Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Election Based on What?

Manuel Cullwell wrote:
Now for my answer... God does not elect men based on "nothing"but rather, he elects men based on their faith and obedience,yes he gives faith How through the preaching of the word and that is how they are elected
I answer:

Your position is directly contrary to Scripture.

Scripture says that, for example, Jacob was chosen over Esau without regard to works.

Thus, God does elect men based on nothing in the men themselves, but rather based on something (fore-love - His purpose - etc.) in God.

Men are elected before the foundation of the world, but are called through (outwardly) the preaching of the gospel and (inwardly) the effectual working in the heart, by the Holy Spirit.

-Turretinfan

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

What do you think of people who say there must have been SOME reason why God elected certain ones, since God does nothing arbitrarily?
--Godith

Turretinfan said...

Dear Godith,

I answer that the reason is intrinsic to God. The fact that it is not based on something about the person does not make the election arbitrary.

-Turretinfan

Anonymous said...

An intrinsic purpose with no reference to the thing chosen is by very nature arbitrary. I have a plate of 100 cookies in front of me. Now I am going to choose one of them. How will I choose? The three most non-related-to-the-object scenarios are these: (1) If I shut my eyes and just grab one. Yet, I have still chosen with reference to some attribute of the cookie, namely location. (2) Eenie-meeny-miney-moe. Again, based on location. (3) If I consider each cookie individually and say to myself that I will flip a coin and if I get tails, I eat the cookie. So, I do this until I get tails on one of them. This is the only way to choose with no real reference to any attribute of the cookie (even location). Yet clearly, this is arbitrary. There is no way to get around the fact that choosing with no reference to any attribute of the object is the very definition of arbitrary, unless you throw all logic out the window (which again is the very definition of arbitrary).

GeneMBridges said...

Godith,

Here's a standard response:

There is a sense in which mercy is arbitrary in a way that justice is not, for mercy, by definition, is undeserved, and not, therefore, obligatory. Reformed theology does not teach there is no selection criterion at all. It is merely hidden and undisclosed. We do not tell God He is arbitrary for what not disclosing His reasons. Is a storm that God causes “arbitrary?”

To say that it is arbitrary in the above sense is not to say that it's unjust or unfair, for inequality of treatment is only unjust when it denies a party his just claims to something. But, by definition, no one has a just claim on the "mercy" of God. All are condemned as sinners and deserve death. (cf. Romans 3).

If the purpose of reprobation is to manifest the mercy of God (Romans 9), then how is that arbitrary? By attacking the doctrine of reprobation, the objection has just supplied a reason for reprobation. Something would only be arbitrary if it had no rationale, no overarching aim. What is arbitrary has no reason or criterion and therefore no purpose. Scripture declares in Ephesians 1 that we have been predestined according to the kind intention of God’s will, and Romans 8 says that part of the reason has to do with God’s intention that Christ be the firstborn of many brethren and that part of this purpose extends to us being conformed to Christ’s image. Therefore, election/predestination is in no way “arbitrary” because it is not random or purposeless.

Just because God has not revealed something to us, that is not a reason to reject truth or criticize it. If that was so, we would lose many of the doctrines of our faith, up to and including, but not limited to, the simultaneous divinity and humanity of Christ, the atonement at Calvary, the virgin birth, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the resurrection of the dead, creation from nothing, and the Trinity, and all accounts of all miracles! We do not edit God, based on the limits of what is mysterious, even within the confines of Scripture, for He simply does not explain everything to us! We are, however, responsible to study and understand God’s Word properly for what He has revealed to us. This includes the sovereign righteousness and freedom of God in all matters, including individual salvation.
On the contrary, in the Arminian view, damnation is arbitrary. The Calvinist says that God creates the damned as a means of manifesting his attribute of justice. By contrast, Arminians can't give any reason for why God would make men knowing they would sin and fall under condemnation and never believe and be saved.
Moreover, since God is not actively foreknowing and predestinating people, in the Arminian system, we see real impersonal determinism working itself out by way of real fatalism. Thus the free will position that seeks to preserve man’s freedom of choice is, in reality, impersonal and fixed, thus being both deterministic and fatalistic. The only way to make it less fixed is the way of Open Theism, which denies the omniscience and omnipotence of God! The Calvinist position is personal, and God is active in the lives of people who make real choices with real moral boundaries. Calvinism is thus inherently personal for both God and man! We agree with Arminians that real, impersonal determinism and fatalism are repugnant to God and man and perversion of the gospel. We thank them for pointing this out. Why then, we ask, do they believe that very thing themselves?

Turretinfan said...

