My Thoughts on Calvinism: PART III – Unconditional Election

To a certain extent, Unconditional Election makes sense. I agree that God loves us unconditionally and wants to have a relationship with us. I agree with St. Paul when he says,

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— not because of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9 RSV

But if God designated certain people to go to Heaven and certain people to go to Hell before they were born, wouldn’t this mean God picks favorites? Does God desire only certain people to experience Paradise, and others to experience eternal suffering?

Such an ideology is known as double-predestination – where deeds are irrelevant, whether good or bad, and their salvation is merely based on whether God chose them before they were born, provided they have faith in Jesus as evidence of being chosen.

Admittedly, I once believed in double-predestination in my early Evangelical years. But what caused me to reconsider it was after repeatedly witnessing people from my own congregation zealously proclaim their faith in Jesus, yet willfully and repeatedly treat me and others like garbage. If actions or good deeds don’t matter in saving faith, why does Jesus put so much emphasis on it in the Gospels? For example,

And behold, one came up to him, saying,
“Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?”
And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
He said to him, “Which?”
And Jesus said, “You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The young man said to him, “All these I have observed; what do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.
When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.

– Matthew 19:16-22 RSV

Arminianism and Catholicism both suggest that predestination is not absolute. In this case, God is able to see into the future who would choose Him, and then they became His elect. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, and not just for Christians in particular. Each person decides for themselves whether or not they want to be saved, and salvation can be lost through willfully rejecting or abusing the free gift of salvation even after accepting it initially. This is what Catholics and Orthodox Christians refer to as a mortal sin.

I am of the belief that God is all-knowing, knows all paths and where they end. I don’t believe God has ‘programmed’ us for evil, but that he desires us to choose the path that leads to Him and loves us enough to allow us to choose Him. If He were to willingly wire someone to follow a path of destruction with full awareness of where that person is heading, that would make Him more sadistic than an adolescent who collects insects for the intent of pulling their legs apart for fun while aware of the pain being inflicted. This is not the God I know from the Bible.

For these reasons, I accept Unconditional Election, but not the Calvinist perspective of it.

NEXT: PART IV – Limited Atonement

PREVIOUS: PART II – Total Depravity

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