Well, I’m finally over oral surgery, the holidays, and the beating I received this past weekend in the Naked Bible fantasy football league. (And that hurt more than the surgery). Time to get back to election.
As indicated in my previous posts on this, I think the common view of election doesn’t work. By common view, I mean this:
Why don’t I think that elect = saved? Because equating the elect and the saved leads to biblical incoherent statements. For example:
1. The nation of Israel was elected (chosen) by God (Deut. 4:37; 7:6-7) … and this election refers to the people born in the line of Abraham to create Yahwehs people … but all (most?) Israelites were not saved; i.e., they were not followers of Yahweh (cf. the exile). This leads to logical questions:
- If these apostate Israelites were elect, how could they not be saved?
- How could Gods election fail?
2. Consider (Romans 9-11) that the reversal of Israels election to non-election status. This reversal was designed to enable Gentile salvation. It was settled before foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). Therefore, Israels national election cannot have meant salvation, since for God’s plan for the Gentiles to be coherent and work, many Israelites had to not be saved (though they were elect).
3. Non-elect people (Gentiles) could convert (and so their non-elect status did not mean they were beyond salvation). That leads to thoughts and realizations like:
- The salvation of the non-elect Gentile was predestined before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4)
- So if the terms elect and saved are synonyms, God predestined that the destiny of each, made in real time in the day of Abraham, would be reversed, at least in part, later on.
I hope you get the picture. Now for my solution. It’s actually pretty simple, and not novel. I’m just going where the evidence pushes me. Election and salvation must be distinct, but related, things:
Here’s my proposal in diagram:
What this diagram says:
- Everyone saved was elect …
- but not all the elect are saved.
- There is a remnant WITHIN the elect.
- The remnant is not synonymous with the elect
Now for some ramifications — especially factoring in the non-elect. This proposal means:
- There are elect who will be saved.
- There are elect and non-elect who will not be saved (because elect is not a synonym for saved).
- There are also non-elect who will be saved.
This last thought should not sound strange since the non-elect = Gentiles and many of them were and are being saved.
So what was the meaning of election, then? What I say here will logically be akin to what I said about the real meaning of baptism (for those who remember that far back):
Election meant simply that Israel alone had direct access to the true God and his true worship. Israel was privileged by the following:
- Given the most direct path to redemption
- Made the conduit of that redemption for all
- Had to choose the obedience of faith to benefit from that access
I would further suggest that when Paul uses “election” terminology he has this view of election in mind — and that does not interfere with what he says in Romans 8. Here is how I’d diagram that:
Go ahead — try out this view when reading Romans 9-11. And while you’re doing that, read closely for comments about unbelief and apostasy. This discussion must include the book of Hebrews as I noted earlier, and it inevitably gets into “eternal security” (whatever that means — and yes, I’ll give you my take on that next time).