The Laughable Egoism of Being “Elected” by God

In today’s New York Times there’s a huge article about Mark Driscoll, head of the Mars Hill mega-church in Seattle.

Mr. Driscoll is a Calvinist. This means he believes that, before they were even born, some people were preordained by God to go to heaven—and that everyone else, when they die, gets shot directly to hell. You’re born either one of  God’s “elect” (cue Napoleon Dynamite’s voice: “Lucky!”), or you’re not. Period. And there’s nothing you can do to change your status in that regard.

I’m sure Mr. Driscoll is certain that he is one of those pre-chosen by God to end up in heaven.

In fact, how much do you want to bet that every single member of Mars Hill Seattle—that every Calvinist in the world—is absolutely, 100% positive that they are among the “elect”?

Gosh, I guess Daddy likes them best of all.

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  • skerrib

    Oh this should be fun.

  • John Stickley

    Something tells me that your Calvinist brothers and sisters in Christ won't find this all that entertaining…

  • Redlefty

    I actually agree with the concept of election. But I cast my net a bit wider with my guess of who God chose to redeem…

  • John Shore

    Hey, John! Good to hear from you again! And you're right, they won't. Maybe I was too cavalier/dismissive. But, honestly: Have you ever met a Calvinist who DIDN'T think they were among the elect?

    Red: Everything, of course, hinges on your word, "guess." Guess: cool enough. KNOW: not so much with the cool.

  • Chris

    I would say that NYT missed the mark on Calvinism, just as Newsweek missed the mark on what the Bible says about homosexuality.

    The Bible clearly speaks of election. Israel was elect and told to destroy other nations around them in the Old Testament. Paul and Peter consistently speak of the elect in Christ.

    NYT misunderstood Driscoll and made him out to be some sort of egotist. If they wanted to do a piece on Calvinism, they should have examined some others, like John Piper, Mark Dever, and Al Mohler. The list could go on.

    NYT missed the mark and I think you've missed it this time, too, John.

  • odgie

    Calvinism makes God sound capricious and arbitrary. Why is it that simply accepting the gift of God’s grace offered through Christ is somehow considered a work? I’ve never understood this.

    As has been said John, I reccomend that you buckle-down for a crap-storm of epic proportions. Calvinists don’t like being challenged.

  • John Shore

    What'd I get wrong, Chris?

  • Jessica

    I thought that the belief was that a person could only be "saved" if God chose to intervene for them. That's a little different then being able to nothing to receive God's grace. I could be wrong though. BTW. I live in Seattle and around here he is also known as the "swearing pastor."

  • Graffight

    One of the toughest things to deal with as a christian is the absolute sovereignty of God. It’s a weird thing to think about when one says that we have Free will, but at the same time God already knows who’s going to heaven or hell. In my personal opinion it’s not so much that God “chooses” per se’ who will go to heaven, but that he already knows what we will choose…God uses all people whether they are Christian or not for his glory, so if you are not christian God uses you differently than he uses the Christian…It’s still up to us to decide. as for goofy mc what’s his face…it’s so funny to me how some Christians decide to put themselves on this pedestool (probably not spelled correctly) of ultra righteousness and feel the need to judge others…you were right in your last post, Christians need to stop doing this…it makes us look stupid.

  • Graffight

    what is also funny to me is that he responded in some other blog instead of responding to your blog directly…

  • John Stickley


    With all due respect, I DO think you were a bit too cavalier / dismissive with this post. The last line (“Gosh, I guess Daddy likes them best of all.”) bothered me quite a bit… it just doesn’t capture an attitude I see in Calvinist Christians.

    Maybe I misunderstand the theology, but it does not appear to me that Calvinists dismiss the universality of God’s love, but rather, place an emphasis on God’s sovereignty in salvation. I know… if God is truly love, it just doesn’t make sense how he could elect some for salvation and leave others for damnation… it sounds like a “Daddy loves me most” kind of thing. But on the other hand, it doesn’t make sense how God can be wholly sovereign, in control of all, yet leave salvation wholly up to us… that sure sounds a lot like “God doesn’t know everything after all” kind of thing. Neither of those concepts work, if you ask me.

    So… IMHO, it all boils down to this… how God meshes free-will and election is simply too complex a thing for we humans to fully understand. They seem to be diametrically opposed concepts, clearly in tension, yet somehow BOTH are part of how God works salvation.

    Which is TOTALLY cool, if you ask me.

  • Chris


    For one thing, you did spell Mark's name wrong. ;)

    On another, it appears you're taking everything you know about Driscoll from the NYT article.

    The NYT article got it wrong by focusing on the negativity surrounding Driscoll. I listen to Driscoll on a regular basis. He is encouraging to me in my faith, as is Piper, and the ministry of Sovereign Grace. Calvinism is all about grace and God's sovereignty. It's not about elitism and egotism.

    John, I think you're jumping to conclusions about Driscoll. Why don't you look up what he actually says about election? The same with John Piper, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, or even Josh Harris. Then maybe draw your conclusion from there, rather than paint with a broad brush that Calvinists are egotists.

  • John Shore

    Chris: Thanks for noting the misspelling of Mark's name! I changed it.

    Please do feel free to tell me what Driscoll believes about election. Seriously. I did assume that the NYT article was right when it said he was a Calvinist who believes in the doctrine of preordination. If Driscoll doesn't believe that before the world was made God had already preordained some people to make it into heaven and others to not, then there's no question but that I've been as wrong as wrong gets.

  • Chris

    I'm not saying that he doesn't believe that, but to label him as an egotist without actually hearing his explanation of it, is to me, intellectual dishonesty. I'm not trying to be mean, it's just that's my opinion of it. Unless you think that all Calvinists are egotists. The label is often applied to those who don't understand the doctrine of election. Yes, Driscoll believes that, but one cannot get the full picture of who Driscoll is from a secular media news article, especially the New York Times. It's as bad as the recent article in Newsweek about the Bible and homosexuality.

  • mcoville

    So I do not have a lot of thought on Calvinism or Marc Driscoll, mainly because I have not listened to much of his sermons. I have listened to John Piper and I can not find much to argue with there. I did a look up for info on Calvinism and found this site:
    I do not see "egoism" coming from several professing Calvinists (namely John Piper, CJ Mahaney, Al Mohler and definitely not John MacArthur) that I have taken the time to listen too. Sorry John but I am going to have to agree with Chris and say that you should take the time to listen to more Calvinists, than just NYT, before making statements like this post.

  • John Shore

    OK, so Mark does believe that some people are predestined by God to upon their death enter heaven, and others are predestined by God to go to hell. We agree that he believes that–that the NYT was right about that.

    Do you think Mark Driscoll believes that he is one of those whom God preordained for heaven?

  • Chris

    I'm pretty sure he believes that too. Why wouldn't he?

  • John Shore

    So Mark Driscoll, then, goes through his life, every day, knowing that he is among those who have been specially destined, by God, before the world began, to go to heaven after he dies. He's among the elect. He's been specially chosen. Millions of other people, around the world right now, are destined for hell, but not Mark Driscoll. He's unique. He's been delivered. God saw fit to lift up Mark Driscoll, to admit him into the Special Club for which only a select few are chosen.

    Are you seriously questioning that understanding that you're among God's specially chosen elect necessarily makes you an egoist? Do you actually imagine there's some way to feel that way about yourself and remain, in any sense of the word as we commonly use it, humble?

    Dude. C'mon.

  • mcoville

    John: Yes. God new before time who was going to be in heaven and who would be in hell and Jesus told us that (Matthew 7:13)"many there be which go in thereat".

    I have to believe that I am among those that he knew would choose salvation or why would I follow Christ. Is that egotistic of me to say? Sadly I look around me and know that the majority of people around me are going to hell, but my sadness does not change the knowledge of God. I would prefer that everyone that I think deserves heaven should get to go, but it is there choice to make and God knew their choice before time was created.

    This is one of those things I feel we will not be able to comprehend until we are in His presence in heaven,like why did God put the tree of knowledge in the garden if he already knew Adam and Eve would eat of it and bring sin into the world. But we can not call someone egotistic for stating a Biblical truth, God knew who was going to heaven and who was going to hell before we make the choice (it's part of the whole omni thing).

  • John Shore

    Gee, Mcoville, what a surprise, to learn that you're sure YOU'RE among God's special elect.

    And what a surprise, that you look around you, and are sure whom among those you see are and aren't going to hell.

    We CAN call an egoist someone who thinks they've been specially chosen by God. I can. I am. And you prove my point with everything you say. You're as arrogant as arrogant gets. And you've got that special smugness that is an absolutely unavoidable side effect of knowing God likes you better than most everyone else.

  • Chris


    It seems that you're taking this a little personal. How can one know they are among the elect? By their fruits, according to Jesus. It's actually humbling to know that one has been chosen by God, not egotistical.

