Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Predestined: Personal or Generic? (Part I)
09/03/2005 - James WhiteGuest blogger Alan Kurschner addresses "How to Refute the God only predestined a planof salvation and not a people objection to Election."
Placing this Objection in a Context
Many people are comfortable with allowing God to be sovereign in matters such as nature, answering prayer, ordaining a plan of salvation, etc. But for some reason they are averse to the thought of a sovereign God penetrating the will of man. They think that it is unjust for God to use the will of man for his purposes. God, I am glad that you are sovereign and in control of things, but you have no right to touch the will of man. It is usually not said this bluntly, but essentially this is what they are saying.
So, these folks have a dilemma when they come across terms in the Bible such as 'predestination,' 'election,' and 'chosen.' How do they explain away these terms to protect their so-called autonomous will? Sometimes they may phrase it this way, God predestined a plan (or purpose) so that people can be saved. Notice the "so that." People are not actually saved but salvation is only made possible. I have also heard it said ambiguously, God predestined salvation. Now, does this mean that God predestined salvation as a plan, or does this also include individuals in that plan? We are not told.
A simple way to cut to the chase and avoid all this semantic posturing, is to ask them specifically, "Do you believe that God from eternity past predestined a fixed number of individuals to be saved based only on God's freedom and wisdom and not based on any condition on man's part including some notion of God's foreknowledge of faith in that person?" If they begin to stutter or avoid the question, then take it as a "No." I used to be naïve and think that when people said things they actually meant it without myself having to probe for more clarity. Not any longer. I have learned to query and ask folks to clarify and give me distinctive answers. This is rather unfortunate because as Christians we are told to be truthful, honest, and transparent in discussing God's Word.
Two brief remarks before we look at some specific passages. First, let me say that Calvinists do not deny that God predestined a purpose or a plan of salvation. Of course he did. That is not the issue. How can someone be predestined to salvation if the plan of salvation is not predestined as well? There is no disagreement here. The question at hand is whether God predestined onlythe plan of salvation, or did he actually choose individuals to be saved as well?
Second, I am asked very often, "Why did God choose someone over some other person?" My simple response is to turn to Ephesians chapter one and give them these specific Biblical reasons listed below:
In love he predestined us (v.4,5)
to be holy and blameless in his sight (v.4)
to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ (v.5)
in accordance with his pleasure and will (v.5)
to the praise of his glorious grace (v.6)
in accordance with the riches of God's grace (v.7)
according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, (v.9)
according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will (v.11)
Amazingly though, some are not satisfied with Paul's answers here. They are not content that the reason that someone is elected is for God's purpose and will. They cannot accept that God's wisdom is perfect and just in his choice of the elect. Sometimes I even get a sense that they want an answer that involves what we have done for God to choose us! They are seeking a man-centered reason for the cause of election--not a God-centered reason as Paul lays out in Ephesians 1.