Not so fast Jehan

Reformed theology has been around for a long time – since the, when was it again? Ah yes the Reformation. One of those Reformers of course was John Calvin (born: Jehan Cauvin – hence my title). It has also gained quite an impetus with the likes of John Piper, Wayne Grudem et al. Of course there are alternatives with Roger Olson (Arminian), Greg Boyd (Open Theology) and such. The old Reformed frameworks are of course from that era, and although Luther found a great resonance in Paul’s Gospel, it is certainly highly questionable if Paul was suffering under the guilt that Luther was. It is from the Reformation that we get the impetus for the penal substitionary view of the atonement with guilt being dealt with through punishment.

So I thought today I would take a few minutes to scribble a response to ‘predestination’. The classic Calvinist doctrine is that there are those who have been predestined (the elect) for salvation. Simply then salvation is from God, so no one can boast… no one can save themselves. Justice is we all are guilty and automatically would go to hell, but God has chosen in his grace to rescue some. We are not the judge of who so we are to present the Gospel to one and all, and we can be assured the elect will respond. The foreknowledge that God has of who will be saved is because of his predetermined choice. There were those such as Spurgeon who claimed he prayed: ‘save the elect then elect a few more’ which might be a good prayer but not too in line with the theology outlined!

I have always struggled with the Calvinism as expressed through the acronym TULIP (total depravity; unconditional election; limited atonement; irresistible grace; perseverance of the saints) and do remember discussing (arguing!!) with a professor and I think I backed him into a corner when he agreed that God wants all to be saved but only chooses to save some!

Let’s take a Scripture:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. (Ephes. 1:3-5)

We have election and predestination there in these verses. Predestination sets the destiny for those who are elect. The elect have been predestined to be adopted into the family. The destiny has already been set – predestination is the ‘what’ not the ‘who’. We are predestined to be like him, to receive the gift of eternity etc. I think that runs pretty consistently throughout the Scriptures. And it is the elect who are predestined for this outcome – so who are the elect?

They are elect 1) in him and 2) before the foundation of the world.

Those two qualifiers are very important… so first let’s get behind the language. A Jew could say:

I am elect in Abraham 4000 years ago (rough time dates there, no stones yet please!!).

To say so would be to recognise that Abraham was the chosen one and that the Jew’s election was because he was of Abraham’s seed. The Jew would not be thinking that God chooses each individual person – they are elect in Abraham. Abraham was chosen, I am of Abraham therefore I am elect in his election.

This is the language used here. We were elected when he (Jesus) was chosen. When was he chosen? He is the Chosen one from all eternity, before the foundation of the world. All in Christ are elect, they are chosen before the foundation of the world in him. This I do not believe even comes close to suggesting that before the foundation of the world God chose who will be saved in the sense of which individuals, but the choice is whoever is in Christ are children of God.

There might be other Scriptures suggesting something different, or that there was a foreknowing in the sense of knowing who will respond, but I cannot see it in this Scripture.

All in Christ are elect. We cannot think of election apart from the Chosen one. We are only elect in Christ. We cannot think of predestination apart from the one who has fulfilled the destiny for the human race.


I have posted before on ‘The Narcissistic complex’. An Anglican vicar with a background in psychology explained to me that this was not some form of unbalanced self-love but was more complex. Narcissus fell in love with an image of himself, and my colleague explained that this was often what drove people, and was a disease that many leaders had. They had an image that they love and project so, he explained, it is often very difficult to get to them, to really know them.

‘Would the real leader please stand up’… Or maybe better:
‘Would the real leader let us know who they are and sit among us’.

Reading some stuff today I also realised that the Narcissistic complex not only stops other people touching them, it prevents the person themselves discovering who they are. The image shapes them. It prevents them from stepping back to find who they really are and become more hidden. The next conference, book, public appearance.. Nothing wrong with any of those things but a lot wrong with the drivenness.

Glad I am an expert. Now got to go and polish up that image.

About this site

I am the main contributor to this site, though there are guest writers from time to time. Hopefully, what is presented are perspectives not the final word!

I am currently developing a part of the site with a focus on the 'gates of society'. That section will develop more as a forum with links to other articles, so that it becomes a resource for the future. I will also be looking for other contributors into the various subject-areas.

In my spare time(!!) I enjoy putting together wordpress sites, and also coaching people to make their own - open to hearing from you on that too.

Magazine articles

Just some more blogs? No, of course not, nothing even similar... well maybe very similar indeed, but hopefully you can use them differently. At the foot of this home page you will find 10 more blogs, these ones are grouped together, they will only be replaced every few months with a new set of 10. They can be downloaded as an emagazine, or read here as blogs (click on one and read, or use the 'emagazine' link in the menu above). Here on this site you can also add your comment.

Their core focus will be toward the gates of influence in society. They will not be the final word, hopefully provocative with some practical aspects thrown in.

The first four volumes will be uploaded here in quick succession, after that a breather before the next one. You can access earlier volumes from the emagazine page using the menu at the top of this page.

So you see - nothing like a blog!!

WordPress design

I develop WordPress based web-sites specifically made for your site. This site here is based on WP and uses a theme that I have developed. It can be as simple as a set of posts and some pages, or a few additional elements can be added such as this animated set of tabs that are activated here. I also plan the sites so that they are mobile-friendly, being responsive, they adjust to the device being used to view them.

