Like Button

Monday, September 10, 2012

Some Call it Arrogance

Let's assume that we're all in agreement here. We are saved by grace through faith, not of works. Clear enough. No problem. But the question remains, how do we get there from here? That is, given the unbeliever, the non-Christian, how does that person change from unbeliever to believer, from separated from God to a child of God, from lost to saved?

It would seem to me that there are two possibilities:

Option #1: God offers me His Son, woos me to Himself, encourages me to come. He wants to save everyone. The question of whether or not I am one of those that actually gets saved is answered, in the final analysis, by me. I come to faith, choose Christ, and am subsequently transformed into a child of God, saved by grace through faith.

Option #2: God chooses whom He will save. At a time that He chooses, He unilaterally regenerates the person (me, for the sake of discussion). Endowed with a new heart, a new nature, and faith from God, I exercise that faith and place it in Christ, choosing Him as my Savior. I am now a child of God, saved by grace through faith.

I had a conversation with someone awhile back. He had heard for the first time of Option #2. He didn't like it. Not one bit. "If I actually believed it worked like that," he told me, "I'd join the KKK." I'm sure you get the inference. If God chooses me (remember, using "me" for the sake of discussion) and not someone else, then I must be special ... like the KKK believes white people are over other races. The ultimate racism, of sorts, except it's not a race but "the elect" who are special.

And I have to say I am baffled by this. My view (obviously Option #2) is that God chose me not from anything in myself of value -- not because of anything I would or wouldn't do -- but because of Him, "in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of Him who calls" (Rom 9:11). It seems to me that the alternative view (Option #1) makes me out to be quite special. Others don't make it. I do. God desperately wants to save everyone but I was smart enough or wise enough or obedient enough to come to believe, to make the right choice, to do the right thing. While so many others have cut God off from His desired goal of saving everyone, at least I was able to do the right thing for Him to save me.

I frankly don't get it. I believe that God's Sovereign choice and Omnipotent intervention brought me into His family. Nothing that I did. Nothing that I offered. Nothing in my hand I bring. And that is viewed as "arrogant". "No, no," they tell me. "God chooses whom He will save by seeing who will choose Him. Human free will, you know. Only those who properly exercise their human free will are good enough to make it into God's family. No, that's not right. 'Good enough' isn't right. But you get the idea." No. No, I don't.


David said...

I've always seen option #1 as arrogant. Choosing to believe is still doing something that gives one the right to enter heaven. And if we ALL have that ability, then who ever makes the right choice has room to boast. Being chosen through no effort or innate worth of my own is hardly arrogant.

Stan said...

Yeah ... but you were there for the conversation in question ...

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I've never seen arrogance displayed in a person who grabbed a life preserver thrown to him to keep him from drowning.

Big question with option #2; How can you ever KNOW you are one of the "elect"; you can think you are for your entire life, but if you weren't chosen it doesn't matter what you think. Even R.C. Sproul has said that troubles him.

Stan said...

Last comment first. Peter said, "Make your calling and election sure." Paul said, "Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith." John's first epistle seems to be a letter written entirely to answer the question, "How can I know?" (1 John 5:13). (On the other hand, if I am able to lose my salvation by sinning it away (and in so doing, it is forever lost), how can I know that I'll be saved?)

Two things to note, Glenn. First, the Bible is abundantly clear that the saved are "the Elect". So the secondary question is not "Does God choose?", but "How does God choose?" Option 2 says, "I don't know, but I do know it's not based on anything in me." Option 1 says, "He chose me because I did the right thing and chose Him." Second, the point of the post was "What makes option 2 arrogant?" That was the accusation. That is the question. Is it more arrogant to say, "God chose me because I chose Him", or is it more arrogant to say, "God chose me for His own reasons and not because of anything good about me"? That was the point of the post and the primary question.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I agree that we don't lose our salvation.

And I agree the saints are the "elect."

But option 2 can give you absolutely no assurance that you were chosen. You can think so, and believe so but can never truly know so until the end.

From personal experience, I have found many who believe option two to be arrogant about their belief system, not necessarily their salvation. But I have never known anyone from option 1 to claim arrogance about salvation either, which is also implied in the post.

Which is why I wrote my parable - to counter those who claim non-Calvinists save themselves.

Stan said...

Glenn: "I agree that we don't lose our salvation."

Oh, I'm glad to hear that. Based on your "100% agreement" with someone else's post that I read (back in July) who argued that we can, I assumed you did.

Glenn: "But option 2 can give you absolutely no assurance that you were chosen."

I would disagree. The assurance I would have would be exactly the assurance that you would have. What assurance do you have?

Glenn: "I have found many who believe option two to be arrogant about their belief system."

You and me both, my friend. I have, in fact, found many who believe option one to be arrogant about their belief system as well. But two points here. 1) The failure of a proponent of a belief system does not affirm or deny a belief system (in either direction -- Option 1 or 2). 2) Neither side claims arrogance for their salvation.

David said...

Yeah, so far as I've seen, the only claim of arrogance is on the part of "the other side". I was there for that conversation, and it was an option 1 person accusing option 2 of being arrogant, and option 2 people cannot see how option 1 has no room to boast. Neither side would claim they are "better", because both sides know that would be wrong.

As for how I know I'm saved, it is the same way I figure if someone else is saved, a changed life, changed thinking. Can I 100% of the time 100% know I'm saved, or anyone else for that matter? No, but that doubt helps us to examine ourselves and remind us of our salvation. Anyone that doesn't doubt their salvation at anytime isn't reading their Bible.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

On that referenced post, I don't think he is saying one can lose salvation. Perhaps his analogy with possible divorce is the confusing part, but what I gathered him to be saying is that the one who falls away really wasn't saved to begin with. I many be wrong in that understanding, but that's what I took him to be saying.

Stan said...

Interesting. Since the post was in response to "Once lost, always lost" and he appeared to disagree, I thought he was clearly saying that despite the fact that you can be married, it is still possible for your spouse to divorce you (or God can be the best husband in the world, but the Bride may still leave).

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I agree with "once lost, always lost" in the sense that the person who has totally rejected every opportunity to come to the Lord, they will never turn around. And I don't take that as one who was previously a Christian. So maybe I'm misunderstanding the intent.

Calvinism would by default have to believe in "once lost always lost," since by that theology God chose who would be saved and who wouldn't be saved. So the one not chosen will always be lost, no matter how much he thinks he is a believer.

Stan said...

Easy point of confusion. The concept is not "Are you saved?", but "Were you once saved and then lost that salvation?" The suggestion of Hebrews 6 is that salvation can be lost. (Various people read it various ways, but that's one possible understanding.) If Heb. 6 is saying that salvation, once received, can be lost, it is also necessarily saying that it cannot be regained. That's what that other blog seemed to affirm (although I can't get him to clarify that).