In the preceding chapters we have attempted to show that individual election is solidly biblical and in harmony with other biblical claims concerning man's condition under sin, man's aversion to admitting his total inability to do the will of God, God's eternal purposes, and God's real love for the non-elect. In this chapter it is our desire to clarify some of the issues which have come to be used to oppose the doctrine of individual election.
First, there is the issue of "robotism". This is an extensively used charge that is often made against individual electionists. It is valid, as a charge, only against those who hold and teach a mechanistic fatalism. It is not a valid charge against individual electionists on the basis of their view of election.
The doctrine of individual election only establishes that the names of the elect are written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world. It does not establish that men are incapable of making choices. Its basis in the doctrine of the bondage of men to sin DOES establish that they are incapable of choosing and doing the good, but it certainly does not establish that they are incapable of choosing which sins they will commit. The ability to make ANY decisions constitutes the reality of personality. Even the opponents who charge individual electionists with "robotism" themselves admit that their doctrine of man's volition is that it is ultimately proscribed by the sovereign designs of God. Thus, limited volitional capacity does not a robot make. And, since sinners do often choose between mutually exclusive sins, they obviously qualify as personalities.
Then, there is also this truth: when we are born into this world, we come without having given any permission. Our parents, because they neither did, nor could, consult us, did not create robots by their procreation of children. So, neither is it plausible or honest for those, who object to God making the dead to live without the act being ultimately out of their decision, to charge Him with creating robots. The objection of "robotism" is merely a selective use of emotionally loaded words to generate a smoke-screen to keep people from an honest consideration of the facts as the Scriptures give them.
Secondly, there is the objection that individual election promotes a "theology of force". This is, of course, true --- but not in the way that the objectors mean it. The doctrine of individual election recognizes the "wooing" of the Spirit. It also recognizes the power of persuasion that divine love has. Though it teaches that men who are elect will be pursued by God until their conversion, it does not teach that they are forcibly held by grace against the will of their new man which has been created by God by means of a birth from above. It DOES teach that the will of their old man is violated by grace -- for he wills only his egocentric way. But the picture of a new creation of God being held forcibly by grace against its will is another of those manipulations of words and mental pictures which disgraces its advocates.
And, most who attempt to be biblical and yet hold a view of election that is contrary to individual election, hold that the preaching of an eternal Gehenna is a legitimate exercise. And, by so admitting, they also tear down their objections to any "theology of force". The graphic and persuasive declaration of an eternal Gehenna constitutes the use of force. The claim that there is freedom of choice once the issue of Hell is graphically clear is false. It is in ignorance of what constitutes force. If a man is given the opportunity to decide between being thrown off of a cliff to rocks a thousand feet below, and being carried down the mountain in the comfort of a ski lift, some might call that "freedom of choice". But, the choice is already determined by the value which the man places on his life (which value cannot be shown to be the result of "free will"). In this illustration, the choice is called "free", but it is not free at all. If the man's condition is such that he is suicidal because of events beyond his control, he will be DRIVEN by his mental state to choose the rocks. He will make a choice, but it will in no sense be "free" of constraint. By the same token, if the man loves life and fears death, the choice is also predetermined. He makes a conscious choice, but he is only following the dictates of his previously developed values regarding life and death. And, such is also the case in personal salvation. It is the position of biblical electionists that God does a work in the heart of the elect man prior to his exposure to the gospel that predisposes him to desire forgiveness and life. Then, when the gospel is made clear, the man makes a real choice -- but it is not a "free" one, for it is constrained by the desire for forgiveness and life and the persuasiveness of the message (the presence and strength of which are both controlled by God).
So, though individual electionists do teach a certain "force" in the grace of God, so also do the collective electionists. Thus, the charge of it being a "theology of force" is a vacuous charge. One can hardly object to something in another's theology which is also in the one he himself propounds.
