Does God Have Two Wills? | Part Two

June 15, 2016

Ronnie Rogers | Pastor
Trinity Baptist Church, Norman, OK

Click HERE for Part One.

Third, the two-will concept is not explicit in Scripture; whereas, as cited by Piper, the express will for “all persons to be saved” is (1 Timothy 2:4; see also 1 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:11; 2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11). Both terms thél? (1 Timothy 2:4) and boúlomai (2 Peter 3:9) are used regarding God’s express desire, will, for all to be saved. Additionally, Calvinism’s reliance upon various distinctions that may matter in Extensivist soteriological approaches are distinctions without a difference in light of Calvinism commitment to compatibilism. 

This is because compatibilism means that God’s will (what will happen) is precisely what He desires to happen, and there is not the slightest degree of deterministic difference between what God permits and God decrees. Thus, arguments making such distinctions confuse rather than clarify. One simply cannot conveniently deemphasize or elide the micro-deterministic nature of Calvinism; it is always present in unalterable force. Reliance upon secondary, tertiary, quaternary, quinary, or senary causes does nothing to palliate this reality.

Fourth, I find Piper’s argument for two wills puzzling since he passionately argues elsewhere that God’s mission is not to take the gospel to the nations in order to save as many individuals as possible, but rather “to reach all the people groups of the world and thus to gather the ‘sons of God’…and to call all the ‘ransomed from every tongue and tribe and people and nation.’” Accordingly, the argument is that the real meaning of the reading of any and every verse in the Scripture that explicitly says or even graphically portrays God’s salvific love for all mankind (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2) can only be gleaned by knowing God’s secret will regarding unconditional election. Thus, the revealed will (Scripture) is insufficient to know God’s real will, and I would say, it is even torturously misleading.

Last, I do recognize that there are secrets of God not revealed in Scripture (Deuteronomy 29:29), but since they are secret (if the two will secret exists at all), how can Calvinists know what they are? Employing logical deductions in an attempt to reconcile explicit revelatory teaching with Calvinism seems to provide a woefully inadequate basis for a secret will on which so much is at stake and this particularly when it undermines what God has explicitly revealed.

I call this double talk, and more importantly, it leads to an unreliability of the straightforward teaching of God’s revealed will regarding salvation. Furthermore, who is to say that there is not another “secret will” (a third will) that supersedes this second will so necessary to Calvinism?

Logically one may add, if God has a secret will that is contrary to His revealed will regarding salvation, then it seems quite plausible that He may have a secret will affecting other areas like the doctrine of the church, prayer, or possibly every area, thereby making the revealed will of God pervasively untrustworthy.

Moreover, if such reliance upon a secondary will is deemed admissible in order to fortress a foundational concept of Calvinism within orthodox Christianity, then who is to say that other groups cannot argue with equal validity for the existence of yet another secret will that conflicts with the clear and ubiquitous teaching of Scripture in order to demonstrate the cogency of their extra biblical essentials? Surely the Calvinists’ endeavor to defend the two wills of God makes their claim of sola scriptura seem a frail stalwart for defending the sufficiency of Scripture against foes who employ the same tactics; an ineffectualness born and sustained by their own forays into the academy of secrecy to bolster their theology when it conflicts with explicit revelation.

David Engelsma, a strong Calvinist, says of this position and the Calvinists who retreat to mystery “that God is gracious only to some in predestination, but gracious to all in the gospel, and that God wills only some to be saved in predestination but wills all to be saved by the gospel, is flat, irreconcilable contradiction. It is not paradox, but contradiction. I speak reverently: God Himself cannot reconcile these teachings.”

Therefore, such esoteric attempts to sustain Calvinism in light of the clear teaching of Scripture once again reveal the biblical bankruptcy of unconditional election.