Tag Archives: elect

So Here’s What Stumps Me in the Debate About the Doctrine of Election

Well, let me say at the outset that some of you (many) will not agree with my point here.  If you’d like, please read my article about Calvinism (so called) to understand why I think of myself as a 1.5 Arminian (Click Here for the Article).

I’ve run into a number of folks who say they are 0.0 Calvinists and not Arminians either.  I really have not been able to decipher that notion, so if you can explain it, please pitch in!  Frankly, you don’t have to like the label (or even wear it for that matter), but it doesn’t change the fact that each of the ‘5 points’ are simply either / or…and everyone believes something about some of them.  Either people are depraved or not, God has an effective call or He doesn’t, one can resist God’s call or he can’t, etc.

But here is where I’m stumped.  There is an argument for a ‘corporate election’, but most folks have abandoned the weakness of that argument; so all that is left is that (a) God choose freely apart from our choices, or (b) God chose based on our actions.  This second view is where I get lost.  Good friends of mine believe that God knew which individulals would chose Him, so He chose each of them…a case of mutual love and choosing.

Here’s my problem—if it is a mutual choice, then why does the Bible use the word elect /  chosen?  We can all spend time in our language tools, but it doesn’t seem to matter.  Here’s an example:

30.86 ἐκλέγομαιa; αἱρέομαιa; λαμβάνωe: to make a choice of one or more possible alternatives—‘to choose, to select, to prefer.’
ἐκλέγομαιa: ἐντειλάμενος τοῖς ἀποστόλοις διὰ πνεύματος ἁγίου οὓς ἐξελέξατο ‘he gave instructions by the power of the Holy Spirit to the men whom he had chosen as his apostles’ Ac 1:2; οὐχ ὁ θεὸς ἐξελέξατο τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῷ κόσμῳ; ‘has not God chosen the poor in this world?’ Jas 2:5.
αἱρέομαιa: τί αἱρήσομαι οὐ γνωρίζω ‘I do not know which I should prefer’ Php 1:22; μᾶλλον ἑλόμενος συγκακουχεῖσθαι τῷ λαῷ τοῦ θεοῦ ἢ πρόσκαιρον ἔχειν ἁμαρτίας ἀπόλαυσιν ‘he chose to suffer with God’s people rather than enjoy sin for a little while’ He 11:25.
Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, vol. 1, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., 360 (New York: United Bible societies, 1996).

The word just means ‘to choose’ and that’s all it means; context informs everything else.  So, God chooses His own…but why is this a problem for the second view (we both choose each other / He foreknows that we will choose Him so He chooses us)?

Well, in my way of thinking, ‘elect’ (choose) is a really silly word to use unless it means He chose us apart from our actions or choosing.  Honestly, if God calls everyone and only some choose to accept the calling (meaning they choose Him too)…then how is that being chosen?  It isn’t a choice for God at all because He actually called everyone but only some chose.  If this is the case than ‘chosen’ is not the word to use…He didn’t chose us we chose Him.

Let me say that again.  If ‘foreknowledge’ is the reason He chose someone, then it isn’t a choice, He had to choose that person BECAUSE that person chose Him.  This debate has been hashed out ad-nauseum over the centuries, but in my slow mind it just seems obvious now.

Unless God chose His own apart from any action (deserving) on their part, then the wrong word is used…it is not a choice.

I still hold to the mystery of it all…I certainly understand that I came to believe without Him simply regenerating me spiritually.  Yet, I also believe He clearly looked down though time and decided, “Fred, you’ll be mine.”  I don’t get the mystery of  it, but I also don’t want to argue with the gift-giver!  What kindness…and as I ponder, I wouldn’t have chosen Him without this kindess (I’m just not that noble apart from His grace).

So, what do you think?  Can we really say we are chosen / elect if we believe He chose us because we chose Him?

I’m not saying that there aren’t challenges in thinking this sort of thing through, but really, how can anyone argue it was God’s choice if it was dependent (contingent) on our choosing?  I’ve heard speakers use the notion of human love and marriage.  My wife chose me and I chose her…so it goes.  Well, the English means to select out of various alternatives.  So, I guess you could say I ‘selected’ my wife out of the choices…and…I guess you could say I ‘chose her’ because she was the only one who would have me; but, that really isn’t the nature of a choice.  We really don’t talk that way.  We fell in love, we decided together, etc.  She is my bride and my wife, but she isn’t my chosen one (unless I have the authority to pick whomever I want…like a king perhaps).  She could be my chosen one if our parents arranged the marriage, but these contort the point don’t they?

Next, consider the use of the word from the angle of those abandoned to their own destiny apart from God.  If believers are ‘the chosen’ then unbelievers are the ‘unchosen’—there is no other way to go.  So why did God not chose them?  Option #2 above says it is because they did not ‘choose’ Him.  So really, God chose everyone, but some rejected.  Again, the word elect / choose is NOT the right word.  He didn’t choose, He just got rejected.

Finally, pretend God really did ‘choose’ individuals apart from anything in the individual (just His own  free volition).  What word would you have wanted Him to use to convey that idea.  How could God have said it so it was CLEAR that He chose them apart from any reason other than His own will.  I’m pretty confident He would use the word CHOSE / ELECT.

I’m really wanting to get the argument, but honestly my friends, you wouldn’t let anyone get away with shape-shifting language in another discussion on another topic.  Why do it here?  Why can’t ‘elect’ just mean elect?


Fred Lybrand