Monday, October 15, 2012
A Few Thoughts on Election and Predestination
Doylestown Presbyterian Church Cemetery
Today I had a brief discussion with a fellow Facebooker on the question of election and predestination. The following is a statement made by him and my response, neither of which represents anywhere near a full discussion on this tremendous topic, of course.
My interlocutor characterized Calvinistic and Reformed teaching this way:
"Go Ye Forth and Tell All Nations That Nearly All Men are Damned and that It Is Useless for Them To COME UNTO ME Unless They KNOW FOR SURE That I Have Elected Them Unto Salvation and Final Perseverance" (emphasis in original).
This is the statement that I called a caricature of what I (Reformed people) believe, and therefore rubbish. I stand by my statement, though I probably should have been more specific, so here it is.
1) Statement: "Go Ye Forth and Tell All Nations That Nearly All Men are Damned …"
Answer: The Bible does not teach, nor do Reformed teach, that "nearly all men are damned." They teach that ALL men are condemned to eternal hell on the basis of original sin that resulted from the fall of Adam and Eve. Although God has His elect, no one is actually "saved" until he is regenerated and drawn to Christ. We are, all of us, under the same condemnation until that point ("There is none righteous, no not one" Romans 3:10). Although God has chosen and secured His elect, He has arranged it so that regeneration must take place at a specific point in time, and that to be received through faith.
2) Statement: "… It Is Useless for Them To COME UNTO ME…"
Answer: Neither the Bible nor Reformed teach that coming to Christ is "useless" in any way or at any time, but rather that only those who are being drawn by the Spirit and are being renewed in the Spirit will come to Christ for salvation ("No one seeks for God" Romans 3:11).
3) Statement: "…That I Have Elected Them Unto Salvation."
Answer: Neither the Bible nor Reformed teach that a person coming to Christ must have some kind of foreknowledge of his final spiritual state before the judgement seat of Christ after coming to Christ for salvation. What the pilgrim is assured of is that his heart of stone is replaced with a heart of flesh. Typically the new convert, having been renewed in his Spirit (regenerated) and drawn to Christ by Him, and having entrusted his life and eternal condition to the Saviour through faith in Him and in God's Word, has assurance of his salvation based upon the trustworthiness of the character of God, Who has revealed Himself in the Scriptures.
4) Statement: "… and Final Perseverance."
Answer: Christ's command to go forth and make disciples of all nations carries with it no caveats of any kind as it relates to the Christian's judgement about an individual's state of grace. The Calvinist (not the "Hyper-Calvinist") does not pre-screen people, second-guess Christ, nor make judgements about the worthiness of individuals to hear the gospel or of their final state of grace. If a person is of the elect of God, then he will persevere, that is, all the saints of Christ will be preserved by His saving power throughout eternity. They cannot "fall away" utterly since the Father has His own in the palm of His hand, and no one is able to snatch them out of it (John 10:29).