Did God Predestine Deceivers to Lead His People Astray?

In a comment to a post about Calvinism, PuritanLad suggested that Jude 4 supports Calvinism. Apparently, he offered it as evidence of double predestination -- the belief that God not only unconditionally predestines some people to heaven but that he unconditionally predestines the rest of humanity to hell. Setting aside the ultimate merits of this doctrine, what are the merits of using Jude 4 to support Calvinism?

Here is the relevant verse:

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jude 1:4.

Apparently, PuritanLad understands this verse to mean that God specifically ordained and caused some people to pervert the Gospel and work hard to turn people away from Christ. I find this problematic from a few different perspectives. It seems to be counterintuitive in light of other verses. Is God really working against His efforts of salvation? Jesus seemed to argue against such a notion in a debate with the Pharisees.

But He knew their thoughts and said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls."

Luke 11:17.

James also seems eager to avoid casting God as standing as an obstacle to His own people.

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

James 1:12-14.

Nevertheless, perhaps that is what Jude says and there are ways to reconcile the above verses with it. Proper exegesis of Jude 4, however, renders such attempts unnecessary at this point.

The passage is somewhat awkward and "bristles with difficulties." Richard Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, page 35. The term translated "marked out" in the NAU -- progegrammenoi -- literally means "to write before." Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, page 538. It can also emphasize to make public or to designate clearly. William D. Mounce, The Analystical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament, page 390. You can see its usage in Romans 15:3 and even in Ephesians 3:3 where Paul is referring to something he wrote about earlier in his letter. This is not the word used by Paul -- proorizo -- in other letters to mean "presdestined."

Perhaps more to the point is what it is that Jude emphasizes was written about long ago. It is not the actions of the false teachers, per se, but "this condemnation." What is "this condemnation"? God's judgment on the ungodly. Jude writes about the condemnation typologically in vs. 5-8 where he recounts the judgment inflicted on the rebellious among the Jews after leaving Egypt, fallen angels, and Sodom and Gomorrah. Jude emphasizes this comparison in v. 7 by noting that "in the same way" these false teachers reject authority. Jude goes on in later verses with further examples of people being judged for their immoral and rebellious actions. The condemnation is God's judgment on these false teachers, which they deserve and have brought upon themselves by their actions. (v. 10, "by these things they are destroyed" and v. 15, "to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way").

That Jude is speaking about the prophesied judgment of the false teachers is reinforced by his use of the example in the Book of Enoch when Enoch "prophesied" about the judgment of "all of the ungodly." The emphasis on the condemnation, judgment, fate -- if you will -- that will befall those who are false teachers. Nothing about this passage states that God predestines certain men to lead other men away from God. He knows some will and has stated what will happen to them.

Why? Why does Jude feel it necessary to emphasize the judgment of false teachers?

Not to comfort his readers with the assurance that all is happening according to God's plan -- though this may be an incidential effect. Still less is he indulging in mere denunciation. The point is to prove that the libertine teaching and practice of these people puts them into a class of people who, according to Scripture, incur God's wrath and condemnation, and that therefore they constitute a severe danger, which Jude's readers must resist, to the churches.

Bauckham, op. cit., page 41.

So, in fact, Jude 4 does not support the doctrine of double predestination. Of course, others may. Or may not.


Jason Pratt said…
Good exegesis, Layman. Agreed.

Puritan Lad said…

Sorry for the delay in responding. Been a nusy week.

God Predestines everything. There is nothing that has ever happened, is happening now, or ever will happen that isn't a part of God's sovereign and immutable decree.

"Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none other God, and there is nothing like me, Which declare the last thing from the beginning: and from of old, the things that were not done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do whatsoever I will. I call a bird from the East, and the man of my counsel from far: as I have spoken, so will I bring it to pass: I have purposed it, and I will do it." (Isaiah 46:9-11).

