A Biblical Critique of Calvinism: Election

January 16, 2013

MichaelCoxby Dr. Michael A. Cox, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Pryor, Oklahoma, and author of

Not One Little Child: A Biblical Critique of Calvinism

This is the thirtieth of a series of articles by Dr. Cox, with a Biblical critique of Calvinism drawn in part from his book Not One Little Child. All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.

Views on the Fall of Man

A discussion of election might best be prefaced by explaining the primary schools of thought opining when election occurs. There are two principal views regarding the Fall of man: the supralapsarian and the infralapsarian.

The supralapsarian view argues that election preceded the Fall. Supralapsarian proponents posit the following chronology, saying that (1) God proposed to elect some individuals to salvation and condemn others to destruction, (2) God then proposed to create, (3) God proposed to permit the Fall, (4) God proposed to send Christ to redeem only the elect, and, (5) God proposed to send the Holy Spirit to apply redemption only to the elect.1

On the other hand, the infralapsarian view contends that election followed the Fall. Infralapsarian proponents posit the following chronology, saying that (1) God proposed to create, (2) God proposed to permit the Fall, (3) God proposed to elect some out of this fallen mass to be saved and leave others as they were, (4) God proposed to provide a Redeemer only for the elect, and, (5) God proposed to send the Holy Spirit to apply redemption only to the elect.2


Definitions of election offered by theologians abound. Boettner says that the word election is found approximately forty-eight times in the New Testament. He writes, “It sets forth an eternal, divine decree which, antecedently to any difference or desert in men themselves, separates the human race into two portions, one of which is chosen to everlasting life, while the other is left to everlasting death.”3 Boettner further states, “A portion of the race, the elect members, are rescued from the state of guilt and sin, and are brought into a state of blessedness and holiness. The non-elect are simply left in their previous state of ruin.”4

Kurt Richardson says election is “an action of God prior to and independent of any human action or condition.”5 The same writer further declares that election is “that will and action of God to call undeserving persons to share in his glory.”6 The Greek adjective eklektos means picked out, chosen, or elected.7 The Bible teaches that Christ Himself was the chosen one of God to be the Messiah (Luke 23:35). Angels are said to be chosen to be of high ranking administrative association with God (1 Tim. 5:21). Believers were chosen (Matt. 24:22, 24, 31; Mark 13:20, 22, 27; Luke 18:7; Rom. 8:33; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10) in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), chosen to adoption (Eph. 1:5), chosen to good works (Eph. 2:10), and chosen to conformity to Christ (Rom. 8:29). Also, the human will has nothing to do with God’s election (Eph. 1:4, 5; Rom. 9:11; 11:5). Further, believers are given by God the Father to Christ as the fruit of His death, and are all foreknown and foreseen by God (John 17:6; Rom. 8:29). Vine contends that, “while Christ’s death was sufficient for all men, and is effective in the case of the elect, yet men are treated as responsible, being capable of the will and power to choose.”8 Notice here that Vine defends the concept of the freewill of man. Arndt and Gingrich simply define the elect as those whom God has chosen from the generality of mankind and drawn to Himself.9

The noun ekloge means selection, or that which is chosen.10 Its usages include God’s choice of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:15), of Jacob (Rom. 9:11), and of the remnant, i.e., believing Jews (Rom. 11:5). It may mean the act of choosing or it may designate the ones chosen, and frequently implies the chosen instrument used, and is especially indicative of God’s selection of Christians (2 Pet. 1:10).11


Election in the Old Testament

Ron Glass says that election has particular reference to God’s decision “prior to creation” (notice that Glass adopts the supralapsarian, i.e., prior to creation, view). Glass states that the Old Testament uses the term elect in relation to three subjects: (1) the nation of Israel, (2) a select group of prominent leaders in Israel to preserve her as the covenant community, and (3) the elect servant.12

The first of these three references to election in the Old Testament asserts that the choice of the nation of Israel was an election to be God’s covenant community (Isa. 45:4), to reveal His sovereignty and holiness to the nations, to be the vehicle for bringing forth the Messiah, and to be His inheritance (Deut. 7:6; 10:5).13 But, as J. I. Packer rightly asserts, religious and ethical obligations are created by election.14 Packer also correctly, in my estimation, points out that the promised blessings of election for Israel were forfeited through unbelief and disobedience.15 One can only surmise, then, that the elect had a choice, which is precisely where Packer and I are likely to part company. Refusal to accept God’s invitation, elect or non-elect, means one is not the Lord’s, and these will be dealt with accordingly (Jer. 5:10). Moreover, Old Testament election was to service; hence, salvation was not automatic, regardless of one’s status as “elect”: the lostness of the Pharisees is an ample case in point (John 8:44). Packer helps us see that the national election of Israel implies the presence of a stricter judgment upon national sin (Amos 3:2).16 But, Packer believes that there is an election to privilege and an election to life.17 He says that the entire nation of Israel was elected to the privilege of living under the covenant, and that those made faithful by regeneration are the ones whom God had chosen out of the nation of Israel for election to life.18 Notice carefully that Packer, like other Calvinists, argues for regeneration as that which is done prior to the faith event. This is known as the doctrine of monergistic regeneration, which states that the faith which receives Christ Jesus for justification is a free gift of the sovereign God and is, itself, bestowed by regeneration in the act of effectual calling.19 So Packer, like Luther before him, clearly supposes that regeneration precedes faith and, in fact, makes faith possible. Calvinist Thomas Nettles echoes the same doctrine when he writes an exposition of Article 5a of The Baptist Faith and Message saying, “Regeneration by the Spirit of God shatters the shackles of sin and its tyrannical power by creating such distaste for sin that the sinner repents.”20 So, for Nettles, regeneration precedes repentance, a position which flies directly into the face of the ministry of John the Baptist, who baptized the repentant in preparation for the arrival of the Messiah, in whom the penitent would believe upon His unveiling (Matt. 3:1-12). As for Packer’s references to election to privilege and to life, is this a “double-election,” whereby the entire nation of Israel was elected to service, then certain ones of the nation were elected to salvation? Packer seems to think so, and believes that the rest forfeited their opportunity to inherit the riches of the relationship to God which the covenant held out because of their unbelief.21 Obviously, Packer recognizes the problem of some of the “elect” of Israel disobeying and resisting God. John the Baptist clearly explained that being related to Abraham was insufficient for being exempted from God’s eternal wrath of fire (Matt. 3:9-10). Packer attempts to address the problem of the renegade “elect” by essentially admitting that not all of the chosen of Israel inherited eternal life. He does this by conveniently creating another category for election, that of privilege. However, this arbitrary innovation begs the question as to whether or not all those elected to privilege inherited the favors and blessings. Even a cursory reading of the Old Testament would produce a resounding “no!” to this question. Thus, when Packer argues that many of those elected to privilege forfeited their opportunity to inherit the riches of the relationship to God because of their unbelief, the same must be said of those elected to life (salvation). He recognizes that not all those elected to privilege inherited the blessings. In other words, election to privilege could be forfeited according to Packer. Since election to privilege could be forfeited, election in itself does not automatically produce positive results. Therefore, since election to privilege does not produce automatic results, what about election to eternal life? Would Packer agree that it, too, can be forfeited? Hardly. Nevertheless, his attempted resolution implodes upon itself because he stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the factor of the human will, which I will discuss in a later section.

The second of these three references to election in the Old Testament teaches that a select group of prominent leaders in Israel was chosen to preserve Israel as the covenant community. This can be seen in God’s choice of Moses as Israel’s prototypical intercessor (Ps. 106:23), and God’s selection of David as the recipient of the kingly (Davidic) covenant (Ps. 89:3).

The third, and last, of these three references to election in the Old Testament is that of the appointment of the elect servant (Isa. 42:1-4), Israel’s Messiah, whom Christians know to be the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture asserts that His reign and His work of redemption were indisputably preordained from eternity (Acts 2:23; 1 Pet. 1:20).


Election in the New Testament

Kurt Richardson explains, rightly I surmise, that election in the New Testament means that believers have become the elect through their personal faith in Christ.22 Richardson does not appear to place regeneration chronologically ahead of personal faith. On the other hand, John Murray, like most Calvinists, argues, perhaps circularly, that salvation in possession is proof of election.23 I have always found it amusing that those writing and speaking of election, are, of course, the elect, are they not? But how can they know? This is one of the contentions of Christian author and apologist Dave Hunt throughout his book, What Love Is This?: Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God. Hunt points out repeatedly the ambiguity of the statement that “salvation in possession is proof of election,” stressing all the while the fact that Calvinism offers no firm way of knowing that one is saved. One wonders, mystifyingly, how the clarity of John 3:16 and Rom. 10:9-10 can be missed.

I contend that Apostles, like Peter, Paul, and James, had difficulty believing that God would choose to include Gentiles in His redemptive activity and that some prophets, like Jonah, angrily resented such a soteriology (doctrine of salvation) and disobediently resisted participation in bringing it to fruition. Their elective exclusivity had to be overcome, their theological misunderstandings had to be corrected, and their racial prejudices had to be obliterated. As I will discuss in more detail later, it took a vision from God for Peter to have his exclusively Jewish frame of elective reference thoroughly shattered for him to recognize that all humans are created in God’s image and are, therefore, targets of His redemptive activity (Acts 10:9-16). Jonah’s lesson concerning God’s compassion for all people was not as pleasant.

The late Herschel Hobbs, longtime Southern Baptist pastor, writer, and denominational activist, in his commentary on The Baptist Faith and Message reminds that the freewill of man and his power of choice must not be overlooked when exploring election.24 He argues that election should not be regarded as God’s purpose to save as few as possible, but that the tenor of the Bible echoes the fact that God loves all and wishes to save as many as possible.25 Hobbs maintains that election should never be viewed as the saving of some and the neglect of others, arguing that if some are saved and others are lost regardless of what they do or do not do, what incentive is there to seek the Lord and preach the gospel?26 Like the vast majority of evangelicals, Hobbs asserts that man is not a puppet on a string and argues that election never appears in the Bible as mechanical or as blind destiny, eloquently stating that to “draw” is God’s initiative and to “come” is man’s response.27 I believe that the word “call” necessarily implies “answer.” Like the divine and human natures of Christ being paradoxically combined without confusion, God’s sovereignty and man’s freewill must both be recognized in salvation and in life. In other words, the incarnation of Jesus Christ provides a sound hermeneutical paradigm for accurately handling and correctly understanding a number of theological mysteries, namely Christology (the doctrine of the nature of Christ) and soteriology.