Wow, good answer, Brother Bridges!

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

Anonymous' cookie plate argument engages (unintentionally) in a fallacy:

"An intrinsic purpose with no reference to the thing chosen is by very nature arbitrary. I have a plate of 100 cookies in front of me. Now I am going to choose one of them. How will I choose? The three most non-related-to-the-object scenarios are these: (1) If I shut my eyes and just grab one. Yet, I have still chosen with reference to some attribute of the cookie, namely location. (2) Eenie-meeny-miney-moe. Again, based on location. (3) If I consider each cookie individually and say to myself that I will flip a coin and if I get tails, I eat the cookie. So, I do this until I get tails on one of them. This is the only way to choose with no real reference to any attribute of the cookie (even location). Yet clearly, this is arbitrary. There is no way to get around the fact that choosing with no reference to any attribute of the object is the very definition of arbitrary, unless you throw all logic out the window (which again is the very definition of arbitrary)."

Look at the main assertion to be proved by A: "An intrinsic purpose with no reference to the thing chosen is by very nature arbitrary."

Now, consider what A uses to demonstrate this alleged principle: the cookie selection example.

There is a major and several minor problem with A's attempted demonstration.

The minor problems are that:

a) the flipping the coin method is not the only way we could select a cookie without considering any of the attributes of the cookie - for example, we could ask our friend to choose for us. Flipping a coin is asking God to pick the cookie for us, since Scripture informs us that methods of random selection are controlled by God. Yet clearly asking a wise friend to pick for us (or asking God to pick for us) is not necessarily arbitrary. Consider how Matthias was selected as Judas replacement, or how Achan's sin was discovered.

b) But, of course, that just pushes back that selection problem a level. We can escape allegations of arbitrariness by pushing off the selection to someone else, but can they? The "ask a friend" cannot be the escape, because it results in infinite regression. Ask God is obviously immediately terminating since God cannot pick randomly, as he has no external source of randomness. Alternatively, God cannot pick randomly IF God cannot be arbitrary, and IF picking randomly would be arbitrary, and IF God cannot be arbitrary, which Anonymous seems to hold. So, Anonymous hasn't really provided a way for the person to be arbitrary using a philosophical definition of arbitrary-ness.

c) But picking a cookie based on "location" actually would fall within the normal (not philosophical) definition of arbitrary, just as picking a car based on the last 2 digits of its odometer matching your mother's birthyear would ordinarily be considered arbitrary. In other words, there is nothing in the ordinary definition of "arbitrary" that would link arbitrary-ness to failure to consider intrinsic qualitites of something.

But the major problem is:

Anonymous' cookie plate attempted analogy is non-analogous. Cookies are an already extant thing. In contrast, election is of as-yet-uncreated beings.

Certainly, this glosses over some particulars of the issues related to the order of decrees. Nevertheless, Romans 9 makes it clear that the election of Jacob over Esau was not based on merit/desert (or demerit).

In any event, the impassivity of God requires that the ultimate cause for God's choice lies in himself. If that means that God is "arbitrary" under some definition of "arbitrary" then perhaps we should revisit that particular definition of "arbitrary" to see whether it is self-defeating (i.e. whether that definition is itself arbitrary).

As Gene pointed out above, God has not chosen to reveal all of his reasons, and/or mechanisms to us.

-Turretinfan

GeneMBridges said...

Anonymous appears to have missed the "greater good" argument as well. This is the realm of speculative or philosophical theology.

Simply put, God need have no reason intrinsic to the "cookies" themselves for chosing them. Rather, He need only have a *higher* reason related to something else, namely His own glory.

God may simply choose people based on the outcomes of having an eschatological world full of particular ones (the elect) and another (the reprobate). Of all possible worlds, these would bring Him the most glory when the populations of these worlds see the other and His plan is fully disclosed. There is nothing in these people (like faith) that is considered in their election. Rather, what is considered is the glory that God will be brought when they are all gathered together, the constituent parts of a whole.

Anonymous also misses something else. It is God who bakes the cookies, so the only things that He sees in the cookies are things He Himself puts in the recipe and oversees when baking.

Turretinfan said...

Gene,

Well put!

It is God who bakes the cookies.

It's also God who cuts the cookies from the same sheet of dough, some to be noble and interesting shapes, some to be dull ordinary shapes.

If God decides to use part for eating and part for decorating the house, that's his perogative as cookie-maker.

If God chooses to make some cookies bigger and tastier than others ... etc. etc. etc.

-Turretinfan

natamllc said...

If I cannot be a jelly filled, I don't want to be in the bakery for sale!

And that's final!!