"But our God is in heaven: he doeth whatsoever he will." (Psalm 115:3)

"And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and according to his will he worketh in the armies of heaven, and in the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, nor say unto him, What doest thou?" (Daniel 4:35)

"The Lord breaketh the counsel of the nations, and bringeth to nought the plans of the people. The counsel of the Lord shall stand forever, and the plans of his heart throughout all generations. Blessed is that nation, whose God is the Lord: the people that he hath chosen for his own inheritance." (Psalm 33:10-12)

He "... worketh all things after the counsel of his own will," (Ephesians 1:11)

Yes, the absolute socereignty of God is clearly taught in the Scriptures. Man's "free will" is noticeably absent.

God even predestined the sinful acts of wicked men. Job, after passing through his many trials at the hands of Satan, his friends, his family, and his enemies, declares, “Who among all these does not know That the hand of the LORD has done this?” (Job 12:9) Thus the idea of mere “permissive will of God” is fiction. As punishment for David’s sin, God proclaimed concerning Absalom’s incest that He would "raise up evil out of" David's own house, and declared it to be His work, stating boldly that “I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.” (2 Samuel 12:11-12). The envy, kidnapping, and lying of Joseph's brothers was a direct act of God (Genesis 45:7).

Christ was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8) It was not only the permission, but the will of God for His Son to be slain (Luke 22:42). In fact, it was God Himself who performed the work, because it pleased Him to do so (Isaiah 53:10). God was actively working in the following sinful acts; that Judas betrayed Christ; that the Jews plotted to kill Him; and that the Romans carried out their act, for all these did nothing but "what the hand and counsel of God had decreed" (Acts 4:27-28). This is affirmed by Peter, that Christ was delivered to death by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23); in other words, that God, to whom all things are known from the beginning, had willed (not just permitted) what the Jews and Romans had executed. He repeats the same thing elsewhere, “Those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he has so fulfilled,” (Acts 3:18). They were all "disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed." (1 Peter 2:8).

Therefore, I must conclude that your exegesis of Jude 4 fails to take account of the Sovereignty of God as a whole, particularly in light of the above passages.

For more, including how God can do this without being the "author of sin", see The Myth of Libertarian Free Will".

God Bless,

Jason Pratt said…

You didn't actually reply to Layman's exegesis of Jude 4. You only replied _about_ it, and that indirectly.

The consequence, is that you have left yourself seeming to say that his exegesis of that epistle is fine, so far as it goes, but incomplete due to such-n-such other factors.

That could in principle happen to be true; but if so, your reply then amounts to this: that Jude was correct to write "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone." But that even though Jude was correct about this, God in fact goes _further_ than temptation and _forces_ people to act evilly anyway, after which He then punishes them for doing so.

The rest of your reply then amounts in effect, I suppose, to a quibble about who exactly is doing the tempting among Jude's congregation. It isn't God, it's those people--God isn't tempting the congregation, but is forcing someone else to do it. Therefore don't blame God for being tempted!

Was that how you meant to reply?--that God is only forcing those people to tempt the congregation to evil, not tempting the congregation to evil Himself? (For which of course God will condemn the ones He is forcing to do this, as if they were the ones who chose to do something wrong...)

Jason Pratt said…
To forestall your expected reply, I realize that you are going to answer (as you say in your journal, to which you linked), “God does not force man to sin. [...M]an has enough sin in himself to accomplish all the evil that God could ever decree.”

How did that evil get into man, though? Was that _not_ by God’s decree? And do you not make it as clear as you possibly can elsewhere that the man has no choice but to do what the sin in himself impells him to do? (Except of course when you say differently.)

So then: God forces sin into the man, to which man is forced to respond in one type of way and in no other way, yet the answer is that God does not force man to sin.

This looks ironic, for what is actually happening is that you are emphasizing the utter total power of God over everything and in all things that happen--as if this would not be the same as pantheism, btw--except when God might then look to be blamed for it. _Then_ you treat the sin as if it just sort of showed up and God had nothing active to do with it.