Thirdly, there is the issue of the scope of the death of Christ and its relationship to the love and mercy of God. In any discussion of the issue of individual election, sooner or later the question of the death of Christ comes up. Why did Christ die and for whom? Many who have been biblical in their adherence to the Scriptural doctrine of individual election suddenly become philosophical when this question is addressed. And, many who have seriously erred in the matter of election are very close to the truth when the scope of Christ's death is discussed. Why did Christ die? For whom did He die?
In order to answer these questions, we must carefully consider two specific issues. Critical to the resolution of this matter is the issue of PURPOSE. Then, there is the matter of specific definition of terms in texts which deal with the scope of His death.
We desire to approach the matter of purpose first because it resolves a lot of mis-thought. Those who hold that the death of Christ was ULTIMATELY to PROCURE the salvation of all of mankind, though they may have the appearance of biblical support, err in defining the purpose in terms of "the procurement of salvation". Likewise, those who hold that the death of Christ was limited to the procurement of the salvation of the elect also make the same mistake.
The cause of the error is the same in both cases. It arises from a twofold hermeneutical blunder: first, studying texts to prove a theological position (which inevitably causes a shift in the human motivation in studying the divine revelation FROM seeking Truth TO seeking to prove the legitimacy of a position held, which, in turn, allows error to creep in unnoticed); and, second, the erroneous taking of a statement of purpose given in Scripture and assigning to it the place of ULTIMATE PURPOSE, or, worse, taking a statement of DESIRE and turning it into a statement of INTENT.
It should be obvious from history and revelation that the ultimate purpose of the death of Christ must be defined in some other arena than that of "procurement" for the simple reason that both collective electionists and individual electionists agree that though men are saved on the basis of His death, they are not saved by His death. They are saved by grace through faith on the basis of His death.
Put another way, none but the universal salvationists hold that the death of Christ is ITSELF effective in procuring salvation for men. The collective electionist believes that though Christ's death was sufficient for the sins of all men, it is only effective for those who believe. This makes the effectual cause of salvation to be faith -- on the basis of the death of Christ. On the other hand, the individual electionist also holds that for the elect to be saved, they must be brought to faith by God. This also means that the death of Christ does not ITSELF procure salvation. It simply makes them "savable".
Paul, in Romans 3:25-26, says this:
"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (KJV).
With these words he establishes that the death of Christ was to establish the righteousness of God. Before Christ died for sin, God often remitted the sins of men -- without exacting the just penalty for their behavior from them. This refusal to exact justice brought the question of God's justice to mind. Is it justice to send rain upon the unjust when he deserves drought and death? How is it that God can forbear to judge those who are justly guilty? Is it not a miscarriage of justice to refuse to penalize the guilty?
But not with God.
Because with God there is no frustration of the claims of justice in the exercise of mercy. This is true because all of the claims of justice are met in the suffering and death of the Son of God. How is it that God can "justly" declare the guilty innocent (i.e. "justify him that believes on Jesus")? He can, but only because Jesus has assumed the debt that sin has generated against the justice of God -- and fully paid it. Thus, because Christ shed His blood and paid the demands of justice, God can "remit" sins and remain just.
Justice has not been denied. It has been satisfied vicariously. With men, who delight in perverting justice, it is no large thing for justice to be denied on the trumped up grounds of "mercy" or "leniency". For God, there can be no grace and mercy if there is not to be a complete satisfaction of His justice. Grace is an option with God. Justice is not. God MUST be righteous ("just"). He MAY be gracious. Therefore, in Romans 3:25-26 Paul establishes that the purpose of the death of Christ was to free the grace of God from the demands of the justice of God. As we saw in Chapter V, the priorities of God are established by the attributes of God. None of the priorities can be sacrificed which would annul the attribute which it represents. Satisfying the demands of justice is such a priority. It cannot be denied without destroying the attribute of justice in God.
What is the net result? It is that God is free to be gracious IF He chooses to be. Since the death of Christ was a sufficient payment for all of the sins of all finite men in respect to the justice of God, God can both be "just" AND send rain upon the unjust IF He so desires. Thus, all men are "savable". The demands of justice have been met and there are no sins which are beyond the scope of that payment.
