Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wrestling with the Election Issue

November 2 we are voting in our country. Never discuss theology or politics, they say. Well I will be in trouble here, then, because I am pondering and wrestling with ideas. However, I will not write about politics in this post, but theology that I am wrestling with--specifically election.

Now theological election doesn't seem politically correct. I am not here talking about electing church leaders, but how God elects some for salvation and not others. Why is it that God should choose some and not others to be saved through the death of His Son Jesus Christ? Does election mean God kidnaps people? Zaps some He chooses? Predestines them? Or, do people themselves choose to believe Jesus Christ as God's plan of salvation and God doesn't decide this? It's their "free will". Free will seems politically correct, doesn't it like free elections--democracy!

Since I was a teenager, I have always been aware of the controversy between "free will" and "predestination," and I looked at it simplistically as two sides of the same coin, or two sides of a woven rug. A rug makes sense on the decorative side, but not on the other side. Romans 8 tells us to both work out our salvation with fear and trembling and that it is God who works in us--two sides of the same coin, if you will.  This sounds like both Arminianism and Calvinism. This  link contrasts the election and free will but doesn't provide a synthesis like my two sides of a coin or two sides of a rug analogy.

Four Views of Salvation and Election. This site contrasts four views. Here Phillip R. Johnson suggests that under the Calvinist viewpoint we have Supralapsarianism and Intralapsarianism; Supra and Infra have to do with when God decreed the elect.  Furthermore Johnson denotes not merely Arminianism, but also Amyraldism. Amyraldism says God provides salvation sufficient for all, elected some and passed over the rest. He explains that Arminianism asserts that God called all to salvation, but elected those who believe.

Then there's C. Michael Patton who contrasts individual election vs. corporate election on a Pen and Parchment twelve reasons post. Patton draws heavily upon Romans 8:31 through Chapter 11 of Romans in favor of individual election. He also convinces me of individual election when he quotes Acts 13:34 which says as many as had been appointed for eternal life believed. Patton further explains in a Corporate Election post letter to his friend Dan Wallace.

Now Calvinists have typically expounded on election with T.U.L.I.P.
T otal Depravity
U nconditional Election
L imited Attonement
I rresistable Grace
P erseverence of the Saints
To throw more into this discussion there are the above five point Calvinists and then there are four point Calvinists. Are you with me so far, gentle reader? Actually I didn't research the fours and the fives, . . . but there is more! Then there is Martin Luther's Double Predestination.

Here comes Richard Land who rejects T.U.L.I.P. in favor of his invention another view of D.E.S.I.R.E.

“D” stands for “Disabling Depravity”, meaning no part of man has escaped the contamination and moral wreckage of the fall. However, man is not so depraved he has to be the object of irresistible grace.

“E” stands for “Eternal Now” election as explained earlier.

“S” stands for “Sufficient Salvation”, meaning that Jesus Christ substitutionary death on the cross was, is, and will be, sufficient for all who respond in faith to His, and the Holy Spirit’s, “initiatory call of conviction”.

Thus, the “I” in D.E.S.I.R.E. stands for the fact that, as the apostle Paul says, “the natural man does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him” (I Cor. 2:14).

The lost man must be the object of the Holy Spirit’s “initiatory call of conviction” which enables him to understand his fallenness and lostness and illuminates the truth of the Gospel to him. God must take the initiative, but His call is not “irresistible”.

“R” stands for “Regenerative Grace”. In the D.E.S.I.R.E. model, as a person attempts to respond to God’s initiatory call and conviction, God gives him saving faith and regenerates him from above. The apostle Paul declares to the Ephesians, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift, not from works, so no one can boast” (2:8-9).

We cannot lose our salvation because it is not ours. We are not saved by “our” faith, but by our God-enhanced, Spirit-completed faith.

Consequently, the “E” in “D.E.S.I.R.E.” stands for “Eternal Security”, which means “our” salvation is eternally secure in His grace and sovereignty. From the moment of conversion forward the Lord Jesus has promised that nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:35-39).
Supra, Intra, Amy, Arm, Individual or Corporate, TUPIP or DESIRE?
What makes sense? This is as complicated as eschatology, the original topic of this Millennial Dreams blog. I think of the words in the hymn "I am not skilled to understand/What God hath willed/What God hath planned/I only know at His right hand/Stands One who is my Savior."  More than just a hymn, however, I rest on Scriptures such as what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Boasting seems to be a key word—Paul wouldn’t boast about his background and he was the least likely to turn out to be a Christian--in fact he had been a persecutor of Christians. Paul wouldn't boast also about his good works because they had been prepared beforehand. But Paul also wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:2 behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

I guess you have to say you are elect if you respond to that call of salvation and as 2 Peter 3:18 says you are growing in the grace and knwledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

  1. Psalm 131
    1Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.

    I'm a TULIP girl myself!


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