If God authoritatively “decrees even sinful acts”, then He is quite literally their author. You make it out to be different by avoiding grammatic references and sleight-of-mind. This ought to be a clue that, one way or another, your theology is not coherent. For there is a difference between quoting scriptures and having a coherent notion of what they mean (whether of themselves or in total combination.)

It is indeed “a theological bombshell to hear that God wills all man’s evil deeds”, “control[ing] the steps and words of man”. Apparently, it is enough of a theological bombshell that you must then turn around and deny it yourself. {g!} So, “_even_ the angels have the ability to think and morally reason _independently_” do they? Granted, you cannot mean by independently that they are Independent Facts of existence (there is only one of those, Who is God.) But you must mean by independently something other than that God controls their every action, too.

Very well then, since you deny that God forces man to sin, you must affirm that God controls man (and angels) to sin or not to sin--as if controlling every step and word and working all our works, including our sin, for us, is not the same as forcing. Choose whichever verb you feel most comfortable with affirming, as you wish.

Thus, when God controls man’s every step and word and works our works for us--then man sins because man chooses to do so, making man fully responsible for his sins. Of course man chooses to do what he wants, and all that he wants is to sin, which is man’s responsibility because--God put that there. But this leaves man free to sin and to do nothing other than sin; because obviously the essence of freedom is to do only that which we are impelled to do by our nature.

“You have one option, the only option I have given you, to sin--therefore you freely choose it! I shall torture you unremittingly for your free choice to rebel against Me then!” (claims Satan... er, YHWH...)

So, the end of the matter is this: man’s “free will”, which isn’t really free but really is, and which was given to him only by God, Who controls every step and word of the man's free will, is the cause of man’s sinful nature. This sinful nature is such that man cannot resist it, being spiritually dead (which is not the same as being a spiritual robot, since clearly robots do not merely react to their environment), leaving him only one choice: to do that which his nature commands. But man is free to only do that which his nature commands--except that this must be God’s command, else we are putting nature ahead of God--and within this one-option freedom man sins because he chooses to do so, making him (born spiritually dead) fully responsible for his sins.

And those who think there is something wrong with this proclamation, somewhere, are only being feeble-minded. {s}

Your turn, Layman! {g}

Puritan Lad said…
To respond about it directly, it wasn’t just “this condemnation” that was marked out long ago, but the “certain persons”. It is the certain persons that were marked out from long ago, not the condemnation of the wicked in general. So therefore, the exegesis is not suitable. Now to answer the rest of your post…

No one said anything about forcing people to sin. It is true that God does not tempt with sin (or force people to sin). He doesn’t have to. Man has enough sin in himself that all God has to do is set him in slippery places (Psalm 73:18), and thus makes them fall to ruin. While God Himself is not the tempter, but He does send evil and lying Spirits to accomplish these acts (See 1 Kings 22:19-23; 1 Samuel 16:14-23, 1 Samuel 18:10, 1 Samuel 19:9). God is said to "lay a stumbling block to make men fall" (Romans 9:33) and "send strong delusion, that they should believe lies," (2 Thessalonians 2:11). I think I have given a good account of God’s work in the sinful acts of wicked men in my previous response. This is an area that non-Calvinists hate to deal with, but it is pretty clear here.

God is sovereign over the eternal destination of man. God Himself predestines the salvation of His elect (Acts 13:48; Ephesians 1:4-5; Ephesians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14), and He predestines the destruction of the wicked (Proverbs 16:4; Romans 9:21-22; Jude 1:4 - which I will still hold to). However, it must be pointed out that, in both cases, men are still free to do what they want to do. God hardened Pharoah’s heart, and then punished him for it. He was a “vessel of wrath prepared for destruction” (Romans 9:22).

God’s ultimate plan isn’t merely salvation, but rather to bring glory to Himself. God gets glory in the salvation of His people, and He gets glory in the destruction of the wicked. In the end, God’s only has one purpose, and that is to bring glory to Himself. Mankind is an afterthought (another hard biblical truth).
Jason Pratt said…
Wow, did I predict _that_ answer correctly. {amused g!}

Puritan Lad said…

This can get very heated and passionate, but...