Why, then, are all men not saved? Partially because, though Christ's death was sufficient for the sin of unbelief, God has restricted salvation to those who repent of their unbelief and the sins it has produced and believe. And, partially because God's plans for the elect require the visitation of wrath upon some for whose sins Christ's death was sufficient (which plans include the demonstration of the fact that man's enmity against God is irrational -- for He died for them -- and that man's enmity will not allow him to do even the smallest thing -- like "believing" -- to save himself).
It is an interesting fact that God made salvation dependent upon the condition of man's faith. Christ's death HAD to be sufficient for the sin of unbelief -- else God could not forgive it even if it were repented of. Since His death WAS sufficient for even unbelief, it goes without saying that God could have waived the requirement of faith and imputed the faith of the Son to men. That He did not shows that the generation of faith in men is essential to God's eternal plans for a kingdom of righteousness. If He waived the requirement of faith, men could enter the kingdom in unbelief and continue to produce all manner of sins (sins which Christ's death would be sufficient to cover). But, if He had done so, there would never be any hope for a kingdom in which righteousness reigned. Because He intends such a kingdom, faith is a necessity in all those who will inherit it.
Therefore, since faith is necessary in those who are to enter the kingdom, Christ's death, which was sufficient to cover the sin of unbelief, does not automatically save -- it simply makes salvation possible. It is the action of the Spirit in bringing a man to faith that actually saves -- for it is at the point of faith that a man is declared righteous by God and, thus, "saved".
Those who would restrict the death of Christ to the sins of the elect do so on the presumption that if He had died to secure the salvation of the non elect, His death would have been in vain. However, the issue of VANITY is the issue of PURPOSE. If God accomplishes His purposes, He has not acted in vain. If God's purpose in the death of Christ was to remove the demands of justice so that He could be gracious IF HE WANTED TO BE, then the death of Christ was not in vain even though it covered the sins of the non-elect, to whom God is only limitedly gracious (being lenient in the duration of their stay upon the earth). The death of Christ was not designed to force God to be gracious. It was designed to allow Him to be -- and remain "just". So, if He refuses to be completely gracious to some who do not desire His grace, He does not annul the impact of the death of His Son.
This brings us to the question of whether, in fact, the Scriptures teach that the death of Christ was designed only to make grace an option for God. That this is true can be shown from several contexts of the Holy Writings, but we will attempt to deal with only one which is most plain.
Let us consider 1 John 2:1-2:
"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And, if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (KJV).
Here we have a reference to the death of Christ. It is a reference that relates to His death as a basis for His advocacy for the believer in the presence of the Father. And, it is a reference to His death in respect to the issue of propitiation "for our sins: and ... also for the sins of the whole world".
Those who are familiar with the debate that swirls around whether Christ's death included the sins of the non-elect, are aware of the fact that the answer to that debate is resolved by the meaning John had when he used the terms "our" and "the whole world". And, since this is the case, we will focus our attention upon the determination of the definition of those two terms in their context in I John.
First, it must be understood that only the context of I John can resolve the issue of John's meaning. Part of the reason that the debate rages so continuously without abatement is the refusal of men to recognize that only John can legitimately define his meaning for us. If one wants to define the terms so that his theology is reinforced, and he cannot find the support he wants from John in his letter, he will go to what he considers to be "a parallel passage" and use it to define John's meaning. Then, his opponent, being willing to establish his theology and reject the former's, will also go to his "parallel passages" and prove the former wrong. The end result of this type of hermeneutic is that the issue is never resolved because both men merely end up multiplying "proof texts" from "parallel passages" in opposition to each other.
There is a fundamental flaw in appealing to "parallel passages" to establish the meaning of a text: unless the meaning of a text is established by its own context, it CANNOT be determined what other texts are "parallel" to it. In order to compare two texts to see if they are "parallel", both texts must already be understood in their own contexts.
