[ok, I know it’s boring and everyone is tired of this topic, but I had to respond to another false accusation. Forgive me, but I just couldn’t help myself]
I’ve been accused (again) of believing that those who are decretally elect can lose their election and also of saying that one can (somehow) become decretally elect during his lifetime, depending upon his faithfulness. Now, I know this sounds crazy. And it sounds crazy because it is (just recall that God’s decrees are fixed and determined before the foundation of the world and it’s pretty easy to see that anyone who affirms such a thing is in a mental state that is beyond imbecilic). But that doesn’t stop theology professors at serious seminaries and pastors who are esteemed for their theological acumen from making such a charge. And, when I deny that I hold the position they’re accusing me of, they respond with the cold, hard evidence – the proof is in writing, they say, and it can’t be denied. Here it is in all its self-evident glory:
The elect are those who are faithful in Christ Jesus. If they later reject the Savior, they are no longer elect — they are cut off from the Elect One and thus, lose their elect standing. But their falling away doesn’t negate the reality of their standing prior to their apostasy. They were really and truly the elect of God because of their relationship with Christ. (Steven Wilkins, The Auburn Avenue Theology Pros & Cons Debating the Federal Vision page 261, lines 292–295)
Well, there you go Wilkins – you’re an imbecile (by your own admission) and need to stay as far away from theology as you can possibly get.
Ok, and I happen to be quite happy to leave the serious theology to those who are far more adept and qualified – but I always thought it was sort of a rule required by the 9th commandment that we try to understand one another’s statements in context. Is that so?
I’ve always assumed it was and that is why I had no qualms about writing what I wrote on page 261 of The Auburn Avenue Theology Pros & Cons. I didn’t have any idea anyone would twist my words on page 261 in such a way as to ignore what I said a few lines before on page 260 where I affirm the historic Reformed definition of election and seek to distinguish what I’m talking about in the paper from this historic doctrine (which, by the way, I fully embrace and believe to be totally biblical). Here’s what I said prior to the “horrifying lines” that were quoted by my accuser:
It has been the common practice in Reformed circles to use the term “elect” to refer only to those who are predestined to eternal salvation. Since God has ordained all things “whatsoever comes to pass” (Ephesians 1:11), He has certainly predestined the number of all who will be saved at the last day. This number is fixed and settled, not one of these will be lost. The Lord will accomplish all His holy will. But the term “elect” (or “chosen”) as it is used in the Scriptures most often refers to those in covenant union with Christ who is the elect One. (Steven Wilkins, The Auburn Avenue Theology Pros & Cons: Debating the Federal Vision, page 260, lines 240-245, emphasis mine).
Now, you may disagree with the position I try to set forth in the paper. That’s understandable and I was all set for disagreement. What I was not ready for was the accusation that I was denying the historic doctrine of decretal election. I thought I had made it sufficiently clear that I was not dealing with that and I thought any serious reader, making a serious effort to understand what I was saying would not misunderstand. It never entered my mind that fellow Reformed ministers and teachers (of all people) would try to twist what I was saying and misrepresent it. Was this a foolish assumption?