Paul's Passing Thoughts

Romans Series Interlude: Predestination, a Potter’s House Journey, Part 3; Election and Total Depravity were NOT New with the Reformers and Far from being Unique

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 27, 2014

HF Potters House (2)

“MacArthur’s common assertion that inability is contrary to all other world religions is a gross historical fallacy. The necessity of predeterminism due to inability has been a common doctrine in both religious and secular camps since the cradle of civilization. The idea of total depravity is not unique to Calvinism by any stretch of the imagination.”

“Predeterminism and election are in the Bible, but the biblical view is one view among many that have dominated the philosophical landscape of human history. The Reformation was NOT philosophically unique—it was the norm. I think it important to note in our journey, as a stepping stone of understanding, the following: The biblical view of election and predestination is unique, but Calvinism takes its place in the philosophical norm of human history. Our journey must be an honest one that does not allow the rewriting of history.”    

Purveyors of Calvin’s election soteriology often boast that there is no doctrine more humbling to man who is naturally self-dependent. Election is presented as the most despised doctrine among men in all of human history, an anomaly that grates against his very being that clings to some claim of righteousness, no matter how minute.

The doctrine of human unwillingness and inability is perhaps the most attacked doctrine wittingly or unwittingly. The idea that sinners are completely helpless to redeem themselves or to make any contribution to that redemption from sin and divine judgment is the most attacked because in the big picture, it is the most despised doctrine.

Consequently, it is the most distinctively Christian doctrine, contrary to all non-Christian views of men. All religions in the world are some form of a works righteousness system. And at the foundation of all those religions other than the true faith in the true gospel is the idea that people can be good and good enough to contribute to their salvation, to somehow merit favor with deity and a happy after life. Because this is the universal foundational doctrine of all false systems of religion, it is therefore the most – because, I should say, the opposite of it is the foundation of all these religions, it is therefore the most attacked Christian doctrine. It is distinctively Christian because it affirms the absolute inability of man to do anything to contribute to his salvation.

It is a contrary doctrine as well. It doesn’t sit well with the sinner because one of the dominant features of universal human fallenness is deception about one’s true condition. Based on the dominating reality of human pride, the sinner is unwilling to see himself in his true condition and is convinced to one degree or another of his goodness (John MacArthur: 2008 T4G session 3).

This is not the case at all. MacArthur’s common assertion that inability is contrary to all other world religions is a gross historical fallacy. The necessity of predeterminism due to inability has been a common doctrine in both religious and secular camps since the cradle of civilization. The idea of total depravity is not unique to Calvinism by any stretch of the imagination.

Total depravity, or the incompetence of mankind, has always been a close companion to predeterminism. Obviously, any doctrine of predeterminism minimizes man’s ability to participate in his own fate. Predeterminism precedes total depravity, and elitism follows; this in fact has always been the predominate social model of humanity. At the root of humanity’s various caste systems is predeterminism. Sure, even though some men are arrogant and boastful, humanity has never been at loss for the humble who believe humanity has no worth.

One example of this is environmentalism. Proponents deem man worthless and harmful to planet Earth. The only purpose for man at all is to save the earth from man himself.

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT) is an environmental movement that calls for all people to abstain from reproduction to cause the gradual voluntary extinction of humankind. VHEMT supports human extinction primarily because, in the group’s view, it would prevent environmental degradation. The group states that a decrease in the human population would prevent a significant amount of man-made human suffering. The extinctions of non-human species and the scarcity of resources required by humans are frequently cited by the group as evidence of the harm caused by human overpopulation.

VHEMT was founded in 1991 by Les U. Knight, an American activist who became involved in the environmental movement in the 1970s and thereafter concluded that human extinction was the best solution to the problems facing the Earth’s biosphere and humanity… Knight believes that Earth’s non-human organisms have a higher overall value than humans and their accomplishments, such as art: “The plays of Shakespeare and the work of Einstein can’t hold a candle to a tiger”. He argues that species higher in the food chain are less important than lower species. His ideology is drawn in part from deep ecology, and he sometimes refers to the Earth as Gaia. He notes that human extinction is unavoidable, and that it is better to become extinct soon to avoid causing the extinction of other animals. The potential for evolution of other organisms is also cited as a benefit. Online source |

Obviously, John Calvin has nothing on Les U. Knight; in fact, in regard to human depravity Knight has raised the ante. Nor is VHEMT anywhere near to being a fringe nutball minority. The impact of this philosophy on our culture should be evident as the same people who put their lives in peril to save whales are strong proponents of abortion, and not to mention insane legislation that protects the snail darter and turtles at the expense of national security. Lazy-thinking Evangelicals chalk it all up to the insanity of sin, but that’s not the case at all. Insanity is not the issue; logic is the issue, and presuppositions concerning mankind. In regard to logic and presuppositions concerning mankind, there is absolutely NO difference between Knight and Calvin: both believe in the total depravity of man and a predestined outcome. This makes MacArthur’s well-traveled theses at T4G 2008 utter folly.

