On Election

A Brief Survey into the Arminian and Calvinistic
Interpretation of Predestination by means of Election

DMontae G. Jones

HST 331 – Renaissance and Reformation
Professor J. Michael Raley
Alma College
November 7, 2012


U. Over the years. such as J. There are five main points that Calvinist and Arminianist share differing views on: Depravity. Atonement for All.C. Redemption. Election. these scholars have attacked each point of Calvinism and used their biblical interpretations to point out various inconsistencies within the Calvinistic theology. Calvinism and Arminianism. have written multiple works confirming the religious superiority of Calvinism. the doctrine of election will be further explored.For centuries. and John Piper. Grace. On the other hand. it is necessary to analyze the current arguments of each theology. Packer. Roger Olson. R. Modern followers and scholars of the school of John Calvin (or Calvinists). Furthermore. Irresistible Grace.L. Total Depravity. (Freed by Grace.C. Professor of Theology at Baylor University and acclaimed Arminian scholar. the arguments have remained debatable on the same grounds since they were originally conceived. In order to investigate the biblical accuracy of the arguments proposed by each school. modern scholars of the ideologies of Jacobus Arminius (or Arminians) have found various biblical scriptures that support their school of thought. For the purpose of this paper. Among these discussions has sprouted two predominant theological schools of thought. discussion of religious Salvation has ranked among the top theological issues. Calvinism can be summarized by the acronym T. Sproul. and Security in Christ). (Total Depravity.I. and Perseverance of Saints). scholars have analyzed each school of thought and there has been vast developments – both supporting and discrediting – in each school in terms of biblical accuracy.T. Arminianism can be summarized with the acronym F. and Perseverance. The arguments presented by modern Arminians and Calvinists on election are much similar to those originally presented by Jacob Arminius and John Calvin – in a sense.S.I. Conditional Election. “It would be . Unconditional Election. Each of these theologians has incorporated specific biblical passages that support their Calvinistic theories about unconditional election and non-preordination based on foreknowledge.P.A. Limited Atonement. describes the Arminian perception of the notion of Election by stating.

argues that God used his extensive foreknowledge. that is the cause of salvation. 2006). MN: Desiring God Ministries. a Calvinistic preacher and author. by His will. Curt. Therefore. that God chose some individuals unconditionally unto salvation despite what the person has done or will do.. Being the complete opposite of the Arminian view. 4 Talbot. The History and Theology of Calvinism.”3 It is the view of Piper. It was the choice of man as to who would believe. and his knowledge of eternity to elect those who He knows will accept Him unto salvation. It is “the sinner’s choice of Christ. as well as other Calvinistic scholars. assert that “Election refers to God’s choosing whom to save. it is evident that God’s election of these individuals was based on the condition of what man would decide. 39. God’s choice of extending the pleasures of eternal salvation to individuals was based on Him foreknowing that these individuals would ultimately choose Him. even though he knew these individuals would ultimately choose Him. and W. (Downers Grove. and without foreknowledge of foreseen faith. and ultimately who would be blessed with salvation. What We Believe about the Five Points of Calvinism: Position Paper of the Pastoral Staff of Bethlehem Baptist Church. Calvinism. along with other Arminian scholars. Roger E. (Dallas: Scholarly Reprints. (Minneapolis. (Lakeland. He asserts that God foresaw the faith of certain individuals.”4 1 Olson.biblically accurate to say that Election is conditional. 9. that is the cause of salvation. However. 1993). 49. Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. 2 Daniel. FL: Whitefield Publications. Gary Crampto. IL: IVP Academic. 1997). and that is the basis for his election of them. 1990). “it is God’s choice of the sinner. Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism. modern Calvinists such as John Piper. Man is dead in trespasses and sins. John. Kenneth G. it was up to them (or their own free will) to choose God. 3 Piper. by his own free will. They further assert that God also unconditionally elected those whom he chose not to save unto eternal damnation.”1 Olson. It is unconditional in that there is no condition man must meet before God chooses to save him. .”2 On the contrary. So there is no condition he can meet before God chooses to save him from his deadness. 12.

