unœnditional election
   Unconditional election means that those elected by God for salvation cannot do anything of their own will to advance or hinder that choice. Together with the concepts of total depravity, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints, it is one of the "five points of Calvinism." It is intimately connected with the idea of predestination.
   According to Calvinism God, in his plan for human salvation, predetermined and foreknew exactly who would receive his grace and as a result turn in faith and believe in Christ. The Synod of Dort proclaimed that "Election is the unchangeable purpose of God."
   From its inception, Protestantism has been identified with the view that God's saving grace is separate from all human efforts to do good or to merit salvation. it rests in part on paul's Epistle to the Romans 8:29-30: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son." The formulation of the doctrine of unconditional election and its four related Calvinist points was an attempt to preserve that view as the new church grew.
   Those Christians who have opposed the doctrine often charged that it denies human free will and hence human responsibility. if nothing we can do either wins or loses God's favor, they say, then nothing that we do really matters. Many of these critics believe that God elected humanity in general; the duty of individuals is to act upon that election and make it effective in their life.
   The doctrine of unconditional election carries with it a set of corollary beliefs: (1) from among fallen humanity, God has arbitrarily chosen to save a fixed number; (2) election is made quite apart from any merit associated with the individuals so chosen; (3) one so chosen cannot reject that election. A minority of Calvinists add another corollary: God has decreed that those left uncho-sen have been selected for damnation. Those who supported Arminianism specifically rejected that view.
   Further reading:
   ■ Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (Philadelphia: Presbyterian & Reformed Press, 1965)
   ■ John Owen, The Works of John Owen, 16 vols. (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1963)
   ■ David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas, The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed Press, 1963).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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