Where did they get the idea of Divine Election from anyway?


Sorry if this is mentioned somewhere else on this forum but where do people get the idea that God only chooses some people to be saved??!! How can a God who loves us enough to die for us then decide that he will only draw a small few to himself?! Surely theologeans have read the bible through their doctrinal filters and tried to piece together the pieces of the puzzle that is the bible and come to the wrong conclusion? I am normally pretty good at analysing this stuff. I have figured out what ‘Jesus is the only way’ really means, and resolved the ‘faith vs works’ debate, but I havent got the time to trawl through the whole NT, not least because it scares and disturbs me. I was wondering if anyone has figured this one out?

The bible makes me feel miserable

Whilst passing through between naps and medicine/meal taking…

Actually, there really is quite a bit of scriptural data indicating some kind of “election”–moreso in the epistles than in the Gospels, maybe, but some indicators in both sets of texts. Also in RevJohn. And, heck, the whole OT story of Israel is about “election”–of some kind.

Furthermore, the data does indicate that the “elect”, whoever they are and whatever else may be true about them, are “saved” and “preserved” by God for His own purposes.

Moreover (and perhaps more disturbing) there is in fact quite a bit of data, OT and NT both, concerning what is popularly called “dis-election”. In the OT, Pharoah and Esau are archetypal examples of this (as is Ishmael, to a lesser extent); they show back up as stock examples in Rom 9, too. In the NT, the most famous “dis-elect” would be Judas Iscariot; but RevJohn has more than a few examples of “dis-election”, and the concept isn’t unknown in the epistles (Jude, James and at least one of the Petrine epistles come to mind, not even counting the Pauline corpus of which Rom 9 was already given as an example.)

So the data is there to be reasoned about and made sense of. A universalist soteriology ought to incorporate the data in a serious way without just whiffling it off. (Similarly, Calvinists really ought to incorporate the universalistic scriptural data in a serious way without just whiffling it off. :wink: )

On the face of it, the data looks often like it’s saying that God chooses to save some people from condemnation and chooses not to save other people–moreover that God even locks those people into doing ‘evil’ things in order to get the shape of the ‘story’ that He wants (so to speak). Calvs aren’t just pulling that idea out of their butts. Mix that with a belief in the final hopelessness of at least some (not to say a lot of) divine wrath, and Calv soteriology is the result.

They do have a real case; and from a technical standpoint it’s even a respectable one. (Ditto for the Arms, but I’m not talking about them right now. :slight_smile: ) Moreover, they have some important concerns about salvation which, to some extent, are being protected by appealing to Divine Election: specifically, that we can trust God to persist and eventually succeed at saving whoever He intends to save from sin.

(Although “from sin” doesn’t often show up as a qualifier in Calv explanations. Usually they talk about “from His wrath” or “from hell” or even “from the devil” or something of that sort. Same is true for the Arms, as a rule, unfortunately. It’s something we universalists, or kaths as I like to call us, have to keep an eye on ourselves.)

The theory of dis-election, meanwhile, protects in its own way against the idea that God failed to save someone from sin whom He intended to save. It’s the logical corollary to the combination of the ideas that we can trust God to succeed in saving whoever He intends to save (hopefully including us) and yet some people aren’t saved. Ergo, God must not have intended to save them, q.e.d.

This belief (which goes back at least as far as Augustine, and probably farther), hasn’t survived all this time by being easily disposed of or (on the face of it anyway) implausible. Our good buddies who crash airplanes into building full of civilians and bomb kids on schoolbuses believe quite robustly in this kind of soteriology, too. A fact that annoys the urbanity out of my Calvinist friends whenever I bring it up, but nevertheless there it is.

So it can make a huge practical difference in how common everyday people deal with the world (and especially with other people). It isn’t only some rarefied theory, of interest only to academics to debate over. On the other hand, to be fair, annoying and grievous practical results shouldn’t (strictly speaking) emotionally head us off from considering whether the idea is true or false; since anything, I suppose, can be abused.

Okay, off to go nap again with a washcloth on my face. {sniffle}{achoo!!!} :wink: