This is a follow up to Adam Robles’ original post discussing whether the doctrine of Unconditional Election is taught in the Bible. These posts discussing Reformed Theology are not debates, per se, rather they are discussions. Because they are less formal, the posts back and forth will read more like long comments. If you are at all interested in discussing Reformed Theology, you should follow along the way.
The doctrine of unconditional election essentially states that before the foundations of the world God decided who would be saved, and consequently, who would not. This decision was made not based on anything in the particular person, but on God’s own will.
I don’t have any objection to God exercising a prerogative to do so. After all, that which He is not obliged to do at all, He is not obliged to do for all. As Creator, God has any and all authority to do as He wills. But what He can do is different from what He did and does do.
Can there truly be an elective process which has nothing to do with us in any way without it being arbitrary? I don’t think so. If the election is not based on anything in us, it must be arbitrary. If it were’t arbitrary, then it would have to be based on something about us whatever it might be. That is the very definition of arbitrary, that it’s not based on anything about object. I don’t have anything in particular in mind because I think election refers to a class of people: believers, not necessarily individuals. My only point is that if there is nothing in us, then the decision to elect a particular individual over another is by definition, arbitrary and I don’t believe God would act arbitrarily.
I think it all comes down to the passages. Can they be understood to apply to a group of people rather than an individual, as in, the elect, chosen from before the foundations, are believers — as a class of people? That a class of people, believers, is chosen? Now, I don’t disagree that God might select particular people who would serve a purpose in a larger plan of His. Moses, the Prophets, Paul and the rest of the Apostles, for example, played integral roles in the entire salvation enterprise and as such would have been chosen as individuals. In mentioning the people I did (and some I didn’t) I think they were probably intentionally selected to be used for a purpose and as such were saved. I also think that some people may be intentionally selected by God to be saved or used and not others. God intentionally used Pharaoh for His purpose with the Israelites and was essentially intentionally not going to be saved. I think as a general rule individuals are not elected in the ‘Reformed’ sense, but there are some who are. I think also as a general rule that individuals are not destined for Hell i.e., unelect in the ‘Reformed’ sense, but there are some who are: Pharaoh, Hitler, the Caananites, etc.
Lastly, if the election of the saved were predetermined, the Bible is incredibly misleading to the unelect who might read it. What I mean by this is the Bible suggests many times and rather explicitly that salvation is possible for anyone — but not if Unconditional Election is true. This means that any unelect person reading the Bible would mistakenly think they have an opportunity to be saved when that simply isn’t true. At one point, God pleads with Israel to turn from their sins, that they don’t have to die in them:
(Ezekiel 33:10-11) — “Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus you have spoken, saying, “Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we are rotting away in them; how then can we survive?”’ Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’