  • John Shore

    Gee, what a surprise. Someone else who thinks they were predestined by God to go to heaven.

    Is there anyone out there who thinks God preordained them to go to hell??

    No? Gee. What a surprise.

  • mcoville

    John: Your being a bit judgmental aren't you?

    I never said I am sure whom among those I see are and aren't going to hell. What I did say was that Jesus said that most people are going to choose hell or following Him. How is that egotistic?

    It is humbling to know that even a wretched sinner like me was shown grace by Jesus and he welcomed me in to heaven. He knew that I would eventually choose Him over me and He knew that before time, that is very humbling and I take no credit for my salvation. But to add to your original post, I did have to choose Him and accept his gift of salvation, but that is not a work that is an action in response to grace.

    Last thing to clarify, when you said "We CAN call an egoist someone who thinks they’ve been specially chosen by God. I can. I am.", where you calling yourself an "egoist"?

  • John Shore

    I'm done here, boys. It's been fun.

  • Greg

    It's strange to have a discussion about election without considering what the Bible has to say about the subject.

    John, by your definition of egotism, Jesus, Peter and Paul would all be guilty.

    “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” (John 6:63-65 ESV)

    “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” (1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV)

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)

  • John Shore

    Greg: So you believe in the doctrine of preordination, then?

    And if you do, then do you believe that YOU are one of those with whom God elected to share heaven?

  • Greg

    I believe the doctrine of election is biblical, as evidenced by the words of Jesus, Peter, and Paul above.

    Before I answer personal questions about my faith (which is, after all, between me and God), I think we should establish whether you believe what the Bible says about election.

    John, do you believe the words of Jesus, Peter, and Paul?


  • Greg

    I see how it goes—quote Scripture and receive a sarcastic reply. I'll move along before boring you further.

  • Laura


    If you want to hear what Mark Driscoll really thinks about calvinism and predestination and that whole theological can of worms, I would recommend listening to his sermon titled "unlimited limited atonement."

    I found the NYT article very interesting, as does my husband, who listens to Mark Driscoll's podcast every week. While I do think there is some truth to the article, a lot of what was written was taken out of context. I noted that there was actually very little fact presented about Driscoll being a calvinist besides that he looks to Martin Luther as a role model.

  • John Shore

    Greg: And before you answered my very simple question. Gee. What a surprise.

  • Greg

    …ad infinitum/nauseum…

  • John Shore

    It's yours to end. Why are you so reluctant to tell us what you believe about your relationship to God?

  • Casey

    hmm, I believe that people are preordained to go to heaven. That was why Jesus died on the cross- so we'd all go to heaven. Right?

    But I also believe that just because something is foretold, (which is how I am taking the word preordained)doesnt mean that it cant be changed. Just because I was supposed to go to heaven doesnt mean I am. In fact, I very firmly believe I'm going to hell. And i'm okay with that.

    but if I'm wrong in my analogy I'm sure someone will tell me.

  • mcoville

    It may because of your description of me as "You’re as arrogant as arrogant gets." when all I did was post my thought on this theology, and then when I questioned you, you cut it off with no response.

    I respect your right to not answer any question you choose not to but you can't get down on someone else for doing the same.

  • John Shore

    Let him fight his own fights, mc.

  • Greg

    I'm not reluctant, I just realize that you'd rather make the argument about me than about God's Word. You have your own reasons for this, I am sure.

  • John Shore

    Greg: Tell you what. Let's compromise. You tell me whether you believe that you are amongst those preordained by God to go to heaven, and I won't say a word to you about it afterwards; I promise you I'll make virtually no comment on your claim, either way. None. I'll end our exchange. That way you can be confident that I won't follow your honest answer to that honest question with any argument for or against you, either way.

    C'mon, friend. I'm sorry I've been so harsh on you. But be honest with us: Are you one of the lucky elect bound for heaven, or one of the poor unfortunates destined for hell?

  • skerrib

    I'm somewhere in the middle. Can't claim Arminianism or Calvinism proper. I believe there are elements of choice (ours) and sovereignty (God's) involved. My husband says it's a copout to say "both," but I really do think it is both at once. I don't know if it's "preordained" or more like "foreknew" (ie God knew who would & wouldn't accept him as opposed to picking), but I don't think we get to completely understand the whole thing in this life either.

    A couple thoughts that I think are important:

    –IF it's a matter of being chosen, we have no way of knowing who is and isn't. So there's NO room for any sort of bragging, smugness, or dismissiveness to anybody. Only gratefulness for what Jesus did and hope for others.

