That "Insidious" Doctrine of Election
Wes Kenney shares that Dick Lincoln, pastor of
This preaching, much like Ergun Caner’s on Romans 9, has left me scratching my head. Where in the world do people come up with this? I am not trying to be funny here. I want to know what basis, what foundation, what exegesis, what teaching supports such a statement that would conclude one to think that the doctrine of election is “insidious.”
The only thing I can think of is that Dick believes that when a sinner puts their faith in Jesus Christ (hence “won” to Christ), they become elected at the point of their conversion. They were not elected by God’s eternal decree; rather the basis for their election is their faith in Jesus Christ, a faith I presume Dick believes is sourced in himself and not a gift from God. As a result, a person’s election is not God’s election. It is man’s election determined by man’s libertarian free will which exercises a faith inherent within the ability of man to choose Christ on his own. If this is the case, then election according to the Scripture is rejected so that the sovereign in salvation is not God but man, and the real election that takes place is the present decision in which one determines to choose Christ.
To say that the number of the elect can be changed when someone is saved is to dichotomize the doctrine of election from evangelism and attempts to pit the doctrine of election against evangelism as though it is an either/or proposition. It also argues that God does not know the elect and does not really save the elect; instead, he just tallies up the people who are saved who have recently become elect. Thirdly, this idea confuses the chain of grace in predestination, regeneration, and conversion and lumps it all when a person becomes a Christian. Yet one does not need to look far in the Bible to see the folly of this statement made by Dick. Paul tells us that those whom he foreknew he also predestined, and those whom he predestined he called, and those whom he called he justified . . . (Romans -30). Notice that all the action is past tense. Paul again says that God chose us in him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). When? Before the foundation of the world. If in God’s eternal decree, God has predestined those whom he would save, then the number is fixed and cannot be changed. Where Dick gets the idea that the elect is some flexible number which can change assumes that God does not know who the elect are, and that the causal effect of one’s salvation is deterministically the work of man, not God. But the Scripture clearly tells us that those who received Christ and believed in his name were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God (John -14).
The truth of the matter is that election is foundational to evangelism. Paul became all things to all men so that all might possibly be saved precisely because he believed in the doctrine of election according to Scripture. Paul was encouraged to go to
I submit to you and to Dick Lincoln that it is insidious to preach about something that is not in Scripture. Our sole authority is the Word of God alone. If you have a problem with election, don’t take it up with Calvinists, take it up with God. After all, it was his choice that you have a problem, not the Reformed community. Paul got the message all right, for “the Lord knows those who are his” (2 Timothy ). Indeed, what a firm foundation in God’s eternal decree! Note: Tony Kummer has reminded us that Calvinists are people too and has provided a link for the SBC t-shirt that would be a good reminder for all the anti-Reformed folk.