Thursday, April 28, 2005

So "U" Believe in Tulip: Unconditional Grace Examined

Like most concepts, there is some truth in the concept of Unconditional Grace, but monergism distorts the concept by the severe application of pre-destination. Here is what Leroy says of Unconditional Election:

U: For the purposes of God, in accordance with His Holiness and perfection, and for reasons that His creations will not know on Earth, beginning before the foundation of the Earth, God the Father chose the sheep and elected them, without any regard to anything but His own glory and purposes, that they would be born again and gain the inheritance of Jesus in righteousness.U: Unconditional election and Unrelenting election and Undeniable election and Unsuperficial election

U: Gen. 18:17-19, Deut. 4:35-38, Deut. 7:6-8, Deut. 10:14-15, Deut. 14:2, Deut 18:4-5, 1 Chron. 28:4, Psa. 33:12, Psa. 78:67-71, Psa. 100:3, Psa. 135:4, Isa. 40:23, Isa. 41:8, Isa. 44:1-2, Isa. 45:4, Isa. 65:9, Jer. 1:5, Jer. 27:5, Jer 31:35-36, Matt. 11:27, Matt. 20:15, Matt. 22:14, Matt. 24:31, Mark 7:21-23, Mark 13:20, Luke 6:45, Luke 18:7, John 1:4-5, John 5:21, John 8:43-44, John 13:18, John 15:16, John 15:19, Acts 9:15, Acts 10:41, Acts 22:14, Rom. 7:5, Rom. 8:29, Rom. 8:33, Rom. 9:11, Rom. 9:13, Rom. 9:20, Rom. 11:5, Rom. 11:7, Rom. 11:24, Rom. 11:28, Rom. 13:1, Rom. 16:13, 1 Cor. 1:27, Gal 5:17, Eph. 1:4-6, Eph. 1:11, Eph. 2:8, 1 Thes. 1:4, 2 Thes. 2:13, 2 Tim. 1:9, Titus 1:1, James 2:5, 1 Peter 1:1-5, 1 Peter 1:20, 1 Peter 2:4-10, 2 Peter 1:10, 2 John 1:13

U: God said and knew and made who would be saved and who would go to hell before ‘time’ began. God chooses when, how, and why someone gets saved by His grace alone.

I find a couple of things interesting with this aspect of the doctrine of monergism. First, of all, most doctrines which require blind faith in a concept articulated by men are generally false. This is true of the doctrine of the Trinity, and it is true of the idea of 'unknowable' election by God. Repeatedly scripture teaches that salvation is declared and offered to all men, regardless of when they lived or who they are.

Paul himself declared that he had declared all mysteries (Romans 11:25, 16:25-26; 1 Cor 4:1, 13:2), but he is actually quite specific in explaining that salvation's mysteries have been revealed to the chosen (Eph 1:9), and that specifically the understanding of the doctrine of predestination or foreordination of the elect is now known. The word "mystery" means something which was hidden, but is now revealed. The idea of God pre-chosing the elect, and specifically having some elect versus some non-elect is about God choosing Israel as the vehicle of salvation
Romans 11:2-7:
2 God did not cast off his people which he foreknew. Or know ye not what the
scripture saith of Elijah? how he pleadeth with God against Israel: 3 Lord, they
have killed thy prophets, they have digged down thine altars; and I am left
alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I
have left for myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal. 5
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the
election of grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no more of works: otherwise
grace is no more grace. 7 What then? that which Israel seeketh for, that he
obtained not; but the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened:

The rest of us are grafted into the vine if we also believe (Romans 9:4,11,20-33, 10:1).

It is also interesting that there are two usual mistakes made by monergists in interpreting the Bible which leads to misapplying scriptural passages on election. First, they don't understand the historical background of the scriptures in Romans 9. Romans 9 is written by Paul to explain to the Jewish congregation how election applied to the non-Jewish members of the congregation. Specifically the description of the clay is a reference to Isaiah 45 and Jeremiah 18:6.
O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay [is] in the potter's hand, so [are] ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
This is as clear and direct a citation as one can find anywhere in scripture. The clay analogy is not about individuals, and God selecting specific individuals for salvation. It is about God selecting a channel, the children or nation of Israel, as the means for blessing the world with the promises and covenants he made to Abraham (Gen 17:5-8; 18:17-19).

Furthermore, the most commonly cited passages on God drawing only specific individuals to him, and indeed cited at as proof of specific election, are verses John 6:37, 39, 44, 63-65. Again, it is a very poor piece of scriptural study which stops at these verses. John wrote the Gospel of John with the intention people must read the entire Gospel. You cannot fully understand John 20-21 if you fail to study John 1. Likewise, John 6 is explained and fulfilled in John 17.

6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
6:44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
17:6 "I have revealed you[a] to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.

6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit[e] and they are life. 64Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him."
17:12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
17:24 "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

Literally every element of John 6 is fulfilled in John 17. The whole point of who would be drawn to Christ was about those who would come to him during his mortal life. That is a huge interpretive error.

Absent John 6 and Romans 9, which I have shown to be incorrectly interpreted by monergists, I find no passages which even remotely support the doctrine of Unconditional Grace.


1 comment:

Hannah said...


I'm new to this blog, looking over old posts. I'm a Christian (belonging to a church with Calvinist history) who recently moved to an area with many Mormons. I am trying to learn more about their beliefs so that I understand my neighbors better.

I understand and agree that God chose the nation of Israel to be a blessing to the world, and that the analogy of clay in Romans 9 and Isaiah refer to this. They were, after all, God's chosen people.

I am not sure, however, that this eliminates the possibility of "U" being taught by the Romans 9 passage. I am wondering, for example, how you interpret things in Romans 9 such as "not all who are descended from Israel are Israel" (verse 6, meaning, to me, that not all individual Jewish people are truly his children) and verse 16: "It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God's mercy." Please don't misunderstand: I don't offer these as short "proof-texts" to prove you wrong (and yes, I have read the whole chapter and book), I am just wondering how you interpret them, since your post does not mention them specifically.

I am also unclear as to how John 6 refers ONLY to those drawn to Christ during his mortal life (by being fulfilled in John 17). In John 17, Jesus begins by praying for his current followers, then praying for "those who will believe in me through their message", and then again using the phrase "those you have given me" (verse 24). He seems to be referring to all believers as "those you have given me" (as he did in John 6), and I don't see much distinction between believers during his lifetime and believers after his lifetime. Also, John 6:44 says that NO ONE can come to Jesus unless he is drawn by the Father. How does this apply only to those who came to Jesus during his mortal life? Is there a different "path" by which people came to Jesus during his lifetime as compared to after his death, resurrection, and ascension?

Do you know if any non-TULIP, non-LDS churches hold a similar interpretation (to yours) of these chapters that I could reference for comparison?

I really do strive to interpret the Bible carefully and it is important to me that I don't impose my own beliefs on it, so I am going to re-study these passages.

Thank you for any clarification on this that you can give.