    –I very staunchly believe that anyone who wants God, gets him. With passages like John 3:16 I don't think there's "Gosh I'd really like to follow God but I'm not chosen. Darn, that sucks."

    –I'm all for missions & stuff. God uses people to tell other people about him. But knowing he's sovereign releases us from panicking if they don't want to hear about him, or don't respond with "yes, person on the streetcorner, I'd like to accept Jesus now." Frees us up to love others without ulterior motives, and all that.

    As for Driscoll himself I'm not super-familiar with him, but to me as a person he seems a bit on the egotistical side, no matter what he's talking about. I think that has as much to do with the tone of the article as anything else.

  • Greg

    John, I appreciate your apology. Today is the first time I've ever posted a comment on your blog and I have no desire to defend myself against ad hominem arguments.

    My honest answer to your question is that I believe all who are saved because of Christ's blood are part of his elect. As one who believes Jesus died for my sins, I include myself in this category. The apostle John wrote, "whoever has the Son has life, and whoever does not have the Son does not have life" (1 John 5:12). Immediately after this, he continues, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13 ESV).

    By inspiring John to write these words, I conclude that God wanted His children to have confidence in their saved status. This does not mean that they should lord it over others or be proud. It is one thing to be confident, it is quite another to be arrogant. Anyone who lacks humility in the face of what God has given him in Christ fails to understand the magnitude of what he has claimed to receive. Put another way, if a beggar receives food, he should not criticize other beggars who are still starving, he should share his food with them.

    John, thanks for hearing me out. I would still appreciate your thoughts on the Scriptures I've quoted.

  • John Shore

    You said, "I believe all who are saved because of Christ’s blood are part of his elect. As one who believes Jesus died for my sins, I include myself in this category." If I hear this right, then, what you're saying is that you believe that everyone who believes in Christ is, by virtue of that fact and that fact alone, is automatically counted amongst those preordained by God to go to heaven. In short, virtually everyone who believes in Christ goes to heaven. Which means there are no Christians who don't make it into heaven.

    Um. Well, that's … as standard a Protestant belief as you can get. It's not like any definition of preordination or predestination I've ever heard of, but it sure works for me. Coolio.

  • John Shore

    Well, I'll tell you. What I feel I've met in you is someone who believes in exactly what I thought they did. You do what all Calvinists do, which is split Christians into two kinds: those whom they believe are the REAL Christians, and those whom they believe are not—those who, as you put it, only "give lip service to Jesus." That means that you personally are comfortable judging who is saved, and who is not. And that means that I'm stuck right back where I began. Because claiming knowledge of who is and isn't REALLY Christian is as clear a testimony to arrogance as can possibly exist. You judge who is and isn't worthy of the name of Christ. Dangerous slope to go sliding on, friend. If there's ONE thing I think it's wise to leave to God alone, it's determining who is and isn't saved.

  • Greg

    John, you are putting words in my mouth. Go back and read what I wrote. I did not judge anyone. I did not claim to know the status of even one person's standing with God. Jesus is the judge, as he said himself in Matthew 7:19-23 which I quoted. Your argument is with him, not with me.

  • John Shore

    So you don't know who is and isn't saved. Cool; I thought you said you did. But you don't know. So that means you also don't know for sure if you personally are going to heaven or hell. You HOPE you're going to heaven, of course. But since only God can judge, only he knows your ultimate fate. You don't. Do I have that right now? I'm not being mean; I'm really asking you. Do you claim to know whether you personally are among God's elect?

    Well, wait: we know your answer to that. You believe you are.

    So–and again, I'm just trying to understand–you believe that you have the ability to know that it is God's will that you end up in heaven. You have that discernment relative to your own fate. But you do NOT have it relative to anyone else's, because, as you say, "Jesus is the judge." You know you're saved; you know others aren't; but you don't know who belongs in which group. But you DO know that not everyone who THINKS they're saved is; you're certain that a large number of people who THINK they're saved Christians are not.

    You KNOW you're going to heaven; you can't know who else is. And knowing that you are doesn't in any way improve or enhance your ability to tell if others are. So when you say, "many people give lip service to Jesus but in reality live as if they don’t really believe him," that's not a judgement call on your part. You're just .. saying.

