Saturday, November 17, 2007

The London Baptist Confession on Foreknowledge/Election

It is common in Christian circles to explain election/predestination on the basis of mere foresight. Predestination, it is reasoned, is merely God looking into the future and seeing what man would decide, and then electing the believing ones. The main point of this conclusion seems to be that it is an attempt to avoid concluding that God actually predestines who will be saved via a decree.

This explanation, though, is deficient on a number of different levels.

First, the Bible clearly refutes it (some quick examples: study Ephesians 1, Romans 9, etc).

Second, it is a self-defeating argument and philisophically bankrupt. You can't consistently hold that God's knows the future perfectly and that fallen humans have initiating autonomous free will to arbitrarily initiate whether they will be elect. Consider this: If God knows the future perfectly, which would include Joe being saved, is it possible for Joe not to be saved? Hence, the consistent application of this argument defeats its self by leading to the denial of its underlining premise. Most modern intellectual Arminians have recognized this dillema. When forced to chose between God's perfect knowledge of the future or their assumption of autonomous free will, they've chosen autonomous free will. This decision has led them to reject the fact that God has perfect knowledge of the future (this comes in various forms: Open Theism, Molinism, etc.).

The framers of the London Baptist Confession of 1689 anticipated this issue and spoke of it in Chapter 3: "Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions."

The language there may be a bit hard to grasp, but basically it outlines the following things:

1. God sees the future perfectly.
2. God sees what could happen hypothetically.
3. But when God decrees things, he doesn't do so because He saw them in the future as happening.

If God doesn't elect people based on His foreseeing of their choice, then on what basis does He do it? The confession answers with a very Biblical answer to that: "according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will"

Is this hard to swallow? Sure. But it is the truth! And, really, it is a glorious truth!

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