“The Debate Over Divine Election”

The October 12th issue of Christianity Today presents among other interesting articles a “Feature Interview” on the subject stated above. 

Dr. Carl Henry, editor of the periodical, served as moderator and directed the questions to the panel members. The panel consisted of Dr. Roger Nicole, Professor of Theology at Gordon Divinity School in New England; Dr. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Professor of Church History at Fuller Seminary; and Dr. H. Orton Wiley, President Emeritus of Pasadena College in California. 

The religious and ecclesiastical background of each of these men is interesting when you consider the subject under discussion. Dr. Bromiley stems from the Anglican Church, and Dr. Nicole from the Baptist Church, and as the discussion brings out he claims to lean heavily toward Calvinism; while Dr. Wiley is minister in the Nazarene Church and he does not hesitate to declare that he leans in the direction of Arminianism. 

As could be expected the debate on Divine Election brought into discussion such other related doctrines and controversial matters as: Predestination, Foreknowledge, the Remonstrance, the Supra-Infra Lapsarian order of decrees in the counsel of God, Reprobation, Depravity of Man, Common and Particular Grace, the Gospel Offer, etc. 

The “Debate” brought out two or three points very clearly: 

1. None of the panel members was what you would call a strong Reformed man. Even Dr. Nicole who purports to be Calvinistic in his views’ does not appear a strong man in the discussion. We would suggest thatChristianity Today conduct another symposium on the subject and this time ask one or two men who are really Reformed in their views to talk on the subject of Election. One might just as well ask Mr. Krushchev to express his views on Capitalism as to ask out and out Arminians to express their views on Divine Election. You expect to get a shaded answer. 

2. It became sadly apparent that aside from a very few dyed in the wool Calvinistic denominations which still cling to the doctrine of divine election as developed by Calvin, most of the Protestant denominations have long departed from or are in the process of forsaking the fundamental truth which Calvin calls “The heart of the Gospel,” in favor of doctrines that smack of universal atonement, humanism, etc. 

3. We also concluded from the discussion that it is the opinion of big church men today that if you are strict enough and Scriptural enough to stand on the doctrines of divine predestination in election and reprobation, you are guilty of being a determinist, a fatalist, or some other ist who impedes the work of the church to evangelize and win the world for Christ. 

4. Interesting as the discussion proved, we were sadly disappointed. When you read the subject: The Debate Over Divine Election, you expect that one of the members of the debate will be affirmative. This I failed to observe. The debate was a failure therefore.