TULIP: A Free Grace Perspective Part 2: Unconditional Election -- By: Anthony B. Badger

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 16:2 (Autumn 2003)
Article: TULIP: A Free Grace Perspective Part 2: Unconditional Election
Author: Anthony B. Badger


TULIP: A Free Grace Perspective Part 2: Unconditional Election

Anthony B. Badger

Associate Professor of Bible and Theology
Grace Evangelical School of Theology
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

I. Introduction

TULIP is the Calvinistic means of categorizing the broad doctrine of human salvation and stands for: 1) Total Depravity; 2) Unconditional Election; 3) Limited Atonement; 4) Irresistible Grace; and 5) the Perseverance of the Saints. It is here that we seek the truth about these five points regardless of whether the conclusion fits the systems of Calvinism, Arminianism, or neither.

This article considers the doctrine of divine election.

The two major views of election are the Calvinist and the Arminian views. Lightner says there is a “great division [that] exists in evangelicalism over the doctrine of election. Unconditional election is the belief that God sovereignly, on the basis of grace, chose before time individuals on whom he would bestow his saving grace. Those who hold this view are Calvinists. Those who reject the teaching are Arminians.”1

There is a third view—called the Corporate view of election—which became popular with the writings of Karl Barth. Ryrie summarizes Barth’s teaching and its evangelical offshoot:

[Barth] taught that election is primarily election of Christ, then the election of the community, and finally the election of individuals. Actually all are elect in Christ, though unbelievers do not know that. This is why Barth’s doctrine of election caused him to be accused of universalism.2

An evangelical form of this same concept (perhaps in some cases influenced by Barth and in some cases not) views election as the choosing

of the group, the church, in Christ, but not individuals until after they become members of the group by faith. In the evangelical form there is no suggestion of universalism, though the idea of corporate election is common to both. We cannot speak of individuals being elected before the foundation of the world but only of the church being so elected in Christ (Eph 1:4). When an individual believes in Christ, he is placed in that elect group, and then he can be said to be elect. “What did God choose before the foundation of the world? The church. Not individuals, but the body of Christ.”3

The Corporate view, while held by some, negates the biblical teaching of God’s choi...

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