“Election is for everyone,” which may depend on free will but never on human choice (?).

In his article, “Election Is for Everyone” in Christianity Today! Roger Olson writes:

“When I was a kid my brother and I would sometimes spend part of Saturday handing out gospel tracts in our neighborhood. We were pastor’s sons and probably felt some obligation to do it (as it was something promoted in Sunday school and youth group), but I can honestly say we also felt it was our contribution to the kingdom of God. One of our favorite tracts pictured a voting ballot. The great preacher Herschel Hobbs, known among Southern Baptists as “Mr. Baptist,” preached a famous sermon based on that tract on The Baptist Hour in October 1967. His sermon was “God’s Election Day,” and its main point was: “The devil and God held an election to determine whether or not you would be saved or lost. The devil voted against you and God voted for you. So the vote was a tie. It is up to you to cast the deciding vote.”

The rest of Olson’s article argues why this is not the biblical view of election. Then in his concluding section he writes:

“Evangelicals can and do disagree about whether individuals’ inclusion in God’s elect people involves any level of free will, but all agree that the existence of the people of God is not dependent on human choice.”

Let me try to unpick. Some (actually, the majority of) evangelicals believe that God’s election involves a level of free while others (Reformed/Calvinists) believe that God’s election does not involve any level of free will. In Olson “free will” and “human choice” seems to be synonymous. So, in Olson what we have is this:

“Evangelicals can and do disagree about whether individuals’ inclusion in God’s elect people involves any level of free will/human choice, but all agree that the existence of the people of God is not dependent on human choice/free will.”

So we have:

Election (“inclusion in God’s elect”) MAY “INVOLVE” a “level of free will” (human choice).
2. Election (“the existence of the people of God”) “is not dependent on human choice” (free will), which surely means that election DOES NOT INVOLVE (any level of) human choice/free will.

Olson believes he can have his will AND eat it. It seems his argument got swallowed up in confusion.

When push comes to shove (keep you hands off me, I’m no robot), there are only two views of reconciliation with God (justification).

1. God has voted for you, the devil against you, and you have the final vote. Your salvation ULTIMATELY depends on you.

2. God has voted for you PERIOD. Your reconciliation with God (your justification) depends on God every step of the way.

In passing, Calvinists do believe that they freely come to/accept Christ. But not before God – as Olson correctly says – enables sinners to do so. But when this happens you have already been regenerated/born again whose logical outcome is reconciliation/justification.

In Calvinism, grace is not only – as in Arminianism – necessary (to enable me to choose Christ) but sufficient. The main reason for the Reformation was that grace is sufficient.

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7 thoughts on ““Election is for everyone,” which may depend on free will but never on human choice (?).

  1. At the end of this article you said that the Calvinist believes in the grace to choose Christ. Perhaps some Calvinists believe this, but the Bible doesn’t teach it.

    There’s no need to be so attached to the Arminian idea of “the grace to choose.” This is not a Biblical idea. Please try to relate to the concept of not choosing anything. Simply having something. Possessing it. For example, did you choose your hand? No. God gave you a hand and its part of you. Remember, to receive something from God doesn’t always have to be like a present, that God presents you with and you choose to take/accept. Its true that in the law God presents people with the choice to accept or reject His word. But because of sin, all men reject it of their own fallen natures.

    But in saving/rescuing people from sin, God doesn’t present His word to them and give them the grace to choose it.

    You know that God gives babies heads and arms and legs and souls and all these things without them choosing any of it. They’ve received it all from God, but they didn’t choose to receive it.

    So likewise in the new birth, God gives His people a heart of flesh and its part of them. A heart that believes in, trusts in and loves the Lord Jesus Christ, is part of who they are. They didn’t choose it.

    • “But in saving/rescuing people from sin, God doesn’t present His word to them and give them the grace to choose it.”
      Sorry if this was confusing. Here I meant that instead of presenting His word and giving them the grace to choose it, God presents His word to them in the preaching of the gospel and applies it to their hearts by the Holy Spirit, without any input from them.

      • Anon, I agree. Predestination/election then grace (always effectual and sufficient) manifested in regeneration (grace -usually through the word), then the gift of faith manifested in repentance, which reconciles/justifies/makes righteous, leading to goods works that God has prepared for us to do (eph 2:1-10).

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