If interested in a site feel free to make contact. I also have various courses on WP theme development. If interested in taking one of them online, or indeed you would wish to contact me about presenting a course to a small group.

Previous posts

Go and be

Nothing particularly new in this post but I am going to reflect on two phrases that are very useful handles to understand two different practices. ‘Come and see’ has been the unwritten strap line that has shaped a number of more recent church structures. ‘If we build it they will come’ was a little adventurous […]

A grateful response

I enjoyed reading the book by Frank. Some strong language but nothing gratuitous, some very insightful observations of religion in all its forms, and an overriding level of honesty that is very disarming. So, yes I like the book, would recommend it as a challenge, but (and I do not think this is my ‘conservatism’ […]

Responding ‘Christianly’

Here is the first of two posts related to Frank’s book as to issue of maintaining a ‘Christianly’ response to the issues that we face. The made up word might not be the best word. I though of ‘traditional’, ‘Christian’, ‘biblical’ and dismissed them all. The one I have used I am not happy with […]

Further Musings

Thanks for the comments… and also the science/faith comments too. This is part of why I so liked the book, it kind of demands a response and an honesty (without cynicism?). Not surprised that Franky is not a friend of the atheists or the hard-core theists. The Bible: Frank suggests when we read egalitarian and […]

Not a fan of Dawkins

Frank Schaeffer is not a fan of Dawkins and the ‘new atheism’. He objects to the dogmatism and the arrogance in it. He has said: Richard Dawkins, you are in the same boat I am in. You don’t have any revealed truth either. I wish we would all just admit that. I embrace that paradox. […]

Dismantling culture

In about a month from now I should be back to regular blogging… we have restored electricity, an intermittent internet, one and a half functioning showers, and a semi-finished kitchen… then the redecoration set for the Autumn / Fall (interesting that the word ‘Fall’ was the original English word not Autumn – not sure what […]

Interesting or what?

Charles Strohmer at his site has a most interesting article on the issue of Iran and the USA and an unlikely alliance in which he traces it back as far as 1997. What goes on behind the scenes can be quite a surprise… or maybe not. Any way I suggest a read that is […]

Other views

For those who are interested there is a short post by Greg Boyd on the Christus Victor view of the Cross (and I guess it is posted there too for those who are not interested!!): Atonement: What is the Christus Victor View? The penal-substitionary view that many will die for – and maybe a few […]

Magazine Articles

Editorial Vol 2.1

In this issue there are a number of articles to respond to. Dyfed reviews Roger Mitchell’s thesis Church, Gospel & Empire. Roger’s book is his thesis so we should not expect it to be an easy read, however, with Dyfed’s review I think the book will be accessible for most. In a recent blog Roger […]

When is a Gate not a Gate?

It is a simple question. Should religion be treated as a gateway in the model of the city that we explore on this blog? Martin and I have both, perhaps instinctively, said no. Then Martin invited an article on the topic: then I got to thinking: then, well, you’ll see.

Ownership, stewardship & forgiveness

“So the business leaders of today are not capitalists in the sense in which Arkwright and Rockefeller were capitalists. Modern titans derive their authority and influence from their position in a hierarchy, not their ownership of capital. They have obtained these positions through their skills in organisational politics, in the traditional ways bishops and generals […]

It’s the Economy stupid!

So much talk about the economy, but what is the economy? Is it just pounds and pence? Dollars and Euros and cents? The Cambridge dictionary defines it as “the system of trade and industry by which the wealth of a country is made and used.”

W.I.L.D. voices for the poor and the powerless

For some time I have been wrestling with the issues of money, care for the poor and how our present western economic system seeks to support people in need. As a community at Antioch, Llanelli we have a focus on ‘God’s presence and the poor’ and over many years see the day to day pressures of folks who are increasingly struggling financially in these challenging times.

Church, Gospel & Empire: a review

‘How is it that the best of church experience in both traditional and radical expressions tends to relapse to hierarchical domination and control?’ This is Roger Haydon Mitchell’s chilling question in his introduction to his newly published PhD thesis, Church, Gospel & Empire.

Art shaping culture

It has been received wisdom for a while now that economic power is shifting from the old world to the new world. Continental Europe is faced with tremendous headwinds to do with spiraling social costs and an ageing population that means growth over the next 100 years will be hard to come by. In the developing world on the other hand very low wage rates and high worker motivation are combining to create a compelling long term argument for excess growth rates and wealth creation for those markets.

Values: unelectability

I watched a film recently ‘Ides of March’. A film looking at people on the campaign trail. The governor has sex with the intern (definitely a big ‘no’ in the film)… However, the areas that were far more challenging though were to do with the ethics of winning votes. One example were meetings with fellow politicians to gain their endorsement. Making a deal so that votes could be guaranteed – in return a position in the forthcoming government.

Wealth: redefinitions

Definitions of course have their limitations, but I was provoked and challenged when sitting listening to a Zimbabwean speak. His question to us was to consider what are we were investing into. To help us he used the two phrases of ‘artificial’ and ‘creational’ wealth. One he said was how the (industrialised) West defines wealth, but is illusionary. This he, therefore, termed ‘artificial’.

Come back Christian nation

Abortion, gay marriage, Sunday trading (sorry, strike that one off, as we like that now)… All evidence that we are losing it. The ‘look, once we could see Cathedrals and church spires on the landscape, now Mosques are where churches once stood’ type of statement are all laments about what is disappearing.