“Arminians like John Wesley have sometimes charged that Calvinism undercuts the motivation to evangelize. I think this charge is half true. It seems to me that evangelism is motivated both by Christ's command to evangelize, and out desire that others be saved.”
Actually, it’s dubious whether Arminianism can consistently insist that explicit faith in the Gospel is a prerequisite for salvation. After all, if God wants to save everyone, if Christ died for everyone, and if the Holy Spirit gives everyone sufficient grace to be saved, then why would anyone be damned due to the historical accident of having been born in the Congo before the arrival of European missionaries?
So, before we ever get around to Calvinism, we must turn the same objection back on Arminianism. The objection has different grounds when directed at Arminianism, but Arminianism has to deal with the same on its own terms. So does Arminianism logically undercut the motivation to evangelize?
Or, to put a sharper point on the question, does Reppert think that God automatically damns every man and woman who never heard the Gospel?
“I see the point of evangelism based on obeying a commandment, predestination or no predestination. What I don't see is why our evangelizing makes any difference with respect to the outcome. If I preach the gospel, then God, before the foundation of the world, sovereignly chose that I would do so. If I fail to preach, then God, before the foundation of the world, sovereignly chose that I would not preach.”
i) What a bizarre statement! In the very way he frames the statement, he is specifically presenting two different outcomes. If I preach the gospel, then that, of itself, is a different outcome than if I fail to preach the gospel. If one or the other…represents two different outcomes, yes?
Even more to the point, if I preach the gospel, then that will have one set of outcomes whereas, if I fail to preach the gospel, then that will have a different set of outcomes.
So it clearly makes a difference with respect to the outcome. And Reppert’s own formulation differentiates between two alternate outcomes.
ii) Perhaps what Reppert is trying to get at, in his fuzz-brained formulation, is that what I do or fail to do makes no difference to what God intends. If that’s what he means, then that, too, is terribly confused:
a) He’d have to treat God’s prior choice as though it were an “outcome”–such that whether I do one thing or another has no affect on the outcome (i.e. “God’s sovereign choice”). But there’s no sense in which Calvinism treats the decree as an outcome. Rather, the timeless decree is a necessary condition of resultant outcome. Outcomes are events. The decree is not, itself, an outcome.
b) Moreover, in Calvinism, if the end-result were different, then that would be because the decree was different.
c) Perhaps what Reppert is angling at is that unless human agents have the retrocausal power to change God’s mind or choice, then there’s no incentive to do what we do. If that’s his point, then his contention is so counterintuitive that I’d like to see the supporting argument before I even respond.
Does he really mean that it robs us of motivation unless we can retrocausally affect or alter God’s choice?
If so, then not only does that strike me as a very eccentric notion of what motivates human behavior, but it will also sink under the metaphysical weight of retrocausation.
If not, that I don’t know what he’s even talking about.
“So I think the motivation based on outcome is dissipated once you accept the idea that you can't change who is and who is not elect.”
i) How in the world does that conclusion follow? How would the incentive to evangelize depend on being able to change who is or is not elect?
Isn’t there a tradeoff? Sure, evangelism will be futile when directed at the reprobate. But the compensatory benefit is that evangelism will be invariably successful when directed at the reprobate.
ii) Moreover, the evangelist or missionary doesn’t have to sort them out. In God’s “preestablished harmony” (i.e. predestination and providence), there are always just enough preachers and missionaries to go around. No one whom God intended to save will miss out for lack of the Gospel.
“Thank God I'm not a Calvinist, so I can accept the outcome-based motivation as well as the command-based motivation.”
To the contrary, Reformed evangelism is outcome-based in a way that Arminian evangelism Thank God I'm not a Calvinist, so I can accept the outcome-based motivation as well as the command-based motivation. If libertarianism is true, then there’s no guarantee that anyone who’s evangelized will receive the Gospel.
In Calvinism, by contrast, God has already decreed the harvest before the seed hits the ground. There’s a guaranteed yield. “Presold,” if you will.
Of course, only God knows who will respond. But in consistent libertarianism (e.g. open theism), both God and the evangelist are equally in the dark regarding the outcome.