whom he also designated apostles” (Luke 6:13). The Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. There is nothing 5 Mounce. In Luke 6:13. and the idea that there is a condition set upon this election. or eklegomai6. 1993). is employed as an adjective. which states. (Grand Rapids. .Both the Arminians and the Calvinist incorporate biblical evidence to support their differing approaches toward election. and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). in which its use ranges from being a participle to being a noun. A BRIEF INVESTIGATION OF TERMINOLOGY Before diving into the arguments of Calvin and Arminius and in order to constitute the heart of the debate over election. Another form of the word. House. it is essential to briefly discuss key words and phrases for the purpose of understanding biblical teachings concerning the ideas of free will versus those of predestination and foreknowledge. The term is used 23 times in the New Testament of the Greek translation of the Bible. In relation to the context of the verb. It is used substantively. The verse reads. the foreordination of certain people. 6 Ibid. “Mary has chosen what is better. William D. It is clear that the Bible teaches the foreknowledge of God in electing people. however. the verb is employed to describe the choosing of the twelve apostles of Christ. one of these arguments is presented better and is superior in nature through biblical accuracy. there are far too many inconsistencies in the Calvinistic argument of election. The context of these Greek terms is crucial to the arguments presented by both theologies The first term to be discussed is eklektos5. which is translated into Standard English as elect or chosen. he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them. “When morning came. one might also take a look at Luke 10:42. MI: Zondervan Pub. it is clear that the verb is relating to the idea of one choosing something from several other choices. The Arminian argument on election is the most consistent with the various biblical passages that are used to support it. In the end. and is found 7 times throughout the New Testament. This paper will explore both arguments and show how the Arminian argument is superior to that of Calvin’s. From this verse.

to decide beforehand. the context of the term does not focus on the subject of who is being predestined.” the term has been incorporated within other verses throughout the Bible. and to foreordain. . which suggests the idea of predetermination and foreordination. or to select or choose. In context. or choosing. In the New Testament. before the foundation of the world. When used. such as Romans 8:33. It can be found in 2 Thessalonians 2:13. but more so on what was being predetermined. “But we ought always to thank God for you. the term appears 6 times – in such passages as Romans 8:29 and Ephesians 1:5-11. when Paul writes. The passage simple states that there was some form of election. The last term that holds heavy significance is the term haireomai8. The meaning of the term is centralized around the root horizo. and its root has been translated into meaning to take. 8 Ibid. Ephesians 1:4 reads. “For he chose us in him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.within the context of the usage of the term that suggests the choice was made beforehand – certainly not expressing any form of suggestion toward predestination regarding that choice. the context also suggests that the choice had as much emphasis on the kind of lifestyle of man as it does the individual. On the contrary. with respect to context. there is nothing that prohibits the idea that the choice was made on the premise of foreknowledge. because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying 7 Ibid. Another term that is heavily focused upon is the term proorizo7. brothers loved by the Lord. this term suggests that God established some form of predetermining by setting various boundaries beforehand. In regards to “God’s choice. This term occurs in the New Testament 3 times. Proorizo itself has been translated to literally mean to predetermine. which means to define or to make out the boundaries or limits. The meaning of term itself has been translated into to take for.” While it is clear that the context of the choice made in this passage was before the foundation of the world.

He contends that “election of Jesus is the central and primary act of predestination. or that some were denied from salvation before the foundations of the world.. however. Before the creation of men. it is evident that there have been those who were predestined to fill specific rolls before their birth. In order to determine the true meaning of these terms. and what Calvinists believe. Cottrell interprets election to only be related to salvation. He writes. it is evident that the term is being used to describe how God chose to provide the opportunity for those to believe from the beginning. . Ibid. The Faith Once for All: Bible Doctrine for Today. One interpretation of the biblical reference to election is that of Christian theologian Jack Cottrell.”9 He goes on to explore the role of Judas. God knew he would have to save them from damnation. that God predestines specific individuals to salvation. by means of service or merit. or predestination. 388.”10 In order to make the difference between his statement. God knew the He would have to prove His power and glory through that of a man. 2002). Jack. While his predetermined role was that of a betrayer. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was foreordained. MO: College Pub. From the above terms. One example Cottrell utilizes is that of Jesus Christ.work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. further investigate into the passages in which they are employed is necessary. God elected Judas to that position based on a foreknowledge of what needed to be done to ensure the crucifixion of Christ. then. Cottrell displays ideas of specific individual election. Cottrell asserts that Calvinism not only teaches 9 10 Cottrell. Before Christ was born. “We must say.” In context. there is no clear indications that some individuals were selected unto salvation before the foundation of the world. ON ELECTION The idea that the doctrine of election. while certain conclusions can be drawn from the context of these terms. There is no hinting at any type of predetermination. 390. is taught in the Bible is one that is rarely denied. only the idea of God choosing to whom and where His gospel would be first preached. he uses this Calvinistic idea to support the foreknowing of God. (Joplin. He argues that according to the Bible.

