You Should Have Seen this Coming- Refuting the Arminian View

October 31, 2008

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” -Ephesians 2.8-9

For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘all things are put in subjection,’ it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.” -1 Corinthians 15.27-28

To recap from the previous post, the Arminian view of the relationship between God’s predetermination and his foreknowledge is that man is entirely free in his choices and yet God is in complete control of the universe, the reason for this being not that there exists some type of “coercion” to do what he has determined, but because his predetermination is based on “the knowledge of what the free agents will do under whatever persuasive means He may use on them” (Geisler, Chosen but Free, p.51). So, in short, God’s foreknowledge of man’s decisions is what guides his predetermination of what will happen.

Now, why do I believe this is an incorrect view of the relationship as shown in Scripture and in logic?

First off, looking into Scripture, the biggest problem we find with this is that, if God’s decree of election to salvation is dependent upon his foreknowledge of who can be persuaded to choose him then this makes the criteria for salvation being man choosing God and God acquiescing to this choice, instead of what is taught in Scripture which is that salvation comes by grace through faith (Ephesians 2.8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God“).

In fact, looking at that verse, we see that it says, “And this is not your own doing.” But under the Arminian view it is your own doing. Yes, they still view salvation as being completed by God through his mercy, but the giving of it to you it is not an act of grace, it is an act of compliance to your free moral choice. This objection is also supported by Titus 3.5-7 and Romans 11.6.

Second, logically, if God’s predetermination is based upon his foreknowledge of how free moral agents will respond under persuasion, then the ultimate determination in any event actually lies with man and not with God. When the Arminian says that God’s predetermination is based on “the knowledge of what the free agents will do under whatever persuasive means He may use on them” what they intend is that God acts out in choosing those who he knows can be persuaded to choose him, leaving open the amount of persuasion which God uses to do this (thus we have a difference between the amount of persuasion used to convert Joe Christian versus the radical persuasion used in influencing Paul on the Damascus Road).

But consider an instance in which there is a person A who cannot, under any amount of influence or persuasion from God, be led to choose God. Then, if God is constrained from imposing upon that persons freedom in any way which exceeds persuasion, what we find in the end is that God is utterly incapable of determining this persons salvation, and ergo God’s purpose is actually subject to the will of person A, which is a contradiction of the fact that all things are in subjection to God (cf. 1 Corinthians 15.27-28).

Yet one must not get so radical as person A to see that in any instance God’s working is constrained by what this free moral agent will actually let him do and so God falls subject to the will of all his creation, a decree that I never find being made in the Scriptures.

Thus, from both the perspective of pure Scripture and of philosophical reflection we see that the Arminian view of the relationship between God’s predetermination and his foreknowledge is false.

You Should Have Seen this Coming-A Debate on the Views of God’s Sovereignty

October 30, 2008

But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.” -Acts 3.18

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.” -Romans 8.29

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

As I sit reading Norman Geisler’s book Chosen but Free it is impossible for me not to get drawn into the whole debate on the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. Therefore, over however many posts it takes me to work this out of my system, I plan on addressing various views of this issue, raising (and hopefully resolving) certain theological and philosophical questions, and generally trying to establish a framework for how we should view these doctrines. This will also be a little rough, I imagine, as most of it is going to be free-form thought and not a well-orchestrated treatise a la Jonathan Edwards.

That said, let’s begin by looking at what I take to be the only three possible situations; which I shall label as the Calvinist view, the Arminian view, and the moderate view. The issue at stake here is the proper relationship between God’s sovereign decree of events (predetermination) and man’s free ability to choose (spoken of in terms of God’s foreknowledge of their choice). The perspective we place here will inform how we see many things occurring, with a particular emphasis on how this balance informs our view of the act of salvation (our soteriology).

The Calvinist View

For the Calvinist, God’s predetermination of events precedes (or is independent of) foreknowledge, and so God predetermines events to occur and then works through time to influence their occurring. Thus, take something such as the death of Christ as spoken of in Acts 4.24-28,

And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’”- for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

In this passage, what we see is that God had “predestined” the murder of Christ “to take place,” and so in order to do this he “gathered together” a collection of peoples “to do whatever [his] hand and [his] plan had predestined to take place.”

Note, this isn’t to say that God externally coerces people to do what he predetermines, like a marionette, but that there is some way in which his predetermination of an event to happen makes it such that people act in a way which fulfills it. More on how later.