    Hey, listen. You've been a good sport. Unless you write back and say, "Hey! You're right! Inherent in my conviction that I'm among the elect MUST come an attending conviction that I can tell who ELSE is among the elect! I divide people into those who are saved and those who aren't! How can that NOT end up an excerise in sheer, arrogant egoism?!", then I think it's safe to say we're going to be stuck on this merry-go-round. So let's let this drop, 'eh? I appreciate your engagement and patience; you've been great. Thanks again. Maybe on the other side of death we'll get a chance to revisit this great topic. Well. Assuming I make it where we all know YOU'RE ending up. As I said in my original post (and done, in my head, as Napolean Dynamite puts it): Lucky!!

  • Greg

    When I say "many people give lip service to Jesus but in reality live as if they don’t really believe him", I'm paraphrasing Jesus' words from Matthew 7:19-23. Why do you steadfastly criticize me for this while ignoring his words altogether?

    You seem to be mad at me for simply repeating what Jesus said. Again, your argument is not with me (or with the straw men you keep creating), but with Jesus.

  • John Shore

    I have no problem in the world with Jesus claiming to know who is and isn't saved. I have trouble with anyone who isn't God claiming to know the same thing.

  • Greg

    So do you agree that I can know I am saved (1 John 5:12-13) and that some who claim to be Christian will not be saved (Matthew 7:19-23)?

    If we find agreement here, why did you write just a few posts ago that I was doing "what all Calvinists do" by splitting Christians into "two kinds", and why did you imply that I was exercising "sheer, arrogant egoism"?

    Do you care to retract either of those statements?

  • John Shore

    You know, somehow ending this exchange hasn't quite worked out. As I say, friend, I greatly appreciate the quality of this conversation. But I'm gonna end it now. Thanks again. Best to you.

  • John Shore

    My house, Greg: My rules. First you tell me whether or not you think you personally have been elected by God to share heaven with him. Then I’ll tell you whether or not you bore me to tears.

  • Aaron

    John, why won't you deal with any of the texts Greg posted? What gives?

  • John Shore

    I don't "deal with" the texts Greg offered as support for his theological positions because any child knows that you can use just about any selection from the Bible as support for just about any position you can dream of. I don't even almost read those texts the way he does, and I don't care to waste my time stepping into that mess. Greg believes what he believes. I'm not about to change that. Good enough.

  • Greg

    John, I believe everyone who depends upon Christ as their righteousness (by faith) will be saved, and this faith is a gift of God. Nobody is argued into trusting Christ for their salvation, it is something the Holy Spirit convicts a person of when they are born again. God—not man—initiates the process.

    I think the problem is that many people give lip service to Jesus but in reality live as if they don’t really believe him. Are all of these people really saved, merely by claiming to be believers? Jesus argues that the answer to this question is “No”.

    “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:19-23 ESV)

    The former Catholic priest Brennan Manning echoed this sentiment, saying, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

    John, maybe we still don’t see eye to eye in our theology, but at least now you’ve met one Calvinist who doesn’t fit the stereotype reflected in your comment to Chris: “We CAN call an egoist someone who thinks they’ve been specially chosen by God.”

    I hope you can see that believing God is the Author and Finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2) leaves me with nothing left to be proud about, but everything to be grateful for.

  • mcoville

    Wow John, I can't sit on the sidelines for this one anymore, even under your threat of banning me from your post. So here we go…

    You stated that "any child knows that you can use just about any selection from the Bible as support for just about any position you can dream of." All though this is true it does not negate the truth of the Bible. If we look at a verse in context, and knowing that the Bible never contradicts itself, we can discern what it means by comparing it to other verses in the Bible (this is called HERMENEUTICS). Any time you start a discussion into theological matters you should always include scripture as it is the ultimate authority on the matter, Sola Scriptura. And if you "don’t even almost read those texts the way he does," then explain how you do read them and maybe we can come to a consensus on it's true meaning and then have the same opinion on this matter.

    You seam to continually hide behind the old "child playground rules", "it's my ball and I'm going home with it because you'r not being nice", very mature. You may continue to grow your knowledge of theology if you admit you may be wrong once in a while and learn from other Christian brothers and sisters that, in my opinion, have been nothing but nice to you in answering your questions.

    There is nothing wrong with a Christian, wither it is Greg, Mark Driscoll or myself, to state that they KNOW they are saved and going to heaven when their time here is done, Jesus told us so and "if it were not so, T would have told you,.."(John 14:2). We are lucky enough as Christians to have the living word of God, written in book form, to assure us of our salvation. But there are those that only God knows there true hearts that in the end times will say "Lord, Lord" and He will turn them away for being heretics (Luke 13:27). This is why I stated in a previous post that I would welcome any Christian brother or sister to tell me if they found fault in my theology or doctrine so I could go to the Bible in prayer and make sure I have it right.