And this is paramount in our journey to understand predestination. If we buy into a prism of understanding, we might as well buy into the final analysis and call it a day. The tenet of Calvinism’s inability doctrine as a distinction that opposes all other schools of human thought stacks the metaphysical deck in Calvinism’s favor, but the premise is utterly false.

Predeterminism and election are in the Bible, but the biblical view is one view among many that have dominated the philosophical landscape of human history. The Reformation was NOT philosophically unique—it was the norm. I think it important to note in our journey, as a stepping stone of understanding, the following: The biblical view of election and predestination is unique, and Calvinism takes its place in the philosophical norm of human history. Our journey must be an honest one that does not allow the rewriting of history.

Inability begins in the garden. Satan approached Eve and suggested she had an inability to properly understand God. Satan then presented himself as an elitist efficacious to proper understanding. This is fairly evident. This isn’t a children’s story; this is the beginning of the very fiber of human existence: the totally depraved unenlightened masses being led by the elitist enlightened. Either by a natural selection, or a personal god, the enlightened are preordained to rule over the great unwashed masses. Everywhere you look in human history, you see social caste and economic strata along with the unpardonable sin of social mobility.

There is no sin against self; there is only sin against the collective good. This boils down to the question of purpose in the metaphysical schema of predeterminism. Whether the preordained are destined to lead man in the sole purpose of glorifying God and giving him pleasure with their own destruction, or leading man in his own destruction for the purpose of saving lower life forms so that true goodness will have a better chance—it’s the same metaphysical prism of understanding:

Predetermination →Total Depravity → Elitism → Social Caste → Collectivism → Final Solution.

Social caste is the fiber of culture in its historical duration and metaphysical spectrum. All blood ever spilled upon the earth finds its root cause in the question of free will, ability, individualism, and social mobility, and its effect on the collective. Fate is predetermined, and it is a war between those who hasten fate and those who are perceived as kicking against the inevitable. It is a war against those who prolong humanities mercy killing to the glory of a god, natural selection, or some other higher power of your choice. And the final solution is usually an escape from the material—a disdain for anything that can be perceived with the five senses. Calvinism is no different when all of these factors are considered. Calvinist Paul David Tripp has said that the essence of sin is sin against relationships. That’s code for the collective community. Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Seminary has said that Reformed pastors are preordained to save God’s people from ignorance. In the aforementioned session by John MacArthur, he stated that we should “Call the sinner to flee from all that is natural and all that powerfully enslaves him.” Let us now update our predeterminist prism:

Predetermination →Total Depravity → Elitism → Social Caste → Collectivism → Final Solution → Escape from all things natural/material.

We have no prayer of having a biblical understanding of predestination if we are led astray with red herrings—the Reformed construct is not unique, it is the same old song and dance. Everyone admits that Augustine is the father of Reformed doctrine, and a cursory observation of his writings reveals that he integrated the Bible with Platonism. Plato dignified ancient predeterminative doctrines. What was once mythology became  dignified orthodoxy. Plato’s Academy set the mode of operation for Western education in both realms of secular and religious until this day. The ability for those of lower social strata to obtain a formal education that enables one to influence society did not come till very late in history (post WWII America). Slavery and prejudice find their roots in the cradle of civilization and its accompanied doctrines of predeterminism.

Christ spoke of predeterminism, and in our journey, we must document what we can know for certain as building blocks to a final conclusion. This part has a building block that we can write into the conclusion column: Christ’s predestination construct had different fruit. Christ came to push back against predestination as usual. When Christ came he crashed the predestination status quo. He was righteousness in a human body, that turned a lot of religion upside down in and of itself. The material can possess goodness. The material can possess pure knowledge.

He also completely bypassed Plato’s education model. Christ threw orthodoxy and its authority to the dogs. He deliberately chose twelve uneducated blue collar workers to lay the foundation of His assembly. He chose them against status quo predestination. His authority didn’t come from the certification of men; it came directly from heaven and was verified by miracles. No doubt, He chose the twelve, but it is interesting that we have here a predestination against a predestination—the two have different fruits.

Another fruit of Christ’s predestination is individualism versus collectivism. The fate of the individual is a higher priority than the collective good. The individual is not expendable for the “collective good.”

John 11:45 – Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.

Even though Caiaphas unwittingly prophesied the will of God, this citation demonstrates the age-old collective good mentality. The few are expendable for the collective good. This can even escalate into the idea that an inferior race can threaten a superior race—that’s commonly known as genocide. The collective good mentality is set against what Christ taught:

Matthew 18:10 – “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Luke 15:8 – “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

In religious caste systems, the enlightened are deemed unexpendable because chaos will ensue if the inept sheep-like masses have no shepherd. Many among the unenlightened masses often buy into this philosophy as sold to them from generation to generation. This, and nothing else, explains why Protestants and Catholics alike cover for those who abuse parishioners, especially when the religious figure is iconic to the organization. The fall of the individual could harm the group as a whole. Therefore, the victim is expendable for the sake of the collective. This mentally was seen over and over again in the ABWE/Donn Ketcham scandal. It was continually suggested to the victims that they fall on their swords for the sake of ABWE and all of the good that it does for the collective.