The incarnation of Jesus Christ is the criterion by which all Scripture should be interpreted. Orthodox theology recognizes the presence of both the human and the divine natures in Him. To deny the obvious presence of both is heresy. Likewise, the Bible itself is manifestly a product of both the human and the divine elements, being 100 percent inspired by God and 100 percent penned by men who used their own vocabularies. The writing of the Bible, then, was unmistakably both a human and a divine enterprise. Further, I am aggressively affirming that salvation involves both the grace and sovereignty of God and the faith, repentance, and freewill of man; and when I say freewill, I mean unlimited freewill, opposite Calvinists, who use the word freewill, but do not mean the same thing. After listening to R. C. Sproul at one of his conferences in Houston, Texas, in 1998, I know that, for him, freewill means that one can make any decision or choice — provided that it falls within the parameters of what God has predestined!



The next article in this series will explore the concept of foreknowledge, including definitions and its most difficult problem.

1Loraine Boettner, “Predestination,” in Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, ed. Everett F. Harrison, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Carl F. H. Henry (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1960), 417.




5Kurt A. Richardson, “Election in the New Testament,” in The Holman Bible Handbook, ed. David S. Dockery (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 1992), 712.


7W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (McLean, VA: MacDonald Publishing Company, n.d.), 361-2.


9William F. Arndt, and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2d ed. (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1979), 242.

10Vine, 362.

11Arndt, 243.

12Ron Glass, “Election in the Old Testament,” in The Holman Bible Handbook, ed. David S. Dockery (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 1992), 402.

13Kurt A. Richardson, “Election in the New Testament,” in The Holman Bible Handbook, ed. David S. Dockery (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 1992), 712.

14J. I. Packer, “Election,” in The New Bible Dictionary, ed. J. D. Douglas (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1962), 358.

15Ibid., 359.

16Ibid., 358.

17Ibid., 359.


19Packer and Johnston in their “Historical and Theological Introduction” to Luther’s The Bondage of the Will, 58.

20Thomas J. Nettles, “Article 5a: God’s Purpose of Grace and Election,” The Baptist Banner, May 2004, 4.

21Packer, “Election,” 359.

22Richardson, 712.

23John Murray, “Elect, Election,” in Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, ed. Everett F. Harrison, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Carl F. H. Henry (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1960), 180.

24Herschel H. Hobbs, The Baptist Faith and Message (Nashville, TN: Convention Press, 1981), 65.




Leave a Comment:

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Jim Davis

Would you mind interacting with the Bible more in future posts? Very weak exegesis here.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    This isn’t an exegetical post. It can’t be weak if it is not in the scope to begin with. This is a blog about election sketching views and arguments by proponents of views, it is not a dissertation or commentary on certain passages.

    Tim Rogers (@Timothy_Rogers)


    Really?!?! That is how you want to begin a comments thread? Your comment is arrogant, pedantic, and absolutely preposterous. Why don’t you interact with the content of the post?

      Tim Brown

      Tim Rogers,
      Thank you for your comment, i was thinking the same thing.


A discussion of election might best be prefaced by addressing God’s omniscience. When God created Adam, He knew the identities of those who would be saved (the elect) and those who would not be saved (the non-elect) until the end of the world. The issue is how God came to know the identities of the elect before any had even been born or had done good or evil. The Calvinist says that God knows the elect because He chose them and not on the basis of anything they did but according to His desires. If one wants to argue against this, fine but the above offers no real critique of the Calvinist position on election. If it did, I missed it.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Incorrect. A discussion of election might be best prefaced with a definition of election and God’s purposes. Omniscience has little to do with the subject under discussion. Omniscience plays a role in the discussion of God’s knowledge of the elect people, but salvation and election are not synonymous, and can’t be conflated. In regards to God’s eschatological people, salvation is a subset of God’s elective purposes, but it isn’t the definition or sole purpose in the election of an eschatological people in Christ. There can be a discussion of election without necessarily discussing soteriology proper..


      Calvinist theology begins with God and His purposes. His purposes make use of His omniscience and His omnipotence for through them (and His other attributes) God carries out His purposes. One of God’s purposes concerns the election of those whom He will save. That which God has purposed – particularly the election of those whom He would save – was decided before He created the universe and we see God working out his purposes in the creation of the universe and Adam/Eve. So, I agree. It is good to consider God’s purposes, particularly that which he purposed in His election. We consider omniscience because it helps get us to a correct understanding of God’s purposes. We would not want to presume ignorance on God’s part as some do, would we?


        Calvinist Vincent Cheung writes…..

        “Christians would often say to someone, ‘God has a wonderful plan for your life’. And they mean that the person could either go along with God’s plan, or reject God’s goodness and pursue a path of destruction. This kind of thinking is entirely hostile to the Bible, and entails a denial of the nature of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul insists in this same letter to the Romans that God creates some individuals for salvation, to receive his mercy and kindness, and he creates all other individuals for damnation, to suffer everlasting torment in hell. God’s decision as to whom to save or damn is not based on the kind of people we are; rather, we are the kind of people that we are because of God’s decision (Romans 9:10-24). So we must not indiscriminately say to someone, ‘God has a wonderful plan for your life’. No, if God has created you for damnation, then he has a terrible plan for your life. Do not feel relief when someone tells you, ‘Everything will turn out fine’. No, everything will turn out wrong for you. Your future is filled with fear and confusion, and with extreme pain that will never end. And even the little pleasures that you enjoy in this life are designed to dull your conscience and to increase your trespasses, so that your punishment may be multiplied. As long as you remain ignorant of or resistant to the message of Jesus Christ, we have reason to think that you are numbered among the damned. But if God gives you faith, then you can become a Christian.”

        That’s calvinism in a nutshell.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        So far as I know, only open theism posits an ignorant God, and some Calvinist constructs do as well, at least in logical sequence in eternity’s past where God’s attribute is eternally co-dependent upon an action, without which, God would be ignorant. That is a no-no like open theism. But, there is no open theism around these parts.

        However, We can consider election as a topic, soteriology as a topic, and omniscience as a topic in and of themselves. We are not talking about omniscience, but election.

        Indeed, God, before the foundation of the world decided who His people were gonna be. Namely, that they were gonna be believers in Jesus.

        Indeed also, before the foundation of the world, God knew the identities of those who would be saved and thus incorporated into the elect people in Christ.

        However, we can examine election without relating all these topics, and surely it is prudent to do so without conflation to work out a systematic.

        Your systematic is different than others, but others do not neglect God’s attributes, actions, purposes, etc.

        Indeed, election (and elections) and salvation, again, are not synonymous, though in the elect in Christ, the latter is included in the former. But this does not mean we can’t consider election and define it distinct from salvation.

        So, I am not sure what purpose all your rambling is about. . .


Thank you. Excellent article and this is the belief of most Southern Babtist, I believe.

John Barker

-just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.

-for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Umm….I think it’s pretty clear that God’s choice is not based upon man, but solely His divine pleasure. Like it’s been said before, the only part I played in my salvation is that I sinned.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Do you know what Ephesians 1:4 means?

    Do you know what Romans 9:11 means?

    I think it is fairly clear that God’s choice is not based upon man either, but His divine pleasure too. Of course, His divine pleasure has a revealed purpose, so chalking it up to “just because God wanted to”, when God has revealed why He wanted to is a cop out not doing business with revelation found in the texts so that we may understand God.

    In any case, I am not sure what that has to do with your personal salvation. God’s decision to elect an eschatological people in Christ and your personal salvation are, believe it or not, two different topics.

dr. james willingham

My, My, My. Such a tempest in a teapot. It is so easy to ignore the 800 lb, Gorilla of reality, when one is so focused upon minutiae, the 800 lb Gorilla being the First and Second Great Awakenings and the Great Century of Missions. But what is really bad is to think man’s will, the real minutiae, debased, fallen, corrupt, free to do what a depraved nature desires. is free to fall upwards, to desire righteousness when enflamed with lust for evil. Some free will! Only Sovereign Grace could and did, would and will conquer it in every individual awakening and in the Third, the one that wins the whole earth in one generation and continues to do so for a 1000 generations and a million billion worlds in order to fulfil God’s humorous remark about the number of the redeemed in Heaven being a number that no one can number (Rev.7:9). After all, the POWER IS IN THE BLOOD which is, perhaps, why the church that sent out our firt missionary to China only mentioned Christ dying for the church, not a word of Him dying for all without exception. And Carey and those fellows along with Rice and folks here in America expected to win the whole earth with Particular Redemption. I mean after all, if Spurgeon would pray for the conversion of the whole earth with his five point calvinism what does that say about the wasted words of the tempest in a teapot.?

John Barker

“In any case, I am not sure what that has to do with your personal salvation. God’s decision to elect an eschatological people in Christ and your personal salvation are, believe it or not, two different topics.”

My election and salvation were unconditional just as God’s choosing of the elect church is unconditional.

I always thought that Ephesians 1:4 meant that God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. I assume by your question that you think my understanding is incorrect. I also thought that Romans 9:11 meant that God chose one twin and not the other, before they had done any good or bad, so that it was based upon His choice and not man’s works. Again, I assume you have a different view?

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Indeed, I have a more complete view.

    God unconditionally decided to elect the church in Christ. However, how one individual comes to be a part of the elect is not identical to election itself. I don’t know what “unconditional election” would mean for your personal salvation except that if you repent and believe, you are part of the unconditionally elect Jew+Gentile Church in Christ.

    Ephesians 1:4 says God chose US in Him. “Us” is the plural Jew + Gentile church. You don’t automatically get a “me” from an “us” any more than you get an “ought” form an “is”.

    Before the foundation of the world, God chose the Jew + Gentile people to be the one people in Christ. God did not chose a “them”, such as Hindu’s in Krishna, Buddhists in Buddha, etc. Paul, writing to the church, says God chose us.

    How an individual comes to be a part of that chosen people is by personal repentance and faith in the covenant head (Christ) on the one hand, and identification with the group body (the Church of Jew+Gentile) on the other. Ephesians 1:4 does not say nor warrant the idea that “God chose me to be in Him before the foundation of the world”. That is eisegesis, foreign to the context, and foreign to ancient corporate collectivist thinking in the Near Eastern culture.

    As for Romans 9:11, the Bible is pretty clear why God chose Jacob (and Isaac as well) over Esau (and Ishmael). To establish two things. “not from works but Him who calls” (names/designates) and “so God’s PURPOSE in election stands”. So what does this lead us to understand? That God determines the criteria (read Romans 1-8 about faith) by which people are children of the promise. It is really simple.

    Follow along with Paul’s actual points for what the business of God choosing Jacob is all about, and not what the Reformers eisegetical misunderstandings think it is about. .
    Jesus is the descendent of David and established Son of God (Rom. 1: 3-4). Those who are in Christ are awaiting adoption as sons (Rom. 8:15-17). That those (plural again, that corporate language keeps coming back!) who love God are “called” (named/designated”) according to PURPOSE (prothesis), and would be predestined to be like Jesus so HE WOULD BE THE FIRSTBORN (preeminent) among many brothers (the adopted sons).