I would like for you to explain 2 Samuel 12:11-12 to me in light of Absalom's "free will". Remember, Absalom had not been born when God said this. Did God actually do this? The passage literally says, "I myself will accomplish this thing openly before all Israel and before the sun".

Yes, God predestines everything, including Adam's fall. (Supralapsarianism)
Puritan Lad said…
"Wow, did I predict _that_ answer correctly. {amused g!}"

You read my blog quite well :)
Jason Pratt said…

First I ask in return whether your question means that you actually accept the (somewhat heated {g}) position-description I gave in my preceding comment; since the point of the discussion Layman has set up is to clarify positions and their corollaries. If what I described _is_ actually the position you accept, then we have probably gone as far as Layman intended, and you need not even go on to defend it. I have some trouble believing you do in fact accept the position as I described it, so fairness requires that you be given a chance to correct the details of my description where applicable.

(Both your replies, in hindsight, tend to indicate that you accept my description; but let us be clear on that, if you do. My paragraph beginning “So, the end of the matter is this:” will do well enough as a summary reference.)

Now, when you ask me to explain 2 Sam 12:11-12, you are asking for _my_ best understanding of the situation. That’s a fair enough thing to ask, and I’ll do my best to answer your question; and Layman can do so as well according to the best light he can see, even if our answers may differ to some extent. (Philippians 3:16, btw.)

In order to answer your question, I must make several positions I hold as clear as I possibly can. First, as I have said before, I am _not_ disagreeing that God may and does harden whom He chooses. I recognize a difference between this and God outright controlling all actions, but I necessarily affirm as well that where and insofar as a constraint is laid, then by tautology any choices freely chosen by the man will be within that constraint. The man is responsible for whatever actions he takes within that constraint; but I affirm and do not deny that where God acts responsibly then the responsibility _is His_. If I did not affirm this, my theology would be immediately incoherent.

God may simply force a person or thing to behave; where that happens, God has total responsibility for the result. Or God may act to set constraints, leaving leeway within those constraints for the man himself to contribute as well. In that case, God and the man share responsibility for the result.

You, on the other hand, deny that God has _any_ responsibility in the results He Himself has enacted. And to be fair, I cannot honestly see how you could do otherwise; for you hope for no reconciliation to be completed and fulfilled by God in the situation. This lack of hope, however, is what leads you into the contradiction: that God does things which even you would otherwise admit involves responsibility in the results, yet somehow God is not responsible for the results.

If no good for the man is to be brought out of the behavior for the man, then we must either say that the One Who is good, even God, has _accomplished_ an evil thing; or else we must flip-flop back and forth between contradictory proposals. Personally, I do not care for either option; technically, I deny that the One Whose own self-existence is intrinsic fair-togetherness would enact toward an accomplishment of non-fair-togetherness. I deny this because I affirm orthodox trinitarian theism to be true--something I am supposing you yourself have at least _some_ concern to be affirming!

_Because_ I believe in the Trinity, then, I _expect_ God to _not_ rest content with non-fair-togetherness having been enacted. Nor do I find this hope to be dashed by the scriptures, but rather affirmed.

Consequently, then, specifically _as_ a trinitarian theist, I am _not_ thrown into an affirmation of a hopeless result when I read that God has done this or that in helping to bring about a result He deems fit; by which I mean this or that thing that an evil entity would rest in as having accomplished, having done what we would otherwise recognize _to be_ an evil thing: that which does not have fair-togetherness (the word in Greek we translate as ‘righteousness’ in English) in view, but only selfishness.

Thus, I can rejoice with Paul the Apostle, when he exults that all have been shut up into stubbornness, that God may show mercy _to all_. That includes to Absalom; also to the pharoah of Exodus, whom God set up as a vessel of wrath to be pouring destruction onto the people of God.

