Baptists, Calvinists, Doctrine of Election (4)

The Doctrine of Election

The doctrine of election is one of the most complicated and challenging issues of Calvinism. Not only is it hard to explain, but there is a lots of theological implications to holding opinion to one side (or the other) of this doctrine. Scripturally, the doctrine is complex because Scriptures seem to speak for both sides of the argument. The problem is the man-made argument, not the Scriptures. The doctrine is very Biblical, although the argument divides people by misunderstanding. Unfortunately, Baptists, like Calvinists, Arminians and everyone else have fallen into the trap of debate.

What is the argument? Calvinists hold that God chooses certain people to have his special favor upon.[1] God’s selection of those for salvation is absolute and unconditional. God chooses people because He loves them, it pleases Him to do so. While Arminians hold that Christ died for all men. All men have the ability and choice to choose faith in Jesus Christ. Man takes part in salvation with God. Followers of both Calvin and Arminius have taken extreme views of both positions and twisted each other’s words to make the argument more complex.

Wayne Grudem, a reformed theologian defines election as “an act of God before creation in which he chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any foreseen merit in them, but only because of his sovereign good pleasure.[2]” The reformed position makes it clear that God is in full control and does as He pleases. Man has little say in the matter. Man cannot earn salvation in the first place. Arminians agree that individuals are foreordained to salvation, that God chooses one over the other. Where Arminians disagree is on the point of “unconditional” or “absolute” predestination or election. Arminians have gone so far to say that Calinism is fatalistic and kills evangelism.[3] Arminians ask Calvinists “why then should we live holy if we are just God’s puppets/robots?” And “ Does not this doctrine contradict free will?”

The Calvinist response to these objections is not “double predestination.” Rather, a deeper study of the Word. The Word of God presents the out-working of our salvation in a personal relationship with God. God’s act of election was neither impersonal nor mechanical.[4] The New Testament shows us that our choices in life do matter. We are not robots. It is also clear in the Bible, that we as Christians must preach the Gospel. Election should comfort the saint, give them reason to praise God, and encourage evangelism.

Is it possible that man works with God on salvation? That God bases his foreknowledge of predestination on man’s faith? No. Scripture never speaks of our faith as the reason God chose us. Election based on something good in us would be the beginning of salvation by merit. Think about the idea of unconditional grace. It is not earned. It is a gift. Predestination based on foreknowledge does not give people free choice. In fact, that is the definition and Calvin’s point exactly! Election must be unconditional![5] Man having a choice over God would contradict both Calvin and Arminius, in their views of God’s predestining.


[1] Millard Erickson. Christian Theology. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983), pg. 929.

[2] Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine.( Grand Rapids, Mi: Zonderzan, 1994), pg. 670.

[3] Milard Erickson. Christian Theology. Pg. 934.

[4] Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. Pg. 674.

[5] Ibid, pg. 676-679.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s