    Hence, it makes perfect sense that, according to the flesh, the Messiah (Rom. 1:5), the promise to Abraham, would come through SECOND-born that PURPOSE (prothesis) mentioned in 8:28 about Jesus’ firstborn preeminence would stand, and as Romans 4 and here in this verse makes clear (as well as Romans 9:30-32), the promise is to those of faith, not of works (doing good or bad). The children of promise are the seed, and they are in Christ (Rom. 8:1, 8:39) who is the preeminent first born. It is no mere coincidence, NOR A MYSTERY, that the second-born patriarchs of Abraham are chosen for line of descent of the Messiah.

    It isn’t hard, it is right there in the immediate text and the larger context why God chose Jacob to be the line that brings about the Messiah according to the flesh and what God’s called purpose in election is. It is, like all things, about Jesus. Romans 9 doesn’t describe how God picked John Barker to save, and damned some other fella. ;)

    Indeed, Paul is arguing to unbelieving Jewish interlocutors that the UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION of Israel to be the people through whom the Messiah would come and the promise fulfilled to Abraham is NOT a guarantee of all individuals belonging to that corporate people being unconditionally elected to be a part of God’s eschatological people in Christ. That is the whole point of why God’s Word hasn’t failed even if the majority of Jews rejected Jesus.

    He is arguing AGAINST that idea that God’s unconditionally elect people to automatically receive eschatoloical glory, even if He unconditionally elects them for other purposes.

    What this has to do with your personal salvation is beyond me. How Calvinists use a passage refuting the idea that UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION of a corporate people entails unconditional individual election to salvation to support their doctrine of unconditional election to salvation is absurd just plain goofy. Romans 9 is no “Calvinist” passage at all.

    It is also the height of exegetical ineptitude to think that how and why God chose Jacob to be in the line of descent according to the flesh for the Messiah and the the way to describe how an individual person became a Christian or whatever (lest we negate Romans 3:21-31, Romans 10:8-13, and the rest of Scripture talking about repentance and faith), especially when that isn’t the topic of Romans 9 and what Paul is actually talking about here.

    Like rhutchin needs to understand, you really need to get that election and salvation is not exactly synonymous. The former has to do with purposes, the latter is included in the former when it comes to Christ’s body only.

    All manner of theological error happens when these two are conflated without qualification and distinction.

    The way people are the elect is if they are in Christ. The way people are in Christ, and thus saved, is if they repent and believe the Gospel.


      “Like rhutchin needs to understand, you really need to get that election and salvation is not exactly synonymous. The former has to do with purposes, the latter is included in the former when it comes to Christ’s body only.”

      Depending on “God’s purpose” election and salvation can both arrive at the same point. The election of Israel, as a country, was not to salvation but to service and was a salvation of works achieved through obedience to the law. We read how it worked out (not very well). However, that does not mean that God cannot or, does not, elect specific individuals to salvation.

      It is fine if one wants to critique Calvinism on the point of election, but it has not been done in the above article purporting to do that.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        First, there has never been a “salvation by works” plan for Israel. I thought Walter Kaiser put that ridicolous notion to bed decades ago. Salvation has always been by grace through faith.

        Second, I don’t know of any instances where there is individual election to salvation in the Bible. Paul doesn’t fit the bill. John the Baptist doesn’t either…neither do any of the prophets, or Abraham.

        Even in some of the above cases, their being set apart in the womb is for a service of some sort, not for salvation.

        Third, I don’t think it is right to say they arrive at the same point, but rather that salvation is but one point of many points in one type of election.


John Barker wrote:

“Like it’s been said before, the only part I played in my salvation is that I sinned.”

It is this kind of really foolish statement that leads me to oppose calvinism/theological determinism.

If you read your Bible and take it seriously you read that in regards to salvation it is absolutely clear that both God and man play a part. God does certain things such as justification, glorification, forgiving the sinner’s sins, adopting the sinner into the family of God and regenerating people. People also do certain things as well; including trusting God and his message of salvation, trusting God alone to save them, repentance, and even holiness (doesn’t the bible explicitly say that without holiness no one can be saved???). Determinists are so obsessed with their “monergistic” deterministic concept of God alone doing everything that they minimize, ignore, and at times even mock the biblical truth that man must believe, must repent and must live a life of holiness in order to be one of God’s genuine people (e.g I have actually had calvinists/determinists when I pointed out that according to Romans a person is justified through faith, a faith which they do, not someone else, that I was advocating salvation by works, because these determinists were so obsessed with their conception that God alone acts in salvation that they had to attack the biblical truth that we must have faith in order to be justified!!!!!).

Because of their overemphasis on the initial stage of salvation (i.e. how a person first gets saved) the determinists tend to be very argumentative when it comes to initial salvation (going on and on in endless arguments for their view that regeneration precedes and produces faith, effectual calling, the nonreality of free will): but extremely weak when it comes to sanctification (which is also part of salvation according to the Bible). And santification is clearly “synergistic” according to the bible (i.e. we have to pray, we have to study and apply our bibles, we have to seek and maintain healthy God honoring relationships, we have to deal with sin, repent of sin, we have to be obedient, we have to choose to follow the leading of the Spirit, etc. etc.: this is why when you read the epistles written to local churches they are so full of admonitions of things PEOPLE OUGHT TO BE DOING OR MUST BE DOING because the major issue in the epistles is not initial salvation but sanctification, of how you ought to live once you are saved).

This talk by determinists that salvation solely involves the actions of God is so unbalanced and contrary to the bible and ordinary Christian experience. Just look at the lives of these modern determinists for evidence of this imbalance, sure you see intelligent and argumentative folks, but you do not see people that you would point at for their godly character and their manifesting the fruits of the Spirit.

If someone really believes that they have no part at all in their “salvation”, then I would seriously doubt their “salvation”. The reason is simple, their theology may wrongly overemphasize the initial stage of salvation, but according to the bible salvation includes not only the initial part of salvation (i.e. our coming to faith in the Lord and being saved) it also includes our glorification (which is a unilateral action by God) and our santification which involves both God and man. If determinists were more balanced they would also emphasize faith, repentance, obedience, holiness and dealing with sin, fellowship with other believers in their discussions. They would also manifest the kind of character that ought to be emulated. Instead we find many prideful and argumentative and contentious determinists who in no way shape or form manifest godly character. Discussing theology has a place, but character is more important than argument for a particular theology. And even in discussing theology if you are not manifesting godly character while doing so, you become like the useless clanging cymbal of 1 Cor. 13.


    Randall Cofield

    And even in discussing theology if you are not manifesting godly character while doing so, you become like the useless clanging cymbal of 1 Cor. 13.



    “… sure you see intelligent and argumentative folks, but you do not see people that you would point at for their godly character and their manifesting the fruits of the Spirit.”

    Robert, this sums up a couple of SBC reformed church plants in my areas. The “elders” in their 20s-30s preach a steady stream of abuses of Christian liberty. It’s a shame, because otherwise they are fairly smart young men … but preach from an intellect of what they “think” is truth. One “lead pastor” recently proclaimed from the pulpit that he could only be good for so long before he had a “sin splurge” (young folks in the pew love that kind of preachin!). Another counseled the flock that a Christian should never pray “Jesus, forgive me of my sins.” Yet another confessed that he “has” a problem with pornography – not “had” a problem with that sin. Still another lied his way into a pulpit by deceiving the search committee about his theological leaning – leading to a church split (last time I looked, stealth and deception were not fruits of the Spirit). To my knowledge, no one has accused these young pastors of being role models of godly character. Teachings about repentance, holiness, and ministry of the Holy Spirit are not in the New Calvinism repertoire … at least in my neck of the woods. I’d say we’ve got a bad case of coming up short on “godly character and … fruits of the Spirit” in some corners of SBC right now.

    Robert, great comments about the ails of determinism. Thanks!

    Dr. Cox, excellent discourse on election. Your affirmation that “… salvation involves both the grace and sovereignty of God and the faith, repentance, and freewill of man” is the only Southern Baptist position I’ve known for over 50 years.


    “If you read your Bible and take it seriously you read that in regards to salvation it is absolutely clear that both God and man play a part.”

    When you introduce man into the equation, you then need a whole discussion on depravity and the manner in which depravity affects a person’s ability to respond to the gospel. In discussing salvation, one needs to look at God’s at part (election, etc.) and man’s part (depravity, etc.)

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Again, election and salvation aren’t synonymous.

      As for man’s ability, this is where the grace of conviction by the Holy Spirit occurs in the proclamation of the Gospel. Man’s depravity means they can’t come to God without grace. But when confronted with the Gospel, the grace of the Holy Spirit’s work in convicting the world along side and in the power of the Gospel proclamation creates the circumstances whereupon depraved men can respond or reject the message.

      Unless one is a pantheist, there are two parties to the process of an individual conversion.


        “… there are two parties to the process of an individual conversion.”

        Johnathan, this is so clear once essential Biblical truth is revealed regarding the sovereignty of God and human responsibility. Perhaps that’s at the heart of the election/salvation debate: intellect vs. revealed truth. For the life of me, I can’t see how SBC leadership can allow the proliferation of New Calvinism message and method in our ranks. The comments on this blog and others clearly indicate a distinct difference of view on God’s plan of salvation. How can divergent messages coexist in a single denomination going forward?


        Brother Johnathan,

        You said “election and salvation aren’t synonymous.”

        I couldn’t agree more. Would you be willing to discuss this further “off-line”. If not, I understand. If so, how do I contact you?

        God bless

          Johnathan Pritchett

          I’m on Facebook. When you search, my photo looks a lot like the one SBC Today uses for my posts with the maroon background and the Superman T-Shirt The difference is that in Facebook photo, I am standing next to my extremely hot wife. :)



            Call me old fashioned, but I don’t have a facebook account, which I am betting you need to contact others (am I mistaken?). Is there another way?

John Gregory

I agree with the article & with Robert! Any thing that is against Calvinism is a good thing!
I love & fellowship with my calvinist brothers, but I do not nor will not allow them to spread
their twisted, convoluted, & false teachings in my church. FREE WILL all the way!
John Gregory

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Whoa, I just noticed this.

    I think Calvinism is mistaken, and have no problem using colorful rhetoric in dialog to present my critiques against it.

    Mistaken is a world of difference than “twisted, convoluted, & false teachings.”

    I believe Calvinists sincerely believe what they hold as doctrine to be what the Bible teaches. I disagree with them, but those words above imply that they are heretical, deceivers, and so forth.

    My pastor is a Calvinist, a dear friend, and our church hears the Biblical Truth proclaimed to us every week exceptionally well by the Spirit communicating through him.

    I agree with 95% of everything he says, even in the cases where I disagree, it keeps me thinking and sharpened.

