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Double Double, Toil & Trouble: Part 1 - Chapter 2 - Defining the Terms

Double Double, Toil & Trouble: Part 1 - Chapter 2 - Defining the Terms

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Double Double, Toil & Trouble? © Rob Wilkerson
Chapter TwoDefining the Terms
The inability or unwillingness to properly define terms is one of the biggest reasons whytheology causes so many divisions in the body of Christ. It is probably this one factoralone that caused so much conflict in our church. In one church where I pastoredseveral years ago Jim Atkinson, a dear friend and one of our deacons, was wisest in thisrespect. When the conflict arose regarding Calvinism in our church, he never definedhimself as a Calvinist. But neither did he allow another person to name someone else asa Calvinist without first defining the term.
He would ask them, “YOU define the termfirst, and then I’ll know how to answer you.”
This is always the wisest move when itcomes to matters like this. I tried to follow his pattern.Before a church business meeting one day, someone came up to me and asked me if Ireally did believe in
“that
Calvinism stuff 
.”
Learning from Jim I asked the person to firstdefine the word for me
before I said “yes” or “no.Th
ey grew frustrated with me andaccused me of evading the question, claiming that is the mark of all false teachers.What a nice compliment to give your pastor! I simply responded that I would lookfoolish to say I did or did not believe in something unless we first identified what hethought it meant. I walked right into that
one. I’m sure you can guess this person’s
 
response. “Well you already look foolish either way, don’t you?” I can sure set myself 
up sometimes.This person
didn’t seem to understand the basic logic behind my response. If I didn’t
know what they thought Calvinism was, then I might be furthering theirmisunderstanding of it or else blindly agreeing with something which may bringdisastrous consequences. Interestingly, as it turned out, they never could tell me whatCalvinism was! So I
didn’t
tell them whether or not I believed in it!
When others label you, ask them to define the label they’ve just used. Chances are,
they have no idea what that label means, or if they do, they
have some totally “wackedout” understanding of it. So at the outset, let me define the words I’ll be using with
myown words. That way,
you’ll know what I mean by those words
as you are reading, andif you find you are on the other side of the fence fro
m me on this issue, at least you’ll be
able to label me correctly!
Predestination and Election
I’d like to simply define four words. The first two are interrelated: election and
predestination. Now, before I begin, I want to you to understand that the aim of thisbook is to examine in-depth the texts and theological arguments surrounding double-
 
Double Double, Toil & Trouble? © Rob Wilkerson
predestination, This, however, is only just a facet of the doctrine of predestination as awhole. What this means is that I am only going to be able to touch lightly upon thelarger subject of predestination and election. I trust you understand.
1
 Election and predestination are the two evil words that many pastors are told they must
never utter from the pulpit. I’ve even heard them referred to as the “E” w
ord and the
“P” word! But I side with John Calvin who said
in
a sermon on Ephesians, “
All who
would do away with God’s predestination or are loth [reluctant] to hear it spoken of,thereby show themselves to be mortal enemies of God’s praise.”
2
The reason they are
mortal enemies of God’s praise is because God is clear in Ephesians 1.“He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be
holy and unblemished in his sight in love. He did this by predestining usto adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will
 –
to the praise of the glory of His grace that he has freely
bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son” (1:4
-6).
First, consider the word “chose” in verse 4. It is a synonym for God’s election.
And
God’s election had an intended purpose, namely that we would be holy and blameless
in his sight. All blood-earnest preachers know the value of preaching real holiness.According to Paul, holiness begins with election.Next, according to verse 5, God
did this, “by predestinating us to adoption as his sonsthrough Jesus Christ.” This choosing of us for holiness was done by an act calledpredestination. As far as I can tell, there’s just not much room for debate on what the
word itself means. It comes from the Greek word
 proorizo
(pronounced, pro-or-reeds-oh) and in the words of one Greek and Latin scholar,
“signifies to resolve beforehand within one’s self what to do; and, before
the thing resolved on is actually effected, to appoint it to some certain
use, and direct it to some determinate end.”
3
 
1
For a more in-depth study of the reformed doctrines of predestination and election a good place to startis
The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination
by Lorraine Boettner (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian andReformed Publishing, 1932). If you are a Baptist, or more specifically a Southern Baptist, begin withseventeen year Southern Baptist President Patrick Hue
s Mell’s work,
 A Southern Baptist Looks at Predestination
(Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1995).. If you are looking for a more general andbroad overview on the subject, see
The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented 
bySteele, Thomas, and Quinn (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 2004).. Finally, if youdesire to read comparatively on the various views of predestination, see
Predestination & Free Will: Four View of Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom
by Feinberg, Geisler, Reichenbach and Pinnock, edited byBasinger and Basinger (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986).
2
John Calvin.
Sermons on Ephesians
 
, “The Third Sermon on the First Chapter.” Internet: The Highway
(http://www.the-highway.com/Calvin_Eph3.html)..
 
Double Double, Toil & Trouble? © Rob Wilkerson
The verb predestinate is actually of a Latin origin, and it means in that language,
“to deliberate beforehand with one’s self how one shall act; and in
consequence of such deliberation to constitute, foreordain andpredetermine where, when, how and by whom anything shall be done,
and to what end it shall be done.”
4
 The last phrase of this quote contains two thoughts that are essential to the subject of predestination: scope and purpose. The scope is found in verse 5 and the purpose inverse 6
. First, the scope of predestination
includes and engages every single createdthing on earth, throughout all of history past, present and future.
“No creature, whether rational, or irrational, animate or inani
mate, isexempted from its influence. All beings, whatever, from the highestangel to the meanest reptile, and from the meanest reptile to the
minutest atom, are the objects of God’s eternal decrees and particularprovidence.”
5
 
“…in common theological wr
itings, predestination is spoken of asextending to whatever God does, both in a way of permission andefficiency, as, in the utmost sense of the term, it does. It is worthy of the
reader’s notice that the original word,
proqesi
which we renderpurpose, signifies not only an appointment, but a fore-appointment, andsuch a fore-appointment as is efficacious and cannot be obstructed, but
shall most assuredly issue in a full accomplishment..”
6
 To be sure, this theology is not found in verse 5, but represents the much broader andwider field of biblical theology on this subject, not the least of which is verse 11, whichteaches,
3
Jerome Zanchius.
 Absolute Predestination
. (Chingford, London: Silver Trumpet Publications Limited,1989 Reprint), p. 48. I make no apologies for quoting profusely from Zanchius on this subject. In myopinion, his work on the subject is the most brief and succinct and well-worded. I highly recommend it toanyone studying the subject whether as a scholar looking for more time-tested insight, or from a laymanwho is looking to get an overview of the subject. One will not find a more gospel-oriented, Calvinistic manwith an evangelistic zeal and fervor that makes me drool.
4
Ibid.
5
Ibid, pp. 48-
49. The word “mean” is a sixteenth century term for “lowly.”
 
6
Ibid, p. 47, fn.

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