Therefore, John must be allowed to establish his own meaning. And, for us to allow him to do that, we must first establish what his intent was in writing the words he penned. To do that, we must recognize that I John 2:1 is addressed to "my little children". The only legitimate assumption that we can make on the basis of these words is that John was addressing persons for whom he functioned as a "father". And, since they were not his personal, physical offspring, we must understand him to be addressing BELIEVERS.
Next, he says "...these things write I unto you...". What things? The answer to that is found in the preceding material. If we recognize that the "these things" are found in I John 1:5-10, we also recognize that John has laid out, in those verses, a basic message (verse five) followed by five possible responses by John's "little children" (verses six through ten). It is clear from a consideration of the responses that three of them are unacceptable to John for his "little children". The remaining two are acceptable to him -- but are not equal in his desires for them. First, he would rather that they do the response as is given in 1:7 ("...if we walk in the light..." KJV). However, some have not responded in that manner (perhaps), so he gives them a second option ("... if we confess our sins..." 1:9; KJV). Therefore, John's "these things" are the basic message, plus the possible responses to it .
Then, he says "...that ye sin not. And if any man sin...". So, John has written what he has written in order to accomplish two things: first, he has written his message so that those who are walking in the light might continue to do so (...that ye sin not...); second, he has written his message so that those who have taken one of the unacceptable options given in verses six, eight, and ten, might turn from those unacceptable options and begin to walk in the light (...if we confess our sins...).
That means, then, that John's intent in his writing is to get his "little children" to walk in the light which God is. Some have been doing that and he wants to encourage them to continue. Some have faltered in doing that, so he wants to restore them to a walk in the light.
That brings us to the phrase "...And if any man sin...". This phrase acknowledges that John is aware that his "little children" may not always be consistent in walking in the light. This phrase is also the beginning of the sentence which contains the debated words, "our" and "the whole world". And, as we have demonstrated above, this phrase is tied to John's interest in restoring those of his "little children" who have ceased to walk in the light. Therefore, John's comments in this sentence MUST be understood to be dealing with believers who have sinned as an encouragement to them to confess their sins.
The first part of this encouragement has to do with their possession of an Advocate with the Father. At this point we want to make this fact very clear: the "we" who "have an Advocate with the Father" can only be taken to mean "John and his little children". Some have argued that John's references to himself with his words "we" and "our" mean "John and those apostles like him who were Jews and sent to Jews". But, that cannot be his meaning for the simple reason that he is attempting to establish the fact that his "little children" (as well as himself -- should he be the "any man" who "sins") have an Advocate with the Father. It will do his "little children" no good if John and his fellow apostles have an Advocate with the Father; they also must have that Advocate. Thus, the "we" HAS to be "John and his little children".
Now, since John is encouraging those of his little children who have sinned to confess their sins so that they may be forgiven, and since a major part of that encouragement has to do with an adequate Advocate which THEY have with the Father, it is plain that the establishment of the assurance of forgiveness is paramount to John and his readers.
It is this fact -- that John is assuring his readers that they WILL be forgiven upon confession -- that gives us understanding of the next part of his sentence. In that part he says, "And he is the propitiation for our sins...". The "and" continues what he has begun. Thus, the statement of Christ being the propitiation is a continuation of John's assurance of forgiveness according to the promise of I John 1:9. But, even more importantly, the "our" has to be a continuation of the "we" of the preceding sentence. And, since the "we" of that sentence meant "John and his little children", the "our" of this sentence must also mean "John's and his little children's". Now, note carefully that the context of John's letter ONLY establishes that his little children are believers. It says NOTHING of their national origins or prior religious backgrounds.
Therefore, those who argue that the "our" refers to "elect Jews" on the supposition that John and all of his "little children" were elect Jews are guilty of eis-egesis (reading into the text something that is not there, but which is found in some supposed "parallel passage"). [Also, it should be noted, they are guilty of denying the facts of John's ministry which clearly included the "Church" which, by the time of the writing of this letter, was a composite of both Jews and Gentiles.]