This elitist construct is always predicated on a choosing by God, a predetermination. Hence, anyone who has received a dollar for every time they have heard a man say that he was “called” by God would certainly be a billionaire by now. Again, the idea of choosing and predetermination is in the Bible, but in our journey for understanding, we are noting that biblical election prescribes different fruit from the typical approach throughout the ages.

Another different fruit is leadership versus authority. This is under the category of individualism. If the individual is competent and culpable, he/she needs gifted leadership more than authority.

Matthew 20:25 – But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

1Peter 5:1 – To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away (NIV).

1Corinthians 14:29 – Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.

1Corithians 11:1 – Be imitators of me, in so far as I in turn am an imitator of Christ (Weymouth New Testament).

Acts 17:10 – The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Caste systems always enforce the predestined pecking order by authority, and force if necessary. Christ never endorsed the use of force to compel acknowledgment and the following of truth. It is clear that what He endorsed was the freedom of choice. It is clear that the Reformation fathers endorsed force for purposes of compelling people to follow orthodoxy in the face of glaring scriptural contradiction.

In regard to social strata, the gods of religious caste have always collaborated with the power-brokers of the world. We find evidence in the New Testament that people equated wealth as proof of special favor from God. Well, God did choose a social strata (not to the complete exclusion of the other), but it wasn’t the typical upper crust:

1Corintians 1:26 – For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

James 2:1 – My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

Yet another distinction between the two predestinations is one mediator versus multiple mediators between God and man. Clearly, the Reformers believed that elders had the authority to forgive sins. Absolution was no less a Protestant concept than Catholic. This gives new meaning to you were chosen in Christ. There is only one mediator between God and man: Jesus Christ. Christ was also elected according to the Bible; this is in contrast to many being elected as our mediators. There was only one elected to be our mediator: Christ the Lord. In Reformed thought, even though one’s life is predetermined, the preordained elders seem to be able to trump fate with Calvin’s power of the keys to the kingdom; viz, whatever they bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Hence, making sure the elected elders like you is your free pass out of fatalism.

Another distinction is real time cause and effect as opposed to plenary predeterminism. In more contemporary Reformed circles, the Christian living paradigm is the willful entry into a redemptive meta-narrative completely preordained by God. This is why the Christian life as “story” is a dominate theme in today’s Christianity. Those of the Reformed camp often refer to the “divine drama” and use other similar phrases. Some refer to the gospel as an invitation by God to “enter into the plot.” Living outside of the redemptive narrative preordained by God is the very definition of madness and living in a contra-reality world.

The Bible is supposedly a prototype of the meta-narrative, and is organized into categories that “your own story” fits into. In the book How People Change by Paul David Tripp, the Bible narrative is categorized by heat, thorns, cross, and fruit. Your preordained story may be a different experience, but always fits into one of those four categories. The “Christian” classic Pilgrim’s Progress was based on this same principle.  In contrast, Christ continually emphasized cause and effect in regard to our choices, and in the final analysis, man will be judged according to his choices. The Bible states that what happened to Old Testament believers is an example to us that we are to learn from for the purpose of making better decisions:

1Corinthians 10:11 – Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

The word “instruction” is also translated “warning.” For certain, there is predestination in the Bible, but yet, the Bible is also saturated with the idea that we are individually capable of making godly decisions and personally responsible for them. Perhaps our journey can sort this out, but yet, that will not be possible if we do not begin by weeding out the traditions of men.

Let’s look at another distinction. All forms of predestination look for world domination by a single entity. This is always the wiping out of distinctions between peoples. Genocide and Aryan-like theories of predestination are always associated with purity of genetics that produce race. However, instead of a one world empire that enforces utopia, sometimes called, “destiny,” God elected little Israel to eventually be the head of the nations and not the tail while allowing distinctions between the peoples. That would be the millennial kingdom.

All other forms of predestination that make up the vast majority of religious and secular thought hold God’s election of Israel in contempt. The Reformers held that Israel’s election was based on a covenant between Israel and God and Israel broke that covenant. Therefore, Israel was replaced with the “church.” And of course, Israel’s rebellion was predetermined. It begs the question: “Does biblical election allow free will while predeterming an overall outcome desired by God?” This is one of our working theories in the journey, and would certainly answer a lot of questions about election. At any rate, the point here is the election of Israel versus all other (or at least most) predestination constructs that hold Israel in contempt.

Let’s sum up with the illustration below (click on to enlarge):

Election Tree

Christ came and turned a predominate worldview completely upside down. Predetermination was the dominate worldview until the Enlightenment era. Deism and Natural Theology does not arrive until the seventeenth century, yet, MacArthur et al make Deism the essence of man’s psyche and the root of all false religions. This is a metaphysical and historical fallacy—it is utter folly.

For certain, Deism was an overreaching pushback to the norm, but the amount of good heaped upon the earth as a result of its premise should be well noted and demands our consideration. A tree is known by its fruit. If we are to have a biblical understanding of predestination, we must weed out the traditions of men.

Lord willing, our journey will continue next week with part 4.

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. paulspassingthoughts said, on April 27, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.


  2. paulspassingthoughts said, on April 27, 2014 at 4:08 PM

    Thanks Argo.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s