    That is a much higher percentage than I can say for a lot of pastors I have heard or sat under that would fall in the “Traditionalist camp” for sure. Where more often than not, the Traditionalist pastors I have heard are usually topic-driven pastors buttoning their personal interests of the week with three or four proof-texts that often don’t even apply to the topic, silly stories, hokum “pewology”, folksy easy-Amen grabbing platitudes, too much Republican politics (and I am a Republican), and very little Biblical meat.

    There is much common ground between Traditionalists and Calvinists. Both affirm the fundamentals, and there are other issues than soteriology that unite us.

    I know you love Calvinists as you say, but I don’t think saying “twisted, convoluted, & false teachings” is appropriate, but rather, it is divisive; and I say this full well knowing I am a rhetorical flamethrower (which isn’t unloving) on the internet in these debates, but even I don’t go that far. ;)


      “Both affirm the fundamentals, and there are other issues than soteriology that unite us.”

      I realize there has been a lot of discussion in SBC ranks regarding various tiers of belief and practice amongst the brethren … but what could be more fundamental and essential than agreeing on God’s plan of salvation? This is one fundamental that we should not agree to disagree on to get along under one big tent. If we can’t be united in our understanding of the work of the cross of Christ, we stand divided in our witness to a lost world.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I don’t even think the disagreement is the plan of salvation so much as the mechanics of salvation.

        So far as I know both camps exhort people to repent and believe.

        Indeed, everyone responds to the “jailor question” same as Paul did. No one, including Calvinists (that I know of anyway), would answer the “jailor question” like “man, your dead, there is absolutely nothing you can do to be saved.”


          “So far as I know both camps exhort people to repent and believe.’

          I realize there are various strains of reformed theology out there, but I heard one SBC New Calvinist “lead pastor” in my area counsel a seeker in a strange way. He was approached by a young man who essentially asked the jailor’s question “What must I do to be saved?” The pastor’s response “You don’t have to do anything – God’s grace has been extended to you.” No sinner’s prayer; no counsel to repent and believe. The young man was apparently viewed as “elect” and a “Christ-follower” since he had been attending the church for a while. He was baptized shortly after that.

          My concern about the mixture in our camp is that while some exhort “elected” people, most exhort “all” people to repent and believe. As a non-Calvinist, I can go anywhere on the planet and look a man in the eye and say “Jesus loves YOU; He died for YOU” … without giving any thought to whether they were the predestined elect. It’s amazing how many folks get “elected” under Holy Spirit anointed preaching.


Regarding the calvinistic debate of supralapsarianism/infralapsarianism Vincent Cheung writes……..

“Supralapsarianism is the biblical and rational order. Infralapsarianism confuses logical conception with historical execution, so that not only is it contrary to fact, but it makes nonsense of some of the divine decrees. For any given decree, it leaves the purpose of the decree unspecified until the next decree. But then there is no reason for the present one, so that it becomes arbitrary. Thus infralapsarianism is blasphemous by implication, since it insults God’s intelligence and denies his rationality.”

Vincent Cheung adds…..

“Infralapsarianism confuses the order of purpose and design with the order of execution. It complains that in supralapsarianism, God decrees the identities of the reprobates without a view to their sinfulness. However, the Bible explicitly asserts this view, that reprobation is unconditional, and that God created some people for salvation and all others for damnation “out of the same lump” (Romans 9:21). The reprobates did not create themselves; God created them, and created them as reprobates.”

Vincent Cheung continues….

“Again, the objection against supralapsarianism really amounts to a denial that God is God, and that he is not a man or a mere creature. Some people say they believe in God, but they do not in fact believe. This is a major culprit behind false theological systems such as Liberalism, Arminianism, and inconsistent Calvinism. There is in fact no biblical or rational objection against supralapsarianism. People simply do not wish to allow God total sovereignty over his own creation. Once we abandon false and man-centered assumptions, the offense of absolute divine sovereignty vanishes. Whether we will abandon these assumptions is another question. The work of the Spirit in sanctification is needed for us to relinquish all sense of human autonomy and man-centered thinking, including the relative and illusory type of ‘freedom’ that appears so frequently in the popular form of Calvinism.”

Though I disagree with Calvinism completely (all 5 points), Vincent Cheung is consistent and a credit to the theology he embraces. He takes calvinism to its ultimate and final conclusion.

dr. james willingham

Funny, how and why such theology produced the Reformation, the First and Second Great Awakenings, and the Great Century of Mission. And the same bids fair to produce a Third Great Awakening though the conspiracists are trying to move Heaven and Earth to avoid it. Also that theology produced religious liberty with its checks and balances for depraved man to be free. Could it have something to do with therapeutic paradoxes?

    David R. Brumbelow

    Did Calvinism itself produce the first and second Great Awakening?
    Were there not other non-Calvinist influences?
    Were there cases where Calvinists were preaching and practicing like evangelistic non-Calvinists?
    Did these Awakenings happen because of, or in spite of, some of the Calvinism?
    Can non-Calvinists also have a part in Great Revival?

    Just a few thoughts to consider.
    David R. Brumbelow

      Norm Miller

      Calvinism also has produced an anti-missionary spirit that poo-poos evangelism. Historically, this is undeniable. Recently blogged was the comment that one could not tell a random person on the street that God loved him, for God may not love him.
      “For God so loved the elect ….” John (Piper) 3.16.

        Steven Menteer

        I know this is based on my personal experience, but the only missionaries I know are Calvinists. So, apparently they didn’t get the memo about being anti-missional. However, I would be interested in the historical evidence, that Calvinism is a hotbed of anti-missions.


        It’s historically undeniable that Calvinism has produced an anti-missionary spirit? So what’s the excuse for that same spirit among our SBC churches?

        Alan David


        Where can one locate the information that Calvinism has produced a spirit of anti-missionary evangelism? From my studies Calvinistic people were mostly missionary minded except for a spattering of hyper Calvinistic movements through the years. Not being difficult brother just wanting to read it.


          The question from history we must ask is if they were spreading the authoritarianism of Calvin and Calvin himself contrary to a movement of Jesus Christ. History says yes from Geneva to Dutch South Africa to the Puritans to The Calvnist SBC being formed as pro slavery to Reformed only churches being planted by NAMB with very young men who often sound like they love their position of “elder”.

          Each one of the above, sans the recent namb church plants, either died out, evolved more liberal or was overthrown.

          So I must ask, what “kind” of missions. A History of Calvinism has not been kind or loving to certain groups of people.



            You have not shown an anti-missionary mindset as Norm claimed. Also, note that early American Baptists were heavily influenced by Calvinist Methodist preacher George Whitfield.

            I suppose you’d blame the liberal evolution of the SBC in the 70’s and 80’s in Calvinism too, right? Though it was a Calvinist using a Calvinistic statement of faith who helped rid SBTS of liberalism both Calvinists and non-Calvinists worked together in the CR.

            With a majority of the SBC not being Calvinists today what, then, is the reason for our decline?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “With a majority of the SBC not being Calvinists today what, then, is the reason for our decline?”

            I’ll offer three:

            1. Nominalism. And nominalism is very much a problem in Reformed SBC churches as any other. Nominalism is a SBC problem in general.

            2. “Theologicalism”. The SBC prides itself on its conservative affirmations, again, regardless of the theological camp, but too many of our churches do little to put hands and feet to the affirmations.

            3.”Reverse Missionalism” Either because of or outside of the Co-op, Baptists will concern themselves with, though in rhetoric more than practice, the ends of the Earth rather than their own Judea. Whether sending missionaries through the co-op, or a youth group “missions trip” three states away where there are just as many churches there as there are where the youth came from, to use one example, too many churches simply are indifferent to their backyard communities in the search for either larger numbers from certain demographics elsewhere than the neighborhood, or being against larger numbers out of fear of change in the church. Whatever it is, there is little local mission and Kingdom work getting done (ties in with number 2).

            Just my thoughts on that particular topic.


            Johnathan, you provide three excellent reasons for SBC’s lack of focus in recent years and associated decline. I offer a couple more which, I believe, are at the root of those you mention: lack of genuine repentance and prayer.

            Vance Havner put it this way: “If the time, money, and effort spent in trying to work up evangelism in lukewarm churches were spent in calling the churches themselves to repentance, confession, cleansing, and empowering, evangelism would be the natural result. We are trying to produce the results without the cause, the fruit without the tree.”

            God put it this way: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

            Will we?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Agreed brother.

John Barker

The post is titled “A BIBLICAL Critique of Calvinism: Election.” Jim does have a point.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Yep, a critique can be given from a Biblical perspective. It did not say an exegetical perspective. I can give a Biblical perspective on abortion complete with proof-texts given without doing extensive exegesis. I still don’t get the complaint here.

Stephen Garrett


Your ad hominem attacks prove nothing. You offer no proof that Arminians are more godly than Calvinists.

Stephen Garrett


I apologize for the length of this post, but please bear with me.

Also, I would also appreciate any feedback (especially from Johnathan who has shown a willingness to think outside the box).

Man’s interpretation of the biblical doctrine of election has caused a considerable amount of confusion. Calvinism sees it as “unconditional election to salvation.” Arminianism (a lesser degree of calvinism) sees election as those “in Christ”. Neither definition seems to fit with the following two scriptures (taken from the NT and/or during the Church age).

Romans 11:28….
Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.

In the verse above Paul is addressing Gentiles and the “they” in verse 28 is referring to the Jews. In other words, that verse could be read as….

“Concerning the gospel THE JEWS are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election THE JEWS are beloved for the sake of the fathers…”

That, alone, should speak for itself.

Now consider 2 Timothy 2:10 where Paul writes…
Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

If calvinism is true, the elect are guaranteed salvation, it’s a certainty. But here, it seems Paul is truly concerned for the salvation of God’s elect. It doesn’t appear to be a certainty. That said, the verse reads “they also” or “they too”. Who OTHER than the elect can obtain salvation? According to calvinism, NO ONE. But here Paul clearly states that he is enduring “all things for the sake of the elect, that THEY ALSO may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus.” So whoever the elect are, they are not the only ones who can obtain salvation (implying that the non-elect can obtain salvation as well).

The arminian (the 1 or 2 point calvinist) interpretation doesn’t help. For them, the elect are those “in Christ” or believers. But that interpretation doesn’t work either because believers have already obtained salvation. And, again, who other than a believer (they also) can obtain salvation?

So just who are God’s elect for whom Paul was enduring “all things”? Paul, himself, has already answered that question.

Romans 11:13-14….
For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy THOSE WHO ARE MY FLESH and save some of them.

Acts 28:19-20….
But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation. For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, BECAUSE FOR THE HOPE OF ISRAEL I AM BOUND WITH THIS CHAIN.”

Though the apostle Paul had been given the ministry of preaching to the Gentiles, his heart was still very much for the people of Israel.

Now I don’t expect any reformed pastor to even entertain the above. They’ve already made their bed. But anyone else should at least show a willingness to accept this possibility.

