Conditional Election

Question
I am a member of a PCA church and I was talking with my pastor about reformed theology.  He said that Arminius made a biblical "stab" at showing that God chose based on what man did.  I read over the basics of Arminianism and, even though I strongly disagree with the majority of his viewpoints, I think he makes a strong point in the case of conditional election.  Let's say man went half way to becoming a Christian, then God took him the other half, wouldn't this leave man with the ability to determine his own fate but God still chose certain people based upon this foreknowledge.  Could you please show me how this is unbiblical and what verses show this is wrong?
Answer
There are a number of problems with conditional election that are, in my
mind, insurmountable.

For one thing, because of man's total depravity, man is incapable of meeting God half way-he can't even take the first step toward God. Fallen man is incapable of the faith that Arminianism holds to be the condition of election (Matt. 11:27; 13:11; John 6:44,63-65; Rom. 8:5-8; 1 Cor. 2:12,14; 2 Tim. 2:25-26). One cannot simultaneously affirm total depravity and conditional election.

Even faith itself is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8). Therefore, if God had based election on foreseen faith, he would merely have foreseen the faith that he took the initiative to give to the elect person. Thus, election would be conditioned upon God's free choice to give faith. It still would not be conditioned upon anything done by the person.

For another thing, election took place prior to the creation of the world (Eph. 1:4), and Paul used this fact to prove that it was not conditioned upon any merit, action or thought by those who are elect (Rom. 9:11-13). According to Paul, God did not look down the corridor of time to foresee that man met any condition, but based election on his own divine purpose and choice.

Besides this, John points out that faith is a work (John 6:29), and Paul insists that election is on the basis of God's gracious purpose and choice, and not on the basis of works (Rom. 9:11-13; 11:5-6; 2 Tim. 1:9). Therefore, election cannot be based on faith.

If you are interested, I have a series of articles on Unconditional Election that you may find helpful. I also have a series on Total Depravity that may be of use to you, since the doctrines are related. These can be found in IIIM Magazine Online in the Theology section.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Creative Delivery Systems at Third Millennium Ministries.