Monday, June 26, 2006

2. The Biblical Doctrine of Election is Ungeneralised

There have been various attempts to generalise election - many subterfuges to avoid what Scripture makes clear. Some have spoken of two kinds of election one election to faith (non-effectual) and another to salvation (effectual). Others have tried to say that election to glory is simply a general decree about salvation but there are no general and uncertain decrees only what Acts 2:23 calls the determinate counsel of God. Some have tried to teach that only the act of faith in the abstract was elected, but Scripture only speaks of people as the objects of election.

Then there is the view that God was not choosing some and rejecting others but merely "desiring" something in regard to sinners without being the cause of it. The Free Church of Scotland Declaratory Act of 1892 replaced the Westminster Confession's teaching on predestination by simply stating a vague conviction in: "the divine purpose of grace toward those who are saved". The liberal theologian Karl Barth taught yet another variation, that all men who have lived or will live were elected in Christ.

In contrast to all this error we must assert from the Bible that election is individual, personal, specific, and particular. God has made a distinction between some men and others. "Many be called, but few chosen" (Mat. 20:16); the apostle Paul (Rom. 11:7) distinguishes between "the election" and "the rest". Rom. 9 shows that there was personal election unto salvation within
the external election of Israel, "they are not all Israel who are of Israel" (9:6, 8). The names of the elect are said to be written in the book of life, while others are expressly said not to be written there, Rev. 17:8. They are a number which no man can number but are nevertheless known unto God.

The words used in the original Greek and Hebrew for election are personal, individual and particular. The main OT word for election bahar, expresses the idea of deliberately selecting someone or something after carefully considering the alternatives. The word implies a decided preference for, sometimes positive pleasure in, the object chosen. The OT also uses the
verb to know in the sense of love in relation to election e.g. Amos 3:2. When the NT speaks of foreknowledge it usually therefore means those who were foreloved. The NT always uses the verb to choose eklego in the middle voice, with a reflexive sense i.e. to 'choose out for oneself'.

The Canons of Dordt make it clear that "not all men are elect but that certain ones have not been elected" (I.15) and that the elect "a certain number of specific men" (I.7). The Westminster Confession refers to those predestined as "particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished" (III.4.).