God bless


    Yes, I think both Calvinists and Arminians do not understand election properly.

    Unconditional election cannot be. It is nonsense. Election (choosing) is ALWAYS based on conditions. You cannot choose out of a hundred perfectly equal balls. You can pick. But not choose.

    Election, choosing is based on excellence. That is what the word means both in the OT (Hebrew) and NT (Greek). A “chosen generation” (1 Pet 2) means a “choice-generation”, a kind par excellence, distinguished, precious. The opposite of “elect” is “reject”, (see context of 1 Pet 2 for instance).

    Christ was God’s elect. Not a random pick for sure.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Right on! Our excellence is not our own, but in Christ. King Jesus, He is the Chosen One, and so the church in Him.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    See my response to John Barker. It is improper to speak of Biblical election in the singular. Indeed, the BIble has multiple uses of election and the elect. Election pertains to purposes, not salvation. Different topics.

    Romans 9’s opening indeed reveals Paul’s heart for his kinsmen. However, his point is that their election does not guarantee they will receive eschatological glory. That’s Paul’s point there. Only the elect in Christ will receive that.

    To use the language of the Calvinist, I don’t mind the idea of unconditional election from God’s perspective. God unconditionally chose to elect a race in Adam, a line of descent for the Messiah according to the flesh, and an eschatological people for present mission and future glory (i.e. the Church). These things are unconditional on God’s part.

    How individual persons participate in those elections varies on their relationship to the corporate head on the one hand, and the corporate body on the other (i.e. all people sin because they inherit a nature and environment inclined to sin because of Adam, people are circumcised an become faithful Jews, or not, people repent and believe in Jesus and become a part of His body, or not if they do so in vain, etc.)

    Like I said to Barker and rhutchin, constantly conflating salvation and election leads to all manner of theological errors.

    Careful Calvinists try to avoid this conflation, at least in their scholarly work so they don’t get raked over the coals by the academic community for carelessness anyway, but usually internet Calvinists do not.

John Barker


“This talk by determinists that salvation solely involves the actions of God is so unbalanced and contrary to the bible and ordinary Christian experience. Just look at the lives of these modern determinists for evidence of this imbalance, sure you see intelligent and argumentative folks, but you do not see people that you would point at for their godly character and their manifesting the fruits of the Spirit.”

Harsh words. I’m glad to see you are practicing gentleness and self control.


The Lord elects. He chooses. Based upon what?

Based upon his grace and mercy. The Lord is not obligated to save anyone. He kills, and He makes alive again. At His pleasure.

“He will have mercy upon who He will have mercy.”

That just drives us crazy, doesn’t it. But He’s a real God. Not some snidely little mendicant at the door, “please believe in me…please…please believe in me.” Oh no. He acts. And He will save whom He will save.


That was meant to read, ‘snively’…not snidely.



(and anyone else who would care to chime in. I would appreciate anyone’s thoughts and I am willing to entertain correction). Again, I apologize for the length of this post.

You said…. “Election, choosing is based on excellence. That is what the word means both in the OT (Hebrew) and NT (Greek). A ‘chosen generation’ (1 Pet 2) means a ‘choice-generation’”.

Respectfully, I disagree (if I understand you correctly). 1 Peter 2:9 is rightly interpreted…..

“But you are a CHOSEN RACE, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession…”

Believers are not a “race”, but the Jews are. Notice the same language regarding the election of the children of Israel from the OT…

Deuteronomy 7:6-7…..
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.”

Also consider who Peter’s audience was….

1 Peter 1:1-2….
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ

Peter’s audience wasn’t the Gentiles, but the Jews.

Galatians 2:8-9….
For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.

My point is “the elect” in 1 Peter 1:1 is referring to the Jews. Yes, they were believers, but their election was because they were Jews, not believers. Look at Romans 11:28 again…

“As far as the gospel is concerned, they (the Jews) are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they (the Jews) are loved on account of the patriarchs…”

Not every Jew was an unbeliever. In fact, the early church was basically Jewish. However, the Gentiles’ enemies in Romans 11:28 were the unbelieving Jews, but that didn’t effect their election by God.

The election of Israel was God’s way of revealing Himself to mankind. It was the election of Israel “to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came” (Romans 9:4-5). The Israelites weren’t better than the rest anymore than Jacob was better than Esau (in fact, it could be argued that Esau was better than Jacob, for it was Esau who showed Jacob mercy). And this was the election of grace (and not by works).

In other words “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). The gospel is “first for the Jews, then for the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16) As Gentiles we get grafted in (Romans 11:19) and become co-citizens with Israel (Ephesians 2:19), but we are never the natural branches (Romans 11:24).

Israel was the elect in the OT (Isaiah 45:4). Israel was God’s elect during Paul’s ministry (Romans 11:8, 2 Timothy 2:10). And Israel was “the elect” spoken of by Jesus regarding his second coming (Matthew 24:22) when it will be a time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7).

Come, Lord Jesus

    Johnathan Pritchett

    holdon is actually right. And by “chosen race”, Peter doesn’t mean by “race” what we think it means today in any case. He is just applying Israel language to the Church, and it basically means “people group”. As to what holdon was saying, elect means “choiciest”, like the way we would describe a fine cut of prime rib or whatever as a choice piece of meat. This lexical use is amply supported in context of Scripture.

    In the old testament, it talks about “elect” horses, soldiers, etc., meaning they were the tops. When Jesus used the word called (different from Paul’s technical use of kaleo, because Jesus means summons, whereas Paul usually means “name/designate”), this is precisely what He means by “many are called, but few are chosen (“the choiciest”) ;)

    It takes a ton of convincing to the evangelical academic community to convince anyone that a “Bible word” has a technical meaning beyond normal usage. People mostly agree that for Paul, kaleo is one of them, though there is a debate on what his technical definition is. But most words, like grace, elect, election, justification, etc. are just normal words (though people don’t differ on the definitions, they do differ on the theological content.

    An example of a fight over technical meaning would be N.T. Wright and others insisting the righteousness of God is a technical Pauline word usage to specifically mean God’s covenant faithfulness. So, it takes a lot to convince people that words have “special” meanings because they are Bible words.

    Elect is a pretty average non-technical term in Scripture taken to mean what it generally means, and only context determines how this word is applied. I mean, it wouldn’t be uncommon for a grocery list in the Ancient Near East to say “honey, pick up an elect chicken for dinner tomorrow night”, to use an anachronistic example to illustrate the point. ;)



    I think this answers your question sufficiently:

    “and having put on the new, renewed into full knowledge according to the image of him that has created him; wherein there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is everything, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any should have a complaint against any; even as the Christ has forgiven you, so also do ye.” 1 Col 3.

Johnathan Pritchett

Here are some examples to illustrate holdon’s point that I was backing up:

Genesis 23:6 – tois eklektois – our choice sepulchres – the choice of our . . . 41:2 – eklektai – seven cows . . . choice of flesh – fatfleshed 4 – tas eklektas – the . . . choice-fleshed cows – fat kine 5 – eklektoi – seven ears . . . choice and good – rank and good [rank: Eng. in the sense of complete] (Heb. fat.) 7 – tous eklektous – seven choice and full ears – rank and full ears 18 – eklektai – choice-fleshed – fatfleshed 20 – tas eklektas – choice cows – the seven fat kine Exodus 14:7 – eklekta – six hundred chosen chariots – *chosen4 chariots – choice chariots NKJV; the best chariots NIV 30:23 – eklektés – the flower of choice myrrh – pure myrrh Numbers 11:28 – ho eklektos – Joshua . . . the chosen one – of his young men – of his choice men NKJV; assistant since youth NIV Deuteronomy 12:11 – eklekton – every choice gift of yours your choice vows (Heb. the choice of your vows.) Judges 20:15 – eklektoi – seven hundred chosen men of all the people – * chosen men – select men NKJV; chosen men NIV 34 – eklektòn – ten thousand chosen men out of all Israel -*chosen men – select men NKJV; finest men NIV 1 Samuel (LXX: 1 Kings) 24:3 – eklektous – three thousand men chosen – 24:2 * chosen men 26:2 – eklektoi – three thousand men chosen – * chosen men 2 Samuel (LXX: 2 Kings) 8:8 – tòn eklektòn – the choice cities – N/A 21:6 – eklektous – chosen out for the Lord [the men] – the LORD did †choose (Or, chosen of the LORD.) 22:27 – eklektou – with the excellent – . . . With the pure . . . 27 – eklektos – . . . thou wilt be excellent – show thyself pure 1 Kings (LXX: 3 Kings) 3:46 – eklektoi – ten choice calves 2 Kings (LXX: 4 Kings) 8:12 – tous eklektous – their choice men – their young men 19:23 – ta eklekta – his choice cypresses – the choice fir trees 1 Chronicles 7:40 – eklektoi – choice, mighty men – choice and mighty men 9:22 – hoi eklektoi – All the chosen porters – ˆ chosen to be porters 16:13 – eklektoi – Jacob his chosen ones – his †chosen ones 18:8 – tòn eklektòn – out of the chief cities – N/A Ezra 5:8 – eklektois – with choice stones – with great stones Nehemiah 5:18 – eklekta – six choice sheep – six choice sheep Job 37:11 – eklekton – a cloud obscures [what is] precious – N/A Psalm 17:26 – eklektou – with the excellent – 18:26 With the pure . . . 26 – eklektos – thou wilt be excellent – 18:26 shew thyself pure 77:31 – tous eklektous – the choice men – 78:31 the ‡chosen [men] – the choice [men] NKJV; the young men NIV; (or, young men KJV) 88:3 tois eklektois my chosen ones 89:3 my † chosen 19 eklekton one chosen out of 89:19 * chosen out of; one chosen from NKJV; a young man from NIV 104:6 – eklektoi – his chosen ones – 105:6 his †chosen 43 – tous eklektous – his chosen – 105:43 his †chosen 105:5 – tòn eklektòn – thine elect – 106:5 thy † chosen 23 – ho eklektos – his chosen – 106:23 his † chosen 140:4 – tòn eklektòn – their choice ones – 141:4 their dainties Proverbs 8:19 – eklektou – choice silver – choice silver 12:24 – eklektòn – chosen men – the diligent (= NKJV =NIV) 17:3 – eklektai – choice hearts – N/A Canticles 5:15 – eklektos – choice as the cedars – *excellent as the cedars 6:8 – eklekté – the choice of her – 6:9 the choice [one] of her 9 – eklekté – choice as the sun – 6:10 clear as the sun Isaiah 22:7 – hai eklektai – thy choice valleys – thy choicest valleys 8 – tous eklektous – the choice houses – the armour of the house 28:16 – eklekton – a costly stone, a choice – a tried stone 40:30 – eklektoi – the choice [men] – the young men 42:1 – ho eklektos – Israel is my chosen – mine †elect 43:20 – to eklekton – to my chosen – my †chosen 45:4 – tou eklektou – Israel mine elect – Israel mine †elect 49:2 – eklekton – a choice shaft – a polished shaft 54:12 – eklektous – precious stones – pleasant stones 65:9 – hoi eklektoi – mine elect, and my servants – mine †elect 15 – tois eklektois – my chosen – my †chosen 23 – hoi eklektoi – My chosen – 65:22 mine †elect Jeremiah 3:19 – eklektén – a choice land – a pleasant land (Heb. land of desire) 10:17 – eklektois – choice [vessels] – the fortress 22:7 – tas eklektas – thy choice cedars – thy choice cedars 26:15 – ho eklektos – thy choice calf – 46:15 thy valiant [men] 31:15 – eklektoi – his choice young men – 48:15 his °chosen young (Heb. the choice of. . .) 38:39 – eklektòn – choice stones – N/A Lamentations 1:15 – eklektous – my choice men – my young men 5:13 – eklektoi – the chosen men – the young men 14 – eklektoi – the chosen men – the young men Ezekiel 7:20 – eklekta – their choice ornaments – the beauty of his ornaments 17:22 – tòn eklektòn – of the choice [branches] of the cedar – of the highest branch 19:12 – ta eklekta – her choice [branches] – her fruit 14 – eklektòn – her choice [boughs] – her fruit 25:9 – eklektén – the choice land – the glory of the country 27:20 – eklektòn – choice cattle – precious clothes (Heb. clothes of freedom) 24 – eklektous – choice stores – chests of rich apparel 31:16 – ta eklekta – the choice [plants] – the choice and best Daniel 11:15 – hoi eklektoi – his chosen ones – his °chosen people – his choice troops NKJV; their best troops NIV; (Heb. the people of his choices) Amos 5:11 – eklekta – choice gifts – burdens of wheat Habbakkuk 1:16 – eklekta – meats choice – meat plenteous (Or, dainty; Heb. fat) Haggai 2:7 – ta eklekta – the choice [portions] of all the nations – the desire of all nations Zechariah 7:14 – eklektén – the choice land – the pleasant land 11:16 – tòn eklektòn – the flesh of the choice [ones] – eat the flesh of the fat(1)

