March 21, 2016

John and Jacob on Being Chosen

Unconditional Election is the next pillar of Calvinism. It says that in Eternity Past, before Creation, God elected those who would be saved to eternal life. Before they had been born, done anything good or evil, achieved anything great or small; God extended to them His mercy in order to save them and reserve them places for them in Heaven. Those who are not chosen, who are not among the elect will received the full punishment of their sins and be sent to Hell for eternity. The extreme implication is that God created people just to condemn them to Hell without any chance to be saved because once they are created, they will be so corrupted by sin they couldn't and wouldn't choose to believe in Jesus' offer of salvation.

Arminianism believes in Conditional Election, which says that God foresees everyone who will come to faith and believe in Jesus, so these people are all chosen to be saved. This belief takes into account free will. Arminianians believed it contradictory for verses like John 3:16 to indicate salvation was a gift for the whole world but for God to have elected a portion of the world for salvation only to deny the rest of the world salvation. Conditional Election opens up the door for everybody to hear the message, chose to believe, and be saved - not because they are elect but because they hear, accept, and believe.

My questions about Unconditional Election are: "Some Bible verses indicate that God wants everyone to be saved - doesn't this make everyone 'elect'?" "How can you know that you are elect?" "How can you know that you are not-elect?" "How should the elect treat the not-elect? Are the not-elect deserving of the time, effort, or charity of the elect? Or should the elect only focus on their own - tending to the needs of their fellow elect who can repay them now on earth or in eternity future in heaven?" "What do you do with verses that say 'God wants everybody to be saved' and 'God prepared vessels for wrath'? Aren't they contradictory?"

I don't believe that we can know what events took place in eternity past, nor what will happen in eternity future. I don't believe that we can know the mechanism - how the magic trick works. It's one of those faith things - if it's in a person to believe, then they will find something to believe in. For some, it's the comfort of maths and sciences where 1 + 1 is always 2, water always boils at 100 degrees Celsius because they can see, touch, hear, taste, smell, study and know these things; spiritual matters might be a tougher sell for some of them, but it's not impossible. For others, spiritual matters are their cup of tea and it comes easily to them. I think anyone can be saved if they want to be saved. That there's a way for everyone to elect themselves for salvation. I don't think that God created people just to send them to Hell.

I remember watching a movie about a crew on a sailing boat that ran into nothing but bad luck. They blamed it on a "Jonah" among them - a guy who God created to punish, whom God was punishing, and who was punishing them because they were stuck with him and helping him to "run away" from God. It wasn't until "Jonah" jumped overboard holding a cannonball - committing suicide - did they begin to see that they were acting less like God's righteous people and more like Satan's condemning cohorts. There was no mercy and no forgiveness. I worry that Christians who view sinners as vessels of wrath might feel justified in treating sinners as inferiors, judging them for everything, blaming them when it suited their purposes. Earth might be as much 'heaven' as some people will ever know, and yet too many believers are making it 'hell' just to give them a preview of the horrors to come.

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