The Arminian View

This view places the greatest emphasis on the free choice of mankind. What it says is that man is entirely free in his choices and yet God is in complete control of the universe, the reason for this being not that there exists some type of “coercion” to do what he has determined, but because his predetermination is based on “the knowledge of what the free agents will do under whatever persuasive means He may use on them” (Geisler, p.51). So, in short, God’s foreknowledge of man’s decisions is what guides his predetermination of what will happen.

Arminians read this view into passages like Romans 8.29 (above) where it says that God predestined some to salvation as a result of his foreknowledge. Thus, they would argue, God’s predetermination of a persons salvation is based fully upon his foreknowledge of them first choosing (to have faith in) him.

The Moderate View

Finally we must present the moderate view. In the words of Geisler, “[the third alternative] postulates that God’s election is neither based on his foreknowledge of man’s free choices nor exercised independent of it” (p.53). Moreover, “whatever God forechooses cannot be based on what he foreknows. Nor can what he foreknows be based on what he forechose. Both must be simultaneous, eternal, and coordinate acts of God” (p.53). Thus, in this view, what we get is God’s predetermination of what will happen and his foreknowledge of what does happen existing both simultaneously and independently of the other.

* * *

Going on from here, I believe that the next post will be a refutation of the Arminian viewpoint. This whole series should be a lot of fun and I hope some of you out there will respond with comments and objections helping me to shape this debate as we go along. Please, engage and enjoy!

Pleasing the Body While Pleasing God- A Christian Evaluation of Pornography and Lust by Mark Driscoll

October 29, 2008

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” -1 Corinthians 6.18

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” -Matthew 5.27-28

Over the past several weeks Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA has been releasing chapters in a free online book entitled Porn-Again Christian: A Frank Discussion on Pornography and Masturbation, and in light of previous posts concerning this issue (most notably here) I figured that I would provide a link for you guys to his site.

This is a really interesting project. Of course it contains some of the typical (controversial) Driscoll-esque rawness to it, but the substance of this work is a very pointed and convicting look at how we (mostly men) use and abuse pornography and lust in our attempts to fill some sort of dangerous, sinful desires in our flesh. I think of all the people out there Mark Driscoll does a superb job of making you feel not the least bit okay with your sexual sin (candy-coating sin is not a strong suit for him).

Here are a couple of quotes from the piece:

In creation, we see the wise pattern that for every man his standard of beauty is not to be objectified, but rather it should simply be his wife. This means that if a man has a tall, skinny red-headed wife then that is sexy for him, and if his neighbor has a short, curvy brunette wife then that is sexy for him. Pornographic lust exists to elicit coveting and dissatisfaction that no woman can satisfy because she cannot be tall and short, endowed and waifish, black and white, young and old, like the harem laid out in pornography. (from Chapter 4, A Practical Theology of Pornographic Lust).


Indeed, our God is Lord over all of our lives and helpful for the practical matters of what to do with our mouth, hands, and genitals. As God’s men, we do not pursue this redemption and holiness solely for ourselves but also for God’s mission to save and redeem the sea of lost men around us who are their own god and sin with their mouth, hands, and genitals. (from Chapter 6, Manly Men)

Again, I do want to warn that this work is a little rough around the edges and so if you don’t like being shocked by very direct imagery of the outworking of sexual sin you may want to avoid this. However, if you can handle the writing style I think that you will find this text to be a great resource for yourself either as a personal help or as a guide for helping others dealing with sexual immorality.

Porn-Again Christian by Mark Driscoll

The Language of Salvation- A Further Look at Misusing Phrases and Imagery for Salvation

October 28, 2008

Just to continue the idea that I started yesterday, about the misuse of certain verses and imagery in presenting the Gospel message, I thought I would share with you guys a quote from Dr. John MacArthur which deals with the subject:

Listen to the typical gospel presentation nowadays. You’ll hear sinners entreated with words like, ‘accept Jesus Christ as personal Savior’; ‘ask Jesus into your heart’; ‘invite Christ into your life’; or ‘make a decision for Christ.’ You may be so accustomed to hearing those phrases that it will surprise you to learn that none of them is based on Biblical terminology. They are the products of a diluted gospel. (The Gospel According to Jesus, p.21)

These words strike even further to the core of what I simply breached yesterday which was the fact that many evangelists just throw around spiritual phraseology, to the point that we basically accept it as biblical talk, and yet at the end of the day most of it doesn’t stand up to the truth of Scripture.