At this point, then, John has built a strong case for the inevitability of forgiveness upon confession. He has established that the one who sins has an Advocate with the Father, and he has established that that Advocate is also the propitiation for the sins which have been committed. Therefore, the sinning believer can have strong assurance that when he confesses his sins, HE WILL BE FORGIVEN.
This brings us to the phrase, "...and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world". What does John mean by his words "the whole world"? Of whom is John speaking? It is obvious from the contrasting "but" and the connective "also" that "the whole world" is a group that is different from the group defined by the "our/ours". Thus, it cannot mean "every person in the world" because the group covered by the "our" is outside of its confines. So, to whom does John here refer?
The answer is in the context of first John. The only other place where he uses the same phrase in this same letter is I John 5:19 where he says "we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness" (KJV). Now, from this text it is easily seen that the "we" are believers and the "whole world" which "lieth in wickedness" are unbelievers. And, with this I John 2:2 fully concurs, for in it the sins of believers are potentially covered as well as the sins of unbelievers. Therefore, the phrase "the whole world", by John's own definition, is "the whole world of unbelievers".
Now, it is a fact that by telling his readers that the death of the Advocate was sufficient to provide a basis for forgiveness for even those who still "lie in wickedness" he has enhanced his basic theme: the assurance of their forgiveness upon confession.
With this in mind it is easy for us to see that John was not teaching an "automatic application" of the propitiatory death of Christ apart from confession. Just as the elect are not automatically saved by the death of Christ, but must be brought to faith by the Spirit, so also are the "little children" not automatically forgiven so as to be restored to fellowship with their Father, but, rather, must be brought by the Spirit, through His word through John, to CONFESS their sins . And, when that happens, THEY WILL BE FORGIVEN.
Therefore, when we allow the AUTHOR, by use of HIS context, to define HIS meaning for us, we understand that John meant "believers" by his words "we" and "our/ours" and "unbelievers" by his words "the whole world". When we insist on introducing our theological prejudices and interpreting by eis-egetically infused data, we can only err. One man will argue for his theology and another for his. One man will see significance in one set of facts dug up from some other place and another will choose facts which oppose the former's which have been dug up from still another place. Confusion will reign as long as men persist in studying theologically rather than exegetically.
So, the conclusion of the matter is that John enhanced the magnitude of the scope of the propitiatory death of Christ by telling his "little children" that that death was sufficient for their sins because Christ had died not only for them, but also for the sins of unbelievers. This is a strong encouragement to confession because it argues that God will surely forgive the sins of those who confess them to Him because He was willing to include the non-elect in His provision for propitiation. If He would act on the behalf of those who would never accept Him, how much more would He do for those who have accepted Him, but who have strayed from the light?
Therefore, I John 2:1-2 clearly establishes that God's purpose in the death of Christ was to make grace an option. It does so by showing that that death did include the sins of the unbelieving and non-elect in terms of adequacy. It does so, also, by showing that unless men are brought to faith (which is something God controls) the adequacy of the propitiation is not automatically applied.
That brings us to the original question concerning hardheartedness in God. If it is established that God provided an objective propitiation for even the non-elect, it cannot be argued that God is unfeeling and hardhearted because the provision of the propitiation required the sacrifice of God Himself for the sins of men. Thus, if God, at great sacrifice to Himself, provided the satisfaction for sins, He has demonstrated the magnitude of His love even for the non-elect. The doctrine of individual election merely posits the fact that God will not do MORE than provide an objective propitiation for the sins of the non-elect. But, since they do not desire that He should even do that much, they cannot complain that He will not do more.
Some who cannot abide individual election claim that the reason they cannot is that the doctrine eliminates human responsibility and, thus, encourages irresponsibility.
