The Doctrine of Election

 By Dr. Todd Daly
The doctrine of divine election/predestination is too often associated with acrimonious debates between the followers of Calvin and Arminius, debates that not only distort the concept of election but subtly suggest that Christians are better off jettisoning this troubled doctrine altogether. However, this troubled debate often engenders legitimate questions about the nature of God, the meaning of grace, and our understanding of human freedom:

·         How can God decree individuals to Hell before they’ve been created?

·         Doesn’t it make God into a moral monster?

·         What does it mean to confess that God is all-powerful if in the end some are able to resist God’s grace? If God has decreed all who will be saved, in what sense can humans be said to be free?

·         How do we reconcile divine election with passages stating that God desires that ‘none should perish?

These types of questions might further suggest that we are indeed better off without the doctrine of predestination. Yet, we find divine election as a recurring theme in both the Old and New Testaments. This summer, Urbana Seminary is offering a  class which aims to rehabilitate the doctrine of election.  This will be done by exposing common misconceptions of this doctrine by offering a broader approach that accounts for its development in the history of the church. In particular, students will have the opportunity to read the Church Fathers, medieval thinkers, the Reformation theologians Calvin and Arminius, and the 20th century theologian Karl Barth and their interpretations and interactions with the core biblical passages. No prior knowledge of the doctrine of election is required. The course is designed to foster a deeper appreciation and understanding of the doctrine of election, acknowledging where all such construals both illuminate and fall short. It will also assist aims the student to appreciate the gracious, yet mysterious character of divine election.  We hope you can join us!