My friend Chris asked me last night whether I was a 7 point Calvinist. I had never heard the term before, but apparently John Piper is one. Read the article for a brief summary of his two extra points – “double predestination” and “the best of all worlds”.
Double predestination is probably an unhelpful name for what is a logical outworking of predestination. If God has chosen some, then it follows that he has not chosen others – he would hardly be unaware of the consequences of his own choices. However, as the default action for a just God is to punish sin, is it really necessary to speak of God as specifically choosing people for damnation?
An analogy may help. If I walk through a subway in London and I see five homeless people, and I give £10 to one of them, I have chosen to show kindness to that one person. But have I chosen to reject the other four? In one sense yes, but I would not describe the incident by in those terms – e.g. “I saw five homeless people today and decided not to give anything to four of them”. The choice was to deviate from the default action of simply walking on by. Similarly I would not say “I saw five homeless people today and decided not to offer a room to any of them”. The best description of the incident is the choice I made, not the countless choices I could have made but didn’t.
Point 7 – “the best of all worlds” (sounds like what these people who claim to believe in both Calvinism and Arminianism are trying to achieve) seems a reasonable thesis to hold, but how exactly we could be sure of this I don’t know. It fits well with Piper’s assertion that maximising his own glory is God’s priority (see Wink’s post at Parableman for some critical reflection on this idea). It makes the “best” world the one that best achieves this end, rather than judging what is “best” by standards that would more naturally come to mind – (e.g. least suffering, most beauty).
I suppose in one sense I agree with Piper on both points. But I don’t feel the need to elevate them to join the 5 points of Calvinism. In fact, I would argue that not all the five points of Calvinism are as fundamental as each other. Once you have accepted unconditional election as a given, perseverance of the saints, irresistible calling and limited atonement are simply logical deductions (limited atonement also presupposes a particular theory of the atonement). Total depravity just explains to us why the election had to be unconditional for any to be saved.
But as I discussed with Harun last night, perhaps some are predestined to be Arminians, while others choose to be Calvinists.