The thing that is even more provoking about it is that all of these phrases seem to emphasize a highly man-centered view of the act of salvation. Now, I believe that man does have the responsibility of exercising repentance and faith in the act of redemption, as called by forth by Acts 2.42 and Romans 10.9, but by describing the receiving of salvation as “asking Jesus into your heart” or “accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior” it seems we lose the very God-centered flavor of many passages in Scripture, such as 1 Peter 1.3 (“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again . . . “) or Ephesians 2.4-5 (“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved“) or Colossians 2.13 (“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses“).

Scripture is very clear that there is some sense in which it is God who “saved us . . . according to his own mercy” (Titus 3.4-7), and yet that is overlooked, even taboo in some circles of the church. Maybe this is part of our wanderings in attractional, self-esteem based evangelism which makes us desire the act of salvation to be a brass ring that we are skilled enough to grab, I don’t know. But I can tell you this, if we really long to see a change in the life of the American church we are in dire need of a return to the biblical accounts of salvation which emphasize God’s goodness and our inability, a humbling perspective on what has become a disgustingly consumerist idea.

Nobody’s Home- Addressing the Misuse of Revelation 3.20

October 27, 2008

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” -Revelation 3.20

I’m sure all of us, at some point, have been sitting in a church service and heard the pastor make a statement like,

And after rising again Jesus said “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in to him and dine with him.” He wants to come into your heart and life and live with you forever. Take you home to heaven, make you God’s child. The question is are you going to say “Go away Jesus” or are you going to say “Yes, Jesus. I want you to come into my heart and save me.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it. Sounds too good, huh?

I don’t know about you, but whenever I here this verse presented this way, which I did just recently sitting in an evangelistic event, it makes me cringe. I guess there is a lot of me that is turned off simply by the highly Arminian nature of the whole blurb, but even if that were all removed, even if it were just the presentation of Revelation 3.20 in this manner, using it as an evangelistic verse, I would still be highly concerned. Simply put, this is not a verse about salvation, and to use it as such misses the entire context of what Christ is trying to say.

In context what we see is this:

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 3.14-22)

The first clue to us that this is not an evangelistic verse is the fact that it occurs in a letter, spoken by Jesus, transcribed by John, to the church at Laodicea. Now, these days when we think of a church we think of a building with people who come to it on Sunday morning and Wednesday night. However, at the time of this writing, the church still held its intended meaning, that being of a collection or assembly of believers in Christ. So this is a letter to the group of believers who live in the city of Laodicea. Thus, and this is enough evidence for most people, if the recipients of the letter are supposed to be believers, then why would Christ be offering them salvation? Doesn’t make sense, does it?

However, that’s not all. Look at the words in verse 15: “I know your works . . . Would that you were either cold or hot!” But, if these people are lost and in need of the “gospel invitation” as many people claim, then how possibly could Jesus ask them to have hot or cold works? Can their works save them or please God in anyway if they are lost (Hebrews 11.6)?

What about verse 19: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” This is an invitation to accept Christ’s discipline. And what do we know about discipline? Hebrews 12.7-8, “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” If there is discipline then you know you are a son. But if you are a son, why would you need the gospel, since your sonship is coincident with salvation (Romans 8.14-17, Ephesians 1.3-5, Galatians 4.1-7)?

All taken into account, I think it is clear that this is not an evangelistic verse. Instead, what this is is an invitation to fellowship with Christ. It is clear from Scripture that we are not perfect once saved (Philippians 3.12) but God’s command to us is to continue being conformed into the likeness of Christ throughout our natural lives (Romans 8.29). Therefore, there may be some people who have been saved and yet, for whatever reason, have broken fellowship with their Lord and Savior. Then what Christ wants them to know is that, though they may have slid into living in the old self for a while, Christ will still knock on the door, convicting their heart to repent and recommit themselves to the practice of being crucified daily.  That is the point of Revelation 3.20.

Are We Christian Yet?- Erwin Lutzer on the Purpose of Our Politics

October 26, 2008

With the whole country staring down the barrel of Election Day 2008, there are many opinions out there on who you should vote for and why (I have my own if you would like to hear them, not here though). A number of opinions out there will even brandish the moniker of the “Christian viewpoint.” Now, I’m not saying that there is not a viewpoint which is more consistent with Christianity than another, but if you take the whole landscape of people who claim to be giving you the “Christian” candidate you will be amazed by the worlds of difference in interpretation.

That’s not what this is about. What this is about is what our endgame should be in all of this. If Christians are getting involved in the electoral process, if Christians are throwing their support behind this candidate or that one, then the hope would be that these Christians have a clear purpose envisioned for what they are seeking. And we do, right? We want to end abortion, feed the poor, display the 10 Commandments, and protect the environment. We want to preserve the family and promote community. And we all know just who can do those things for us.

