Springfield Presbyterian Church
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Where God's Love Meets Your Needs

A Chosen People

If any word typifies the stereotype of Presbyterians it would have to be the word "chosen."  In seminary we had a basketball team called the Frozen Chosen. This was a phrase used to describe the stern and upright worship that was practiced for so long in Presbyterian churches.  The notion of chosen is a key word in Calvin's understanding of election.   In classic evangelical circles, we have this sense that everyone can be saved who hears the gospel and responds with faith.
The problem with the word chosen is that we find it in scripture.  In reformed theology, the kind that Calvin articulated, the notion of chosen has to do with God's sovereign choice about who will spend eternity with Him.  For Calvin, salvation is by invitation only. 
As an evangelical, I become uncomfortable with such concepts about God.  Please don't misunderstand me, I fully believe in God's sovereignty, that is His absolute power and right to rule the hearts of all men and women.  But my understanding of God and election falls short of Calvin's view.  I guess I must blame it on my Methodist upbringing.  John Wesley came to a different understanding of election than Calvin.  Wesley suggested that God's choice has already been made for all people through Jesus Christ.  His notion of election has been called prevenient grace because God's choice for all was made at Calvary.  John Calvin saw Jesus' death at Calvary only applied to those God had foreordained, or predestined to experience it.  It is not a big deal really even  though their differences are genuine, both schools of thought are expressing that not all people will experience the saving grace of Jesus Christ.   For me, though I am Presbyterian and appreciate John Calvin's thought and contributions to the faith, I still feel more comfortable with Wesley's notion of prevenient grace. This admittedly puts me in conflict with the Westminster Confession of Faith. If you have taken time to read this blog let me know what your think.
A Chosen People Email clays22@bellsouth.net