Double Predestination, the belief that God arbitrarily “elected” some to eternal life, and “reprobated” the rest of humanity to an eternal hell; sets up an interesting polarity (I am an advocate of double predestination, but framed through a “Scottish theological” lens — and I like Barth on this too — at least for his christocentrism on this point). I am not going to try and make an argument against the classical understanding of double predestination; instead I am going to identify an interesting psychological and social problem that “can” (but does not necessitate) result from consistently following this perspective.
The problem that I have seen primarily stems directly from the competitive polarity that is set up by this view (DP); and that is how “the elect” view the “un-elect” (the reprobate) — in a rather “us” versus “them” approach. It often seems, in the extreme cases that I have observed, that folks under this spell use “lifestyles” and “particular behavior” [sin] as the cipher through which the reprobate are seen as the reprobate. This can manifest itself either in a more universal generic way — so that the reprobate are spoken of “structurally,” and less personally, so that systems of evil are being identified [and this seems more legitimate to me]. But then there is the particular personal way, and in fact this is the primary problem that I see flowing from thinking like this. What I mean is that this perspective looks at person X, identifies sins that clearly place this person into the reprobate camp; and then “treat” this person accordingly. Once this happens any further contact with this person is framed by this category of reprobation, and behaviors and attitudes evinced by person X are explainable by the quip: “ah they’re just one of the reprobate, what else should be expected!”
Do you see the problem with this approach? [Now do understand, I have just generalized, and I am not saying all folks who follow classical Double Predestination think or act this way; but it is understandable when one does]. I think the problem is inherent to thinking in static polarities like double predestination represents (which flows, really, from thinking of God in static monadic terms — which really is underneath what I am getting at here). The problem comes when sin and reprobation is abstracted (decreed) from proximity to Christ’s life for us (the incarnation), and attached to this group of people known as the “reprobate.” The problem comes in at other levels and foci as well . . . but I won’t try to develop that here.
I think what really is motivating me to write this, is that I work with an homosexual/lesbian; and I am afraid that some folks who follow the approach that I have been “trying” to sketch above, would place her immediately into the “reprobate camp” ( in rather “deterministic” non-relational ways). There would be no real compassion for such a person, there would be no real sense of Gospel love (after all Jesus didn’t die for such people — so says “limited atonement” — I digress) for this soul. Her behavior would label her as reprobate, and motivation for showing her Christ (except in judgement) would really not be there (and if it was it would only be because scripture says to, but I would imagine there would be an internal conflict, given this rather ‘static’ view of reprobation).
I think this is what “can” happen when Christ is not seen as the elect and reprobate in Himself; it is only when His supremacy reigns here, that any kind of theological reason can be given for loving the “reprobate.” For He is the reprobate (at the manger, at the Jordan, at the Cross), and He is the elected God-man for us — this can really be the only theological framework that can look at the reprobate in the mirror, and see ourselves looking back in the face of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 5:21).
Anyway, this is just an reflection on my part (can’t you tell 😉 ) ; and I am sure I will have offended someone . . . but I think it holds true, and probably organically flows from certain theological assumptions (faulty ones). Sometimes, and this is one of those times, I try to place myself in the shoes of “other” theological perspectives; and this is what I am doing here with double predestination (in an applied situation) — maybe I am wrong, and I’ve put on the “wrong shoes” in this instance 😉 .