“But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:13 NET).
While the doctrine of election is a challenging subject, perhaps we might benefit from a change of perspective. What if we viewed divine election and human responsibility as “both/and” and not an “either/or” proposition? One scholar explains…
“God’s determination and human freedom are not necessarily an either/or situation; they can be a both/and situation. There are a number of ways a theist might reconcile the two. He might contend that God has determined that men be free. He may contend that God controls the world by what he knows men will freely do. Knowing what men will do with their freedom is not the same as ordaining what they must do against their freedom. The latter would seem to be incompatible with a loving God, but the former would appear to follow naturally from such a God.
If love is persuasive but never coercive, then allowing men to freely determine their own destiny would seem to be the loving way to make them. Hence, a theist could argue that the love of God necessitates that if he decides to create creatures that can love him, then they must be free; it is of the very necessary nature of love that other persons be able to respond freely to it. In this way both God and man would be responsible for free acts…
The theist may argue that if man is free, then he is responsible; if he has been given freedom, then he is responsible to the One who gave him freedom. In this account God is ultimately responsible for the fact of freedom (which is a good thing) but not immediately responsible for the acts of freedom (which may be evil). Both God and men take their separate responsibilities for freedom.” (1)
We’ll close our look at this subject with an illustration attributed to H.A. Ironside. That illustration begins as follows: Imagine you encounter a door with the following sign: “Whosoever will may enter.” You may accept or decline the invitation and choose to go in. Upon entering, you are surprised to find a banquet with a place set aside for you as an expected guest. As you turn to look at the door you entered, you find that the inside of the door is marked with a different sign: “Foreordained from the foundation of the world.”
This illustration offers one means of addressing the polarization between divine election and human responsibility: “God’s determination and human freedom are not necessarily an either/or situation; they can be a both/and situation.”
This message originally appeared here
(1) Geisler, N. L. (1976). Christian apologetics (p. 231). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.