Unconditional election

Unconditional election (also known as unconditional grace) is a Lutheran and Reformed doctrine relating to Predestination that describes the actions and motives of God in eternity past, before He created the world, where he predestinated some people to receive salvation, the elect, and the rest he left to continue in their sins and receive the just punishment, eternal damnation, for their transgressions of God's law as outlined in the old and new Testaments of the Bible. God made these choices according to his own purposes apart from any conditions or qualities related to those persons.[1]

The counter-view to unconditional election is conditional election, the belief that God chooses for eternal salvation those whom he foreknows will exercise their free will to respond to God's prevenient grace with faith in Christ.

Summary

In Calvinist (Reformed) theology, unconditional election is considered to be one aspect of predestination in which God chooses certain individuals to be saved. Those elected receive mercy, while those not elected, the reprobates, receive justice without condition. This unconditional election is essentially related to the rest of the TULIP doctrinal outline and hinges upon the supreme belief in the absolute sovereignty of God over the affairs of man. God unconditionally elects certain people even though they are sinful as an act of his saving grace apart from the shortcomings or will of man. Those chosen have done nothing to deserve this grace.

In Calvinist and some other churches (Waldensians, Katharoi, Anabaptists, Particular Baptists, etc.) this election has been called "unconditional" because his choice to save the elect does not depend on anything inherent in any person chosen, on any act that a person performs or on any belief that a person exercises. Indeed, according to the doctrine of total depravity (the first of the five points of Calvinism), the influence of sin has so inhibited the individual's volition that no one is willing or able to come to or follow God apart from God first regenerating the person's soul to give them the ability to love him and take part in the salvation process. Hence, God’s choice in election is and can only be based solely on God's own independent and sovereign will and [not] upon the foreseen actions of man.

Scholastic Calvinists have sometimes debated precisely when, relative to the decree for the Fall of man, God did his electing – see supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism – though such distinctions are not often emphasized in modern Calvinism.

The Reformed position is frequently contrasted with the Arminian doctrine of conditional election in which God's eternal choice to save a person is conditioned on God’s certain foreknowledge of future events, namely, that certain individuals would freely exercise faith and trust in response to God's offer of salvation. The Arminian doctrine agrees that the influence of sin has so inhibited the individual's volition that no one is willing or able to come to or follow God, but the Arminian doctrine of prevenient (or "enabling") grace is considered sufficient to enable a person to believe and repent before regeneration.

History

The doctrine was first articulated and popularized by 4th century Church Father Augustine of Hippo during his debates with Pelagius, and he taught that saving grace is bestowed by God on the elect according to his sovereign decrees. Few later theologians prior to the Reformation would take up this idea.However, prominent exceptions include Thomas Aquinas. [2]

Unconditional election was first codified in the Augsburg Confession (1530), then the Belgic Confession (1561),[3] re-affirmed in the Canons of Dort (1619),[4] which arose from the Quinquarticular Controversy, and is represented in the various Reformed confessions such as the Westminster Standards (1646).[5] It is one of the five points of Calvinism and is often linked with predestination. Today it is most commonly associated with the Reformation teachings of John Calvin known as Calvinism.

Biblical passages

A number of passages are put forth to support the doctrine, including (quotations are from the KJV):

  • Isaiah 42:1: "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect Chosen One Adam, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles."
  • John 15:16: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."
  • John 1:12,13: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
  • Acts 13:48: "And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."
  • Romans 9:15–16: "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."
  • Romans 9:22–24: "What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?"
  • Ephesians 1:4–5: "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,"
  • Ephesians 1:11: "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"
  • Philippians 1:29: "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;"
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:4–5: "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake."
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:13: "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:"
  • 2 Timothy 1:9: "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,"

Some biblical passages are put forth as evidence that human volition, not just divine action, plays a central role in salvation (see conditional election):

  • Deuteronomy 30:19: "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:"
  • Joshua 24:15: "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Calvinists generally understand the former passages as giving a window into the divine perspective and the latter passages as speaking from the human perspective in calling people to work out the salvation God has given them.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ John Calvin (1559). "Of the Eternal Election (3.21.7)". Institutes of the Christian Religion.
  2. ^ Hägglund, Bengt (2007) [1968]. Teologins historia [History of Theology] (in German). Translated by Gene J. Lund (4th rev. ed.). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. pp. 139–140. ISBN 978-0758613486.
  3. ^ Belgic Confession, article 16 ("The Doctrine of Election")
  4. ^ Canons of Dort, first head, chapter 1, article 7 ("Election Defined")
  5. ^ Westminster Confession of Faith
  6. ^ See for instance, John F. MacArthur, "Divine Promises Guaranteed."