However, the doctrine of individual election does NOT eliminate human responsibility. In the first place, the doctrine of individual election is a doctrine of something that GOD ACCOMPLISHES. It is not a doctrine of God failing to accomplish His goals, nor is it a doctrine of God encouraging men to pursue their sins in irresponsibility. If men take something that God does and extrapolate from it an erroneous conclusion about what they ought to do or not do, they are at fault; not God nor His doctrine.
Secondly, the issue of human responsibility is the issue of man's legal status before God. It is only "under law" that man has any "responsibility". Man is only responsible to do what has been commanded of him by God. In Romans 4:15 Paul said:
"...the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression" (KJV).
Here he plainly declares that responsibility is tied to "law". Responsibility is his obvious subject because he is dealing with the consequences of failure. His statement, "the law worketh wrath" is true, but it is inexorably tied to the assumption of failure. The law only works wrath against violators of it. Since, however, all men have sinned, the law works wrath against all men -- but ONLY because they have violated the responsibility which the law has established as theirs. Then, he said, "where no law is, there is no transgression". This also clearly establishes that responsibility is tied to legal status. If there is no law which declares man's responsibility to act, he can do anything, or nothing, and be free from any fear of consequences. There is NO transgression unless there FIRST is law.
Again, in Romans 5:13, Paul declared:
"For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law" (KJV).
Here also Paul tied human responsibility to the presence of law. Though sin exists any time that a contradiction of godliness exists, the penalties for such contradictions are not assessed unless first a law is given which establishes man's responsibilities.
Therefore, it should be plain that man's responsibilities spring from his possession of a law which establishes the divine requirements of him.
Now, we have made claim previously that the doctrine of individual election does not eliminate human responsibility. This is a claim that man is not removed from the demands of "law" by this doctrine. He IS REMOVED from the demands of "law", but that removal is by the act of God in justification when He declares the man to be righteous before the law by the substitution of the legal righteousness of the Son of God for man's personal failures.
The input of the doctrine of individual election in respect to the doctrine of justification-by-substitution is NOT that God, by electing, eliminates the elect's responsibility. It is rather that God has decided to assume those responsibilities for His elect and fulfill the requirements upon them for them. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. He came to be a Substitute for the elect of God. He fulfilled for them all "law" -- including the "law of faith". Man is responsible before God -- legally. However, if God in grace assumes that responsibility and meets it Himself, and then imputes His actions to the man, the man's responsibilities have not been eliminated, but they have been met. The justice of God does not relinquish its demands for righteousness. It simply accepts the behavior of the Son of God as the fulfillment of those demands. Thus, the requirements of men stand -- but they are met by the man, Jesus Christ.
Now, in respect to the fulfillment of God's demands upon men by Christ we need to make this matter clear: His death, though sufficient for all of the sins of all men in terms of satisfying the demands of justice, is subjectively applied to the elect when, by the Spirit, they come to understand their position of responsibility for sin before God and repentantly call upon the Lord for His proffered salvation. It is this subjective application which the doctrine of individual election touches most critically. Since, as we have shown, the nature of men under sin is such that they will not repent, nor call upon God for grace, it remains for the grace of God to overrule such obstinacy and persuade the unbelieving IF they are to come to the knowledge of His great salvation. By this God does not eliminate His requirement upon men to repent and believe the gospel. He does, however, bring that repentance and faith to pass in them. And, since He is the one who brings it to pass in them, it cannot be truthfully said that they are the authors or sources of their repentance and faith.
And, also, we must clearly recognize that man is responsible before God to do all that God has commanded him to do UNTIL that responsibility has been met -- either by the man himself or by virtue of the actions of an acceptable Substitute, Jesus Christ. When those responsibilities HAVE BEEN MET, the man is free of the consequences that failure would have produced. This means, then, that the doctrine of individual election only declares that though all men are natural rebels at heart, God will continue to pursue some of them (whom He has chosen) until He breaks the rebellious spirit and generates a repentant faith in their hearts. Because men seek Him not, He has no obligation to pursue them. He has sent His Son to die for them. If they seek Him not in spite of the proof this gives of His concern for them, He still has no obligation to do for them what He demands of them. For His elect, however, He does.
