Unconditional Election (Four)

It is written:

“Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;”. (Acts 2:23)

Calvinists claim that God’s foreknowledge and foreordination are one and the same, ie.., they claim that God foreknows all events because He has foreordained (predestined) all events.

However, the Scriptures are clear that God’s foreknowledge is different from what He foreordains.

“Peter very clearly distinguishes counsel or determination as well as election from foreknowledge: “him [Christ], being delivered by the determinate [horizo] counsel [boule] and foreknowledge [proginosko] of God…” (Acts 2: 23). If these are the same, then Peter is saying nonsensically that Christ was “delivered by the foreknowledge and foreknowledge,” or by “the determined counsel and determined counsel” of God. Paul likewise makes a clear distinction: “For whom he [God] did foreknow, he also [kai] did predestinate….” The Greek kai denotes a differentiation, thus making it clear that foreknowledge could not be the same as predestination, or Paul, as already pointed out, would be redundantly saying, “whom he did predestinate he also did predestinate.”….“To foreknow is simply to know in advance. And to know in advance is not the same as to foreordain. If God simply elected/ predestined certain ones because He elected/ predestined them, there would be no reason to mention foreknowledge at all. Clearly, that God foreknew certain persons would believe the gospel was the reason for electing/ predestining them to the special blessings. That foreknowledge means nothing more nor less than to know beforehand is clear not only in the particular scriptures above, but also in other places where the same Greek words are used in the New Testament. In referring to Jewish leaders of his acquaintance who he says “knew me from the beginning [i.e., before that day]” (Acts 26: 4–5), Paul uses the same word, progonisko, translated at Romans 8: 29 “for whom he did foreknow.” Peter uses the same word in a different context but with the identical meaning: “ye know [proginosko] these things before…” (2 Peter 3: 17).” (Dave Hunt, What Love is This? Calvinism’s Misrepresentation Of God, 7364-7381 (Kindle Edition); Bend, Oregon; The Berean Call)

God does not predestine everything which happens. For example, as we have noticed, God did not foreordain that moral evil come into existence. He made beings with freewill (Joshua 24:15), and thus He made evil possible; but He did not predestine that moral evil occur. As Geisler and Howe have pointed out:

“Further, there is an indirect sense in which God is the author of moral evil. God created moral beings with free choice, and free choice is the origin of moral evil in the universe. So, ultimately God is responsible for making moral creatures who are responsible for moral evil. God made evil possible by creating free creatures, but the free creatures made evil actual. Of course, the possibility of evil (i.e., free choice) is itself a good thing. So, God created only good things, one of which was the power of free choice, and moral creatures produced the evil. However, God is the author of a moral universe and in this indirect and ultimate sense is the author of the possibility of evil. Of course, God only permitted evil, but does not promote it, and He will ultimately produce a greater good through it (cf. Gen. 50:20 ; Rev. 21–22 ).”. (Norman Geisler & Thomas Howe, When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook On Bible Difficulties, 4059-4065 (Kindle Edition); Victor Books)

God foreknows all events, and He is able to work through His foreknowledge to bring about things which He has predestined. In this way, mankind is seen to be free in his decisions even while God remains just in what He allows.

This is an important point to consider regarding the subject of predestination and salvation. As we noticed from Romans 8:28-30, what God has predestined (including the salvation of His people) went hand in hand with what He foreknew. Indeed, the Bible says that we are elect according to the foreknowledge of God (1 Peter 1:2). This means (among other things) that whatever God has predestined, He has done so in consideration of what He knew beforehand, including the freewill decisions of humanity.

The early Christians certainly understood this, as they discussed these issues with Gnostics and their doctrine of fate (which would one day be rebranded as the doctrines of Calvin and his followers). They wrote often how the fact of God’s foreknowledge worked hand in hand with the things which He foreordained.

For example:

“I have proved in what has been said that those who were foreknown to be unrighteous, whether men or angels, are not made wicked by God’s fault. Rather, each man is what he will appear to be through his own fault.” (Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.269.)


“[The Marcionites] say, “But God hardened the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants.” Now those who allege such difficulties do not read in the Gospel the passage where the Lord replied to the disciples, when they asked Him, “Why do you speak in parables?” He replied: “Because it is given to you to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven. However, I speak to them in parables so that seeing they may not see and hearing they many not hear.” . . . So God knows the number of those who will not believe, since He foreknows all things. So He has given them over to unbelief and turned His face away from men of this character, leaving them in the darkness that they have chosen for themselves. So what is baffling if He gave Pharaoh and those who were with him over to their unbelief? For they would never have believed.” (Irenaeus (c. 180, E/ W), 1.502.)

The early Christians ably and powerfully refuted the Gnostic claims of fate by pointing out the important role that God’s foreknowledge plays in the role of predestination. This is something which many Calvinists today (like their Gnostic ancestors) are ignorant of (whether ignorantly or willfully).

So, what have we learned?

First, what God foreknows is not the same as what He foreordains. While God foreknows all things, this is not the same as claiming that He foreordains all things.

Second, God is not responsible for the moral evil in our universe.

Third, what God foreknows is an important aspect for us to consider in what He foreordains.

Fourth, Peter declares that we are elect according to the foreknowledge of God (1 Peter 1:2). God foreknew who would choose to follow Him, and who would choose to reject Him.

More and more, we are seeing that the Calvinistic teaching of “unconditional election” simply is not true.

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