unconditional election to salvation. However. God does not simply foreknow the faith of certain individuals. the first article defines Arminius’ stance on election. This view is one that Arminius describes in his discussions with Francis Junius11 – a 16th century theologian and Huguenot scholar. (Auburn. in Three Volumes. Bagnall. who receives salvation. The traditional Calvinist will argue that God elects people to faith. and as a result. by their own free will. Miller and Orton. These “Articles of Remonstrance” played a key role in developing the theological thoughts of Jacob Arminius. NY: Derby. 12 Pelikan. This view states that it is entirely man’s choice as to who believes. ( New Haven: Yale UP. but leaves in sin the incorrigible and unbelieving. and in 1610. yet they will – by their own free choice – become believers. Jacobus. . It states that “God has decreed to save through Jesus Christ those of the fallen and sinful race who through the grace of the Holy Spirit believe in him. but also election to faith itself. among many. According to Scripture. A more reformed Arminian approach towards election is that view that election is somewhat corporate in nature. they do not do it out of free will. but in fact foreknows believers. Cottrell argues that the Bible clearly teaches that individuals are predestined to salvation. 112.”12 God chose those who He knew – from foreknowledge – would. and William R. Hotchkiss. a contract or an agreement. they lead many of Arminius’ followers (later known as the Remonstrants) into setting fourth these views through five articles. the people of Israel as 11 Arminius. Jaroslav. choose Christ. Creeds & Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition. as foreseen by Him. (In other words predestination is said to be conditioned by God's foreknowledge of who would respond to the gospel). Jan Uytenbogaert and Simon Episcopius systemized Arminius’ views. These views were heavily structure after Arminius’ death. God elected. 2003). and Jaroslav Pelikan. Which Individuals? These individuals will be of God’s deciding. Pertaining to this paper. The Works of James Arminius: Translated from the Latin. 1853). Valerie R.

furthermore the nation of Jacob and not that of Esau14. chosen. 1:11 18 Eph. writes. and the New Testament Church15 through the teachings of Jesus Christ16. what reasoning would support such a decision? In considering the fact that no human being was created or had done any action or performed any task before the creation of the world. . “…foundation and first cause. These individuals were “…predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will. is comprised of certain individuals who have been united by the Holy Spirit into one body – that of Christ’s. is here declared to be his eternal election…He hath chosen us before the foundation of the world. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight”18. then. 1965). 42:1 17 Eph.”17 One must first come to union with Christ. Rom. Philippians and Colossians. both of our calling and of all the benefits which we receive from God. He affirms this by questioning what merit could we have attained. or “before the foundation of the world.” Calvin goes on to comment that at “…the very time when the election took place proves it to be free [of foreknowledge]20. Parker. H. Calvin's Commentaries: The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians. Torrance. As Calvin interprets. L. The elect. Calvin’s question is rendered 13 Deut. Paul. one of Christ’s apostle. Calvin views election and the biblical support of it somewhat differently. David W. 144. T. 25:23. and Thomas F. 20 Ibid. John. he alerts the reader of the time of election. 198. 9:10-14 15 1 Peter 2:9 16 Isa. MI: Eerdmans.His chosen people13. 1:4 19 Calvin. Then and only then will he or she be considered the choice. or elect of God. Ephesians.”19 While Calvin does not address whom God elects in this passage. Torrance. 7:7-8 14 Gen. (Grand Rapids. according to the New Testament.

MI: Eerdmans. it could also be argued that if God had not predetermined the fall of human beings – as the common Calvinist maintains – then what need would He have for electing or reprobating (to condemn strongly as unworthy) those who He decreed to create? Calvin continues his argument by stating. 22 Ibid.” 24 Here. that the purpose of God according to election might stand. and Thomas F. “We were all lost in Adam. but of him that calleth.”21 On the other hand. This was not an irresistible or specific act of 21 Ibid. He goes on to assert that God’s “unconditional rejection” of Esau – which was before the foundation of the world nonetheless – was an unconditional election unto eternal damnation (hell).moot. Parker. where. L. neither having done any good or evil. 198.”22 Romans 9:11 reads. “The same argument is used in Epistle to the Romans.”23 Calvin continues. 200. 25 Gen. Calvin is assuming that the alleged “unconditional election” of Jacob by God in Romans 9 was an election unto salvation. Torrance. Calvin's Commentaries: The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians. H.25 On the contrary. and that two “people” (meaning two groups of people) from inside her womb would be separated. not of works. rescued us from perishing. had not God. (Grand Rapids. “For the children being not yet born. Ephesians. He continues by stating. in whom nothing can be seen but materials for destruction. Torrance. Philippians and Colossians. This objection has no force when applied to the depraved natures of men. through His own election. 178. Arminius argues that the election of Jacob by God was His choice of using Israel to serve Him. there was nothing to be foreseen. speaking of Jacob and Esau. 1965). 23 Rom. John. T. David W. or to carry out the Messianic bloodline – through which Jesus would be born. even though the Scripture clearly states that Rebekah – mother of Jacob and Esau – was told by God that the two different “nations” were inside her womb. 9:11 24 Calvin. and therefore. 25:23 . “But though they had not yet acted…God foresaw that they would act.

