The Lifeguard

Kurt Dahlin April 6, 2005
The Canons of Dordt 1619



Of Divine Predestination


Article 1. As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are deserving of eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving them all to perish, and delivering them over to condemnation on account of sin, according to the words of the apostle, Romans 3:19, "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." And verse 23: "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." And Romans 6:23: "for the wages of sin is death."


Article 6. That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive it proceeds from God's eternal decree, "For known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world," Acts 15:18.



Calvinists say, "God would have done no injustice by leaving them all to perish.” Yet God must believe it would be unjust since not only did God immediately initiate a plan of redemption (Gen. 3:15), but he was also willing to suffer, die and atone for all mankind.  God has more justice, mercy and love than the Calvinist allows.


Yet who wouldn't save a fellow human or even a dog if he could?  The fact remains that God did not leave all men to perish.  The Calvinist would turn their back on humans and point them all to the fires of hell without any remorse.  However, if they were not the elect would they feel the same way?




The Lifeguard as a Calvinist

A group of college students came down to the lake for Spring Break.  It was a perfect day.  They rented a rowboat from the owner to tour the lake.  The posted rules said, "No more than 5 persons per boat.  The boat could capsize."  They ignored the rules and piled 10 into the rowboat.  The lifeguard said, "It isn't safe but go ahead."  He looked up at the rental office.  He saw his father with 2 fingers raised.  The students were not swimmers.  They didn't have room in the rowboat for life preservers.  A short distance from the dock, they all shifted to one side and capsized the boat.  The lifeguard, the owner's son, ran to the dock and quickly pulled 2 of them to safety.  He could have saved them all but he didn't.  He left the rest to perish in their foolishness.   The lifeguard stood by ignoring the drowning cries of the perishing.  The lifeguard felt justified in doing nothing to save the rest, leaving them all to die.


The lifeguard did not like college students anyway and felt that they were not of value or worth saving.  All the students in the boat were in error.  The lifeguard would have done no injustice by leaving them all to perish.  The students had broken the rules and were suffering the consequences. It was his pleasure to save those 2, even though they did not deserve to be rescued.  The two survivors cried out to the lifeguard to save the others but he would not. Though his power was sufficient to save all, the efficacy of his work was limited by the father’s decree.


The lifeguard comforted the survivors by assuring them that all the students were in error and violated the posted rules. The lifeguard gently confirmed his mercy by reminding them of their own rescue from death. Their minds were sweetly cajoled and convinced that the lifeguard was justified in his actions. The two students began a movement to honor the lifeguard and his father, who for their own pleasure decreed the rescue of the two errant students. All the people in town heralded the lifeguard as a kind and loving hero. Books were written about him.


Questions posed to three of my children:

(M) =   Marika, who is 12 years old

(K) =   Kendrika, who is 10 years old

(D) =   Daniel, who is 6 years old


1.   What kind of lifeguard would save only 2?
(K)      The lifeguard is bad and mean.              

(D)      The lifeguard is horrible.

(M)      Unmerciful.


2.   What kind of lifeguard would stand by and do nothing?

(K)       No lifeguard.  That's why he has the job.     


3.   Would it be right, just and good to do nothing?

(K)      No.  It would be inconceivable.

(D)      Bad.  He just sits there and watches them die.  Why save 2 people and leave the rest.  He should save them all.

(M)      It would be wrong.  If it is in your power to save them why not do it?


4.   If he could save them all, should he save them all?
(K)      He would be perfect if he did.

(D)      He should save them all because he would be nice and good and the people would like him.

(L)      Yes, it would be the right thing to do.


5.   What would you think if the lifeguard died trying to save all of them?

(K)      He would be very kind and brave.

(D)      He is good and tried to save them all.

(M)      He is very courageous.  He would be a hero.


6.   Would he be a hero if he left them all to perish?

(K)      No.

(D)      No.

(M)     Of course not.

If the 10 passengers on a lifeboat foolishly sit on one side and tip the boat over, what lifeguard would only save 2 and leave the rest to perish in their foolishness?  What lifeguard would stand by and ignore the drowning cries of the perishing? 

