May 14, 2014

If You Believe the Bible, Then You Believe in Predestination

There are many believers who deny the biblical doctrines of predestination and election. I don't mean simply that they deny the Calvinist understanding of these doctrines. I mean that they actually deny any form of predestination or election. What they don't realize is this: all orthodox, Bible-believing Christians believe in predestination and election.

R. C. Sproul:
If we are going to be biblical in our theology, we must have some doctrine of predestination, because the Bible—not Augustine, Luther, or Calvin—clearly introduces the concept. There is nothing in Calvin’s doctrine of predestination that was not first in Luther’s, and there is nothing in Luther’s doctrine of predestination that was not first in Augustine’s, and I think it is safe to say that there is nothing in Augustine’s doctrine of predestination that was not first in Paul’s. This doctrine has its roots not in the theologians of church history but in the Bible, which sets it forth explicitly. [1]

We don't have the option of disbelieving in election and predestination. The Bible clearly teaches both. We can disagree on what these terms mean, but we can't ignore or deny them. These words and the concepts behind them are explicitly biblical. Keep that in mind the next time you hear the claim that predestination is a "Calvinist doctrine" or that Arminians don't believe in election. Arminians do believe in election and predestination. They must. Those who deny these terms are not truly Arminian. Arminians have their own views on election and predestination, views that differ from those of Calvinists, but they do not, can not, deny these doctrines outright.

There are (otherwise Bible-believing) Christians, who do, in fact, deny these doctrines outright, but they do so out of ignorance. They simply do not know that the Bible teaches any concept of predestination or election. They haven't knowingly rejected the biblical teaching on predestination because they don't even realize that there is one. However, the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism is not a debate over whether or not the Bible teaches predestination. It is a debate over the specifics of this teaching. Both sides believe in (some form of) predestination because all Bible-believing Christians do.

As a Calvinist, I believe that the Arminian understanding of predestination and election is seriously deficient. What's worse, though, is the outright denial of the explicit teachings of Scripture. 


1. R. C. Sproul, Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Reformation Trust, 2014), p. 222.

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