External links

(Calvinist view)

Amyraldism

Amyraldism (sometimes Amyraldianism) is also known as the School of Saumur, post redemptionism, moderate Calvinism, four-point Calvinism, or hypothetical universalism (though it is in fact one of several hypothetical universalist systems).It is the belief that God decreed Christ's atonement, prior to his decree of election, for all alike if they believe, but he then elected those whom he will bring to faith in Christ, seeing that none would believe on their own, and thereby preserving the Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election. The efficacy of the atonement remains limited to those who believe.

This doctrine is named after its formulator Moses Amyraut, and is still viewed as a variety of Calvinism in that it maintains the particularity of sovereign grace in the application of the atonement. However, detractors such as B. B. Warfield have termed it "an inconsistent and therefore unstable form of Calvinism."

Arminianism

Arminianism is a branch of Protestantism based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609) and his historic supporters known as Remonstrants. His teachings held to the five solae of the Reformation, but they were distinct from particular teachings of Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and other Protestant Reformers. Jacobus Arminius (Jakob Harmenszoon) was a student of Theodore Beza (Calvin's successor) at the Theological University of Geneva. Arminianism is known to some as a soteriological diversification of Protestant Calvinist Christianity; to others, Arminianism is a reclamation of early Church theological consensus.Dutch Arminianism was originally articulated in the Remonstrance (1610), a theological statement signed by 45 ministers and submitted to the States General of the Netherlands. The Synod of Dort (1618–19) was called by the States General to consider the Five Articles of Remonstrance. These articles asserted that

Salvation (and condemnation on the day of judgment) was conditioned by the graciously-enabled faith (or unbelief) of man;

The Atonement is qualitatively adequate for all men, "yet that no one actually enjoys [experiences] this forgiveness of sins, except the believer ..." and thus is limited to only those who trust in Christ;

"That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will," and unaided by the Holy Spirit, no person is able to respond to God's will;

The (Christian) Grace "of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of any good," yet man may resist the Holy Spirit; and

Believers are able to resist sin through Grace, and Christ will keep them from falling; but whether they are beyond the possibility of ultimately forsaking God or "becoming devoid of grace ... must be more particularly determined from the Scriptures.""These points", note Keith D. Stanglin and Thomas H. McCall, "are consistent with the views of Arminius; indeed, some come verbatim from his Declaration of Sentiments. Those who signed this remonstrance and others who supported its theology have since been known as Remonstrants."Many Christian denominations have been influenced by Arminian views on the will of man being freed by Grace prior to regeneration, notably the Baptists in the 16th century, the Methodists in the 18th century and the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the 19th century. Some falsely assert that Universalists and Unitarians in the 18th and 19th centuries were theologically linked with Arminianism. Denominations such as the Anabaptists (beginning in 1525), Waldensians (pre-Reformation), and other groups prior to the Reformation have also affirmed that each person may choose the contingent response of either resisting God's grace or yielding to it.

The original beliefs of Jacobus Arminius himself are commonly defined as Arminianism, but more broadly, the term may embrace the teachings of Hugo Grotius, John Wesley, and others as well. Classical Arminianism, to which Arminius is the main contributor, and Wesleyan Arminianism, to which John Wesley is the main contributor, are the two main schools of thought. Wesleyan Arminianism is often identical with Methodism. Some schools of thought, notably semipelagianism—which teaches that the first step of Salvation is by human will—are confused as being Arminian in nature. But classical Arminianism holds that the first step of Salvation is solely the grace of God. Historically, the Council of Orange (529) condemned semi-Pelagian thought (as well as Supralapsarian Calvinism), and is accepted by some as a document which can be understood as teaching a doctrine between Augustinian thought and semi-Pelagian thought, relegating Arminianism to the orthodoxy of the early Church fathers.The two systems of Calvinism and Arminianism share both history and many doctrines, and the history of Christian theology. Arminianism is related to Calvinism historically. However, because of their differences over the doctrines of divine predestination and election, many people view these schools of thought as opposed to each other. The distinction is whether God allows His desire to save all to be resisted by an individual's will (in the Arminian doctrine) or if God's grace is irresistible and limited to only some (in Calvinism). Put another way, is God's sovereignty shown, in part, through His allowance of free decisions? Some Calvinists assert that the Arminian perspective presents a synergistic system of Salvation and therefore is not only by Grace, while Arminians firmly reject this conclusion. Many consider the theological differences to be crucial differences in doctrine, while others find them to be relatively minor.