    So John, if you feel you are comfortable with your style of religion but are unwilling to submit to the authority of the Bible as being the word of God, so be it. But do not say someone else is egotistic for believing the words of Jesus and stating their assurance of salvation as a fact. I will pray that you do not take this as an attack but as the thoughts of a Christian brother that loves you and wants to help you on the journey to grow in righteousness as we are called to do, Ephesians 4:13-16.

    I say these things to you in love and in Jesus who is the risen Christ.

  • Dan Harrell

    I always too late to get in the "good" discussions. I am happy to say that I have no clue where I'll end up, and that someday I'm going to see a lot of surprised expressions when heaven is full of all kinds of people that arrived with God's approval, not mine.

    In fact, I'm hoping that perhaps God will grade on the curve. I'm positive that Peter, Paul, Moses and several million others are far more holy than I will ever be, because I struggle every day with my nature.

    I'm willing to bet that Greg and mcovile have had some doubts in their lives about their final destination. Let's attribute Jihads and the crusades to those who seem to be fully convinced they had a pipeline to God and that they would end up in heaven, with or without 77 virgins.

    For the rest of us humans, I'm thinking God's basket is much bigger than I can every imagine.

  • FreetoBe

    I'm thinking all we have is a heavenly hope, since Jesus is the final authority. Keeps us humble.

  • Natalie

    Just because God knows you are going to do something before you do it doesn’t mean you aren’t free to do what you want.

    Calvinism is just a word to express one view of this concept.

  • PhilBarnEs

    John, one thing that I think you are missing is the fact that the elect did nothing to be accepted by God.

    I believe that I am among the elect and the Holy Spirit testifies this along with my Spirit (it's called assurance). However, I did nothing special to make God accept me, it was out of his Sovereign love that he allowed my heart to be softened to his gospel.

    Also, paint this picture in your head:

    It's not that the average human is crowded around the pearly gates of heaven begging on his knees to get in. He is, however, running as fast as he can away from the pearly gates and without God's love to intervene, he will continue to run.

    Furthermore, it is not our responsibility to determine who is the elect or who is going to be the elect. We can, however have confidence that we are going to heaven based on Rom. 10:13.

    Lastly, I believe that we can remain humble in our attitude while at the same time holding this view. Humility is a matter of the heart and if we are giving God the glory for our salvation, this takes all of "us" off of our justification. Read Wayne Grudems Bible Doctrine book. The chapter on Election.

  • John Shore

    Phil: I am familiar with the the concept of the "elect," and know what you're saying here; it's not a terribly subtle dynamic. You were chosen by God; you're going to heaven. And I think that's wonderful for you.

    All I'm saying is … I'd like to meet the person who believes in the Calvinistic doctrine of pre-election who doesn't think that they personally are among those God has predestined for heaven. You never, EVER meet a Calvinist who goes, "Yeah, God predestined everyone for either heaven or hell. Sadly—even though I believe in Christ, even though I struggle to live according to His precepts—I'm pretty sure I'm going to hell."

  • http://none Don Rappe

    I love these old posts. Way more Heat than Light. Lots of testosterone too. Confusing philosophical questions with spiritual ones. Thanks to Natalie, she said it all.

  • John Shore

    All "spiritual" questions are philosophical questions.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    John, don't YOU believe that YOU are saved? If you believed that what you believe doesn't save you, why do you care to inform others on those beliefs then?

    I think when you wrote, "There’s nothing you can do to change your status in that regard"—although that does sum up the beliefs of some people—it’s an over-simplification. One's ultimate fate will be what it will be. The future doesn't really "change" any more than the past. God transcends time. Yet that status is informed by decisions we make, which God’s already aware of, even as we are not—but not that those decisions are free exactly: You wouldn't have been "free" to choose Christ had you never heard of Him; you wouldn't have "free-willed" your way to heaven if the Holy Spirit hadn't've thrown you into a supply closet, onto your knees. I hope and believe that I will be saved, but God only knows. As for others, I would hope that they might be saved as well, but if such is not their fate, is God unjust? Not at all, says Paul. So never you mind: God knows what we're doing—that is, what he's doing with us.

