Thursday, August 26, 2010

Objections to the Doctrine of Election

In typical Calvin fashion after detailing predestination for us he is now giving us answers to the usual objections raised about it. The first objections as you can imagine are centered around whether or not God is just in condemning some. In fact, Calvin starts by considering how "ignorantly and childishly" some believe that no one is condemned. There could be no election without reprobation. We are told throughout Scripture that some, but not all, are going to heaven. If not all are going to heaven, God necessarily has another place to send them. "Therefore, those whom God passes over, he condemns; and this he does for no other reason than that he wills to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for his own children." It is God's will that determines who is elect and who is not. "Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens," (Romans 9:18, New King James Version). Calvin quotes a few verses later, "What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory," (Romans 9:22-23, New King James Version). He then writes an explanation by Augustine, "where might is joined to long-suffering, God does not permit but governs by his power." Calvin explains about these vessels or wrath and mercy, "for in this way Paul ascribes to, and claims for, God the credit for salvation, while he casts the blame for their perdition upon those who of their own will bring it upon themselves."

People who object to the doctrine of election often claim that in this way of understanding predestination God must be a tyrant. Somehow, God is to blame for not electing all. "They first ask, therefore, by what right the Lord becomes angry at his creatures who have not provoked him by any previous offense; for to devote to destruction whomever he pleases is more like the caprice of a tyrant than the lawful sentence of a judge." Calvin first notes that death is deserved by all by our own merits and not because some tyrannical God decided to condemn innocent people. He goes on to claim that we must be aware that it is all God's will. "For his will is, and rightly ought to be, the cause of all things that are... For God's will is so much the highest rule of righteousness that whatever he wills, by the very fact that he wills it, must be considered righteousness. When, therefore, one asks why God has so done, we must reply: because he has willed it."

Again, objectors ask why God would condemn to eternal death people before the creation of the world because they might not deserve that judgment. They are missing something key. All of us are deserving of death. All of us have sinned. All of us have fallen short of the glory of God. We deserve nothing but death and destruction. God is not to blame, but our own evil deeds. God is just to those who are condemned. God is merciful to the elect. He is granting some what they did not earn, which is eternal life. Thanks be to God!

Tomorrow's reading: 3.23.4-3.23.7


  1. Thanks for the reminder.I have been teaching on "Particular Redemption" and some of our people can not seem to understand, How God would do something like that. It all begins with the depravity of man. My mentor told me, "If you do not get the depravity of man right nothing else will make sense." Glory to Christ!

  2. Your mentor is so right. If we don't understand how depraved we are, that we can do no good on our own, then we will falsely believe that there is something we can do to earn salvation.


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