Who is Sovereign in Salvation? – Part 6 – Arminianism: Conditional Election
As we discovered in Part 5, man is dead in his sins and unable—and unwilling—to seek after God. Now we'll turn our attention to the Arminian doctrine of Conditional Election.
The doctrine of Conditional Election states that God “elects” men based upon His foreseeing their free-will choices. The following is typical of how Arminians explain this doctrine:
God looks down the corridor of time and sees who will choose Him. It's like a man peering out of a window in a tall building watching a parade pass below. He can see the parade from beginning to end. Likewise, God sees from the beginning of time until the end, and so He “elects” men based on what He sees them do.
Is it true that “election” means that we “choose” our way into God's good graces? Consider the following:
- Illustration One: The Adoption
A couple goes to an orphanage to adopt a child. They pick one, sign the necessary legal papers, and collect the child.
Did the child choose the parents? Did the parents make their choice based upon their knowledge that the little girl would choose them?
- Illustration Two: The Politician
How about a man running for office: what if, instead of being elected by his constituents, he elects himself.
Was he really elected? Or did he seize power?
Indeed, you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere in Scripture where men elect themselves to something. Just like how the term is used today, someone else always does the electing.
Tactical Note: The above illustrations employ a tactic called reductio ad absurdum (reduce to absurdity). In this tactic you assume your opponent's premises and then follow the logic of the premises to their absurd conclusion. In this case, we assume the Arminian definitions of “election” and “choice” and discover that they've changed the meaning of the terms to something nonsensical.
Who Chooses Whom?
The question is who does the choosing: God or man? Consider the following passages:
28) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
29) For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
30) and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love.
13) But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
14) It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)
Also consider: Due. 10:14-15; Psm. 33:12, 65:4, 106:5; Mat. 11:27, 22:14; Mark 13:20; Rom. 11:28; Col. 3:12; 1 Thes. 5:9; 1 Pet. 2:8-9; Rev. 17:14.
Is the Choice Based Upon Foreseen Faith or Acts?
The next question we must consider is whether or not God's choice is based upon foreseen faith or upon foreseen works. Consider the following passages:
11) for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,
12) it was said to her, "THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER."
13) Just as it is written, "JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED."
So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity
(2 Timothy 1:9)
Also consider: Ex. 33:19; Acts 13:48, 18:27; Rom. 11:7; Phil. 1:29, 2:12-13; 1 Thes. 1:4-5; James 2:5
As we've seen above, the Scriptures are clear: God grants salvation to those whom He chooses. His choice is not based upon any foreseen faith or works, but on His own sovereign will and gracious good pleasure.
Stay tuned for Part 7 where we'll consider the Arminian doctrine of Unlimited Atonement.