by Matt Slick
Equal ultimacy is the position that God is equally active in causing the salvation of the elect as he is involved in causing the damnation of the reprobate. This is mainly an issue in Reformed Theology (also known as Calvinism). The elect are those people who were chosen by God for salvation before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5). The reprobate are those who God did not choose to be saved and will, therefore, end up in hell. The question is whether or not God intervenes equally to save by granting faith (Phil. 1:29; John 6:28-29) and also intervenes to cause people not to believe and be damned. This has also been called double predestination (though there are differing views on the definition of double predestination). Equal ultimacy is not biblical. Let me explain why.
- Equal ultimacy would imply that God is actively involved in causing people to sin in order to bring about their damnation.
- It would imply that the effect of sin upon a person is not complete and total, and that the unregenerate are able to freely choose to receive Christ as Savior.
- It would imply that in order for someone to be damned, God must, to some extent, intervene and stop individuals from believing.
Though God works all things after the councel of his will (Eph. 1:11), he does not actively cause people to sin and stop them from believing. We sin because of our inherent inclination to rebel against God, and its natural result is unbelief. Please consider the following Scriptures that the describe the condition of fallen man.
- Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?"
- Ephesians 2:3, "Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest."
- Romans 3:10–12, "as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”"
- Galatians 3:22, "But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe."
- Titus 3:3, "For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another."
If the condition of the fallen is that he has a desperately wicked heart, is by nature a child of wrath, does not seek for God, does no good, is shut up under sin, and is enslaved to various lusts, then it is not necessary for God to intervene in order to bring about their damnation. He is not active in causing their damnation. Instead, all God would have to do is leave them alone and let them go their natural way.
Therefore, in the Reformed perspective, equal ultimacy is not true. It is not biblical. God does not cause anyone to sin, nor does he cause them not to receive Christ, nor does he cause them not to believe. Instead, he lets them go their natural way which is in rebellion and denial of God. He simply does not intervene to save them.
In the context of Reformed theology, God intervenes to save the elect. But he does not intervene to damn the reprobate. God would predestine people to salvation and thereby actively save them (Acts 13:48; John 1:13), but he does not predestine people to damnation and actively prevent them from believing and also causes them to sin by rejecting Him.