I was asked to write about a subject that I think is of supreme importance in the Christian faith – election. This is a doctrine that the theologian John Calvin brought to light.
According to Calvin, “Salvation is accomplished by the almighty power of the triune God. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ's death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the Gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation.”
I believed in the basic principle of Calvinism before I even knew who Calvin was, or before I heard the words soteriology, election, or predestination. Simply put, this doctrine says that God chooses us for salvation – we do not choose him. This is a doctrine that I subscribe to. If that was the only side to Calvinism, most Christians would probably believe in it as well. But the flip side of God choosing some for salvation means that he has not chosen all – which means he knowingly has chosen some for Hell. Believers and non-believers alike cannot fathom a God who would bring life to something and not give that life a chance for salvation. I have had a hard time writing on Calvinism because there is so much discord in the Christian faith about it, and I just have not done enough study on it to defend it. There are many Christians out there that I admire and respect, and who’s intellect FAR surpasses mine, and who have studied much more on the subject than I have that have come to a different conclusion about it. But what I love about Calvinism is it’s view on the Sovereignty of God.
If you do not believe there is a God, this whole topic is pointless. But if you do believe there is a God, and that God is creator of all things, sustainer of all things, and ruler of all things… I would assume that you believe he is the “chooser” of all things.
About the Sovereignty of God:
I have a problem with people placing human standards on God - when people lightly joke about how God must be on vacation because all this bad stuff is happening in the world…. or when people are so quick to blame God when something horrible like the murder of a little girl happens. This is God’s universe, and he may do in it what he pleases. I’m not saying that it pleases God to see one of his creation brutally murdered, just as it does not please a mother to discipline her child. I’m also not saying that the murder of an innocent girl was God disciplining someone… all I’m saying is that we cannot comprehend the way in which God acts, just as a child cannot comprehend (before it’s old enough) why his mother is angry with him over certain things. Have you ever seen a child be completely unreasonable about something? For example when you’re preparing a baby’s bottle and they’re screaming their heads off – and you’re telling them either out loud or in your head: “can’t you see I’m making it? It’s not ready yet… just wait 30 seconds and you’ll have it and all this time that you’ve spent crying and making yourself miserable will have been wasted.” I’m sure if we could have a conversation with that baby (which is impossible because if we could have a conversation with them about it, they would be logical enough not to have screamed their head of to begin with), but if we did have a conversation about it… I’m pretty sure that the baby would tell you that they thought their world was coming to an end. Just as when an older child loses a precious toy or an even older child breaks up with their first boyfriend / girlfriend… they can’t imagine a worse tragedy. It is the end of the world to them relatively speaking. 9/11, the Tsunami, the murder of a little girl, a young mother being taken from this world way too early due to brain cancer… these are all things that are the end of the world to us now. And just as you sympathize and weep with your children over the loss of their toy, or boyfriend / girlfriend… you feel their loss… you ultimately know that it is a fleeting thing. So it is with God. To me, as a Christian, I know that there is more to life than this world that we are in right now. Not only that, but if you believe in a Creator… if you believe that there is a being that created everything that we see… a being capable of creating this world that we live in… you would probably feel pretty small. Our sufferings are nothing - - they are finite fleeting things, even those horrendous things I mentioned above. We just cannot comprehend their finite and fleeting nature, because just as the child cannot see beyond their maturity… we cannot see beyond our humanity.
“Everything is the Heaven and Earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. You are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you: you are the ruler of all things.” I believe that nothing belongs to me. There is nothing that I have done to deserve anything that I have – including life itself, and including salvation. Everything that I have – money, a functioning body, shelter, freedom – everything that I have has been given to me… and any one of those things can be taken away at any moment. Who am I to complain if one of those things are taken away from me? They weren’t mine to begin with! This is something I’ve learned from recently becoming a parent to a puppy. I love to give her treats because I think she’ll love (appreciate) me more… but the only reason she’d love me for giving her treats is if she was grateful for those treats. Puppies, like people, are not grateful for things that they believe they are entitled to. Atheists do not believe they were given life from a creator… therefore they cannot be grateful for it as a gift. They, just like my puppy, can be so happy they have it and enjoy it to the fullest and have reverence for it… but do not understand or revere it in the same way that someone who believes they were created by God does. They believe they are entitled to that life, because they do not believe they were chosen for life, or created by a supreme being.
An atheist probably believes (and I’m assuming here) that they have worked hard for everything that they own. They have worked so hard to get their job, and they deserve that job. They deserve the monetary rewards it brings… and they deserve the things that money buys them. That’s what I would think too, if I were an atheist. As a Christian… I believe that my talents are gifts from God, making me able to have the job that I have. Being the Calvinist I am… I also believe that God preordained every aspect of my life including my talents which give me my job, which provide my paychecks, which purchase my possessions. The difference between me and an Atheist is when those items are taken from us. An Atheist will feel a sense of injustice – for they have worked so hard to earn these things. I will feel pain… but in my view… it was an injustice for me to have those things in the first place. It’s not that I should feel bad about having things… but I merit none of these things in my own power (including SAVATION).