A report live-blogged by Andy Naselli

The 2009 Kantzer Lectures in Revealed Theology by Dr. Stephen Williams

Williams is professor of systematic theology at Union Theological College in Belfast, Ireland. The title of the six-part series is “The Election of Grace: A Riddle without Resolution?” The fourth lecture in the series was advertised to address “the question of election and particular atonement, working from the John Owen/McLeod Campbell debate,” but it actually deals with election in the NT.

This is also available via live stream.


  • C. H. Dodd somewhere alludes to the two-beat history of Israel: election and grace.
  • Gospels = acts of the earthly Jesus; Acts = acts of the exalted Jesus
  • What Paul teaches about the future of Israel (esp. in Romans 11) is variously interpreted, including what he means by “Israel.”
  • Predestination often has a wider range of meaning in English than election: (1) it may refer to events, not just people, and (2) it may refer to those destined for perdition and not just life.
  • Those who are not elect may still rejoice in election even though they are merely observers (cf. the audio/video of the previous lecture).
  • (1) Election for service is important in the NT. The question of postmortem destiny doesn’t have to be to the fore when the vocabulary is used. (2) In any comprehensive account we should look carefully at the addressees of letters or addresses.
  • Re Arminianism: Election based on God’s foreseeing a person’s faith is implausible. (1) It makes predestination a ratifying and reactive decree. Election is not only temporally prior to human action; it seems to bring about the historical situation. (2) On the Arminian view the person who is the object of divine foreknowledge is merely an idealized mode of their concrete form—a bloodless abstracted persona.
  • Re Open Theism: (1) God’s dealings with individuals, especially in matters of faith and salvation, are too particular, personal, and intimate to permit this view. (2) One reason that open theists interpret texts along these lines is apparently the supposed lack of compatibility between predestination and human freedom.
  • We should read election texts along broadly Augustinian lines.
  • Augustine embraced a form of what is now called “double predestination.” The decree of reprobation is formulated in alternative ways, e.g., emphasizing God’s passing over people or God’s active decreeing. There are three typical arguments in this regard: (1) It is explicit in Scripture. (2) It is entailed by single predestination. (3) It is implicit in the doctrine of providence, namely, that God ordains everything. These arguments are not compelling. Narrative must have a heavy hand on our hermeneutical tiller (cf. 1 Pet 2:8 and Romans 9).
  • We should be willing to be quite unclear re God’s passing over in light of the clarity of human responsibility for rejecting God.