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Predestination and Election

By Jerry C. Brewer

religion, articles, christianity

John Calvin claimed man was "created to that misery to which he is subject" and "the necessity of sinning is laid upon the reprobate by the ordination of God." (John McClintock and James Strong, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, Vol. II, p. 43). Divesting man of free will and perverting the biblical concept of grace with its twisted theories of predestination and election, Calvin's theology renders man a mindless entity in the hands of a sadistic God:

But election is the immutable purpose of God, by which, before the foundations of the world were laid, he chose, out of the whole human race, fallen by their own fault from their primeval integrity into sin and destruction, according to the most free pleasure of his own will, and of mere grace, a certain number of men, neither better nor worthier than others, but lying in the same misery with the rest, to salvation in Christ, whom he had, even from eternity, constituted Mediator and head of all the elect, and the foundation of all salvation; and therefore he decreed to give them unto him to be saved, and effectually call and draw them into communion with him by his word and Spirit.... Moreover, holy Scripture ... cloth testify all men not to be elected; but that some are non­elect, or passed by in the eternal election of God, whom truly God, from most free, just, irreprehensible, and immutable good pleasure, decreed to leave in the common misery ... and not to bestow on them living faith, and the grace of conversion; but having been left in their own ways, and under just judgment, at length, not only on account of their unbelief, but also of all their other sins, to condemn and eternally punish them to the manifestation of his own justice (John McClintock and James Strong, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, Vol. 11, p. 44)

Expressed as "grace only" by the sectarian world and some of our own brethren, salvation by mere grace springs from false premises-Calvin's doctrines of deterministic fatalism which he called predestination and election.

Calvinistic election is attributed to God's arbitrary predestination of individuals. While the Bible teaches the children of God are the elect (1 Peter 2:9), it speaks of a class of persons, not individuals.

Calvinism says the elect are those who were individually selected to salvation (a certain number) and the non­elect are those eternally condemned individuals, both of whom were predestined to those ends before the world began. Predestination and election are biblical terms, but Calvin perverted them in formulating his doctrine. Electing individuals to salvation, before the world began, God thereby predestined certain persons to salvation and others to damnation, according to Calvin. Holding that God's grace is only for the elect, Calvinism says certain individuals were arbitrarily chosen as recipients of it. Biblical predestination is concerned not with individuals, but the locus of salvation for election of a certain class of persons. That's the thrust of Paul's teaching in Eph. 1:3­11.

  • All spiritual blessings are in Christ (v. 3).
  • We are chosen in Christ (v. 4).
  • Our adoption as God's children was predestined through Christ (v. 5).
  • Our acceptance is in Christ (v. 6).
  • Our Redemption through his blood is in Christ (v. 7).
  • God purposed that all should be one in Christ (vv. 9­10).
  • Our inheritance as God's children was predestined in Christ (v. 11).

As God predestined creatures with gills to life in water, so those in Christ were predestined to eternal life in him. God does not choose who will enter Christ, but says that all who do are classified as his elect. A creature of free will, man chooses to obey or disobey God and when he chooses God, he is thereby elected to salvation in Christ Jesus. God's elect is constituted of all who decide to enter Christ and that is done by obedience to the gospel (Rom. 6:3­6). That is salvation by "grace through faith" (Eph. 2:8). God's grace provides salvation and man's faith appropriates that blessing.

God has allowed men liberty and free will to choose between good and evil. Some will choose evil and cause the ruin of others; the necessity is in the obstinacy of men and not in the decrees of God.... God does not slay men, nor deprive them of their free nature, nor limit its natural free action in its allotted range, in order to prevent men from sinning. It is a fundamental law of man's nature that his character shall have full scope freely to develop itself; hence responsibility can justly exist, penalty can be justified, and rewards can be bestowed (H. Leo Boles, New Testament Commentaries, Gospel Advocate Co., Matthew, pp. 370­371).

God's grace has been provided in Christ, not in some arbitrary decree of God to save and condemn "a certain number" of individuals before the world began. Denying the grace of God to the non­elect, Calvinism circumscribes it and contradicts Paul's inspired teaching on its universality.

For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Titus 2:1 1­14).

Published January 1997