Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?: Facing Up to Equal Ultimacy

I recently finished up R.C. Sproul’s Chosen By God and one of his chapters focuses on the question of “double predestination.” Double predestination raises many eyebrows from non-Calvinists and Calvinists alike. Many will say “God definitely elects to salvation but there is no way that He would ever elect to reprobation!” The obvious problem with this is that even a non-selection is a choice. God still chooses to not elect some and to work sanctification in the hearts of some. The real issue is not double predestination, but whether or not God’s predestination is symmetrical or not. Another way to say it is: Is God’s predestining of humans active-active or active-passive (as R.C. Sproul likes to put it)? I am one of those dreaded Hyper-Calvinists who believes that God’s predestination is symmetrical, or, in other words, I believe in equal ultimacy. What is equal ultimacy though? For our purposes, we can define equal ultimacy is:

Equal Ultimacy: the doctrine that God works sanctification in the hearts of His elect and unbelief in the hearts of the reprobate

For the purposes of this discussion, Arminians are to be left to the wayside. This is an intramural discussion among Calvinists.

Dr. Sproul does not base his conclusions on the Bible, rather he bases conclusion on an emotional objection. His objection is one shared by all of the advocates of active-passive predestination. He says something of this kind. “Equal Ultimacy makes God the author of sin and surely that does violence to the character of God! God is all-good and surely He cannot work unbelief, which is a sin, in the heart of the reprobate!” Here we must agree in part. God is surely not the author of sin (as we are told that God cannot sin in Jas. 1:13 and other passages); however, that does not mean that God is not the source of sin. What is the difference? To be a source is to be the dwelling or place from which something springs; however, to be the author is to be the active producer of something. You will then say to me, “Ok fine, but doesn’t your definition assume that God is the author of unbelief? Aren’t you contradicting yourself?” Well, I don’t think so. God is the source of all things. In His decree of election and reprobation, God decides who will and who will not be saved. Part of not being saved is the sin of unbelief, as well as any number of accompanying sins. God, in His creative decree, which proceeded His elective decree (see my article on Supralapsarianism), He decreed that unbelievers would not believe. How can God be sure if the unbeliever will continue in His unbelief if, He in some sense, did not actively decree their unbelief and it’s working out in their life?



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