Whole Counsel Theology

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sermon Review Post the First: How Election Works

Well, this is the first in a series of posts I plan to write critiquing a few things said recently in a sermon my pastor presented at Calvary Baptist Church. You can find the first post in the series here, and it contains a link to the message. In any case, I wanted to focus on one statement he made this time around:
"´╗┐There are people around us that say that God simply elects who is going to be saved and damns the rest."

The main problem with this statement is that it is backwards. It also seems to suggest that election and reprobation work the same way. I'll unpack both of them below a little bit.

First, it is backwards. What I mean is that it seems to put men in a neutral position, and that God is acting in a cruel manner. The problem is that we all deserved to be damned.

Second, God's election is a gracious choice of some to salvation, even though these people would hate Him and would deserve His wrath and eternal punishment in Hell. Reprobation on the other hand is merely God passing over others, leaving them in their sins to die and suffer the punishments of their rebellion. Reprobation then is an act of God's justice, while election is an act of God's grace and mercy. They certainly do NOT work the same way.

This election is Unconditional in that there is nothing better in me than there was in someone who is reprobate. We are both rebels, and God would have been perfectly just to condemn us both, God-haters as we are/were. The only reason I'm NOT a God-hater now is because of His grace toward me, which started with my election from before the world was created.

The statement I quoted above from my pastor, whether this was his intent or not, paints God in a negative light if someone were to believe that He elects some and not others, wanting to get people to ask the question, "How could God do that to so many," or "How could anyone believe that?" In the same way, it seems to put man in a favorable light, as innocents who don't really deserve to be damned. Thus, the focus is on the people who would be damned rather than on the Holy God Who is righteous to do so.

In any case, that is the first statement. I didn't use much Scripture here on this comment because he didn't. :) Fear not, there is a lot of exegesis coming.




  • While i agree with you that God is "passive" in rebrobation it is interesting to note that Calvin himself believed in an "unconditional reprobation." This can be seen quite clearly in book 3 of institutes (3.22.11) pg. 947 of Battle's translation of the 1559 edition. I just finished a seminary class titled "Calvin and the Reformed Tradition" and I found Calvin's section on Predestination interesting.

    an anonymous student in Louisville

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, November 24, 2006 7:58:00 PM  

  • Thanks for the comment!

    The difference may also be between the views of supralapsarian and infralapsarian. The latter would agree with what I've written; if I understand the former, it would be more along the lines of the "Unconditional Reprobation" sort of thing. Of course, you could say that God didn't specifically choose to reprobate someone because of anything in him just like you could with election to salvation. I would agree with it, because all men are in the same state.

    However, they still work differently, and that is that God utilizes His grace and mercy to elect to salvation, and those he does NOT elect to salvation (indeed, in a sense, DOES predestine them to Hell since He didn't choose them for salvation) he makes objects of His justice and wrath. All of this is indeed so that His glory may be fully known to the objects of mercy (See Romans 9:19ff).

    May God be praised!

    By Blogger David B. Hewitt, at Friday, November 24, 2006 9:36:00 PM  

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