Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Election: The Calvinist Arminian Debate; Are both wrong? Part 1

I have avoided the topic of election for some time now. However, I can no longer remain silent. The debate goes all the way back to Augustine and Pelagius. It is the great divide in Protestant theology. The question is this; is God sovereign, or does humanity have a choice when it comes to salvation? I will likely alienate many in both camps. However, I deem it necessary. It appears that the bible teaches both, and because of this, a great debate ensues. Both sides accuse the other side of being heretical. I think that the debate comes from a total misunderstanding of scripture. In shifting my paradigm, I have come to realize that so much of what evangelical theologians , see as obvious is merely a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of scripture. In no idea is this more true, than election.

First off, let's look at election. It is prevalent throughout scripture. God elected Abraham to bring forth the seed of blessing. Old Testament Israel was elected to be the vehicle by which the Messiah would come. Pharaoh was elected to show God's power. Election merely shows God's sovereignty. When one thinks about it. God must be sovereign, or He would not be God. The very concept of an all knowing, ever and all present, and all powerful God demands sovereignty. One cannot say that God in His sovereignty has given humanity choice, because the minute one says that humanity has more power than God. If humans have a choice in salvation, then they in essence become their own savior. God is left powerless in the salvation realm to the choice of humanity. Ultimately theology demands that God is sovereign.

On the other hand, if God is sovereign, and some people are not saved, then it is of necessity that God elected some to damnation. Even if one says that God foreknew that some would not be saved, the knowing, in and of itself makes God ultimately responsible for their damnation because knowing they would not be saved, He created them anyway. How can this possibly be reconciled with the statement that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance? Certainly this is a dilemma. Yet, if God is truly sovereign and truly does not wish that any should perish, then quite frankly none will perish or God is not sovereign.

Because they mistakenly believe that the scripture teaches this kind of election, there are some that actually believe and teach that God elects people to salvation and damnation. They are fearful of questioning themselves because they are so certain that the scripture teaches this form of election. They never really then ask themselves what kind of a God would create creatures to damn to eternal torture? The reverse however creates complete chaos. When one can choose to be saved or reject salvation, they can never really know if they are truly saved, or if they will stay saved. At least for those who believe in Jesus, election offers the comfort of remaining saved. So I am not in any way siding with the Arminians. Their theology is equally destructive and I believe equally wrong.

What if election was time specific? What if, election was a first century phenomenon that was used by God to include the Gentiles in the good news? What if Paul's mentions of election, as well as Jesus mentions of election, were to explain why many of the Jews who had been Torah Observant missed out on the Messiah, and why the Gentiles who had not sought after God, were included in the New Covenant? When one examines Romans 9, 10, and 11 it becomes clear that Paul, after explaining the gospel of grace, spends time explaining why the Jews missed out on Christ, and the Gentiles were recipients. It is parenthetical.

Jesus' words, "too whom much is given, much is required" explains God's ultimate plan for the Jews and the New Covenant. The blessings of the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants carried responsibility. Yes, the Jews were originally elected by God to bring about the promised Seed of Abraham. And, the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable.

The below passage is misunderstood by all. Yet it truly gives the answer to God's sovereign plan. "God has shut up ALL in disobedience so that he can show mercy to ALL." It brings about the hopefulness of universal salvation, determined by an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and sovereign God. I will posit this portion of Romans 11 for you to peruse and ponder. Romans 11:25-36 NASB "For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery--so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; (26) and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB." (27) "THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS." (28) From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God's choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; (29) for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (30) For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, (31) so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. (32) For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. (33) Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (34) For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? (35) Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? (36) For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen."

Much more to come!

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