Election vs. Reprobation

I am currently reading The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink and I am in chapter 5 which is titled “The Sovereignty of God in Reprobation”. Reprobation is a controversial topic but one that we need to get a handle on. It seem only logical to me that if we have a group of Elect then we must also have a group of Reprobate. They are opposite sides of the same coin.

It is interesting to me that some who believe in Election will reject Reprobation. How can this be? The primary argument I have read for this position is that “God will pass over the non-Elect”. He does not choose them to be reprobate, He simply passes over them and thus leaves them to their fallen selves. What this argument fails to understand is that not choosing is still a choice. Let me use an illustration to explain what I mean.

Think back to when we were kids and we were choosing teams to play a game or some other activity. Two kids would be appointed captains and they would take turns picking the kids they wanted on their team in hopes of picking a group that would win the game. The captains in this example were picking based on the abilities and attributes of the players. They wanted the players best suited to help them win.

Now, let me try to apply this illustration to God’s picking of the Elect and Reprobate. God and Satan will be our captains. The difference here is that Satan does not get to pick. God gets to pick His entire team (the Elect) first and Satan gets whoever is left (the Reprobate). In fact God picked His team before he created anything…including Satan. The other difference is that God does not pick based on any attributes of the one chosen – He picks based only on what pleases Him.

We can see now that God actively chooses the Elect and also the Reprobate. By not choosing someone to be Elect He is choosing that person to be Reprobate. And He did it before the foundation of the world so He created everyone knowing they were Elect or Reprobate. So for God, not choosing is still a choose.

What do you think of my illustration? Does it work or are there some major flaws that I need to address? What is your understanding of the relationship between Election and Reprobation?


3 Responses to Election vs. Reprobation

  1. Brett says:

    The weakness of this illustration lies in the apparent netrality of those waiting to be picked. It’s better to think that these players (all of them) volunteered (now there’s a good TN word!) for Satan’s team.


  2. David Hewitt says:

    I don’t think anyone would disagree with you (well, any Calvinist/Reformed person anyway) that reprobation is a choice of God to some extent. It certainly is. Calvin himself I think supported a view that saw God’s role in election and reprobation as pretty much the same. I could be wrong, but I’ve heard this somewhere.

    At the same time, it is important to note that Election is always unto life. God is completely sovereign in both election and predestination, but they are not the same in that Election is an act of grace, and it always is. Reprobation on the other hand is an act of justice and always is.

    So, in that, all Calvinists would believe in a form of double-predestination. In other words, God is the one Who determines who goes where, period. At the same time, these things are also true:

    1. No one gets what they didn’t choose.

    2. No one gets what they didn’t want, in a sense. The elect will want God; the reprobate always will want their sin.

    3. Those in Hell have no one to blame but themselves.

    4. Those in Heaven will have nothing to boast in, in and of themselves. They are there by grace.

    I hope this is helpful.



    • Cyrus says:

      Excellent explanation dbh!

      God has as much right to display His holiness in judgment as He has to display His grace in forgiveness. Thank God for the cross for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.

      I’d want to add a little bit to step 2 where you say “no one gets what they didn’t want.” It is true that God gives to people what they want, but I’d like to emphasize that no one wants God on their own, everyone chooses sin and it is only by the grace (step 4) of God that sinners can be regenerate and long for God’s glory. If any person were to attribute even a tiny part of salvation to choice, that person knows nothing of grace and has a faulty view of who Jesus is and why He had to come.

      To God be the glory forever, amen!


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