But at the end of the day next Tuesday, whether our guy wins or not, it is important that we keep a proper perspective about what we are to be striving for in the first place, and it is this that I think Dr. Erwin Lutzer proclaims well when he says:

[L]et us not think that getting a community to change its laws means that it has been ‘Christianized’ or that its citizens are closer to believing the Gospel. Christianity, properly understood, is a message that a holy God punishes sin, and if we do not flee to the protection of Christ, we will be damned forever. Redemption and not reformation is what we should be about. (Is God on America’s Side?, Lutzer, p.80)

That’s what it’s about. Yes, there are many social and economic issues that will make living the Christian life easier day-to-day in these United States, but above all else we must remember the words of Peter in Acts 4.12 when he said, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Be it John McCain or Barack Obama, no one will be saved from the condemnation that awaits all of us without knowing Jesus Christ as Lord, and that should be what we campaign for more than anything else!

Impressions from the Word- Jeremiah 47-52

October 25, 2008

For, because you trusted in your works and your treasures, you also shall be taken.” (48.7a)

The theme of dependence on man versus dependence on God never leaves the Scriptures.  Ever since the Fall not a day has passed where man was not guilty of relying on himself to preserve himself.  Pelagianism is everyones natural religion.  With this so apparent, how do we constantly forget?

In those days and in that time, declares the LORD, iniquity shall be sought in Israel, and there shall be none, and sin in Judah, and none shall be found, for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.” (50.20)

Here we see God proclaiming what Paul wrote in Romans 8.29-30, that God will choose a people according to his foreknowledge, call them out, and justify them.  This is the promise to the elect.  They shall be seen as white as snow, the burden of their guilty sin having been nailed to the cross with Christ (Colossians 2.13-14).

Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them.” (51.17)

Another denouncement of the man-made idols of gold and of wisdom.  Just because our graven images lie in our minds and not on our mantle does not mean that we are any less pagan than previous peoples.

More than Just a Ghost- Al Mohler on the Holy Spirit

October 24, 2008

These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” -John 14.25-26

But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” -John 15.26

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” -John 16.7-8

Growing up I did not have much church exposure, but, what exposure I did have came at services and camps which fell under the pentecostal denomination. Because of this, I had a strong initial presentation to belief in the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Now some 12-15 years later, and 7 years since joining a Southern Baptist church, a strong view of the Spirit is still a part of my faith (though with certain necessary orthodox changes from the pentecostal beliefs in spirit baptism, etc). However, as a Southern Baptist denominationally and a Calvinist soteriologically, I would have to say that the view portrayed of the Spirit in typical SBC life leaves something to be desired.

A couple of weeks ago Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern seminary, gave legs to this complaint. As one who shares the same reformed convictions as myself, Dr. Mohler knows all to well the necessity of a strong view of the Spirit in the work of regeneration and the inner testimony of assurance of salvation. He also knows the propensity of Baptists to avoid the idea of an active Spirit for fear of placing too much emphasis on seeking signs and gifts among the body of believers. Therefore, when approaching the topic of the Holy Spirit as spoken of in the Apostles Creed, Dr. Mohler delivered a thorough explication of the him as revealed to us by the words of Christ in John chapters 14 through 16, without going overboard into the more murky waters of the involvement of the Spirit in the life of the church a la the book of Acts.

I think his message, which was part of Southern seminary’s Heritage Week, is a must listen, particularly for those among us who err too frequently on the side of a passive, unimportant Spirit. As Dr. Mohler points out, the Spirit does not come to testify about himself (John 16.13), yet without his presence the church would be lost in the world (John 14.18).

Dr. Albert Mohler- The Apostles Creed: The Holy Spirit

Not by the Sword- David on the Coming Salvation in 1 Samuel 17.46-47

October 23, 2008

This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.” -1 Samuel 17.46-47

These are the final recorded words spoken between David and the giant Goliath before David laid him flat with a well-placed smooth river stone.  Yet in these words we find more than just biblical trash talk, we see inspired words of prophecy, speaking forth to the final triumph of Christ over Satan the deceiver.

The key passage is verse 47 where David speaks to “this assembly,” or what we now call the church (the word translated today as ‘church’, ekklesia, is the Greek translation provided for the word ‘assembly’, qahal, in Hebrew), informing them that the battle is not to be won through man-centered wars and the skill of warriors in the field, but instead that God controls the battle and he will provide victory for his people apart from these means.

