- They assume that grace (God's good favor) comes before Christ, while Scripture specifies that grace comes through Christ;
- They turn election into a gift that comes before Christ, while Scripture specifies that election is likewise a gift in Christ;
- They turn God into the mediator between man and Christ, whereas Scripture says that Christ is the intermediary between God and man;
- They turn Christ's work into a transaction in which we benefit by decree, whereas Scripture says we are also transformed by our participation in Christ's death and resurrection;
- They turn predestination into a gift which comes before Christ, where again Scripture specifies that predestination is a gift in Christ;
- They respect God's power and strength, but ignore the fact that in Christ God chose the weak things to shame the strong.
Before I get to the missing decree, I would like to point out that there is one way in which Calvinist "ordered lists" acknowledge implicitly, if not explicitly, that God has chosen to give mankind the power to turn away from God and reject God. The Calvinist ordered lists of salvation tend to include this: that God permitted the fall of man, by which they mean the original fall of all mankind from grace into a state of depravity. Some Calvinists allow that mankind could have either fallen or not based on man's own disposition, while others maintain that God decreed even the fall. Note that the most simple change required for Calvinists to move beyond the popular "sola sovereignty" view of God is the simple recognition that God's decree is in continuing effect: that God's permission for the fall, for rejecting him, is not limited only to ancient history, but is a continuing part of God's design of the world. That one change alone, the recognition that that decree continues, permits recognition of so many Scriptures that Calvinists typically deny: that people really do fall away from faith, that God really does love the whole world, that Christ really did die for all, that there really is more to the cross of Christ than a transaction, that Christ is the mediator between God and man and not vice versa, and so forth. And it permits understanding the foolishness of God: that God chose what is weak and what is foolish to shame our distorted views of wisdom and power.
But most of all, it allows the insertion into the "ordered decrees" something conspicuously missing from the Calvinist lists: that God's hidden purpose was to head up all things in Christ. This is the missing decree from Calvinist lists, one whose absence shapes each list and is felt deeply throughout all of popular Calvinist polemics. God's decree to head up all things in Christ preceeds the fall of man; it preceeds the creation of the world. This one decree restores Christ to his rightful place as the foundation of theology, the foundation of our salvation, and the one who effects both our creation and our salvation.
And he made known the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment: to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Ephesians 1:9-10)