Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Aidan, Feb 13, 2018.
can someone please explain using idiot-proof language
Those whom the Lord foreordained - predestined - to be saved.
Elect basically means "chosen." The Elect are those that God has chosen to be saved. Calvinists particularly believe that God chose who to save completely based on his own, unknown purposes, otherwise known as "unconditional election."
The "elect" as understood in "Calvinism" is a non-biblical theory that God has from eternity past, "chosen" some to be "saved", while damning the rest to eternal hell. The Holy Bible, however, is clear to the fact, that "God is not willing that any should perish" (2 Peter 3:9), but "desires all men to be saved" (1 Timothy 2:4), but they first must "repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15), and wants the, "wicked person turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die" (Ezekiel 18:21). Because the , Lord GOD says," ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live." (Ezekiel 33:11). "For God so loved the world [entire human race] that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). And Jesus, Himself Almighty God, also says, "And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17). AMEN!
This goes against my understanding of a merciful God who died a brutal ignominious death on a gibbet reserved for criminals, so that all might be saved. Vivat Christus Rex
The issue that the understanding presents is how to understand free will. The problem it present is that each person has been given free will with only one choice - either for the elect the choice between life and life - and for the damned the choice between death or death. It seems to deny the urgency of the Gospel. See Article 17
This is why many don't like unconditional election. Still, the idea of God electing some is obviously present in Scripture, and trying to rationalize it is quite difficult. The Reformers, for the most part, preferred the unconditional election of the saints, but notably, so did Thomas Aquinas. It's a question that many would rather dogmatically assert rather than wrestle with, which isn't a good place to be.
As a universalist, I think unconditional election and a merciful God go hand in hand.
I'm no theologian, admittedly, but I also see unconditional election and mercy hand in hand. God is omniscient. That's part of the definition of BEING God. He knows who, having free will, would accept the gift of salvation. He loves all, the gift of salvation IS for all, but He knows who will and won't accept. He then chose to save them who, because of His omniscience, He knows would choose Him. He's not NOT choosing people. He gives US free will, even knowing what we will do with it. He acts, according to his omniscience and omnipotence. Our free will cannot affect His will. It's the difference between Creator and created.
I'm sure there is a name for this belief. I'm sure it needs to be shaped and stated better. But I just see God as big enough to not have His sovereignty impugned by giving people free will, because He still knows everything and nothing can affect HIS power. Hopefully I don't have any of you rending your garments and screaming "Heretic".
Cur Deus Homo?
Whilst I recognise the attractiveness of Universalism, I find it difficult to embrace. Calvin's doctrine of election understood that some people were predestined to salvation and some were predestined to damnation. One of the problems I have with this is that there is no urgency for the Gospel which is evident, especially in the new testament. We are called, urged and admonished to Choose life, to Return to the Lord our God, to Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. In a sense I see Calvin's approach whilst worlds apart from Universalism, both seeming deny the urgency of the Gospel.
There is undoubtedly the Universality the effectiveness of the redemptive act of Christ, and the universality of the offer of salvation to all folk, as the Holy Feast of the Epiphany holds before us, however we have been given free will. humankind is called to align itself with the mission and purpose of God in the world, to acknowledge our sinfulness and to be changed into his likeness. We are called to respond to God, and the reaching out of the arms of Jesus on the Cross.
And no, I am not calling heretic, (though I fear that has been inferred of me more than once). I have to admit to being a bit surprised to here Universalism as such rendered here, when I generally would have associated the idea with the contemporary liberalism found in some circles.
The prodigal son was on his way home when his father ran out to meet him.
Because God is beyond time, he does foreknow, yet he calls us to choose.
So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchedness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.
My sense is that historically the question of God's omnipotence has obscured the actual important question here, which is, do men have a chance to choose God, or is that decided for them. (How they choose then obviously determines their salvation/reprobation.)
Calvin would say that only the elect have the opportunity to choose God. "Why would He give the offer to people who wouldn't choose him anyway?" But the correct view is that God lets everyone choose him. God's love is gratuitous, and he offers himself even to those who will not accept him.
God provides the prevenient grace (Article 10), and that frees our will from the shackles of sin, so that we can then choose God out of love, if we want to. Thus the structure of salvation is that of universalism from the point of view of man (any of us can), but election from the point of view of God (he knows who will at the end of the day). The whole system is clumsily called "conditional election".
