James Petigru Boyce, Southern Baptist pastor, theologian, and founding president of the SBC’s first seminary, details four views of the biblical doctrine of election in his Abstract of Systematic Theology.
This will be a three part series posting Boyce’s writing on each of the four views listed. The four views include:
II. Church Election
III. Election Unto Perseverance of Foreseen Faith
IV. Unconditional Election
The words Elect, Election, Foreordination, Chosen, Foreknow, and Foreknowledge occur so frequently in Scripture, that it is allowed by all that the Scriptures teach a doctrine of Election of some kind. The chief controversy is as to what that doctrine is.
The first view of election addressed is the theory known as “nationalism.”
I. First there is the theory set forth by the celebrated John Locke in his Commentary and Paraphrase of the Epistles of Paul. It has been called the theory of Nationalism. According to this, Election consists “in the choice of certain whole nations into the pale of the visible Church Catholic, which choice, however, relates purely to their privileged condition in this world extending not to their collective eternal state in another world.” The cause of this election is: “That same absolute good pleasure of God, which, through the exercise of his sovereign power, led him to choose the posterity of Jacob, rather than that of Esau, that, upon earth, they should become his peculiar people and be made the depositaries and preservers of the true religion.”
The objections to this theory are evident, and may be briefly stated.
1. That the election spoken of in the New Testament is all election of persons within a nation, and not of the nation itself. A distinction is made between the Jewish nation, and the remnant of them according to the election of grace. Rom 11:5. It is also said in Rom 11:7: “That which Israel seeketh for that he obtained not; but the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened.”
Mr. Locke attempts to remove this difficulty by supposing that the Israel here spoken of is the whole nation before the loss of the ten tribes, and that the remnant is all of the rest that remained Jews at the time Paul wrote. But, that the present nation was the Israel referred to Paul himself shows by applying to it, in Rom 10:21, the title of Israel. “But as to Israel,” he saith, “All the day long did I spread out my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” The Israel to whom Isaiah, who is here referred to, went, was Judah; his prophecies were but seldom made to the Ten Tribes.
2. A distinction is also made between persons in the same nation; the elect being separated from others, as in Matt 24:22-24, where fearful calamities are foretold, and it is said, that prophets shall arise, etc., and that if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect. The parallel passage is in Mark 13:20-22.
3. Against this theory may also be quoted such passages as show that the called, and the elect are not identical, as: Matt 22:14. “Many are called, but few chosen.”
Boyce, James. Abstract of Systematic Theology (p. 255). Kindle Edition.