Hence, the LXX usage is overwhelming, as is the evidence the NT authors quoted from the LXX,their converts used it, and they meant by “elect” and “election” what it always and normally meant in Greek.

(1) More, Jacques (2008-03-28). So You Think You’re Chosen? Jarom Books. Kindle Edition.



I appreciate the feedback (bless your heart…wow).

You said…. “Peter doesn’t mean by ‘race’ what we think it means today in any case. He is just applying Israel language to the Church, and it basically means ‘people group’”.

I’ve read that perspective before. However, the word “ekklesia” is found nowhere in the writings of Peter. For instance, consider 1 Peter 5:13….

“She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.”

One Bible commentary says…..

“The word ‘church’ is not expressed, but is evidently meant to be understood, in the Greek. There can be little doubt that Babylon means Rome.”

Evidently meant? Really? So its spelled “B-A-B-Y-L-O-N”, but its pronounced ROME? If Peter was an apostle to the Jews (Galatians 2:8-9) then wouldn’t it make sense for him to go to Babylon were most of the House of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) remained even after their captivity?

Also, though I appreciate your homework, I fully understand the usage of “elect” as an adjective and a noun. So what do we do with 2 Timothy 2:10 when Paul says…

“Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

If we plug in “believers in Christ” we have the following…..

“Therefore I endure all things for the sake of ‘believers in Christ’, that THEY ALSO may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

Who OTHER than a “believer in Christ” can obtain salvation? And haven’t “believers in Christ” already obtained salvation? Obviously, that description doesn’t work. However, if the elect refers to the Jews (regardless if they believe or don’t believe), then we have the following..

“Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the Jews (those who are my flesh), that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

That description works perfectly and is consistent with Romans 11:13-14 and Acts 28:19-20.

Again, I do appreciate your time.

God bless

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I’m glad you understand the usage. Of course, I while I was responding, sort of, to you, I wasn’t merely aiming at responding to you personally only. When I dig up that much stuff, perhaps others can find it useful if they do not understand. ;)

    I did think you misunderstood and disagreed with holdon’s usage though, but I guess you had something else in mind. It appears now you think that “elect” always refers to Jews only.

    This I can not be in agreement. For one thing, it strains its usage in many letters to Gentile audiences where they are addressed as both church and elect. Now, if Peter personally used it to his primarily (but not exclusively) Jewish Dispersion audiences, I don’t even think it follows that 1) the entire audience was Jewish, and 2) he used it to the exclusion of Gentiles being “elect” also.

    As for the Bablylon reference. Whether that meant a code for Rome or not, what I think it does mean is an “exilic” linking of the author with his audience of “aliens” or “sojourners” (1 Peter 1:1) in the Dispersion, demonstrating a sharing and camaraderie in their situatedness as such. I don’t speculate much beyond that as to a definite location, other than to say that whatever Imperial location is the referent, there are going to be predominately Gentile believers there (even granting an early date for this letter), thus they are “also elect” too, to use Peter’s words. ;)

    As for 2 Timothy 2:10, I don’t see what I take to be Paul’s normal usage of elect (not to mention the word church) as referring to the Jew + Gentile people as being a Jew only term here a convincing argument to prove otherwise as a Jew only term elsewhere.

    There are three dimensions, or tenses, to salvation. “was saved”, “am saved”, and “will be saved”, and verse 2:11 demonstrates a future tense of the eschaton where the elect in Christ will reign with Him in glory.While I don’t hold that a “saved person” can “lose their salvation”, I do hold that the “elect people” are exhorted to persevere, examine themselves, etc. Lest any one in that corporate people believed in vain, or has an empty profession of faith a la Matthew 7:21. 2 timothy 2:10-12 makes this make sense for me, though maybe not for you or others.

    Still though, I don’t see “elect”, as used for believers, being a technical term for Jews only, whether believers or not yet beelievers, or unbelievers. Not even in 1 Peter, because 1 Peter 1:2 shows that the elect according to foreknowledge refers to their Spirit-oriented set-apart-ness for obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, so non-believing Jews are excluded from the category of a reference as “elect” automatically. I also agree with the commentators who demonstrate that there were indeed Gentiles also in Peter’s audience.

    Given the general usage of believers being the “elect” as it refers to those in Christ, the Jew + Gentile meaning holds throughout, in my opinion, whether in Peter’s letters or Paul’s letters, or the others as well. Even in these citations as I argue above. But again, like all these posts of mine, are just my opinion.

Vincent Hart

“… Their elective exclusivity had to be overcome, their theological misunderstandings had to be corrected, and their racial prejudices had to be obliterated…”


This is an outstanding observation and I eagerly await and apply my heart to see it’s continued application in the Church of our generation.

Thank you Dr. Cox for the blog and for much to consider in trying to comprehend the sacred.

Randall Cofield

De. 7:7-8 “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because you were the choicest people, and because He is bound to keep the oath which He swore to your fine-like-a-cut-of-prime-rib fathers,…..”

….yeah….that sounds about right… ;-)

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Do you see Deut. 7:7 above in the examples? No, you don’t. Hence, in this passage it doesn’t mean that, it merely means “pick” (as the conjugate in the Greek illustrates), as the context and the negation of any particular value in the people picked makes clear as well. No one has stated that it can’t just simply mean “to pick”.

    So, your attempt at sarcasm fails.

      Randall Cofield


      ….Yes. And we know that righteous, Jesus-choosing bunch called the church in the NT could never suffer from “negation of any particular value” when God speaks of choosing them…..

      You’re out on a limb and you know it.


        Johnathan Pritchett

        Not at all, No limb here. I was just backing up holdon’s claim as to how the word “elect” was used. Notice also my above response to holdon though:

        “Right on! Our excellence is not our own, but in Christ. King Jesus, He is the Chosen One, and so the church in Him.”

        So, again, no limb here bro. Nice try, but no dice.

        I didn’t write those texts, nor invent the LXX Greek usage which is the NT authors’ source for many quotations. It was their usage, not mine. I am interested in how Scripture sees things, not man’s conjecture. ;-)

          Randall Cofield


          I didn’t write those texts, nor invent the LXX Greek usage which is the NT authors’ source for many quotations. It was their usage, not mine. I am interested in how Scripture sees things, not man’s conjecture.

          No, you are out on a limb with your insistence concerning “common” ANE usage of terms. While I agree that knowledge of ANE language use and customs is helpful in understanding scripture, you are leaving no room for the evident fact that NT writers wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and often added unimaginable depth and breadth to common words by the way they used them. One has only to read the usage of eklektos in the NT to see that your characterization of “elect” chicken on a grocery list simply doesn’t work.

          But, just for giggles, let’s apply your insistence of the LXX usage to a few “choice” NT passages:

          Mt 20:16 “So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen (picked because they are the tops!).”

          Ro 8:33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect (choicest; selected because they are the best!)? It is God who justifies. (Man! That “it is God who justifies” thingy just kills your whole premise)

          2Ti 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect (God’s chosen because they are the finest!), that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

          1Pe 1:2 elect (chosen because you are excellent!) according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

          Re 17:14 ¶ “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen (select because they are mighty ones), and faithful.”

          Just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

          C’mon, brother. You ran out on a limb here, and you know it. These are among the many pertinent texts pertaining to the issue of unconditional election, and you know full well your “ANE common usage” fits none of them. :-)

          BTW: You sure you want to maintain “corporate election” to the exclusion of individual election? ;-)

          Peace, my brother.

          Sola Gratia

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Nope, in Christ they are tops. The meaning works in those passages.

            The depth and breadth and width of the meanings in the passages is that these common words were used towards the unlikeliest people. This “reversal of fortune”, so to speak, is a common thread in the New Testament.

            The NT is replete with making that which normally considered as dishonorable, honorable (honor being one of the highest virtues in the culture).

            Again, not all instances of chosen/elect means “picked”.

            Aside from your misquote of Matthew 20:16 by adding Matthew 22:14 to the end of it, look closer at Matthew 22:1-14

            Look at the initial invites and what they did, in spite of what was prepared for them. Then look at the second batch of invites. Note the honor language in verse 8 (worthy). Look who came in in verse 10. Look what happened to the improperly dressed guest. Not up to snuff huh…how about that.

            Then, the King says, many are are kletos, but few are eklektos.

            Now, lets go to Romans 8. They are in Christ, and Spirit-filled adopted reigning heirs. Hmmm…so even though they are, in the world’s estimation dishonorable, being put to death all day long, they are God’s elect (tops) in Christ Jesus against whom no charge can be leveled. Honor from that which is considered shameful by the society. Do you know how the crucified Messiah and his followers were viewed by that society?

