This is similar to predestining a train to go from Cleveland to Denver. Everybody gets a free ticket on that train, but no one will be forced to get on that train.
Every scriptural example Robinson cited is in the plural. He starts with Ephesians 1:5 – “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.” He then cites 6 verses later “In him (Christ) we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” [emphasis added]. The same is true of Romans 9, John 17, etc that he also cited. Again I ask the Calvinist faithful, why would the Holy Spirit not provide a single example of individual predestination in all of the Bible, if such is true? Why are all their scriptural examples instead in the plural? Again, please click here for the sound of crickets!
A knockout punch?
Robinson believes that Acts 13:48 provides the “knockout punch” for Calvinism:
“Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”
The most obvious problem for the Calvinist with this verse is that corporate predestination easily accommodates it. Unlike the Calvinist, we believe Jesus died for the whole world (1 John 2:2), not just the lucky individuals pre-selected before conception. Is it not entirely reasonable that these Gentiles were very open to the gospel, similar to how God had opened Lydia’s heart (Acts 16:14) and hence why they were glad when they heard the word and believed?
Here is a very important distinction that Acts 13:48 helps illuminate. Both predestination viewpoints easily accommodate this verse. But there are literally hundreds of verses from Genesis through Revelation that cannot be accommodated by Calvinism! Dr. Robinson and other Calvinists have to take out their black marker and cross out the scores of verses that outright falsify their position. These markers typically have the word “anthropomorphism” or “God’s ways are higher than our ways” written on them. For example, three separate times God laments that He did not command, speak, or even think that man would be so wicked as to roast their kids in a fire:
“they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind” – Jeremiah 19:5
For Calvinists who missed this, God repeats it in Jeremiah 7:31 and 19:5. There is no reasonable explanation a Calvinist can give for these verses, and hence why they chalk each of them off as an anthropomorphism, their god of the gaps answer to their problem verses. We don’t have to resort to calisthenics to explain how corporate predestination deals with their “knockout” verses (see my blog article Bible Interpretation for Dummies). There are many similar verses to Jeremiah 19:5 from Genesis through Revelation that are the true knockout punches – they precisely and without ambiguity refute Calvinism and individual predestination. For more refutations of Calvinism and its clear ties to Greek pagan philosophy, see my blog “The Predestined for Hell Myth“.
Is Individual Predestination “Beautiful”?
In his article Dr. Robinson knows there is a perception problem with his viewpoint since it demands that God must by extension have predestined people for hell (this is called double predestination). He admits it “conjures up images of an angry and capricious God who acts arbitrarily to save some, but consigns most sinners—including deceased infants—to eternal perdition.” He never returns to this inconvenient truth about Calvinism, but instead resorts to a ploy all too common from those on the left, shifting attention to what he believes is a positive aspect of individual predestination. Now don’t get me wrong, chances are Robinson is conservative like most of my Calvinist friends. But he is subconsciously or otherwise using a form of liberal deception by manipulating language and words. Secularists promote the illusion that molecules-to-man evolution is “science” by fiercely claiming its science, despite the fact there is little science to defend it. Not long ago a pro-abort feminist wrote that abortion is “kind” and “humane”. A Planned Parenthood advocacy group in Michigan posted an article “My abortion was a beautiful experience”. What about the bumper sticker we’ve all seen, “pro women, pro child, pro choice”? The gay play “A Beautiful Thing” is heralded as a crown jewel of the LGBT-XYZ community, shifting attention away from what is otherwise a miserable drug-filled lifestyle with a shortened life expectancy, the very opposite of “beautiful”. They are using words and language to promote the illusion that their view is palatable, all the while hiding something that they know full well is abhorrent. If Dr. Robinson truly believes Calvinism is “beautiful”, why won’t he dare utter the words “God picks infants for hell is beautiful!”.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” – Isaiah 5:20
Is Individual Predestination “Practical”?
Here again Robinson is using a word to sugar coat what so plainly is the precise opposite of what Calvinism is. Calvinism and its inherent individual predestination has to be one of the most impractical philosophies I’m aware of, and I submit it would be a real challenge for someone to come up with a less practical viewpoint. Since individual predestination says our eternal fate is sealed before we are conceived, there is no practical reason to ever witness to anyone. There is also no practical reason to pray! Well, maybe you can pray for a car, but even so was that car preordained? How about your health, or a loved one’s health? If Calvinism is true and the time of our death is predetermined, Hezekiah’s prayer was either a complete waste of time, or God was just kidding when He told Hezekiah he was near death.
Calvinism is so impractical and illogical that when challenged that God the Son changed to become man, the noted Calvinist James White made the jaw-dropping response that “the Son of God did not become man, Jesus did” [link]. If Calvinism is practical, it would not so easily crumble when challenged with common sense logic.
I believe one internet author summed it up well:
“It appears that the only practical application of Calvinism is in the spreading of Calvinism.” [unknown author]
In the mom’s email lamenting her son’s descent into Calvinism, she mentioned that two respectable men are mentoring him toward reformed theology. I have no doubt that these men are God-fearing gentlemen. I personally have a number of dear Christian friends who are Calvinists. But none of us are off the hook on judgement day when even believers will be accountable for their deeds and actions. How will the Calvinist explain himself to Jesus given the plain language throughout the Bible that totally dismantles their viewpoint, one that includes claiming Jesus preordained infants to hell? Its a viewpoint that Robinson and Calvinists know make God look bad, so they sadly resort to deflection and obfuscation. I think its great to have mentors and fellowship with other believers. But we need to be mindful that our mentors and those whom we respect themselves are just mere men. The center verse of the Bible says “Its better to Trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Ps 118:8). Paul lauded the Bereans as most noble for not just taking his word for what he preached them, but confirming it through all of scripture (Acts 17:11). My prayer is that the Calvinist who makes it this far humbles him or herself and turns away from a viewpoint that not only has hundreds of proof texts against it, but is inherently very destructive. Ideas have consequences, and the biggest tragedy of Calvinism is its built-in excuse to not witness to anyone. Who benefits from such a viewpoint, the church, or the prince of this world?