Augustinian Calvinism

Augustinian Calvinism is a self-identifying term used by Reformed theologians who acknowledge John Calvin's theological dependence upon Augustine of Hippo. The famous defender of the Reformed faith in the early 1900s, B. B. Warfield, declared, "The system of doctrine taught by Calvin is just the Augustinianism common to the whole body of the Reformers." Paul Helm, a well-known Reformed theologian, uses this term identifying his own view in "The Augustinian-Calvinist View" in Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views.

Calvinism

Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians.

Calvinists broke from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. Calvinists differ from Lutherans on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, theories of worship, and the use of God's law for believers, among other things. As declared in the Westminster and Second Helvetic confessions, the core doctrines are predestination and election. The term Calvinism can be misleading, because the religious tradition which it denotes has always been diverse, with a wide range of influences rather than a single founder. In the context of the Reformation, Huldrych Zwingli began the Reformed tradition in 1519 in the city of Zürich. His followers were instantly labeled Zwinglians, consistent with the Catholic practice of naming heresy after its founder. Very soon, Zwingli was joined by Martin Bucer, Wolfgang Capito, William Farel, Johannes Oecolampadius and other early Reformed thinkers. The namesake of the movement, French reformer John Calvin, converted to the Reformed tradition from Roman Catholicism only in the late 1520s or early 1530s as it was already being developed. The movement was first called Calvinism, referring to John Calvin, by Lutherans who opposed it. Many within the tradition find it either an indescriptive or an inappropriate term and would prefer the word Reformed to be used instead. Some Calvinists prefer the term Augustinian-Calvinism since Calvin credited his theology to Augustine of Hippo. The most important Reformed theologians include John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Bucer, William Farel, Heinrich Bullinger, Peter Martyr Vermigli, Theodore Beza, and John Knox. In the twentieth century, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, B. B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, Karl Barth, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Cornelius Van Til, Gordon Clark, and R. C. Sproul were influential. Contemporary Reformed theologians include J. I. Packer, John MacArthur, Timothy J. Keller, David Wells, and Michael Horton.

Reformed churches may exercise several forms of ecclesiastical polity; most are presbyterian or congregationalist, though some are episcopalian. Calvinism is largely represented by Continental Reformed, Presbyterian, and Congregationalist traditions. The biggest Reformed association is the World Communion of Reformed Churches with more than 100 million members in 211 member denominations around the world. There are more conservative Reformed federations such as the World Reformed Fellowship and the International Conference of Reformed Churches, as well as independent churches.

Canons of Dort

The Canons of Dort, or Canons of Dordrecht, formally titled The Decision of the Synod of Dort on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands, is the judgment of the National Synod held in the Dutch city of Dordrecht in 1618–19. At the time, Dordrecht was often referred to in English as Dort or Dordt.

Today the Canons of Dort form part of the Three Forms of Unity, one of the confessional standards of many of the Reformed churches around the world, including the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, and North America. Their continued use as a standard still forms an unbridgable problem preventing close cooperation between the followers of Jacob Arminius, the Remonstrants, and Dutch Reformed Churches.

These canons are in actuality a judicial decision on the doctrinal points in dispute from the Arminian controversy of that day. Following the death of Arminius (1560–1609), his followers set forth a Remonstrance (published in 1610) in five articles formulating their points of departure from the stricter Calvinism of the Belgic Confession. The Canons are the judgment of the Synod against this Remonstrance. Regardless, Arminian theology later received official acceptance by the State and has since continued in various forms within Protestantism, especially within the Methodist churches.The Canons were not intended to be a comprehensive explanation of Reformed doctrine, but only an exposition on the five points of doctrine in dispute. The five points of Calvinism, remembered by the mnemonic "TULIP" and popularized by a 1963 booklet, are popularly said to summarize the Canons of Dort. Also see Stewart's essay in chapter 3. However there is no historical relationship between them, and some scholars argue that their language distorts the meaning of the Canons.