I myself am surprised to see Universalism, though I sympathize with the view, I assumed everybody here would not like it much. For the reason, of course, that you say, that it is associated with liberalism.
All the same, I do think that both some forms of universalism or predestinarianism can deny the urgency of the evangelistic mission. But I don't think it necessarily does; how great of evangelists, missionaries, and revivalists were Calvinists in all ages since the namesake! Whitefield and Edwards here stateside, Spurgeon across the pond, and not to mention the English Reformers typically fell in with that lot as well, along many great Anglicans to come, such as JC Ryle. Universalism, also, doesn't necessarily have to be the same. If universalism is true, it's still up for holy souls to go out and proclaim it, even if for all eternity! But, it is a bit harder to convince people that it must be them to do it, especially with the liberal universalists (Calvinists, I find, have no trouble "winning souls," so to speak).
I myself am not a universalist. As I understand it, Universalism is that the salvation applies to all. Full stop. Jesus taught that those who reject him as Savior will spend eternity in hell after they die: Matthew 10:28, Matthew 23:33, Matthew 25:46, Luke 16:23, John 3:36. That's plain.
I think that the mystery of trying to understand God out of time is where we get tripped up. The created can apprehend, but not comprehend, the Creator. I think Stalwart summed it up better. God OFFERS it to all, KNOWING not all will choose. Calvin tries to respect God's sovereignty and explain away a mystery (God electing to act on His will that doesn't negate our free will) and you get the clumsy label of "conditional election".
Random thought: I am struggling to say how God would want to save all, and yet it's not universalism. I think of Matthew 23:37: how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling!
I need to take the time to work my way through William King's sermon on Predestination, but alas I am at work and don't have the time at the moment. However, my scanning it (super quickly and lightly) seems to reveal similar thoughts - we can't apply mortal labels to God.
You are right in that you share a lot of commonality with King in this regard! I highly recommend the sermon, it was good inclusion on this site. Ellis' defense of the 17th Article is also significant. I have also recently come across the name of John Plaifere in my web-wanderings, who seems to be a proponent of conditional election, a 17th century English author who wrote on the subject. I have provided here an article on Plaifere and election from a database my university lets me use, as well as a (fairly poor) scan of the work in question.
The scan didn't quite upload right. Here is a link. https://books.googleusercontent.com...EWiLeQxQZZAjFyZqesTbkqlELL24c0BCHQXZ6KlMOHovu
"universalism", the concept that at the end of time, God will be merciful and loving enough to save everyone and allow them into heaven. This, my friend, is one of the biggest LIES that the devil has deceived millions with, and is not taught anywhere in the entire 66 Books of the Holy Bible, which is THE Word of Almighty God to all humans. Hell is a very real place, where, sadly the majority will end up in, and it is a place of "eternal, conscious suffering". It is indeed both a very sad and fearful Doctrine in God's Holy Word.
Note that I generally agree with you, but it's not quite as simple as God just letting everybody in because "mercy" or whatever for universalists. It means that the conscious suffering may not be eternal, which gets down and dirty with the precise meaning of the underlying Greek. Everybody, eventually, will be saved, but some have to suffer horribly on the way.
I believe that one verse sorts out any problems with the "duration" of the punishment for the wicked lost.
"καὶ ἀπελεύσονται οὗτοι εἰς κόλασιν αἰώνιον, οἱ δὲ δίκαιοι εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον. " And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
"αἰώνιον" is here used by the Lord Jesus Christ is exactly the same force of meaning in BOTH places. There is not warrant for anyone, other than their theological bias, to suppose that Jesus did not mean exactly what He says. The "life" for the "just" will be indeed "without end", which is exactly what the "suffering" of the "unjust" will be, "without end".
I think the conversations surrounding aionian is important because it changes our expectations of such things. We cannot take for granted that it means eternal, it means "of the age," which we interpret as eternal (translation is more art than science, as I tend to say). This shifts the focus to eschatology, which modern Christians don't like doing. If the age is eternal, then that is that. But Jesus is right to point us to the coming age, so that we do not think the life of the age is simply our carnal life extended into forever. That's the real lesson to learn from the word study.
On what grounds do you limit the "eternal life" of the just saved? Jesus Himself promises Martha in John chapter 11, “I am a the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”.
This is "life without end", so the opposite in Matthew 25:46 is exactly the same.