    There's really no conflict between predestination and free will—like matter or light as both ethereal wave and a collection of particles, or the sound of music as a collection of notes or a vibrational waveform. What is foreknown to God can appear to us as mere contingency, due to our lack of omniscience; what is chosen by us may be compelled, thanks to our lack of omnipotence; where the hearts are that are hardened unto hell—not that this was unloving towards them, because "they" is not really a thing existing in the sense that we often think of it being—we cannot seek out for our lack of omnipresence. What other omni's shall I include? Omnidirectional? No, that one's just too hard to explain for us humans.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    God *is* capricious and arbitrary; He made you, didn't he? Didn't have to though. Moreover, he made penguins, for Pete's sake :). Oh… so now we're gonna complain about how God didn't elect the penguin race unto salvation!? If not for his (seemingly capricious) sovereign choice, why the Israelites and not the Iroquois? Free will? Sure, somehow the Israelites freely willed to retain a perfect antediluvian record, and the Iroquois all just chose to forget about it, yet retain their knowledge of the Great Spirit, though I guess just none of them had nearly such a strong will to love Him as Abraham, so they all made sure to listen only to prophets preaching lies, which–again, of their own free will–none of the Israelite prophets ever did. All this a purely coincidental outcome of each individual's independent choices, which makes about as much sense as saying that we could beat a grandmaster at chess by executing arbitrary choices at every move of the game (even after taking into account the ever-present limitations inherent & explicit in the known rules).

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Oh… I should make it clear that I took "capricious" in the sense of choosy, whimsical, uncertain, but NOT inconstant, since–if anything–Calvinism asserts God, and His will, to be entirely constant, eternally unchanging, and wholly unchangeable.

  • Levi Brinkerhoff

    This viewpoint is actually quite common, yet, i would like to humbly point out one thing that is off in it. If we say that "God elected me because He knew my choice before the foundation of the world", then we make ourselves out to be the initiator of our relationship with God. To look at the whole context of Scripture would show that this is not so.

    I do not call myself calvinist or reformed. I'm actually a minister in calvary chapel, which, Mark Driscoll wrongly claimed is an Arminist church. If anyone is familiar with the Calvary Chapel statement of faith, then you will know that we believe in the balance between God's election and man's responsibility.

    How does this work? God IS totally sovereign. He elects. If it weren't for His election, then ALL men would remain in their sin and hatred toward God. Of course, probably the greatest section of scripture concerning the doctrine of Election is Romans chapters 9-11. Here we see the election of Israel. (which is, in a sense, a different understanding of election. God elected israel, as a nation, to be His chosen nation. This does not necessarily speak of salvation. Of course, some of those from Israel were/are saved. Take Abraham for example.) In this section of scripture, we come across a difficult and common misunderstood phrase. "Jacob I have loved and Esau I have hated (not accepted)." 1: What was the basis of God's love (acceptance) of Jacob and hatred (rejection) of Esau? Works? No. God made that choice before they were born. 2: What is God speaking about? Salvation? No, not here. But, He is speaking of Jacob as in the sense of Israel, God's chosen nation. Just because Esau and his heirs were rejected from being God's chosen people, does that mean that Esau was banned from salvation? No.

    Back to the point, we are not elected for our works, or because God knew our choice. Without His election, our choice would always be to rebel against Him. On the other hand, does God send people to hell? (Limited atonement) No. I don't want to make this comment too long, i'm sorry if it already is. Read those chapters in Romans. In short, if you are elected, it is by God's sovereign grace. If you are not, it is because you chose to go to hell.

  • Levi Brinkerhoff

    If i may add one more paragraph to clarify the last sentence…

    Romans 9:22-23 says this: "[What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,". Notice two very subtle details. 1: The vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. (Fitted implies that they made themselves that way.) These are the ones that are going to hell. They chose it themselves. 2: The vessels of mercy. God chose them.

    Hope that maybe clarifies my thought.

  • DR

    Wow. This is amazing.

  • DR

    This is such a trap set up by people like Mark. “Do you believe the Bible, John? If so, the next words out of your mouth will be what I believe the Bible to say, otherwise you are not someone who actually believes what the Bible says. But let me ask this like it’s a genuine question so I don’t look like I’m trying to trap you into having a discussion based on my own terms.”

    It’s so insidious and manipulative, I’m surprised we’ve allowed people to get away with this for so long.

  • DR

    (greg. Not Mark).

  • Don Rappe

    Natalie said:”Just because God knows you are going to do something before you do it doesn’t mean you aren’t free to do what you want.

    Calvinism is just a word to express one view of this concept.”

