An interesting blog post asks whether conditional election or unconditional election has more Biblical basis. The author goes on to state,
One of the most persistent and often divisive issues within Christianity is the debate between the doctrine of unconditional election (often called the doctrine of predestination) and the doctrine of unconditional election (often represented as the doctrine of free will).
Provided within the post is a list of verses that each camp uses to justify their respective positions. I don’t know the origin of this list nor do I believe this list is in any way complete. Still, the author wonders whether a greater number of verses (that, at least for this list) in support of unconditional election lend credence that unconditional election is indeed what the Bible teaches? I’m a numbers guy and do some quantitative analysis on the day job so this thought got my attention.
However, as I scrolled down the list, I noticed that some verses were listed as supporting both predestination and free will. I certainly don’t think it accurate to derive “truth” from just a verse and I don’t think that is necessarily intended here. Context is everything and as such, any given verse must be read within the context of the passage. That said, if something is “truth” in one passage, then doesn’t there have to be commonality of that “truth” throughout all of the Bible?
Jesus says the truth will set me free (John 8:32). Perhaps my struggle regarding unconditional election can only mean that I don’t know the truth. Of course, preceding vs 32 is vs 31 where Jesus says if I hold to his teachings then I am really his disciple. Perhaps therein lies the issue – I’m not his disciple. Therefore, I can’t know the truth. Hence, I struggle in my faith – and not just with unconditional election. Perhaps I’m beginning to overanalyze – time to chill-out.
Anyway, I’ve come across this before – Calvinists and Arminians using the same verses and passages to to defend (or argue against) unconditional election. Romans chapter nine is perhaps the best example I know of. That the likes of John Piper and Greg Boyd have diametrically opposed perspectives of this chapter is troubling to me. But I understand that not all Christians are bothered by, what I can only call, the “variance” of Christian thought at least with respect to unconditional election.
In any event – to the question: does a greater number of verses supporting one perspective help to sway or otherwise bring about resolution within the Calvinist-Arminian argument? Probably not. But, what do I know?
One thought on “Quantitative Analysis of Unconditional Election”
I really appreciate that an old study of mine kindled some thought and even led a whole blog post by someone else. It was just a simple study of mine, I never thought it would get even this much notice. I noticed exactly what you noticed about some of the verses being the same. This indicates that it is the approach to the verses that is different, not the verses themselves.
I’m not sure where you were going with truth and being (or not being) disciples of Christ. That portion of your post has got me thinking. We have to know the Truth of the Gospel in order to have faith. If we have faith in the Gospel, than we are His disciples. If we are not His disciples, then we are not Christians. But, while Christians are all united by Christ’s work on the cross and his Resurrection, none of us is perfect in understanding all of His revelation, as we have yet to be sanctified. I agree that it is troubling that the understanding of Romans 9 can be so diametrically opposed. Obviously, one side is completely wrong and is not approaching the passage correctly. But, this will always be a problem, as we are not yet sanctified.