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In Christian theology, conditional election is the belief that God chooses, for eternal salvation, those whom He foresees will have faith in Christ. This belief emphasizes the importance of a person's free will. The counter-view is known as unconditional election, and is the belief that God chooses whomever He will, based solely on His purposes and apart from an individual's free will.
The doctrine of conditional election is most often associated with the Arminian churches. The Arminians have defended their belief against the doctrine of the Calvinist church since the early 17th century when they submitted the following statement of doctrine to the Reformed Churches of the Low Countries:
- That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ His Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of a fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ's sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, shall believe on this his Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the gospel in John 3:36: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him," and according to other passages of Scripture also.
Many people view conditional election as human centered and therefore they conclude that it takes away from the sovereignty of God. They contend that its very foundation is rooted in freewill. But this is not true concerning the teachings of Jacobus Arminius and it is not found in the Five articles of Remonstrance. Article 3 explains clearly that mans freewill is not able to save him.
The primary driving force behind the doctrine of conditional election is that it attempts to reconcile that Jesus' death on the cross was for “all” humanity not just the elect which is a Calvinist view called limited atonement. Arminians and others who oppose unconditional election believe that it is impossible for God to elect particular individuals and then declare that the gospel is available to all, because the question which arises is, does limited atonement offer a true call to salvation or is it only for the elect? Calvinism does not logically account for the many verses that declare that the gospel is available to all humanity. So, Arminians answer this with conditional election that states that God looked from eternity and foresaw who called on Jesus to be saved, and that is who He is referring to when speaking of the elect.
This in no way is based on anyone's meritorious decision, because as Article 3 explains, a man must first be born of God. Therefore this view does not arise out of the need to protect human freewill but out of the need to ensure that the atonement is available to all as is found in many New Testament scriptures. Therefore when the Gospel is preached, every person has a real opportunity to believe, repent and receive forgiveness not just the elect.
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All quotes from the NKJV unless otherwise noted, emphasis added:
Scriptures used to support
These are Scriptures commonly used by those who[who?] support Conditional election:
- Isaiah 45:22 "Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is no other."
- Mathew 11:28 Jesus said "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
- John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
- John 7:17 "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself."
- John 7:37 "Now on the last day of the great feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink."
- John 12:32 Jesus said "And if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Myself
- Acts 17:30 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now commanding all men everywhere to repent."
- 1 Timothy 2:3-4 "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
- 2 Peter 3:9 " The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."
- Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
The Calvinist response[who?] to these selected verses would be that the 'all' referred to are the elect, and does not refer to the entirety of humanity. In keeping with the Calvinist's understanding[by whom?] of Irresistible Grace, Matthew 11:28 would refer to those who have been elected by God, unto God, and is a demonstration of the effectual call.