God Decides 2008!- The Doctrine of Election

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” -Ephesians 1:3-6

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” -Romans 8:28-30

“Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” -2 Timothy 2:10

I make no secret of the fact that I consider myself a Calvinist. Be it online in message boards in blogs, on campus at school, or in the pew at church, I am not ashamed of the convictions which God has given me in regards to his work of salvation (or soteriology, as the theologians call it. That’s our big word for today). However, one of the most common criticisms I get from people in regards to my Calvinistic beliefs is that they feel that Calvinists are arrogant and judgmental, always wanting to tell people who’s in and who’s out. To be honest, this criticism drives me crazy because when it comes down to it, Calvinists, because of the dynamics they hold to between God’s role and man’s role in salvation, should be the least arrogant of all believers.

With that in mind, the one point of Calvinism which I think draws the most criticism from the “Calvinists are arrogant” crowd is that of Unconditional Election, and so, I want to, sporadically over the next couple of weeks, perform a deep look into the biblical teachings on election, how election proceeds, and why the eventual conclusion should not be the cause for arrogance in anyone. I am really pumped about doing this and I hope that as we go that this can be a very beneficial conversation for all everyone who reads it. I’ll see you soon.

2 Responses to “God Decides 2008!- The Doctrine of Election”

  1. mikerucker Says:

    decided to come over into the enemy camp and do a little spying… :)

    (btw, i thought your last comment to sheerahkahn over at the God-Bless-America thread at Ur was legitimate and justified. he seems more content on that thread to put words in people’s mouths – not sure why that topic has made him that way. i think melody called him on it, too. some topics hit our hot buttons and we wind up either saying things we didn’t mean or at the very least saying things in ways we didn’t intend…)

    so – onto the post at hand:

    Calvinsts(sic), because of the dynamics they hold to between God’s role and man’s role in salvation, should be the least arrogant of all believers.

    bingo. i have always said this. and yet what i usually get (besides the arrogance) is a just-as-prideful ‘i am the worst sinner in the world who should be burning in hell but God somehow decided he’d take a chance and try to pull my sorry butt from the fire it keeps finding itself in.’

    one of the things i’ve been toying with in my ever-decreasingly-healthy-celled brain is that paul started realizing what ‘if they don’t hear it, they cannot be saved’ really meant – a theme discussed in so many words in the same book Calvinists look at as their bible-within-the-bible (romans). i think it started to hit him: how in the world can i get to all these countries in time to save everyone? how could God have put the eternal destinies of everyone on me and not on Jesus? i mean, even He didn’t seem that anxious to have everyone say the sinners prayer when He was here.

    so, correctly, i think, he realized that in the end God had to be in charge of an individual’s salvation, especially those who ‘hadn’t heard.’

    he just went in the wrong direction. :)

    he should have realized what Jesus did on the cross was sufficient for all humanity (i.e., not a ‘limited’ atonement); further, it accomplished everything once and for all.

    emphasis on all. :)

    mike rucker
    fairburn, georgia, usa

  2. Todd Burus Says:

    Hey Mike, thanks for your comment.

    Right now I am thinking of doing a whole series of posts on why belief in Calvinist doctrines should make a Christian less arrogant in all the 5-points than the opposing views, but I know that once I get into Calvinism on my blog it is going to require a lot of time in putting the posts together, so I’m holding off right now. I decided to go ahead with the Election posts because I think that (1) this comes across as the most arrogant point of Calvinism, and (2) I have been engaged in a number of discussions about this recently and think that it is the most fundamentally misunderstood point by non-Calvinists. So, we’ll see how this goes.

    As for limited atonement, I will not deny that I think this is the most difficult point of Calvinism to hold, and this not because I don’t see it in Scripture and am convinced of it through reading God’s Word, but simply because of the number of verses which seem to object to it and the fine details that have to be ironed out. One illustration from elsewhere in the Bible that I find helpful when thinking about the extent of atonement is the story of Joseph and his family. Here we see God acting through Joseph to redeem his family from sure death of starvation and bring them back to communion with Joseph, who was a type of Christ. But, the goodness of this act did not just serve to redeem his brothers for it also sustained the Egyptian peoples. However this sustainment of the Egyptians did not give them communion with Joseph; they were still lost and without God, even though they had benefited from his work. Joseph had not said, “Come, you can all be in my family” and then they just rejected it, but as it were Joseph knew who his family was and this act of salvation, though universal in its good, was only restorative for his people.

    Similarly, I believe that there is an amount of common grace which is afforded to all people as a result of Christ’s death on the Cross, but that that grace is only effectual for salvation in those whom have been predestined to receive it, which is the atoning work, and so is limited. But as I said, to fully flesh all of this stuff out is really time intensive. I am preparing to read “The Death of Death” by John Owen, and I know that in that book he deals with limited atonement (or ‘particular redemption’ ) quite extensively, so I’m looking forward to that.

    Anyways, I hope you continue to enjoy my site. I’ll see you in Ur.

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