You have not kept in mind what vessels of wrath and destruction are for; nor have you accounted for this in the larger exposition of Paul to his Gentile and Jewish congregation, each of whom were _blaming the other_ for persecutions, the death of Christ, etc. Paul doesn’t deny the blames involved, but he will not have his congregation condemning each other either, claiming superiorities over against each other. Nor, incidentally, do you show that you are aware of what Jewish rabbis and historians were teaching concerning the Exodus pharoah, in the 1st century, which Paul’s audience would likely have been aware of: that he repented and went on to be a servant of God! The One Who is Good can harden whom He wills, and remain good, because He is aiming toward mercy for all, bringing good out of evil.

This is aside from contributions the man himself makes toward the hardening--for scripture typically teaches that first man hardens his heart, and then God accepting this choice goes on to confirm this hardness for a time. Is this in any way contrary to, much less outside, God’s sovereignty? By no means! For it is by God’s grace and power that the person and the natural system exists at all, both in the first place and continuing. Let us not have a cariacuture, then, of what a non-Calvinist but orthodox Christian means by free will: the man is free to choose the good, or to rebel, either one, though the natural inclination (being currently corrupted) does incline the man toward that which when acted upon is rebellion. This freedom of choice is, in its derivative fashion, the freedom God Himself has, Who always chooses to enact fair-togetherness, and first and most fundamentally the fair-togetherness of His own interpersonal unity. (If He did not, if He ever set aside His fair-togetherness, i.e. His love and/or His justice, then He would break the unity of His self-existence, ceasing to exist; as would our own past, present and future. Since we are still here to talk about it, we can be sure that God never will choose to do this!) We are not God, but we are children of God, made in His image, both directly and through the mediation of this natural system He has created.

But this freedom to choose, comes _from_ God. It is not against God’s sovereignty in the slightest; and you do your opponents a grave injustice by representing them as denying God’s sovereignty: as if they are claiming that a man’s ability to choose actually comes first and foremost from something _other_ than the one and only Independent Fact of all reality!

To complete (so far as I can see to do so) my preparation for answering your question concerning Absalom, I ask in return (expecting your answer to be no): does God live within Nature, dependent upon its flow of time, so that what He decrees to happen in the future (from a given point in time) must then follow in effect at a distance (as it were) from God’s causing?--the way that I, being a derivative man, dependent upon a created entity (Nature) as well as upon God the Creator, must do?

This, I deny; I am no heretic, making God out to be under the restriction of natural time. What God does He does at the very point of space/time in which He intends the effect, in somewhat the same way as an author (such as myself) introduces effects into a story at the points in which I intend those effects. But if God acts toward me today in such a fashion, is He then (by being constrained under natural time) unable to declare at a different point time what He will be doing in regard to me? By no means!

Seeing then the contribution made to His story (i.e. to history) by David himself--a contribution which did not take God by surprise, from His vantage point as the Creator beyond Nature--and seeing from His vantage point what results would naturally follow from this within Nature, God declares what one of His own personal contributions will be; ‘ahead of time’, from David’s perspective, but not from God’s.

Again, seeing from His vantage point that Absalom would be one result, and seeing from this vantage that Absalom would freely choose to go in a particular direction, God _in His sovereignty_ works along with Absalom: if this is the path he chooses, then God will see to it that Absalom continues along it, until such time as God brings about other things He intends as results from this.

Now a constraint (a further one even, I entirely affirm) has been added to Absalom’s life: added by God at the time of Absalom’s intransigence, not added by God back in the day of David. Once Absalom has settled on this path, God will not let him off with the resolution still undone.

To this I am even willing to allow--though I do not see reason yet for doing so--that God could even have hardened Absalom’s heart over against any mercy or righteousness that Absalom might have otherwise chosen; there is some testimony to this effect regarding the Exodus pharoah, for instance.