Conditional election

In Christian theology, conditional election is the belief that God chooses for eternal salvation those whom he foresees will have faith in Christ. This belief emphasizes the importance of a person's free will. The counter-view is known as unconditional election, and is the belief that God chooses whomever he will, based solely on his purposes and apart from an individual's free will. It has long been an issue in Calvinist–Arminian debate.

Counter Remonstrance of 1611

The Counter-Remonstrance of 1611 was the Dutch Reformed Churches' response to the controversial Remonstrants' Five Articles of Remonstrance, which challenged the Calvinist theology and the Reformed Confessions that the Remonstrants had sworn to uphold. The Counter Remonstrance was written primarily by Festus Hommius and defended the Belgic Confession against theological criticisms from the followers of the late Jacob Arminius, although Arminius himself claimed adherence to the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism till his death. Prior to the Canons of Dort, the Counter Remonstrance of 1611 was the earliest and clearest representation of what is in modern times commonly referred to as the "five points of Calvinism."

Election (disambiguation)

An election is a political process.

Election may also refer to:

Election (novel), by Tom Perrotta

Election (1999 film), an American comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick

Election (2005 film), a Hong Kong action thriller directed by Johnnie To

Election (2013 film), an Indian action drama film directed by Om Prakash Rao

Election (TV series)

Election (Christianity), a theological term

Predestination, a religious concept

Conditional election

Unconditional election

"Election" (The Vicar of Dibley), first-series episode of the TV series The Vicar of Dibley

Leader election, a concept in distributed computing

The Election, a Hong Kong television series

Election (horse)

First Great Awakening

The First Great Awakening (sometimes Great Awakening) or the Evangelical Revival was a series of Christian revivals that swept Britain and its Thirteen Colonies between the 1730s and 1740s. The revival movement permanently affected Protestantism as adherents strove to renew individual piety and religious devotion. The Great Awakening marked the emergence of Anglo-American evangelicalism as a transdenominational movement within the Protestant churches. In the United States, the term Great Awakening is most often used, while in the United Kingdom, it is referred to as the Evangelical Revival.

Building on the foundations of older traditions—Puritanism, pietism and Presbyterianism—major leaders of the revival such as George Whitefield, John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards articulated a theology of revival and salvation that transcended denominational boundaries and helped create a common evangelical identity. Revivalists added to the doctrinal imperatives of Reformation Protestantism an emphasis on providential outpourings of the Holy Spirit. Extemporaneous preaching gave listeners a sense of deep personal conviction of their need of salvation by Jesus Christ and fostered introspection and commitment to a new standard of personal morality. Revival theology stressed that religious conversion was not only intellectual assent to correct Christian doctrine but had to be a "new birth" experienced in the heart. Revivalists also taught that receiving assurance of salvation was a normal expectation in the Christian life.

While the Evangelical Revival united evangelicals across various denominations around shared beliefs, it also led to division in existing churches between those who supported the revivals and those who did not. Opponents accused the revivals of fostering disorder and fanaticism within the churches by enabling uneducated, itinerant preachers and encouraging religious enthusiasm. In England, evangelical Anglicans would grow into an important constituency within the Church of England, and Methodism would develop out of the ministries of Whitefield and Wesley. In the American colonies, the Awakening caused the Congregational and Presbyterian churches to split, while it strengthened both the Methodist and Baptist denominations. It had little impact on most Lutherans, Quakers, and non-Protestants.Evangelical preachers "sought to include every person in conversion, regardless of gender, race, and status." Throughout the colonies, especially in the South, the revival movement increased the number of African slaves and free blacks who were exposed to and subsequently converted to Christianity. It also inspired the creation of new missionary societies, such as the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792.

History of the Calvinist–Arminian debate

The history of the Calvinist–Arminian debate begins in early 17th century in the Netherlands with a Christian theological dispute between the followers of John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius, and continues today among some Protestants, particularly evangelicals. The debate centers around soteriology, or the study of salvation, and includes disputes about total depravity, predestination, and atonement. While the debate was given its Calvinist–Arminian form in the 17th century, issues central to the debate have been discussed in Christianity in some form since Augustine of Hippo's disputes with the Pelagians in the 5th century.

