TULIP … Unconditional Election, part 1
After I was born-again and had read through the Bible a couple of times and was studying it, I first heard of the words of TULIP ... the 5 points being simply listed to me. I remember my first impression was that Unconditional Election probably means that a person who calls on the name of the Lord, believing and appropriating Christ's work on Calvary, is received without condition. I sure was wrong on that one … I was very naïve! I came to learn that what the Calvinists actually believe, as represented by this point in the popular acrostic, is that God has chosen those who would respond to him before the earth even existed ... and certainly before they ever existed.
According to this soteriological construct, everyone’s eternal destiny is completely predetermined. I recall hearing the term double predestination. This was said with disdain by a certain 4 point Calvinist. “God does not predestine people for hell; he only predestines the elect for heaven.” Well, it didn’t take much logical reasoning to understand that if God didn’t choose you, then he was predestinating you for hell. No way around that one. I can certainly then understand how the next step logically follows this one. (But we will deal with the “L” at another time.)
Was I unconditionally elect before placing faith in Christ? Was I unconditionally loved? No. I was an object of wrath, headed for eternal death. If the doctrine of Unconditional Election is true, I didn’t even need to place my trust in Jesus Christ and His work on Calvary on my behalf. Of course I WOULD do it, according to Calvinist theology, but I didn’t need to. The logical outworking of this theology is that the salvation was already there. I was already unconditionally elected. God had predetermined that I would be saved. According to TULIP, I was, in effect, saved before I was ever born. And anyone who is ever redeemed was redeemed before they were ever born. God chose them; they did nothing, believed nothing, and had faith in nothing to come to salvation.
According to TULIP, people don’t really have any input into their salvation because God is controlling everything, even their choices. A Christian may think he has placed his faith in Christ, but really, God determined in eternity past that He would breathe His Holy Spirit into this individual. Next, the Spirit, having given him new life, would cause him to understand the message of the gospel by “granting faith”. God would then cause the individual to call on the name of Lord and ... he is saved. So, if someone doesn’t believe the gospel, and doesn’t become saved, it is because he wasn’t predestined to do so.
One person puts it this way: “As a depraved being I was running towards hell as fast as my legs could take me, but the God who made me, loved me, even before I was born, and determined to save me. And if anyone is ever saved, it is solely based on His 'Unconditionally Electing' power.” This is quite an interesting thought. God chooses certain people over others. He loves them. The logical counter point, then, is that God hates others. This brings to mind a few of the things some people said to me when I first was born-again. I was telling of the wonderful way in which God had changed my life. This was all meant to bring God glory and encourage them to turn to Christ also, of course. A few of them said to me “Oh so you think you are special and better than the rest of us.” I was so perplexed by that. I insisted that no, I was not special; anyone could receive the free gift of salvation. In fact, it was the opposite … becoming saved had more to do with recognizing that I was quite wicked and calling on the One who shed His blood for that wickedness. “How am I saying that I think I am special? Anyone can receive this gift.” I just didn’t get why people would respond to me that way. Now I think I may understand why. Maybe they had met up with some of Calvin’s doctrines before they met me. How naïve I was!
Do I understand this correctly?
part 2: is it Biblical and right to promote such a doctrine?