Arminian Today

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Short Thoughts on Unconditional Election

I found the following illustration from a blog (Randal Rauser).  I found it interesting.  Here it is:

Imagine that there is a camp for troubled youth. The camp director has a rather unorthodox method of dealing with the campers. Some of them are beaten severely with whips in a wholly punitive or retributive (i.e. not restorative) manner while others are chosen by the director to receive care, love and nurture in a way that restores them.

You are contemplating sending your child to the camp but you want your child to be lovingly restored, not viciously beaten, even if the beatings are just. So you enquire: what is it that makes the director decide to beat the children rather than nurture them? Is it the nature of their crimes? Their race? Gender? What?

The answer comes back. There is absolutely nothing that differentiates the two groups. The bottom line is that for some inexplicable reason the director arbitrarily selects some children to be beaten and others to be nurtured.

Now imagine that somebody came up to you with a positive testimonial. “The director loved our child! He nurtured her. She’s much better now. He is very loving to those he chooses.” Wouldn’t you want to scream back “But what about the children he opts to beat? How can you call that loving? How can you focus only on those he nurtures and completely ignore those he beats? Doesn’t it bother you that his choice to nurture your child was wholly arbitrary?”

Rauser is writing about the doctrine of unconditional election where the Calvinists teach that God, by His sovereign will, chooses some to be saved and most to be damned.  God does this by His own accord without anything from mankind.  His sovereign choice is based on His redeeming and electing love and why He chooses some to be saved but most to not be saved is His own divine decree that we cannot know (Deuteronomy 29:29).  Rauser is pointing out that this view of God does not make Him appear as loving and good as we find in the Bible.

I know many of my Calvinist friends find comfort in unconditional election but John Wesley replied that it made his blood boil.  Wesley believed that this teaching maligned the character of God.  Many other Arminians have replied the same.  I am share I have as times felt that way as well when I have been listening to Calvinists preach on unconditional election.

I too believe that election is biblical but I choose to replace the word “unconditional” with “conditional” because I believe that God has given humanity the gift of free will and He does not force people to believe but rather He gives them enabling grace to believe the gospel and be saved.  This comes through the preaching of the gospel and God’s foreknowledge of those who will believe the gospel.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/20/2014 at 8:00 PM

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