Another Calvinist Response to Eph 1:4

This post is a follow-on to a previous conversation from my previous post. Maybe it’s just me. But I’m sensing that the Calvinists I interact with don’t necessarily have a good basis for believing their doctrines. In a previous post I stated that Eph 1:4 doesn’t support unconditional election. Eventually, the response from “Calvinist #1” was, sadly, “crickets.” Shortly afterwards, though, “Calvinist #2” continued the conversation:

[Calvinist #2] Your agreement that the purpose of election is the blessing of being made holy and blameless affirms our point that God elected some for salvation because where in all of scripture can we conclude that the unsaved are made holy and blameless?

[Me] I think we agree that the unsaved can only be made holy and blameless by accepting Christ’s sacrifice for their sins. But, I don’t see how you derive that election (or more specifically within the Calvinist lexicon – unconditional election) equates to God choosing salvation for some and reprobation (aka no salvation) for everyone else. Paul is writing to the “saints” in Eph 1. Paul refers to them as “the faithful in Christ Jesus.” So, Paul is writing to individuals who already believe. I don’t see where the Calvinist notion of unconditional election is inferred from Eph 1:4. Please explain.

[Calvinist #2] Paul is speaking to saints, and they are told that God chose/decided before the foundation of the world to make them holy and blameless. Romans 9 clearly teaches that election is unconditional, i.e. not based on merit.

[Me] We agree that Paul in Eph 1 is speaking to believers and that God decided (before for the foundation of the world) to make believers holy and blameless. Further, I think we agree that salvation is only through faith in Christ and is not merited on “good deeds”. What I don’t think we agree on is the Calvinistic concept of unconditional election. Please explain how you derive from Eph 1:4 that God determines who will believe (be saved) and subsequently who will not believe (become reprobate)?

[Calvinist #2] Sorry, Dude, but I really … Really … REALLY believe that I answered your question. It’s staring you in the face and goes straight over your head. You’re ignoring context. The doctrine of election claims that God elected to save some but not all.

[Me] With respect, I think I’m reading the text in context and what appears clear from the plain language of the text is that God has chosen or otherwise determined that believers will be made holy and blameless in his sight. How do you derive that Eph 1:4 has anything to do with God determining who gets “elected” – aka saved and who gets “reprobated” aka damned?

More crickets.

Dave Hunt’s response to James White on unconditional election is instructive: “If Calvinism is true, there ought to be at least one scripture [which] clearly states that God’s love and grace are limited to a select group, but White can offer non. Yet many passages [clearly state] that God loves all, desires all to be saved, wants none to perish, and takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked – scriptures [which] Calvinism attempts to explain away.” (Debating Calvinism {five points, two views}, pg 101) And at least with these two gentlemen that I was interacting with, when pressed to defend a simple and clear reading of Eph 1:4 – a text that Calvinists often use to support unconditional election – there’s nothing but silence.


Author: Bob

I’m an upper Midwestern guy who has recently entered the "Buick stage" of life and decided to migrate to Florida. This blog is an attempt to rectify discordant aspects within my Christian faith ... or what often feels like my lack of Christian faith. Things which make life more enjoyable include strong black coffee, charcoal grilling anytime of the year, putz'ing at a table saw, playing chess, a good orthopedic surgeon and an occasional IPA. Please feel free to poke around and comment as you wish. I welcome discussion and the insights of others.

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