Therefore, man remains responsible before God, elect or non-elect. But, for the elect, God assumes that responsibility Himself and does for and in them the things that He has required of them.
This brings us to yet another objection: the charge that individual election means that if one who has not been elected genuinely repented and called upon God, God would turn a deaf ear to him. This is a grossly unfair and unreasoned accusation. God's promise to hear the plea of any man who calls upon Him for salvation out of repentant faith stands. It is not individual election that denies men salvation. It is human depravity that denies them salvation. The idea that God would sacrifice His integrity by proving untrue to His promises is preposterous. The fact is that men do not seek God, so the situation will never arise that a non-elect man will call upon Him for His salvation. If he did, God would save him. But, if he did, all that God has told us about our condition in sin would be proven false -- so it will never happen. God's refusal to have equal grace upon all cannot be held chargeable simply because it is grace -- something that cannot be coerced or demanded by men. If He desires to be more gracious to some than to others, who is man to challenge His right to do what He wills with His own (Note Matt. 20:15)?
The "logic" of men has created yet another objection to individual election. This objection concerns the concept of a God who hardens men who are interested in Truth so that they will lose interest and be damned. This objection is an emotionally loaded distortion of the truth as it is in Jesus. The doctrine of individual election does not establish the doctrine of God's hardening of men. Instead, it is a doctrine of God softening some men to the truth. It is an amazing thing that men can take a clear declaration of the grace of God and turn it into a position of wrath!
The problem with "logic" is that one needs ALL of the data in dealing with matters logically. ONE significant, but unknown, fact can completely alter the complexion of a matter and what seems logically airtight can be completely unraveled with the injection of a formerly unknown detail. Thus, attempting to establish the legitimacy or illegitimacy of some doctrine by use of "logic" is a very dangerous matter since it requires omniscience to guarantee accuracy. The only valid method of establishing a doctrine is by biblical exegesis. That is not to say the revelation of Scripture can be illogical (for it cannot be so), but it is to say that men have been given over to a reprobate mind (a mind that cannot be isolated from its self-interest) and THEY cannot be completely logical.
There is, in the Scriptures, a doctrine of God hardening the hearts of men. However, it is NOT a doctrine of God hardening the hearts of men who are interested in the Truth. None whom God hardened in the revelation of Scripture can be shown to have had any interest whatsoever in the Truth. The picture of distortion that men who oppose God's election would have us believe is that of a soft, pliable heart which is ready to receive truth being approached by God and wrapped by Him in a coat of iron. The true picture, however, is that men's hearts are encased in tempered steel in their rebellion toward God. God's hardening of those hearts is merely adding another layer of hardness to what is already there...giving them what they have clamored after. But, that doctrine is another matter. It is not the doctrine of individual election. It is not those who teach individual election who make God out to be arbitrarily vindictive. Rather, it is they who teach salvation by the impossible means of a will that is free of mind-input, emotional-input, and heritage-input, that leave men without hope. With individual election, some are saved. With volitional theology, none are saved.
In this chapter we have attempted to show that the more prevalent objections to the doctrine of individual election arise from false premises. There are other objections. Dealing with them all would require more than this book can adequately handle (not to mention this author). However, the real question that needs to be asked is: why do men object? The biblical answer is that they are naturally inimical to God and therefore would naturally object to anything that He did or said. But, aside from that fundamental cause, what other reasons can be given? Rejection of the doctrine does not yield salvation for a greater number of men. Rejection of the doctrine does not paint a more biblical picture of God who has given Himself up for men who are His enemies. Rejection of the doctrine does not ACTUALLY establish a greater freedom of the will in men (believing a lie does not make the lie truth). Rejection of the doctrine does only one thing: it enables men to comfort themselves with the faulty and deceptive claim that "at least I have freedom of choice". This false comfort will be of no great benefit when God calls those who have such freedom of choice to account for why they used their "freedom" to do such heinous things as they have done in life.