but instead. it is evident that the reasoning behind God’s choice for the paths of each of the boys before they could do any good or bad was a demonstration. a few resolves can be gathered. this too was not an irresistible act of reprobation of Esau unto eternal damnation. because Jacob does not represent himself. 1:3a 27 Eph. it is clear that the text does not support the idea that God chose those to be in Him. First. It is here that God is said to have 26 Eph.unconditional election. The interpretation of this phrase should be those “who are in Him. who has blessed us. he represents the nation of Israel as a whole. God chose them “to be holy and blameless before him in love. 1:3b 28 Eph. the rejection of Esau by God was His choice of not allowing the descendants of Esau to serve Him. Therefore. or “who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. argues Arminius. He chose those who are in Him to be “holy and blameless” in His sight. but in fact the result of His predetermination of each believer. 1:4b . that there was something about those who are in Christ that God chose before He created the world.” It is locative. or “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Misinterpretation of the phrase “to be in Him” is one that causes the vast differences between Calvinism and Arminianism. for those in Christ. God bestows all blessings. From Ephesians 1:34. or to carry out the Messianic bloodline. with respect to election. Furthermore. all blessings from God will come to those who are in Christ. or “just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. According to this.”29 Here.”27 Third. For those who defend the view of God’s foreknowledge on election often appeal to the biblical passages Romans 8:29 and 1 Peter 1:1-2. it was His way of demonstrating the fact that the gift of His blessings are not the result of merit or of people doing good works. As with Jacob.”28 And fourth.”26 Second. 1:4a 29 Eph.

. From this. God’s foreknowledge spanned across all people. predetermination) was for the purpose of conforming believers into the image of Christ and not to elect them unconditionally unto eternal salvation. For the possible is from eternity. 8:29 31 1 Pet. Therefore. the apostle Peter’s writing is aimed to those who were scatter throughout various Provinces. and actions of people – the obligated answer of most would be no. They are acknowledged as God’s chosen exiles.predestined those from which He foreknew30. 1853). since foreknowledge is of future things. (Auburn. Respectively. Arminius writes: Hence. “A Letter to Hippolytus” in The Works of James Arminius: Translated from the Latin. 698. and included each of them categorically. and William R. 1:1-2 32 Arminius. . With respect to Arminius. or His elect. strictly speaking. things that shall be. and then elected them according to that foreknowledge. Bagnall. and the foreknowledge of God is from eternity. Concerning God’s knowledge of all things.31 The apostle Paul claims that at Romans 8:29. This election is said to be the direct result of God’s foreknowledge (which can be directly translated as “foreordained”). it is safe to affirm the accuracy of the authors of the Scripture when they confess that God predestined believers to conform to the image of Christ and that these believers were elected based on the foreknowledge of God. It was not known before it was possible: for being known is to be possible. whether they were a believer or a non-believer. God’s predestination (or for a better term. NY: Derby. decisions. there is no indefinite foreknowledge…knowledge [is indefinite]. not foreknowledge: for the particle “force” restricts the knowledge of possible tings to the foreknowledge of future things. and of the action employed about it. Jacobus.32 30 Rom. This is apparent from a comparison of the object. Is there anything outside of God’s foreknowledge or knowledge? Unless one is an Open Theist – the theological belief in a personal God who is open to influence through the prayers. Miller and Orton. it is evident that the limits on God’s foreknowledge are being questioned. in Three Volumes.

