Abraham Booth on Opposition to the Doctrine of Election
From the back cover: The son of a Nottingham farmer, Abraham Booth (1734-1806) had no formal schooling and taught himself to read and write. He was introduced to the doctrines of grace in 1768, and they completely transformed his faith. They stirred up such a burning love for Christ and his Word that he was prompted to write The Reign of Grace, which was first published in April of that year. In his chapter, “The Reign of Grace in Election,” Booth has a section where he addresses opposition to the doctrine of election in which he says the following:
The doctrine of election, or as we sometimes call it, the doctrine of distinguishing grace, is rejected and ridiculed today. It is not thought to be worth any serious thought by many who are sophisticated in their thinking. In times past, great men who were noted for their piety and learning always gave a prominent place to this doctrine in their theological works. This was especially true of the early Reformers who delivered the church from the darkness of Roman Catholicism. Election is now considered to be a relic from the past which gullible men believed hastily. It is dismissed as a teaching that is abhorrent to human reason and even opposed to God’s perfect character. It is thought best to forget all about election as something that we should not presume to pry into, as it is a waste of time. This doctrine is slandered because it is considered to be detrimental to practical godliness and the happiness and hope of mankind. No wonder election has become so out of fashion today. It Reveals Our Pride Why is there so much opposition to this teaching? The reason must be because it lays the axe to the root of all our supposed moral excellence about which we love to boast. One of the main purposes of election is that it is designed to reveal all hidden pride in the heart. Everyone is brought down to the same level. The only reason why God should choose one person for salvation and not another is revealed in the words of our Lord: ‘Even so, Father, for it seemed good in your sight’ (Matt. 11:26). Everyone who believes and loves this doctrine rests upon this. So we must resolve any difficulties that we have with election, by leaving the matter with the sovereign God. The Word of God has no praise for anyone who would dare to call God to account over this matter. This includes those who may be educated, wise and morally upright. The Scriptures oppose such audacity bluntly: ‘But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?’ (Rom. 9:20). It Reveals Our Works as Futile A further reason why election is opposed is because it teaches that the same sovereign grace which began the work of salvation must also carry on that work to completion. At no point is there a place for any contribution from us. The Most High is always jealous of his own honour and he is determined to have all the glory. For these and other reasons we can see why election is resented and attacked today. Men and women rely upon themselves and this independent spirit within them is stirred up by such a teaching. It follows that the few who have lovingly bound themselves to this precious doctrine will be criticized and ridiculed and may even suffer something worse. Such is the unpopularity of this teaching!