Thursday, September 22, 2016

Does God create the reprobate to damn them?

A popular objection to reprobation is that God creates the reprobate for the purpose of damning them. I don't recall ever seeing an Arminian explain the process of reasoning by which he arrives at that conclusion. It's just one of many village Arminian objections to Calvinism. However, I'm guessing the unstated argument goes something like this:

i) According to Calvinism, everyone in hell was predestined to go there.

ii) The final state of a creature or artifact is the purpose for which it was made.

iii) When a person ends up in hell, then according to Calvinism, God made him for the purpose of damning him.

Assuming that's the argument, is that a valid inference? (i) is correct. But the wheels come off with (ii) the minor premise. That confounds a temporal end with a teleological ends. To take a few examples:

It's like saying: if broken coffeemakers wind up in the junkyard, then they were made for the purpose of going to the junkyard. 

But, of course, that's a ridiculous inference. They were designed to make coffee.

Likewise, if the final destination of an automobile is the junkyard, that doesn't mean it was made for that reason.

By the same token, suppose the CIA plants a bomb on a terrorist courier, then detonates the bomb by remote control when the courier enters terrorist headquarters, thereby killing the upper echelon of the terrorist organization. Although getting blown up is the last thing that happens to the courier, the CIA didn't' plant a bomb on the courier in order to kill him, but to kill the upper echelon of the terrorist organization. Killing the courier wasn't the goal, but the means to that end. (Of course, as a terrorist courier, he got his comeuppance.)

The reprobate have a purpose to serve before they die. 


  1. Of course they even have a purpose after they die, both for God's glory and the ultimate good of the elect. Arminians hate that sort of thing.

    Robert Reymond may have made a similar mistake confounding teleological with temporal order in his defense of a supra paradigm. I'm no infra and I think Bavinck probably hedged. I can be called supra since I affirm creation was intended to serve redemption and reprobation. I find the infra treatment of the decree latent Arminianism.

    I think many things that occur, although surely divinely intended, are wrongly regarded, without any nuance whatsoever, as the purpose of God. Purpose connotes the reason for something. Whereas when something is regarded by the Calvinist as intentional, it can simply mean to suggest that it is was not unintended or occurred by accident. All is decreed. All is intended. But not all things intended find their ultimate purpose in what has just or finally occurred. So, take 9-11. I would surely consider the main event God's purpose, whereas the initial loud noise that occurred was not so much a purpose of the event yet it was no less intended. Some events are often better interpreted as an intended and necessary byproduct of the purpose of God. Of course, some seemingly inconsequential byproducts we might later reclassify as purpose, like in the realm of scientific breakthrough. Penicillin comes to mind.

    Providence should stir us to marvel at the mind of God.

    1. Yes, eschatological judgment serves a purpose. In context, I'm simply pointing out that the final state of something doesn't necessarily represent its telos. If I take a scenic hike, my objective is not to get to end of the hike, but what I see in-between. If I listen to music, the objective is not to reach the end of the recording, but to enjoy the entire piece of music.

  2. Total agreement. Was only elaborating for your Arminian foes. :)

  3. It seems to me that God can have multiple purposes for the same thing (e.g. persons) or events. Take Judas Iscariot. God had multiple purposes for creating Judas which included things like:

    1. manifesting the image of God;

    2. serving as one of Christ's Apostles;

    3. preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing the sick (and so relieve people's spiritual and physical sicknesses);

    4. warning people of the evil and dangers of insincere faith, greed and apostasy,

    5. the truth of election and reprobation

    6. demonstrating the sovereignty and justice of God

    7. glorifying Himself by demonstrating #6, namely His sovereignty and justice

    8. enabling the elect to have greater appreciation for their salvation and election

    When non-Calvinists say that in Calvinism "God creates the reprobate for the purpose of damning them" that seems to be a strawman representation in that it subtly implies that God's final/ultimate and/or sole/only purpose in reprobation is to damn persons. As if God delights in damning people just for the sake of damning them. That makes [the Calvinistic conception of] God out to be arbitrary, cruel, irrational, unjust and not good. God's purposeS [plural] in reprobation and creating the non-elect are multi-faceted and include (among other temporal things like cultural/societal contributions both positive and negative) the manifestation of God's attribute of justice, attribute of sovereignty and for the greater glory of God.

  4. Do you think that is better? Because it is not. It is much, much worse. The reprobate are created for the purpose of being disposable tools, destined not for just any junkyard, but a fiery junkyard of everlasting torment.

    That is not remotely biblical.