Unconditional Election (Nineteen)

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It is written:

“If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” (John 7:17)

Calvinists are terribly divided on the topic of freewill.

Some Calvinists maintain that mankind does not truly have freewill (in harmony with much of what Calvin taught). Others claim that mankind originally had freewill, but now his nature is so depraved that he cannot choose to do anything good.

Calvin wrote:

“2. With regard to secret movements, what Solomon says of the heart of a king, that it is turned hither and thither, as God sees meet, certainly applies to the whole human race, and has the same force as if he had said, that whatever we conceive in our minds is directed to its end by the secret inspiration of God….In like manner, in Isaiah, he says of the Assyrian, “I will send him against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge to take the spoil, and to take the prey,” (Isaiah 10:6); not that he intends to teach wicked and obstinate man to obey spontaneously, but because HE BENDS THEM to execute his Judgments, just as if they CARRIED THEIR ORDERS engraven on their minds. And hence it appears that they are IMPELLED BY THE SURE APPOINTMENT OF GOD. I admit, indeed, that God often acts in the reprobate by interposing the agency of Satan; but in such a manner, that Satan himself performs his part, JUST AS HE IS IMPELLED, and succeeds only in so far as he is permitted….The sum of the whole is this, -since the will of God is said to be the cause of all things, all the counsels and actions of men must be held to be governed by his providence; so that he not only exerts his power in the elect, who are guided by the Holy Spirit, BUT ALSO FORCES THE REPROBATE TO DO HIM SERVICE.” (John Calvin (translated by Henry Beveridge), Institutes Of The Christian Religion, 4195-4233 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added M.T.); Orlando, Florida; Signalman Publishing)

One Calvinist acquaintance accused me of taking the last sentence of this passage out of context, but as you can see, it affirms exactly what Calvin taught about freewill: in his belief, there really is no such thing.

Another philosophy of Calvinists known as compatibilism claims that man is free, but only in the sense that (without the direct operation of God) he cannot choose anything but evil.

How is freedom actually freedom when a person cannot be said to actually choose?!

You see the contradictions.

Speaking of one particular passage of Scripture (Jeremiah 7:1-29), one work offers the following:

“Second, we believe that there are large stretches of Scripture that are hard to make sense of if humans aren’t free in the libertarian sense of the word. In chapter two we examined some of these, but now let us consider another one, namely, Jeremiah 7: 1-29. In this passage God calls his people to repentance. God enumerates the sins of his people and reminds them that while they were doing such things, he spoke to them again and again (Jer 7: 13). But instead of repenting, they persist in idolatry and other self-destructive behavior. God promises to punish them for their sin, but he again reiterates that he repeatedly sent his prophets to them to urge them to obedience (Jer 7: 20-26). This passage is hardly unusual. The book of Jeremiah contains several other similar passages, as do most of the Prophets as well as some other biblical texts. Now the question we want to raise is, What view of freedom is implied in such texts? Of course, as we have already noted, Scripture does not expressly define the nature of our freedom or draw philosophical distinctions for us. But it is still worth asking what sort of freedom is implied by various texts of Scripture. We would argue that what we call libertarian freedom is assumed in many biblical texts. In the text just cited, it seems clear that God truly desired for his children to repent and turn from their self-destructive ways. That God sent prophets to them over and over suggests not only that he wanted them to repent but also that they were able to do so. The prophets themselves were a means of grace by which truth confronted Israel and made repentance possible. God’s threatening to punish them for their refusal to repent implies that they were responsible precisely because they could have repented and yet freely chose not to do so. Now consider how difficult it is to make sense of such passages if a compatibilist view of freedom is assumed. On this assumption God has determined his people to refuse to repent, for whatever people willingly do is what they have been determined to do. Moreover, God could, if he wanted to, cause his people to gladly turn from their sins and to joyously worship him. He could do this by causing them to have the appropriate desires so they would willingly repent and obey him. But if God has chosen not to do this, what do we make of his apparent desire that his people repent? What do we make of his sending his prophets over and over if the people can’t really repent, given that God has determined them to remain hard-hearted and unwilling to repent? All of this is puzzling to say the very least….The issue remains: which view makes better sense of the large sweep of biblical teaching about divine sovereignty and human freedom? Our conviction is that if the categories we have discussed in this chapter are clearly understood and the implications of each are kept squarely in view, Calvinism loses much of its initial plausibility.” (Jerry L. Walls & Joseph R. Dongell, Why I Am Not a Calvinist: 737-1761 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press)

In stark distinction to the Calvinistic philosophy, there are numerous passages of Scripture which remind us of mankind’s ability to choose between good and evil.

For example:

Deuteronomy 30:19-I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

Joshua 24:15-And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Proverbs 1:29-Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD,

Proverbs 3:31-Do not envy the oppressor, And choose none of his ways;

Isaiah 7:16-For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.

Isaiah 56:4-For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant,

From beginning to end, the Bible teaches the freewill of mankind; yet our Calvinist neighbors would reject this testimony from God’s Word to keep to the Gnostic doctrine of Fate embedded in the words “unconditional election.”

Such must be rejected.

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