How does God ordain who will spend eternity with him? Did God decide that certain specific persons would go to heaven or hell before he created the world? Did God know everything that will ever happen before he created anything? If so, did God know this because he determined these things would happen, or vice versa? Will everyone eventually go to heaven? Answers to these and many other theological questions reveal various perspectives on the doctrine of election. Perspectives on Election presents, in counterpoint form, five common views of predestination that have developed over the course of church history, with a goal of clarifying which one is most faithful to Scripture. Each of the main chapters is written by a prominent representative from within one of the five belief systems and addresses the major biblical, historical, and theological issues of that tradition. In addition, each writer provides a brief response to other presentations.
“How, then, does the classical Arminian doctrine of predestination fit into this picture? As I am using the term, it is the view that before the world ever existed God conditionally predestined some specific individuals to eternal life and the rest to eternal condemnation, based on his foreknowledge of their freewill responses to his law and to his grace. For most of those described here as classical Arminians, the key idea is that God predestines according to foreknowledge (prescience) of future human free-will decisions. Jewett calls this the oldest view of predestination, traceable to the early Greek Fathers, and ‘the most widely held view’ today ‘among lay students of Scripture.’” (Pages 72–73)
“This is my thesis: divine election is best understood when we take it to be corporate and vocational. Election is about a people and their God-given task. It is about ecclesiology and missiology. This (I maintain) is the preponderant witness of the Bible on this subject.” (Page 277)
“In other words, God predestines believers to go to heaven, just as he predestines unbelievers to go to hell. But he does not predestine anyone to become and remain a believer or to become and remain an unbeliever. This choice is made by each person, and as foreknown by God it is the factor that conditions the predestination of an individual’s eternal destiny.” (Page 83)
“One indisputable aspect of Luke’s statement, ‘All who had been appointed to eternal life believed,’ is that God’s appointment of those who would receive eternal life preceded the belief of these very people.6 There is, then, a temporal priority indicated here. God’s appointment precedes in time the belief of the people.” (Page 8)
Chad O. Brand serves as Associate Dean of Biblical and Theological Studies at Boyce College.