            Now, let us look at Revelation and the concept of war, and those going to war with the conquering King. It reminds us of the top notch soldiers as used in the LXX.


            Nope, here YOU get to learn something of the unimaginable depth and breadth of what the Bible is actually talking about.

            :-) (so as to not sound abrasive…)

            You really, really should have picked different passages…

            Johnathan Pritchett

            I maintain corporate election since it comprehends individual election, not excludes it.

            Calvinists argue that individual election comprehends corporate election.

            We just differ on the details. And of course, it also depends on the election of whom to what and why…

            So yes, I maintain my view on corporate election when it comes to the people in Christ.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Also, given your previous kinds of responses, I foresee another strawman response potentially coming regarding “worthy” usage and you saying something silly like “of, so believers are worthy of salvation, and non-believers aren’t.” Given your previous problems with the Biblical words so far, as they aren’t mine after all,and all that.


            Note that that is the King’s language, not the guests language in this parable. Also note that it is Paul’s language NOT in a parable as well in Acts 13:46 as well about the Jews judging themselves as “unworthy”. .

            This rhetorical usage goes back to the honor flipping. The Jews themselves saw no value in the message. The King saw unworthiness in those who ignored the banquet for his son’s wedding. Etc.

            Those in Christ, those who believe, however, are therefore considered “worthy” because of the worth of Christ. ;-)

            So there is no need to try a strawman response that I am saying believers were worthy enough to deserve their salvation or something silly like that.

            Randall Cofield


            Come now, brother.

            Every single example you offered from the LXX was choice based up qualities inherent in the thing chosen.

            You know that’s not how the NT texts are using this term.


            Johnathan Pritchett

            Yes, there is something inherent in the elect. Namely Christ and the Spirit is in them since they are in Christ.

            You got owned here man, so quit grasping at straws and accept what the Bible says the way the Bible says it. ;-)

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Is the image of Christ and God’s conforming the elect to it worth anything to God (or you), or not?

            Is God’s predestined purpose for the elect to make the elect in that image of worth to God (and you), or not?

            Is being Spirit-filled something of worth and value to God (and you), or not?

            It is all to His glory, so…I don’t quite get your problem with the Bible talking this way…

            Johnathan Pritchett

            It is worth mentioning that folks D.A. Carson and James Barr would be amused by your insistence that every time a cognate of “choose” is used, it always means “pick”, “picked”, “picking”, etc. and never something like “the chosen” in the sense of, well, how I proved that eklektos is often used and what it means…and your further insistence that when these words are used, when God is the subject, it implies that the “picked” is worthless in some way to boot (when the opposite point is being made, as your three back-fired examples illustrate).

            Go read Exegetical Fallacies again, please.

            Thanks. ;-)

            Johnathan Pritchett

            1 Peter 2:9-10

            “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
            a holy nation, a people for His possession,
            so that you may proclaim the praises
            of the One who called you out of darkness
            into His marvelous light.
            Once you were not a people,
            but now you are God’s people;
            you had not received mercy,
            but now you have received mercy.”

            Either this is true, and thus these people are differentiated from other peoples, or it is not true.

            I think it is true. In Christ, we are eklektos, which, given its usual meaning as exhaustively detailed elsewhere, can mean “select, i.e. the best of its kind or class, excellence preeminent” and does so here, your three backfiring passages, and elsewhere.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        By “Jesus-choosing bunch” it sounds like in your caricaturist way you are repeating the error of conflating personal salvation with election.

        Internet Calvinists really need to sort this one out the way at least the best Calvinist exegetes do.

        As for unconditional election, your use of it is a misnomer and categorical error. What you really are meaning is unconditional individual conversion. While the Bible knows nothing of this, it is what Calvinists mean.



Again, I greatly appreciate your time and careful consideration. I’ve read most of these concepts and explanations before and I will definitely keep them under consideration.

Respectfully, I think most folks overlook the clear meaning of 2 Timothy 2:10. Most people glance over the “they too” or “they also” part. Most just read it as……

“Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they……may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.”

….which would give it an entirely different meaning.

Maybe it’s just me, but “the elect” in 2 Timothy 2:10 is clearly a reference to the Jews (the seed of David; verse 8), otherwise, why the contrasting “they also”?

Though Paul is an apostle to the Gentiles, his main concerned was still for the salvation of the Jews.

Romans 9:2-4…. “I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites”.

Romans 11:13-14…. “For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.”

Acts 28:20… “For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”

Paul is not speaking of the elect in terms of believers in Christ, but of the Jews, who are referred to as an elect people, or the Chosen People, so that they might also obtain the salvation that the Gentiles were experiencing.

God bless

Pamela Rodriguez

I’m Southern Baptist. The way I see it, the bottom line is: God’s control vs man’s control. I choose God. He is Omniscient, Omnipotent and in control over His creation. Man is not dictating the future. God is not bowing nor bound by man’s decisions.


An anonymous poster by the moniker “theoldadam” wrote:

“The Lord elects. He chooses. Based upon what?
Based upon his grace and mercy. The Lord is not obligated to save anyone. He kills, and He makes alive again. At His pleasure.”

It is absolutely true that the Lord is not obligated to save anyone: if we got what we deserve we would all instantly get Hell. This being true, we are only saved by the mercy of God.

“theoldadam” then stated:
““He will have mercy upon who He will have mercy.””

This is true, but it leaves out an important question: upon whom does God desire to have mercy?

Most determinists just try to proof text from Romans 9, what they repeatedly fail to take into account is that if you understand the structure of the book of Romans you know that Romans 9-11 function as a unit (i.e. they are all to be interpreted together, individual verses are not to be isolated from the rest of the unit or interpreted without the rest of the unit in mind).

Immediately after saying that God will have mercy upon who He will have mercy, “theoldadam” wrote:

“That just drives us crazy, doesn’t it.”

Actually that is not true at all.

For those of us who understand the depth of sin and its effects upon human beings we understand and it bears repeating that if we got what we deserve we would all get hell. As one of my friends puts it: “if you ask for strict justice from God you will get hell, ask for mercy and you could be saved”. If we understand our condition apart from God, that we are deserving of hell for even having committed a single sin (though we have committed way more than one sin) and that we cannot save ourselves by our own efforts: we conclude the ONLY way that we can be saved is through the mercy of God. If we know and understand these things (and all the non-calvinist close friends and church leaders of my personal acquaintance get this): then this idea that we are saved only through God’s mercy ****does not drive us crazy at all****. Instead we exult in this fact about God and our condition.

But I mentioned an important question that “theoldadam” leaves out.

We know that we can only be saved through the mercy of God and we know that God has the right to have mercy upon whomever he desires to have mercy. So then the big question becomes: upon whom does He desire to have mercy? Romans 9 does not provide the answer to this question, but if you know that Romans 9-11 functions as a unit you know that the answer to this question **is** found in Romans 11. And it is an answer that determinists/calvinists don’t like. And answer they and their false theology rejects. It should be noted that according to calvnistic theology: God desires to have mercy and save only the preselected elect (according to this false theology God does NOT DESIRE TO HAVE MERCY UPON ALL, DOES NOT DESIRE TO SAVE ALL).

And yet what does the scripture say?

The answer to the question about whom God desires to have mercy upon is this:
“For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.” (Rom. 11:32)

As N.T. Wright points out that phrase “shut up” had an interesting first century meaning in legal contexts. In a Roman court trial when a person was considered to be so guilty as to have no defense for his crime, he would be slapped upon the mouth signifying that he “shut up”. He was so guilty that he literally had nothing to say in answer for himself. The phrase occurs a few times in the New Testament with this same meaning. Earlier in Romans 3:19 Paul makes reference to this as well: “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God”. Paul also directly experienced this in Acts 23 when standing before the Jewish leaders he was hit on the mouth signifying guilt as well: “And Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, ‘Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.’ And the high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth.” (Acts 23:1-2).

Note what Paul says in Romans 11:32 about the human race: he says that from God’s perspective he has shut us all up. In other words, due to our sin we have no answer for ourselves, we stand guilty before God for our sin with no defense, no answer. But the verse does not stop there leaving us in this hopeless and sinful condition. It says that God allows this to happen in order that he might show mercy UPON ALL (note that according to calvinistic theology God desires to have mercy upon only some/the preselected elect, but according to explicit and clear scripture God desires to have mercy upon all) . So there is the answer to our critical question about whom God desires to have mercy upon: all. And this goes right to the issue of election. If we can only be saved through the mercy of God because of our sin and since we have all sinned and are all “shut up” before God: so whom does God elect to have mercy upon then?

Johnathan Pritchett actually stated the answer to this question very well earlier in this thread when he wrote:

“How an individual comes to be a part of that chosen people is by personal repentance and faith in the covenant head (Christ) on the one hand, and identification with the group body (the Church of Jew+Gentile) on the other.”

Or put simply, God chooses to elect as His people those who, like their spiritual father Abraham, trust Him. Those who obey His Word and repent of sin and turn to Him and follow him daily by faith and obey Him are His chosen people.




Calvinist Vincent Cheung writes…..

“A man believes in Jesus because God causes him to believe in Jesus. Another man is hardened against the gospel because God causes him to be hardened. Each person’s path is determined before he is born, even in eternity before the creation of the world. His decisions do not determine his path, but his foreordained path determines his decisions. A man’s destiny is not determined, but rather revealed by, his choices, that is, by what God causes him to decide in accordance with the divine purpose.”

Cheung then adds……

“Who are you, O Calvinist, to say that God cannot be the author of sin, and the one who directly creates and hardens wicked men? Who are you to say that God merely passes by the reprobates, when Scripture states that he forms them by his own hands as a potter molds clay into trash cans and toilets? You hypocrite! You pretend to defend the justice and holiness of God, when the matter arises only because you have judged him by the standard of man. With one hand you rob God of his divine sovereignty, and with another you repay him in human righteousness. Who are you, O man, to think that you can get away with this? You are nobody. You are nothing. Who are you, O Reformed theologian? Are you much better than the Arminian? Again and again, in planting one foot in orthodoxy and one foot in blasphemy, you generate countless paradoxes and contradictions, and you call this the high mystery of God! Oh vanity of vanity, a theology of systematic futility!”


Pamela Rodriguez

Thanks for your response.
I stand by my earlier comments. As far as the origins of sin, all we can really see in Scripture is that the first to sin was the devil beyond that is speculation.



    I meant no disrespect to you.

    You said…. “He is Omniscient, Omnipotent and in control over His creation.”

    If you mean by that He is the Sovereign King who sits on the throne in heaven and nothing happens outside of His sight, and by who we will all be judged, then we are in complete agreement.

    However, calvinism teaches that God is absolutely sovereign over all things, including our choices, decisions, and actions. God does not “permit” or “allow”, but actively causes all things to happen that do happen, thus making God the author of sin. Calvinistically speaking, Vincent Cheung is only being consistent with the theology he embraces.