What I deny, and strenuously so, is that this can be the end of the matter for Absalom. God’s own justice insists that a man not be punished for things he could not help doing. Where Absalom contributed, intending nothing further than his own selfishness, this must still be punished--though even then there can be no punishment of God that does not seek the restoration of fair-togetherness in the object of punishment. (Otherwise righteousness is something God not only could but _does_ set aside, thus not something intrinsic to His own self-existence. This is the same as saying that orthodox trinitarianism is not true.) But if (which I have some difficulty believing, but I allow the technical possibility, and that we do have some evidence apparently in this direction) God insists on _making_ Absalom be evil, then there is zero reason at all to punish Absalom for that. Similarly there is zero reason to punish someone for being born with a corrupted nature. The corrupted nature is set to be _healed_--otherwise there would be no point to a resurrection of the good _and _the evil. The corruptions we as persons _add_, are another matter. Those need repentence on the part of the man, and forgiving on the part of God, and reconciliation to be accomplished, not only between man and God but between man and man. Where punishment is required to lead the man toward repentence, punishment will be given: because God loves His child _as_ His child, and refuses to treat him as a bastard, of no account (even if the child insists on trying to be a bastard. {wry s})

{{To respond about it directly, it wasn’t just “this condemnation” that was marked out long ago, but the “certain persons”. It is the certain persons that were marked out from long ago, not the condemnation of the wicked in general. So therefore, the exegesis is not suitable.}}

Layman will want to take this, I expect; but I note that he did not even once deny, nor did any part of his exegesis require denying, that the “certain persons” were marked out long ago. He himself says that the condemnation of those certain persons was marked out (more literally written about) long ago--consequently, since he was _not_ saying that _only_ the condemnation was marked out, your direct response has _not_ actually challenged his exegesis yet.

Layman said…

Certain persons were marked out for condemnation long ago. Why? Because God foresaw their evil actions. This sounds a lot like conditional election, does it not? That is the point of my post and one you have not touched.

I think this post shows why your approach to the issues in these comments, throwing out every proof text you think remotely relevant with almost no exegesis, is a problematic approach to the Calvinism issue.

This passage simply does not supprt your understanding of Calvinism. That's not a refutation of Calvinism, just the use of this one passage you raised. Arminiams too have thrown out passages that are not as helpful to their position as they think. That doesn't prove Arminiasm wrong either.

I'll review this thread closer to see if there is more for me to comment on.
Layman said…
Wow, did I predict _that_ answer correctly. {amused g!}

If you foresaw this did you ordain it?
Jason Pratt said…

Not at all. {g} Though to be fair my ability to foresee such things is not the same kind of ability God has. (This is the error which open theists fall into, that God's ability to foresee is like my ability to make reasonable guesses, only more effective to whatever degree. I understand they're trying to parry certain Calvinist schools of theology in an obvious error, but they do so by submitting to another less obvious error: that God's foreknowledge is something contrained by the natural system.)

In any case, though, if I see that Puritan Lad is going to reply a certain way, whether it's a guess or by going and actually looking at what he writes, I'm hardly making PL do it.

What I think is most interesting to see, is that PL disses opponents for not holding to (ostensibly) a 'hard biblical truth', that _he himself_ ditches at the drop of a hat. How strongly does he strive to refute, and call into derision, people who claim that 'God will act like a gentleman' and not force people to do things? Even evil things! And yet, when we point out that his position tautologically entails that God forces people to do things, what is the answer? Of course God doesn't do _that_.

Yet--neither can it be denied that God puts us into positions where we're going to act badly. I think it's fair to acknowledge the difficulties (more than one) which the Calvinists are trying to solve and account for. And the Arminians, too. {s} Calvinists, in my experience, really are concerned with defending and upholding a doctrine that does need to be defended and upheld, that of God's sovereignty. I call coup, though, when God's sovereignty is used to try to trump God's love and positive justice, or to justify (pun half-intended!) some kind of schism between these. That can't be the solution to the difficulties; not for trinitarian theists.


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