The Implications of Biblical Election When Thinking About Social Order Issues

“There are doctrines of modern liberalism, just as tenaciously and intolerantly upheld as any doctrines that find a place in the historic creeds. Such for example are the liberal doctrines of the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. These doctrines are, as we shall see, contrary to the doctrines of the Christian religion. But doctrines they are all the same, and as such, they require intellectual defense. In seeming to object to all theology, the liberal preacher is often merely objecting to one system of theology in the interests of another.”

Dr. J. Gresham Machen 
Christianity and Liberalism

Our current Cultural Marxist egalitarianism problem in the Western Calvinist Churches is a reflection of the decline of genuinely Reformed soteriology. Biblical and Historical Calvinism has always advocated for limited damnation (particular redemption), where Christ is put forth as a sacrifice for only His people. God makes distinctions when it comes to salvation and men are not equal when it comes to their determined soteric status.

In the Reformed (Biblical) understanding God’s chief passion is Himself. In the Reformed (Biblical) understanding God does all He does for His own interest. He pursues His own interests and in the context of particular redemption, this means He willfully limits His affections to His people.

Reformed folk once understood that this had implications. As God’s love was particular so Reformed folk refused both the idea of “the Father of God over all men,” and “the Brotherhood of all men.” If God restricts His love so that His love is particular so man’s love can be particular as well. In other words, God’s love and favor for His own is a communicable attribute. Like God, men can love and favor their own.

If it were the case that God did not restrict His love so that He loved all men indiscriminately then men by necessity would have to be pluralists in their affections and love all men indiscriminately and so egalitarianism would by necessity be a Christian requirement. Because of our inability to tease out the idea of God’s discriminating election we are seeing that the idea of the brotherhood of all men, when taken to its egalitarian conclusion, would be destructive of the idea of men providing uniquely for their own household (I Tim. 5:8), or positing a special love for their kin (cmp. Romans 9:3). In brief, the Arminian idea that God loves everybody equally works itself out in the destruction of family, clan, and nations and the embrace of universal love.

The connection here is that as Calvinists become weak on Limited Damnation they become strong on the Liberal Doctrines of the “Fatherhood of God over all men,” and “the Brotherhood of all men.”

In this context, it is interesting that Abraham Kuyper noted that in the late 1800s the belief in Unconditional Election with respect to natural conditions like family, nation, and race was universal in every denomination, though Arminians disagreed with Election of the Soul.  Listen to the great Kuyper on this matter,

“ Before I close, I feel nevertheless that one question continues to press for an answer, which accordingly I shall not refuse to face, the question namely, at what I am aiming in the end: at the abandonment of the doctrine of election … Our generation turns a deaf ear to Election [God’s order], but grows madly enthusiastic over Selection [encompassing everything from evolution to democracy, liberalism, imagination, and license] … The problem concerns the fundamental question: Whence are the differences? Why is not all alike? Whence is it that one thing exists in one state, another in another? There is no life without differentiation without inequality. The perception of difference, the very source of our human consciousness, the causative principles of all that exists, and grows and develops, in short, the mainspring of all life and thought … Whence are those differences? Whence is the dissimilarity, the heterogeneity of existence, of genesis, and consciousness? To put it concretely, if you were a plant, would you rather be a rose than a mushroom; if insect, butterfly rather than spider; if bird, eagle rather than owl; if a higher vertebrate, a lion rather than a hyena; and again, being a man, richer than poorer, talented rather than dull-minded, of Aryan race rather than Hottentot or Kaffir? Between all these there is differentiation, wide differentiation. Everywhere then differences, differences between one thing and the other; and that too, such differences involve in almost every instance, preference … This is the one supreme question in the vegetable and animal kingdom, among men, in all social life and it is by means of the theory of Selection that our present age attempts to solve this problem of problems …

Now the blade of grass is not conscious of this, and the spider goes on entrapping the fly, the tiger killing the stag, and in those cases, the weaker being does not account to itself for its misery. But we men are clearly conscious of these differences, and by us therefore the question cannot be evaded, whether the theory of Selection be a solution calculated to reconcile the weaker, the less richly endowed creature, with its existence. It will be acknowledged that in itself this theory can but incite to a more furious struggle, with a lasciate ogni speranza, voi che’ntrate for the weaker being. Against the ordinance of faith that the weaker shall succumb to the stronger, according to the system of election, no struggle can avail …

For this is precisely the high significance of the doctrine of Election that, in this dogma, as long as three centuries ago, Calvinism dared to face this same all-dominating problem, solving it, however, not in the sense of a blind selection stirring in unconscious cells, but honoring the sovereign choice of Him Who created all things visible and invisible. The determination of our own persons, whether one is to be born as girl or boy, rich or poor, dull or clever, white or colored, or even as Abel or Cain, is the most tremendous predestination conceivable in heaven or on earth; and still we see it taking place before our eyes every day, and we ourselves are subject to it in our entire personality; our existence, our very nature, our position in life being entirely dependent on it. This all embracing predestination … all-dominating election. Election in creation, election in Providence, and so election also to eternal life; election in the realm of grace as well as in the realm of nature … all Christians hold election as we do, in honor, both in creation and in providence; and that Calvinism deviates from the other Christian confessions in this respect only, that, seeking unity and placing the glory God above all things, it dares to extend the mystery of Election to spiritual life, and to the hope for all life to come?”

(A.Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism, pp.117-119)

Now that many Arminians have been smitten with the egalitarian infection, they’re just being consistent with their soteriology as it works itself out in social order thinking. Arminians denied election in terms of grace and now they deny election in terms of nature. In order for the Calvinists to turn egalitarian, however, they have to be radically inconsistent with their soteriology. Most Calvinists and Calvinist churches still confess Election with respect to God’s differentiation among men and so the unequal states of their persons as it pertains to salvation before God, but many Reformed are no longer sure about unequal states of nature. That is to say many Calvinists can no longer affirm an Election (Predestination) which affirms that not only does God elect some and not others in regards to salvation, but also that God predestines some people and peoples to an unequal status as compared to His predestinating of other people and peoples. Does this contradiction between what we might call spiritual inequality as taught in the doctrine of election and natural inequality as implied in the doctrine of predestination (and so a necessary denial of the foundational tenets of modern egalitarianism) perhaps hint at the idea that many Reformed don’t understand the implications of their Calvinism?

Certainly, everyone agrees that men are all brothers in the sense that all men are created by God and that all men thus are the image of God. Likewise, everyone can agree that all men are brothers in the sense that all men are responsible to God’s law. This is gladly conceded. However, all men are not brothers in the sense of having God as their redemptive Father.  That fact that God makes distinctions among men has impact all the way down the line of our thinking.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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