Of course, this prophecy finds its completion in the person and work of Jesus Christ, who destroyed death through his own death (Hebrews 2.14-15), bringing life and immortality through the proclamation of the Gospel (2 Timothy 1.10), and who has all things subjected to his reign through his resurrection and ascension to glory (Ephesians 1.20, 22).  It is by this action that we may find personal victory over death (1 Corinthians 15.54-57), not accomplished by our own struggling against evil (Ephesians 2.8), and it is in his spoils that we may share (Ephesians 2.6).

David knew who was at work when he went into the battle; 1 Samuel 17.37a, “And David said, ‘The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’“  What a blessing it would be for us if we worked to understand God’s sovereign grace in this way!

God Decides 2008!- Answers to Common Objections of this View (part 2)

October 22, 2008

Continuing on with common objections, let’s look at two more. First,

Objection: If one believes that election is effectual for salvation then they will no longer take part in evangelism.

This objection is almost a continuation of the John 3.16 objection, and usually accompanies it, but also has its’ own individual flavor.  Basically, the reasoning behind this question is, if God has chosen his elect, and if all and only his elect will be saved, then why should we participate in evangelism?

The first, and most to the point and terse answer to this, is the one RC Sproul so bluntly makes, that being that we do so because evangelism has been commanded of us by Christ: Matthew 28.19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Mark 16.15, “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’

This certainly is good enough of a reason, but for the sake of thoroughness, I would like to look a little deeper.  To do this I want to call upon some passages in Acts which I think illuminate to us what the apostles knew of election and how they proceeded.  Acts 18.9-11 recalls for us a vision of Paul’s in which the Lord speaks to him:

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

In the vision, the Lord instructs Paul to “not be silent . . . for [the Lord has] many in [that] city who are [his] people.”  In other words, Paul is instructed to continue evangelism because of God’s election.  God had elected many in the city of Corinth to salvation, and it was by the means of Paul’s preaching which he had determined to awaken their souls (cf. Romans 10.14-17).  Then what was Paul’s response?  “And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (v.11).

Elsewhere in Acts, we see Luke give account of a gospel work in the city of Antioch in Pisidia in which he expresses similar sentiments about God’s electing and its effectualness for salvation for all and only the elect: Acts 13.48, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”  This is almost unmissable, that God had preordained a section of the Gentiles to be saved, and that that preordination found effect in the preaching of the Word by Paul and Barnabas.  Once more a testament to the necessity of sharing and receiving the Gospel message as a vehicle for carrying out God’s electing graces, and an indictment on anyone who would say that believing in this view of unconditional election causes one to neglect the call to evangelism.

Objection: If God elects people to salvation, then necessarily those who he does not elect to salvation he is just electing to hell.

This is a tough one.  Yet, though it may be the hardest to answer, it is also probably the most esoterically useless.  The point is, a lot of people will try and argue that the specific view of unconditional election which has been voiced here necessarily leads to determinism, and that that philosophical position is incapable of standing with the nature of an Almighty loving God.  I have spoken towards this charge previously and so will not be answering it in too much depth, but I feel that one short illustration will do.

The problem for those who detail the objection in the way that if God is unconditionally electing some to salvation then this implies he is also unconditionally “electing” the rest to damnation, is that this seems unfair.  That is because, in this view, one is picturing God before the foundation of the earth with a bag of neutral souls in his lap, picking out each individual soul, and placing it unconditionally either in heaven or in hell.  In this case, God places all of us where he wants us and that is where we stay, which, I agree, sounds appalling.

However, for the consistent 5-point Calvinist who adheres to the stated view of unconditional election, what they actually see is God before the foundation of the earth with a bag of neutral souls, picking out some of the souls and placing them in heaven and just leaving the remaining souls in the bag.  Then, God creates the earth, man falls, and through the sin of Adam all of the souls move to place themselves in hell.  The ones that were just sitting in the bag actually make it there and are thus condemned (John 3.18), whereas the ones which God had originally placed in heaven are guarded by his power and kept from making the jump (1 Peter 1.3-5).  Thus, human responsibility is culpable for leading the condemned to condemnation, whereas God’s sovereign grace is the cause of the salvation of the elect, and nowhere does full determinism come into play.

*     *     *

Well, this has been a fun series of posts, but I think with that we will draw it to a close.  I do not expect this to be the last word on election in this blog, as it is one of my favorite doctrines to look at, but for now I think I have said all I feel led to say.  Please continue to post with questions/objections and I will do my best to respond to them.  Thanks for your readership.