As we start Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul there are a number of things that we must consider at the onset. Firstly, we need our faith to be conformed by what is true and not by what we understand. As both Protestant and Reformed, the scriptures are the foundation upon which we build our faith and practice. Secondly we must recognize that the subject is potentially divisive. As a professor of mine has written, even for John Calvin himself (probably the theologian most recognized as teaching predestination), predestination was both “a horrible decree” and a “very sweet fruit.” In spite of the potential conflict, nevertheless, predestination is a category that comes from the Bible, it is not one forced upon it. So, as we look at predestination, we would do well to remember the counsel of the Westminster Confession of Faith which warns,
“The doctrine of this high and holy mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending to the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel” (WCF III.8).
Lastly, Calvin defended the teaching of this doctrine by reminding us that God would not give us something that was not for our good. As the Confession states, this doctrine is for our assurance and strengthening of faith, not for the confusion and destruction of it.
If it would be of help, you can watch R.C. Sproul’s lectures based on this book here.
Read chapter one and we’ll discuss the following questions on Sunday.
- Who are the philosophers and theologians addressed?
- How would you define the doctrine of predestination?
- What questions about the implication of the doctrine of predestination do you have?
- What do you hope to come to learn through this study?