Irresistible grace

Irresistible grace (or efficacious grace) is a doctrine in Christian theology particularly associated with Calvinism, which teaches that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom He has determined to save (the elect) and, in God's timing, overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing them to faith in Christ. It is to be distinguished from prevenient grace particularly associated with Arminianism which teaches that the offer of salvation through grace does not act irresistibly in a purely cause-effect, deterministic method, but rather in an influence-and-response fashion that can be both freely accepted and freely denied.

Monergism

Monergism is the view within Christian theology which holds that God works through the Holy Spirit to bring about the salvation of an individual through spiritual regeneration, regardless of the individual's cooperation. It is most often associated with Calvinism (such as Presbyterianism and the Dutch Reformed Church) and its doctrine of irresistible grace, and particularly with historical doctrinal differences between Calvinism and Arminianism. This position contrasts with Arminian synergism, the belief that God and individuals cooperate to bring individuals salvation.

Predestination

Predestination, in theology, is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God, usually with reference to the eventual fate of the individual soul. Explanations of predestination often seek to address the "paradox of free will", whereby God's omniscience seems incompatible with human free will. In this usage, predestination can be regarded as a form of religious determinism; and usually predeterminism.

Predestination in Calvinism

Predestination is a doctrine in Calvinism dealing with the question of the control that God exercises over the world. In the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith, God "freely and unchangeably ordained whatsoever comes to pass." The second use of the word "predestination" applies this to the salvation, and refers to the belief that God appointed the eternal destiny of some to salvation by grace, while leaving the remainder to receive eternal damnation for all their sins, even their original sin. The former is called "unconditional election", and the latter "reprobation". In Calvinism, people are predestined and effectually called in due time (regenerated/born again) to faith by God.

Presbyterian Church in Uganda

Presbyterian Church in Uganda is a conservative Reformed Calvinistic denomination in Uganda with almost 100 churches in 5 presbyteries in the late 2000s.

Reformed Baptists

Reformed Baptists (sometimes known as Particular Baptists or Calvinistic Baptists) are Baptists that hold to a Calvinist soteriology. They can trace their history through the early modern Particular Baptists of England. The first Reformed Baptist church was formed in the 1630s.

The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith was written along Reformed Baptist lines.

Synod of Dort

The Synod of Dort (also known as the Synod of Dordt or the Synod of Dordrecht) was an international Synod held in Dordrecht in 1618–1619, by the Dutch Reformed Church, to settle a divisive controversy initiated by the rise of Arminianism. The first meeting was on 13 November 1618 and the final meeting, the 180th, was on 29 May 1619. Voting representatives from eight foreign Reformed churches were also invited. Dort was a contemporary English term for the town of Dordrecht (and it remains the local colloquial pronunciation).

In 2014 the first entire critical edition of the Acts and Documents of the Synod was published.

Unlimited atonement

Unlimited atonement (sometimes called general atonement or universal atonement) is a doctrine in Protestant Christianity that is normally associated with Amyraldians and non-Calvinist Christians. The doctrine states that Jesus died as a propitiation for the benefit of mankind without exception. It is a doctrine distinct from other elements of the Calvinist acronym TULIP and is contrary to the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement.

A doctrinal issue that divides Christians is the question of the extent of the atonement. Did Christ bear the sins of the elect alone on the cross, or did his death expiate the sins of all human beings? Those who take this view read scriptures such as John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:6; 4:10; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2 to say that the Bible teaches unlimited atonement.

Young Goodman Brown

"Young Goodman Brown" is a short story published in 1835 by American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. The story takes place in 17th century Puritan New England, a common setting for Hawthorne's works, and addresses the Calvinist/Puritan belief that all of humanity exists in a state of depravity, but that God has destined some to unconditional election through unmerited grace. Hawthorne frequently focuses on the tensions within Puritan culture, yet steeps his stories in the Puritan sense of sin. In a symbolic fashion, the story follows Young Goodman Brown's journey into self-scrutiny, which results in his loss of virtue and belief.

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