Election and Reprobation According to Barth
In my last article on the subject of Barth’s conception of election and reprobation I stated that his view is Arminian.
This is true, but in a way Barth’s view is worse just because he does not believe in reprobation. In that sense he is a universalist for, as far as God is concerned, all men are chosen unto eternal life. As we wrote in our former article on this subject, reprobation can only be the choice of the individual man. Also, in Barth’s definition of the election of the individual man, he states that the individual man from all eternity belongs to Jesus Christ, and that therefore he is not a reprobate, but is elected by God. No one is a reprobate because reprobation is borne and removed by Christ.
This is Arminianism in its worst form.
Arminianism teaches, according to the Canons of Dordgecht: “That the will of God to save those who would believe and would persevere in faith and in the obedience of faith, is the whole and entire decree of election unto salvation, and that nothing else concerning this decree has been revealed in God’s Word.” I, B, 1.
It is evident that this makes election dependent on the free will of man; and this is not only true of election, but also of reprobation. The same is true of Barth’s view, but with this difference, that, according to him, there is no reprobation; for Christ has removed reprobation by His death on the cross. This is why I said that Barth’s view is worse than Arminianism.
The fathers of Dordt condemn this view of Arminianism in the following words:
“For these deceive the simple [as Barth does also, H.H.] and plainly contradict the Scriptures, which declare that God will not only save those who will believe, but that he also has from eternity chosen some particular persons to whom above others he in time will grant both faith in Christ and perseverance; as it is written . . . .”
Of this Barth must have nothing. Instead he teaches that all men are chosen in Christ and the Church must proclaim this as gospel-truth.
If this is not Arminianism and, in fact, universalism, then I know not what it is.
According to the Canons the Remonstrants also taught: “That there are various kinds of election of God unto eternal life: the one general and indefinite, the other particular and definite; and that the latter in turn is either incomplete, irrevocable, non-decisive and conditional, or complete, irrevocable, decisive and absolute. Likewise: that there is one election unto faith, and another unto salvation, so that election can be unto justifying faith, without being a decisive election unto salvation.”
This, of course, Barth would not teach because he denies reprobation. He teaches that there is only one election, that this election is unto salvation and that all men are elect. Again I say that this is worse than Arminianism, because he teaches that, although all men are elect, it depends on the free will and choice of man whether he will be elect or reprobate.
The fathers of Dordt also answer this doctrine of the Remonstrants as follows: “For this is a fancy of men’s minds, invented regardless of the Scriptures, whereby the doctrine of election is corrupted, and this golden chain of salvation is broken: ‘And whom he foreordained, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.’ Rom. 8:30.”
A National Prayer Day for Peace?
There are especially two reasons why the answer to the above-mentioned question must be negative.
1. The first is that the nation as such cannot pray. Only the Church and only the believer in Christ Jesus can pray.
2. The second reason is that even the Church and the individual believer cannot pray for peace.
To many this may sound rather impious, but it nevertheless is the simple truth. And the truth must always prevail.
In a recent radio broadcast the very opposite of what is expressed in the above two reasons why we cannot have a national prayer day for peace, was emphasized. President Kennedy was criticized because he either forgot or did not care to proclaim such a national prayer day on time; and even when it was proclaimed, only a few churches or people heeded the proclamation. As an example that a national prayer day for peace was proper and pleasing to the Lord, the prayer of Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, was quoted. The prayer is recorded in II Chronicles 20. The occasion for the prayer was that someone reported to the king that a great multitude came against him and against his people. They were of the Moabites and the Ammonites and others with them. And in that connection we read: “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.”
It was on that occasion that Jehoshaphat, standing in the midst of the people, uttered the following beautiful prayer: “O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen ? and in thy hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? And they dwelt therein and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence (for thy name is in this house), and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help. And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come and cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.”
This is, indeed, a beautiful and God-fearing prayer.
