Pristine Grace

An Answer to a Cry for Help
by C.C. Morris

There is a new generation of Limited Predestinarians coming on, for which the Conditionalists can thank their lucky stars. In a recent issue of one of the Limited Predestinarian periodicals, the young author of a short piece entitled "The Bible Doctrine of Predestination" has bravely taken upon himself the tremendous burden of straightening out "some of the children of God" who have "much confusion" in their minds about predestination. His vehicle for doing so is not a page long; nor does it need to be any longer, we suppose, because he assures us the subject is very easy to understand, and simple.

His first sentence says, "This doctrine has unfortunately caused difficulty and much confusion in the minds of some of the children of God." Now, isn't that unfortunate, seeing that fortune, misfortune, and the like are the practical opposites of predestination? But perhaps that is his very point.

"Unfortunate" means unlucky, while "fortunate" means "coming by good luck; bringing some good not foreseen as certain...lucky. Syn. see Lucky." (Webster; emphasis supplied.) Since our God has "foreseen as certain" all good which He brings, we can all breathe a little easier; the young man cannot possibly be speaking of the God we hope to worship.

"Lucky implies success by chance rather than as the result of merit; fortunate...may carry a hint of being watched over by a higher power or of being blessed beyond one's deserts (Webster)."

It would appear then, that what God's humble poor call grace is what Webster and the Conditionalists call lucky. After all, is not "being watched over by a higher power" and "being blessed beyond one's deserts" what most of us call grace? Apparently our young Conditionalist would call it lucky and fortunate.

Fortuna, the Roman goddess of "luck and pure chance," has thus smiled upon the young author in his opening sentence. Yea, doubtless, she grinneth broadly.

"A form of this word in our English Bible is used 4 times in the New Testament," says the young writer. By "a form of this word" we suppose the young man means a form of the word predestination. But then, in his very next paragraph he misquotes Ephesians 1.5 as, "Having predestined us unto the adoption of children...." "Predestined." He even underlined it. Predestined is indeed a form of the word predestination, and a good one at that; but, unfortunately for the young theologian, it is not one of the four forms of this word in "our English Bible in the New Testament"-unless the young writer unfortunately uses some version other than the King James. If he does, it may be his English Bible, but it is not ours.

Says he, "In the Greek, the word predestinate is, 'proorizo,' which is a verb," And this, dear friends, is the sum total of all he tells us about this branch of the subject. Yes, indeed. He tells us it is a verb, but he says nothing about what this verb means. Knowing proorizo/predestinate is a verb, however, should be sufficient to accomplish his self-appointed task, which, as we recall, was to remove much difficulty and confusion from the minds of some of the children of God.

Lucky for us that he teaches us all he knows about this Greek word, because he demonstrates little enough knowledge of English in the body of his little article.

"One must always remember to let the Bible interpret itself," he next advises. We can consider ourselves fortunate again that he reminded us of this.

He continues: "The Scriptures declare that Predestination is causative." Unfortunately, the young writer did not anticipate and answer the obvious question this last statement raises: Of the four times in the New Testament where a form of the word predestination is used, which occurrence declares "Predestination is causative"?

Then, after floundering around in spiritual waters far too deep for him, the young writer finally cries out for help: "Where is it taught that God has predestinated anyone to hell? Or that He has predestinated all things good and evil that comes to pass?" At last, luckily for him, we can welcome the opportunity to help him.

As for his former question, "Where is it taught that God has predestinated anyone to hell?" We suggest he might start with 1 Peter 2.8: "...a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed." While there, he might answer this: When did God appoint them to stumbling disobedience, if not by eternal predestination?

He might then try, "But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption (2 Peter 2.12)," and while there he should answer: When did God determine He would make them to be taken and destroyed? In time, or by eternal decree?

Next, he might try, "...there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 4)," and answer: Is not being "before of old ordained to this condemnation" the same as being predestinated to hell?

And after that, he might try this text: "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2.11-12)." If he does, we'd like to hear his answer to this question: When did God determine He would send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie and all be damned? Lately? Or was it eternally predestinated?

And he might try these texts: "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated...Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth...Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour (Romans 9.13, 18, 21)?" Just exactly when did God determine He would hate Esau, harden Pharaoh, and make others vessels unto dishonour-was it in time, or in His eternal counsel and by His decree of predestination?

As for his latter question, "[Where is it taught] that He has predestinated all things good and evil that comes [sic] to pass?" (Since the young writer was so good to share his knowledge of the Greek with us, perhaps we can bear with his faulty English.) May we suggest he might find an answer to this question in such passages as, "Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not? Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good (Lamentations 3.37-38)?" "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? (Amos 3.6)" "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good...(Genesis 50.20)." "And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel (Ezekiel 14.9)." "The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly (Job 12.6)." "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things (Isaiah 45.7)." "The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil (Proverbs 16.4)."

The young Conditionalist might compare "The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord (Proverbs 16.1)" with the Psalmist's prayer, "Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity...(Psalm 141.4)."

And he might compare "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6.13)" with "Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Matthew 4.1)." By whose Spirit was Jesus led?

And he might ponder, "Remember the former things of old: for I am God and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure (Isaiah 46.9-10)." In his miasmatic meditations he might answer whether or not this text includes the evil things that were not yet done. It is important that he should answer this question, since God and Isaiah did not qualify that phrase with words like "good" or "evil."

Then, when he has done that, he might think upon this: "The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand." Has the young Conditionalist considered that, by observing whatever comes to pass, one can see what God has eternally thought?

Before he is done with our help, the lucky young writer should address at least two more scriptures: "...For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back (Isaiah 14.24-27)?" And, "...being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1.11)."

But we don't expect the young man, so favored by Dame Fortune, and so benevolently bent on removing difficulty and much confusion from the minds of some of the children of God, to be persuaded by these texts. Luckily, he has a Bible, and, fortunately, all these texts have always been in it. We have good reason to believe, however, that they don't mean as much to him as a dip of Garrett snuff.

In his closing paragraph, luckily for him, he changes the subject completely away from predestination (if ever that was his subject) to how beautiful the Bible is! There, his closing argument, in its entirety, on "The Bible Doctrine of Predestination" is: "Let us not change the word of God. It's beautiful just the way it is!"

Had we the opportunity we might ask him: Then why, young man, if you are so hard against changing the word of God, why did you change predestinate to predestine in Ephesians 1.5? Was it only because you are as superficial in your scripture-reading and your writing as you are in your thinking? Or, are you merely incapable of any better? Or, is predestination so trivial a subject to you, and is your reading audience so insignificant to you, that neither was worthy of a little respectful attention to detail? Or, for your part, was it all just an unfortunate choice of words?