    Vincent Cheung writes…

    “Even before the creation of the world, God had conceived in his mind some for salvation and some for damnation, and throughout history he would directly create them to become what he has designed them to be. When we announce the Lord Jesus to all men and women, we declare that it is God’s command or moral precept that all of them ought to believe in him. This draws a clear line that differentiates the true and the false, the right and the wrong, but it does not indicate God’s wish for specific individuals, as to whether he wishes for one to believe the true or whether he wishes for one to cling to the wrong. God’s wish is a separate matter. Some people will believe what we preach. All men and women ought to believe, but these individuals believe because God wishes for them to be saved. Then, some people will reject what we preach. All men and women ought to believe, but these individuals reject the message because God wishes for them to be damned. He wishes to kill them and punish them, and torture them in hell forever. This is the Bible’s explanation for the different responses.”

    Now some of today’s calvinists might want to shy away from this (at least openly), but this was the teaching of John Calvin himself when he wrote….

    “By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.”

    God bless

Pamela Rodriguez


First let me say that both the Calvanist and the Armenian views agree that “…broad is the way that leads to destruction,…and narrow is the gate…which leads to life…” Matt.7:13. Both sides agree that there will be a remnant. Whether a Calvanist or Armenian, either way, many will be lost.
The issue for me is “control”. If man is deciding, that places man in control; making him the determining factor and God waiting on man. If God is making the decisions, that places God in control as it should be because He knows all things, and is all powerful and is control over His creation.

God bless


    “If God is making the decisions, that places God in control as it should be because He knows all things, and is all powerful and is control over His creation. ”

    So every Jew thrown into the ovens was God’s decision. We could do a litany of historical horrors, couldn’t we? Much of it done in the Name of God, too. Giving Him credit like you do here.

    It also takes away man’s responsibility for his behavior. And one reason we see many Reformed celebs brag that they are the worst sinners they know.(Which should empty the place) Even after claiming to be a Born Again pastor for many years. Their dichotomy is sinless perfection or totally and consistently sinful with wicked hearts. Makes one want to lock up the children and hide the silver. Where is the maturing? The growing in Holiness?

    I think Robert has hit on part of the big problem. They take sanctification verses and read them as Justification verses.

    Randall Cofield


    How refreshingly succinct.

    One would think by reading these threads that being subjected to an absolutely Sovereign, Good, and Holy God who is “in control” of all things…is…well…abominable.

    I really don’t think their “Traditionalism” is as representative of “the pew” in the SBC as they would like to think….

      Johnathan Pritchett


      We hold to an “absolutely Sovereign, Good, and Holy God who is ‘in control’ of all things.”

      What has that to do with Calvinism and determinism and not Traditionalism?

      Oh, right, nothing whatsoever.

        Randall Cofield


        Yet some of your fellow travelers are, on this very thread, arguing against the absolute Sovereignty of God.

        You are obfuscating…and you know it.


        ^^^^^^^^ Notice the emoticon?

        You should either use them or moderate your language. I know you are an ok guy, but you are coming across as “testy” (to put it mildly) on these threads. Several of you comments here (to others besides myself) come across as…umm…”abrasive.”

        Peace, brother.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          How exactly am I obfuscating? No one I have noticed are arguing against the absolute sovereignty of God.

          I am sorry if I come off abrasive, I didn’t realize that deep down Calvinists on the internet really are emotionally delicate flower petals.

          But here you go. ;-)

John Barker


-for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

“Or put simply, God chooses to elect as His people those who, like their spiritual father Abraham, trust Him.”

The text is amazingly clear. God chooses based upon nothing we do. Neither twin had done anything good or bad and God chose one and not the other. This choice was made from eternity past. We are not privy to why He chooses some and not others. That is His sovereign decision.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    As a classical theist, I affirm completely that God’s choice of Jacob was logically prior to the creation of the temporal universe…i.e. in eternity’s past.

    As an exegete, I will say that God chose Jacob before the twins were born and leave it at that because Paul does.

    Anyway, way to ignore my response to you that we are very privy to why God chooses some and not others, depending on who was chosen and for what and why. The text tells usually tells us, if we aren’t using texts as random bits of ahistorical propositions ripped from their contexts to function as props for some theological system imposed on it from without.

    Indeed, it is God’s sovereign decision to chose Jacob over Esau. Every decision God makes is sovereign because He is ruler of the cosmos. Something Calvinists say they affirm, but deny in practice since they insist many passages in the BIble either mean opposite what they say, or ignore what they say. He decided that His purpose was to magnify and glorify Christ as the preeminent one, the firstborn among many brother and sister children of promise who were predestined to be conformed to His image. Hence, according to the flesh, the line of descent of the promised one, Christ, came through second-born patriarchs. It is very, very, very clear.

    What is also clear is that God made a sovereign decision to elect believers in Christ to be His people, as opposed to some other kinds of people. Nothing we did or do made God choose whom would be His people.

    How one becomes a part of His chosen people as individuals is their individual repentance and faith in Christ on the one hand, and identification with the body, the Church, the chosen people, on the other hand.

    It is all quite clear indeed.



Well, obviously since He chose you, I can see why you wouldn’t have a problem with it. However, I doubt any soul in the lake of fire would be happy with God’s decision, especially considering they kept His secret decreed will perfectly.

As Calvinist Vincent Cheung writes…

“…the Bible explicitly asserts this view, that reprobation is unconditional, and that God created some people for salvation and all others for damnation ‘out of the same lump’ (Romans 9:21). The reprobates did not create themselves; God created them, and created them as reprobates.”

Looks like you were just lucky when you hit the “divine lotto”.


    Wingfooted, I think you are right. Cheung takes Calvinism to it’s logical conclusions.


Vincent Cheung (the consistent calvinist) writes…..

“The Bible teaches that God decrees, causes, and controls all things. God’s sovereignty is both exhaustive and effectual. He does not only arrange all things to happen, but he causes all things to happen. This means that he is the author of sin, in the sense that he is the metaphysical cause of thoughts, decisions, actions, and events that he himself has defined as sinful……. If our doctrine falls short of stating that God ordains and causes sin, then we should admit that we reject the biblical doctrine, that he exercises total power over all things…….. We affirm that God’s sovereignty is exhaustive and effectual, and extends to all things, even to sin and evil. He teaches us this. We believe it, and we like it…… If God ordains and causes all things, then of course this applies to the rape of a child, or to five billion children. There is no refutation.”

If Cheung is anything, he is consistent and brutally honest.

Little Johnny would be so proud.

Pamela Rodriguez

I think we need to stick with what God says in His Word. Any time we try to go beyond and try to figure out God, no matter what view a person holds we will run into trouble.


    Pamela, What we need is a glossery of biblical terms because we both “stick with God’s word” we just do not have the same definitions of concepts and words. I do not read the word with the Augustine filter.

Pamela Rodriguez

Lydia, yes we both believe God’s Word. What I mean is that Vincent Cheung goes to far in trying to determine what happened Eternity past, where the Bible is silent. On the other hand, some focus so much on God’s kindness and love that they stop believing in Hell. They feel that a good God would never send anyone to Hell, etc…It’s when people try to understand an infinite God and go beyond what Scripture reveals to us that we run into trouble. There are areas in the Bible that are difficult enough to understand, no matter what view we hold. We all have questions that we are anxious to ask the Lord directly some day.



If you read Vincent Cheung (and I have… regrettably) he doesn’t believe he is going too far. He believes it is the plain teaching of scripture and provides scriptural support. Now I am about as non-calvinist as they come, but I clearly believe in hell and the lake of fire, and I believe that God will justly send non-believers there to burn for all eternity. But there is a vast difference in theology that believes that some people will burn in hell because “they refused to love the truth and so be saved” and from believing that most were created for the sole purpose of burning for all eternity. And other words, people reject God purely because God rejected them first (reprobation). I believe every soul that experiences the flames of hell could have experienced eternal bliss instead; an impossibility in reformed circles.

I agree with you that it is dangerous to go beyond what scripture reveals, but reformed theology is notorious for that. Thanks to reformed theology, we have terms like limited atonement, total depravity, unconditional election to salvation, unconditional reprobation to damnation, effectual call, outward call, inward call; not to mention jawbreakers like supralapsarianism, infralapsarianism, sublapsarianism, and now Reymond’s modified supralapsarianism. Because of reformed theology, we have terms like Calvinism (5 pointers), Amyraldism (4 pointers), and Arminianism (1 or 2 pointers). And if you are completely outside the calvinistic umbrella you have to be either Pelagian or Sem-Pelagian because full blown 5 pointers make all the rules.

I mean, it’s almost comical. And it reeks of catholicism (which, ironically, Augustinianism is). If the Roman Catholic Church ever returns completely to the teachings of Augustine (because “Father” Augustine is the common denominator for Calvinists and Catholics alike), we are going to find out who the true Baptists are. And that alone should tell folks something.

Come, Lord Jesus

Pamela Rodriguez

I am Calvanist because I believe the Bible teaches it. I understand that you aren’t. Calvanism deals with salvation issues and the sovereignty of God.

What I’m talking about is when people are trying to presume God’s thoughts, when He says in His Word- “for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”~ Isa. 55:9. When they focus too much to try to understand certain of God’s attributes,etc… Those who focus only on the love of God (whatever view they hold) will deny hell because they say that a good God would never send anyone there. Others see God as aloof with His creation and tend to take a scientific view of the Bible and deny the miracles of the Bible. Then there are those that deny the death of Christ, resurrection of Christ,etc.. Mr. Cheung is focusing too much on trying to understand the origin of sin. The first one to commit sin was the devil, that’s what Scripture says and we should leave it at that. When we presume God’s thoughts we run into trouble. God reveals to us what He wants to and what He doesn’t want to reveal to us He doesn’t. Also, Jn. 21:25 says that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Some things are just too much for our finite minds to comprehend. Some issues are best left for God to answer someday.


“You have not shown an anti-missionary mindset as Norm claimed”

I was not responding to Norm and I was more focused on definitions. I amn not really sure what constitutes missions in a Calvinist paradigm. I was thinking of history.

There is a Calvinist solution to the decline, though. Mandatory church attendance. It worked for Geneva and the Puritans. But I could never understand how they reconciled that with individual election. How did they know since one came to church or got a visit from the magistrate. :o)


    No doubt about the mixture of magistracy and ministry in Geneva. I suppose that’s one reason why Calvinists were not fond of Anabaptists, who promoted the truth about separation of church and state when it came to church attendance.

    Alan Davis


    You have my raised my curiosity; what did you mean by “Mandatory church attendance” in the above post? Were you using it in the contempoary or in the historical context? If it was meant to be contemporary can you give me a short explanaition if you have the time?

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