my sentiments upon it are the following: It is an eternal and gracious decree of God in Christ.Through this passage. . 34 Ibid. But such a decree as I have there described is not that by which God resolves to save some particular persons. but to damn others and not endow them with faith. the question still remains. . resolves to endow them with faith. “…pre-eminent perfection of His understanding and prescience. by which He determines to justify and adopt believers. On a counter point. is that contrary to 33 Ibid. how does God foreknow His elect people? With respect to Arminius.”33 He continues. 698. if God elects those – who have been freed from the bondage of sin – who believe in Christ as the messiah. but to condemn unbelievers. Arminius sums up his argument by writing the following passage in his letter to Hippolytus: With respect to the article of Predestination. and the idea of Calvin that it is unconditional. that He may do this. But I deny what they assert. 35 Ibid. .34 So. and. 699. and impenitent persons. . Yet many people declare that this is the kind of predestination on which the apostle treats . a deeper glimpse of Arminius’ thoughts on God’s extensive knowledge is gained. God’s knowledge off all things is indefinite and without bound. . and to endow them with life eternal. Since His knowledge of all things is indefinite. not as He willed or decreed that they should necessarily be done. Further concerning election. foreknowledge must play a significant role in the extensiveness of that knowledge. through the infinity of His essence.” 35 His foreknowledge of these things is merely to prohibit or permit them. . God has the ability to foreknow future things and through the. but to condemn others and not to endow them with faith. “[C]oncerning that predestination by which God has decreed to save and to endow with faith some particular persons. 707. so various are the sentiments entertained even by the divines [theological professors] of our profession that this very diversity of opinion easily declares the difficulty with which it is possible to determine any thing respecting it.

This is reaffirmed by Paul when he states that. Since election has a direct correlation to salvation. and the damnation of those…[rely] on the prescience and foresight of God. The question seems to be invalid. by which He foreknew. After significant study of the various terminology translations. based on his wisdom and foreknowledge of those who will accept Him. 36 Ibid. 1:21 . through faith in Christ. it has become clear that salvation can only be acquired through Christ. It lies with the presupposition that God elects. unconditionally. God has clearly elected to save those who decide to believe. God is the one that is still choosing or election who to save from damnation. some unto eternal salvation and reprobates some unto eternal damnation. God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. and an in depth investigation of scriptural text.”36 CONCLUSION In concluding. “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him. his son.”37 According to the text. from the grace of God. He has just done so by imposing one particular condition – by His wonderful grace. believe by the aid of preventing or preceding grace. the purpose of this paper was to determine which school of thought – Arminianism or Calvinism – was more biblically consistent in regards to Scriptural interpretation of Election. it is clear that the Arminian – as proposed in the thesis of this paper – holds strong and brings forth a more compelling argument. 719.biblical evidence? Is such a confession equivalent to a person electing God instead of God electing a person? Does that put the power of man over that of God? There is an overlying issue with these questions. Arminius argues that the “salvation of these particular persons. through such administration. and since there is no biblical evidence in which God decrees to unconditionally save anyone or elect anyone unto eternal salvation. In Arminian theology. from all eternity what men would. 37 1 Corth. No one is responsible for saving him or herself.

2002." Scottish Journal of Theology 39. P. IL: Crossway. By Alan P. 1965. Jacobus. S. F. Colorado Springs.Works Cited Arminius. Heron. NY: Derby. David W. H. Walter. Miller and Orton. Arminianism and Salvation. The Faith Once for All: Bible Doctrine for Today. H. Philippians and Colossians. Calvinism. Alasdair.01 (1986): 140. Bagnall. Lake. 1853. Daniel. 2002. Cottrell. T. Boice. Worthing.1 (1987): 32-76. 1993. Parker. Wheaton. E. Torrance. 1984. The Works of James Arminius: Translated from the Latin. "Calvinism And The English Church 1570?1635. and William R. L. . and Thomas F. Ephesians. £2. Torrance. Dallas: Scholarly Reprints.00. "The Great Debate. Joplin. Jack. MI: Eerdmans. The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Evangelical Gospel.95. Curt.. Calvin. in Three Volumes." Past and Present 114.Fr. 141. MO: College Pub. and Philip Graham Ryken. CO: International Bible Society. Auburn. James Montgomery. 1982. John. The History and Theology of Calvinism. Holy Bible: New International Version. Sell. Grand Rapids. Calvin's Commentaries: The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians. G.

Talbot. 1993. Minneapolis. William D. Olson. . IL: IVP Academic. FL: Whitefield Publications. Kenneth G. 2003 Piper. Calvinism. John. Pelikan. Gary Crampton.. Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism. Grand Rapids. Downers Grove. House. MI: Zondervan Pub. 1997. MN: Desiring God Ministries. Jaroslav. Roger E. Lakeland. 1990. and Jaroslav Pelikan. The Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. Creeds & Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition. Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. What We Believe about the Five Points of Calvinism: Position Paper of the Pastoral Staff of Bethlehem Baptist Church. and W. New Haven: Yale UP. 2006. Valerie R. Hotchkiss.Mounce.