How just would it be, for the lifeguard to do nothing at all, leaving them all to perish?  If he could save them all, he should he save them all. Likewise, how just would it be for God to leave all his creation to perish?  The Calvinist has no sense of justice.  How terrible “To Fall Into The Hands Of An Angry Calvinist.”


God would not leave them all to perish, the Calvinist would!  The love of God compels him to save the all perishing.  The Calvinist has limited love.  God did more for his creation than the Calvinist allows. 


Out of the mouth of babes God has perfected praise. No amount of scripture twisting and endless appeals to mystery can mask the mercilessness of the lifeguard. 


According to Calvinists, God would be just not to save.  Then is salvation an injustice?  The true Calvinist believes that God hates the damned. Where is the love of God?  The all-loving God manages to save a few while despising the majority of his handiwork?  The all-loving God doesn't love all, he hates all.  The Calvinist God created the bulk of humans for hell. The Calvinist has no problem with this kind of God.  However, the Biblical God is willing to save all.

 Tim. 2:3-4  1 Tim 2:3-5 (NIV)

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
The Canons of Dordt 1619



Of Divine Predestination



Article 7. Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the

foundation of the world, he hath out of mere grace, according to the

sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen, from the whole human race,

which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of

rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to

redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head

of the elect, and the foundation of Salvation.


This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than

the others, but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed

to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw

them to his communion by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true

faith, justification and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved

them in the fellowship of his Son, finally, to glorify them for the

demonstration of his mercy, and for the praise of his glorious grace; as it

is written: "According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation

of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love;

having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to

himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the

glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved,"

Ephesians 1:4,5,6. And elsewhere: "Whom he did predestinate, them he also

called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified,

them he also glorified," Romans 8:30.


Article 8. There are not various decrees of election, but one and the same

decree respecting all those, who shall be saved, both under the Old and New

Testament: since the scripture declares the good pleasure, purpose and

counsel of the divine will to be one, according to which he hath chosen us

from eternity, both to grace and glory, to salvation and the way of

salvation, which he hath ordained that we should walk therein.


Article 9. This election was not founded upon foreseen faith, and the

obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality of disposition in

man, as the pre-requisite, cause or condition on which it depended; but men

are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc.,

therefore election is the fountain of every saving good; from which proceed

faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life

itself, as its fruits and effects, according to that of the apostle: "He

hath chosen us (not because we were) but that we should be holy, and

without blame, before him in love," Ephesians 1:4.




Article 10. The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this gracious

election; which doth not consist herein, that out of all possible qualities

and actions of men God has chosen some as a condition of salvation; but

that he was pleased out of the common mass of sinners to adopt some certain

persons as a peculiar people to himself, as it is written, "For the

children being not yet born neither having done any good or evil," etc., it

was said (namely to Rebecca): "the elder shall serve the younger; as it is

written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated," Romans 9:11,12,13.

"And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed," Acts 13:48.


Article 11. And as God himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient and

omnipotent, so the election made by him can neither be interrupted nor

changed, recalled or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor

their number diminished.



God omnipotently decreed the mass of humanity to the eternal fires of hell based upon the one condition of his sole pleasure. The irrevocable number of the damned was set before the world was created. No one can make themselves more elect. No one can make themselves less elect. Calvinists are comfortable with a God that will sovereignly decree the ultimate evil upon the bulk of his creation. According to the Calvinist, the fact that God is sovereign and has the power to destroy in endless torment is sufficient reason for the horrible decree. Yet, Hitler had the power to destroy endless Jews in fiery torment. Did Hitler use his power correctly? Did Hitler derive pleasure from his destruction of the Jews?  Certainly. Who would praise Hitler? Who could believe that Hitler was just or justified in his actions? The Calvinist God is no better than Hitler who selected some to serve him and arbitrarily selected others from the mass of corruption to endure torment. Actually, Hitler had his reasons and conditions, no matter how wrong, for electing masses of people for death. The Calvinist God has no reason for the decree of reprobation except his pleasure. What kind of person would find pleasure in what Hitler did? What kind of person would find pleasure, solace or anything praiseworthy in the Calvinist God? Is the Calvinist image of God the Biblical God?