    The first part of Natalie’s statement may be taken as an expression of physical determinism. I regard this as a philosophical idea, but, not a spiritual one. The second part, about human freedom, is a spiritual matter. It has to do with God’s gift of spirit to us.

    Not all philosophical questions are spiritual ones.

  • KenLeonard

    Well, the Calvinists that I know all say that no one who isn’t part of the elect can really understand the idea, and isn’t given the grace and love to accept Jesus.

    So, not only are they God’s chosen special ones, they’re smarter and nicer than everyone else, too.

  • Christy

    You’re right, I haven’t met anyone who is willing to say that either, though a former Calvinist Presbyterian minister was willing to say: “Yeah, God predestined everyone for either heaven or hell. Sadly—even though I believe in Christ, even though I struggle to live according to His precepts – who can really know for sure?”

  • KenLeonard

    Well, no.

    There are, in fact, Calvinists who state that free will does not exist. Nice try, though …

    Google the phrase “free-will heresy” and see what happens.

  • Joshua Jones

    You have absolutely no concept of Biblical Election.

  • Bones

    God didn’t choose Israel either. All of those stories are nationalistic revisionism.

  • Joshua Jones

    ELection in mentioned in the New Testament over 30 Times,..You must deal with it.

  • Bones

    No, I must not.

    Israel reinterpreted it’s history placing itself as the ‘chosen’ people.

    Of course the self-righteous believe they are the ‘chosen’ ones ‘elected’ by God. You can do anything when you are the ‘chosen’ ones.

    eg ISIS, Old Testament Israel, Medieval Catholics, John Calvin, Jim Jones, Westboro Baptist.

    It’s the hallmarks of a dangerous cult.

  • allegro63

    Try 23, at least in the KJV, and the word usage varies with each passage, depending on text, also who the passage is speaking about. Sometimes it refers to God, or Jesus, sometimes to a particular group of people, and several times a particular individual.

    This link provides all the references.

    To attempt to make the word proof of divine predestination, just doesn’t add up in regards to scripture.

    Can you deal with that?

  • allegro63

    True. The wacko church I grew up in adhered to that theology. They and only they were the truly chosen of god, none outside that group remotely qualified. As the church membership never rose over 145,000, and that they firmly believed in “preaching the gospel to the world” it means two things.

    1. They sucked at proselytizing
    2. If they were right, then humanity was pretty well screwed. They weren’t, which is also true of other groups that believe such a convoluted theory.

  • Joshua Jones

    Yeah, I can deal with that,..Here is election

    “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— ”

    ” In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,..”

    *Upon further examination of your profile, I believe quoting scripture verbatim will be wasted on you, as you neither believe the sufficient of scripture nor the inerrantacy.
    The doctine of Election rightly understood is a most humbling doctrine, people weren’t chosen because they were better than others (Romans9) but rather it was in “accordance with his pleasure and will”(V11) Whoever comes to Jesus may be in this number, I am not God HE alone knows the end from the beginning.

  • Bones

    It was an early belief that Christians usurped Jews as the ‘ ‘chosen’ people as they were people of the new covenant. Which is where that language comes from. The idea that Paul had any more of an understanding of election and predestination than the guy down the street is arguable.

    In reality there was no covenant with Israel. No exodus. No Abrahamic covenant. Much of the Old Testament is revisionist nation building which we still have the effects from as seen in the Middle East.

    Just face it. If you are born a Muslim in Pakistan or a Hindu in India or gay or with chromosomal abnormalities then there’s not much chance you’re going to be elected. Different story of course if you are born in the Bible Belt where you’re almost certainly going to be one of the Elect.

    Of course Calvin himself is most definitely not part of the Elect.

  • allegro63

    The doctrine of predestination is highly problematic, and not original to Christianity.

    Problem one. Those who believe in the theory, always place themselves as one who was chosen, every single time, without exception.

    Problem #2. These same people decide who and who isn’t chosen. They claim that anyone who doesn’t belief certain things, and that they speak for God in this regards, but have zero proof of the matter, nor can they really know the mind of beliefs of the divine, as even different sanctions of adherents to predestination theory, disagree sharply with the meaning and intent of several passages of scripture.

    Problem 3# Its prideful. not humble. for the reasons of reason 1 and 2, attempting to give an excuse to dismiss, degrade or demean the beliefs of others, or their standing with The Divine.

  • John Shore

    I think you captured the very essence of Biblical Election the moment you upvoted your own comment.

  • BarbaraR

    Oooh BURN.