Chosen for Life (a brief review)

Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election — Sam Storms

It’s hard to present arguments on a subject like divine election without offending somebody. It is possible, though, to make an honest effort to not caricature another’s position. Sam Storms makes that effort.

Rather than heroically dismantling arguments that few people hold, Dr. Storms interacts with real, opposing arguments. By doing so, he highlights and distills the specific areas of contention. Here is one of the big ones:

“Whereas much may and will be said of election in this book, the point of dispute between Calvinists and Arminians is surprisingly simple. No one who believes in the Bible questions the fact that election is taught there…

“The question reduces to this: Does God elect people because they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, or does God elect people in order that they shall believe in Christ?”

I was particularly helped by two short paragraphs midway through the book. The issue in question is whether Isaac and Jacob are best understood in Romans 9 to be “examples of individual men elected to eternal life,” or to “the nation of Israel collectively and its privileged status above all other nations on earth.”

“Let me try to simplify matters. We must remember that Paul’s grief in verses 1-5 is over the eternal condemnation of individual Jews. How can so few ethnic Israelites be saved and so many lost because of unbelief, if God’s word is true? That is the problem. Consequently the solution that verses 6-13 provide must address the issue of individual, eternal salvation and condemnation.

“But how does an appeal to the collective election of Israel or the election of Jacob and his seed to earthly, historical prominence solve the problem of unbelieving, eternally lost Jews? How can that solve the problem when that is the problem? It was the fact that ethnic Israel as a whole was God’s chosen, covenant people that created the problem in the first place (vv. 4-5)!”

Chosen for Life will not answer every question in the Arminian-Calvinist debate. Indeed, it doesn’t attempt to.  What it does do is provide a respectful and fruitful examination of a doctrine that every Christian should marvel at.


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