There is, however, one fundamental error in applying this prayer to a national prayer day. Even apart from the fact that the American nation as such or the majority of the American people would never take this prayer upon their lips; and apart also from the fact that this prayer of the king and of Judah with him is not a prayer for peace but for the destruction of the hordes that came against them; the mistake is that, while Israel of the old dispensation was1 the Church, the American nation is not. Nor can this be said of the United Nations that are also involved in the present threat of war.
What is applicable to Israel and to Judah is by no means applicable to the American nation. Yet this was done in the radio broadcast mentioned before.
My second reason why a national day of prayer for peace is not proper and in harmony with the will of God is that we cannot and may not pray for peace.
I will quote a few lines from my own book In the Sanctuary ally in which I discuss the proper contents of our prayers. There I write the following:
“But still more follows from this one principle that in our prayers we consciously address the living God as He has revealed Himself in His Word. In this consciousness the sense of our real need is quite different from what we usually, in our earthly mindedness and carnality, conceive it to be. For, as we present ourselves before the face of the living God, we are impressed and overwhelmed with a sense of His holiness. And in that sense many of our imagined needs begin to appear as the product of our sinful desires. Perhaps, we had it in our heart to pray for prosperity, for meat and drink, for abundance of earthly things, for health and joy, for peace and happiness for ourselves and for our children. But as we stand face to face with the Holy One of Israel, we deeply realize that all these desires are carnal and sinful, that they represent the things after which the Gentiles seek, and our intended petitions die on our lips. Perhaps, there is sickness in our home, and we are not satisfied with God’s way; and we approach the throne of grace, firmly determined to beseech the Lord of all to remove the sickness and to restore to health. But as we stand in the presence of the Most High, we realize that He knows better than we what we really need, and that He sends us all things in order to prepare us for His eternal kingdom, and we change our prayer into a petition for grace to will His will. Perhaps, we thought as Asaph, that we had reason to murmur, and tot criticize the ways of the Almighty, because we see the wicked prosper, while our punishment is there every morning; but in the sanctuary of God we see all things in the light of the end, and shamefaced because of our murmuring spirit, we now confess that it is good for us to be near unto God. Perhaps, there is war in the world, destruction and madness, devastation and death, and our sons are called to battle. And quite thoughtlessly, even considering it an act of piety, we hastened to the throne of the Almighty, and earnestly meant to beseech Him to stop the war at once and to restore peace. But as soon as we arereally and consciously in the presence of His majesty, we hear Him say: ‘I the Lord am He that doeth all these things! I make peace, but I also cause war to come! And all these things are subservient to the realization of My counsel and to the coming of My kingdom.’ And with fear and trembling we choke back our intended petition for peace, and say: ‘Thy will be done.’ Oh, it is easy in our prayers to ask the questions of anxiety and earthly-mindedness: ‘What shall we eat? And what shall we drink? And wherewithal shall we be clothed?’ as long as we really pray to the idol; as soon as prayers become petitions to the living and only true God, all these carnal petitions die on our lips, and we begin to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, confident that all other things shall be added unto us.”
Perhaps, you say that in our prayer for peace we must and do always add: “Thy will be done.” And this certainly is true and proper in cases where we do not know what the will of the Lord is.
But, in the first place, we must be quite sure that we mean what we say when we add this to our prayers. It means that when the will of the Lord is that He will not grant us what we pray for, that we are perfectly satisfied with the way in which the Lord leads us.
But, and this is of more importance, we know that the will of the Lord is not to grant us our petition for peace in the world. We know that it is the purpose of God to bring His kingdom in the way of wars and rumors of war. For thus the Lord instructed His people in Matt. 24:4-8, in answer to a question of His disciples concerning the end of the world: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of war: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, a earthquakes in diverse places. All these things are the beginning of sorrows.” Cf. Mark 13:7, 8; Luke 21:9-11.
It is evident that all these things must come to pass, before the coming of the Lord in glory and before the perfecting of His kingdom. When, therefore, we pray for the coming of God’s kingdom, we pray also that wars and rumors of war may come to pass. Hence, the prayer for world peace can have no place in the prayers of the Church or of the people of God.
There are other reasons why a national day of prayer is impossible and unscriptural.
But let this be sufficient.