Pastor Tim Keller has now written a book to try and prop up the doctrine of election, the centerpiece of flawed Calvinist teaching. I am sure he means well; as does the MacArthurs and Pipers of the world. These are devoted Bible expositors that appear as sold out to pre-destination as many of the Pentecostals sold out to Charismania they like to rightly complain about. Perhaps it is this sold out state that prevents them from seeing the truth that stands right in front of them. That election/pre-destination as taught by Calvinism is the most arrogant doctrine alive today that simply flies in the face of 95% of Scripture. It flies in the face of the attributes of God. It is devoid of true justice, mercy and grace. The type of justice, mercy and grace the God of the Bible clearly embodies.
For the unsure, Calvinism centrally consists of five points of theology. Perhaps the most important of these is the doctrine of election, which says that before the Adam took his first breath, God had already decided who would go to heaven and hell throughout all of human history. That He "elected" some for salvation and some for eternal suffering having absolutely nothing to do with their lives here on earth. In another of the five points, Calvinists teach that the work of the cross is therefore ONLY for the elect. This doctrine of limited atonement paints a Jesus who only came to save some, which is diametrically opposed to His entire message and ministry:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. - 1Timothy 2: 1-6 (ESV)
Who did Christ Jesus give Himself as a ransom for? The elect? No. For all. Who does God desire to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth? Just a select few? No again. He desires all to be saved. Now, not all will but that does not change the obvious fact that teaching God pre-decided simply does not line up with Scripture. In a recent article, Keller presents what he calls the three most common questions that the doctrine of election raises.
Let me first say that these should not be the most common questions. There are far easier questions that obliterate election theology. Two of these seem to be offered as a way to prop up Calvinism. Nevertheless, the truth is always easy to see and apply when one approaches the Bible as the measuring rod and has not sold out to any one prescribed doctrine of man. As for the questions Keller offers:
1) If you believe in election, doesn't that leave you with the problem of why God doesn't choose to save everyone?
This question simply misses the point. The question is not why God does not choose to save everyone. The question is why He would choose to randomly save people without meaning or purpose. The only answer Keller or any Calvinist offers is sovereignty. They argue that technically no one should be saved because we are so depraved so we shouldn't ask questions when God chooses to save some. This is an intellectually bankrupt answer that is also not supported biblically. It is what is known as a dodge. Keller presents the question as to why God does not save everyone as the "ultimate mystery" but it is not as mysterious when you actually read the Bible:
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. - Romans 10: 9 (ESV)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. - Romans 1: 18-23 (ESV)
Romans 10 spells it out very clearly. One must confess with their mouth and believe in their heart in Jesus and His resurrection and they will be saved. Not they will be saved if they are on the "elect" list. Note the message in the verses from Romans 1. Why in the world would anyone need an excuse if they were pre-decided to go to hell? God makes it very clear here that they will have no excuse for trading in the God that creation screams at them exists for images and idolatry under the guise of wisdom. God is plain to all because He has shown Himself to all. Why? Because He desires none to perish! Scripture always verifies Scripture. Under Calvinistic theology, why would God bother to show Himself to the very people He already decided were going to hell? Seems not only pointless but cruel - two attributes that are not of God. No beloved. God does not save everyone because not everyone wants God. Remember, God consigns no one to hell. People willingly choose to go. People either choose to place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior or they reject God. None come to the Father except through Christ. There is no deep dark secret here. Man fell and God in His infinite loving-kindness sacrificed His only Son so that those who believe in Him would have eternal life. What is amazing is that Keller then presents the true argument against election, which is foreknowledge, and doesn't even realize he is doing it.
"Suppose that eons ago God set up salvation on this system: Every person will have an equal ability to accept or reject Christ, who will die and be raised and be presented through the Gospel message. The moment God determined to set up salvation on that system, He would've immediately known exactly which persons would be saved and which would be condemned on that basis. So the minute He "set it up," He would be defacto electing some and passing over others. We come out to the same place. God could save all, but He doesn't."
There is nothing to suppose! This is the system God set up! Read John 3:16! What Keller has unwittingly stumbled upon is what confounds Calvinists every day. They continue to confuse the foreknowledge of God with pre-destination.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. - Romans 8: 29-30 (ESV)
Look at the order here. Foreknew -- pre-destined -- called - justified - glorified. It is because God already knows who will accept the glorious gift of salvation through Jesus Christ that people are pre-destined for eternal life in heaven or eternal suffering. These two contrasting positions do not come out at the same place at all! When you follow the doctrine of election you come out with a capricious God who consigns people to hell without any rhyme or reason. Certainly no justice. The argument that we all deserve hell is laid waste by the fact that some do get saved. As long as that is the case there would be no justice in the randomness of the Calvinist doctrine. Keller concludes this point by saying that based on what we know; there must be some hidden rationale God has for the randomness. Except God is not in the hiding business. Calvinists also cannot have any sane explanation for this verse: