Children of the Elect
In the previous chapter we saw that global statistics do not support the doctrine of selective salvation. This is also true when you look at Christian and non-Christian families. If selective salvation is true, a child in a Christian home should have no more chance of becoming a Christian than a child in an atheist’s home. Since only 7% of the world’s population is saved, there should be only a 7% chance (1 out of 14) that any child will become a Christian. This means most Christian parents will not have any Christian children. (See the chapter Parental Influence in the section What About Those who are Without the Gospel? for more information.)
Obviously, this is not true. Children in Christian families are far more likely to become Christians than the children in a non-Christian family. If you ask most Christian parents about this, they will tell you they believe their Christian example and prayers greatly influence their child’s chance of becoming a Christian. In fact, they would be incredibly troubled if they felt their child had only a 7% chance of becoming a Christian.
Apparently this issue caused a great deal of concern to parents 400 years ago because Article 17 (Canons of Dort) says the children of the elect are also elect. I’m not sure where they got this from because there’s nothing in the Bible that says this. Besides, even a casual look at this issue will show not all children of Christian parents become Christians.
If selective salvation were true, you should find one of two things happening. Either all of the children of the elect will become Christians or only a small random proportion of them (7%) will become Christians. We don’t, however, find either one of these. Statistics show about 70-80% of the children raised by Christian parents become Christians. This is exactly what you would expect to find with open salvation, not selective salvation.
It appears it is exposure to Christian parents that increases the likelihood of children to become Christians. In fact, Christian parents who are mature and committed to their faith have a much higher percentage of Christian children than immature Christian parents.
As I mentioned in previous chapters, observations do not prove that a doctrine is true or false. They should, however, be consistent with the doctrine. If an observation clearly contradicts a doctrine, a closer look at the doctrine is warranted.
There is another problem with this issue of the children of the elect. Article 8 (Canons of Dort) says God’s election is the same in the New Testament as it was in the Old Testament. This means since Adam and Even were elect, all of their children were elect. This would also mean all of their descendents (including everyone living today) are part of the elect. Of course, we know this isn’t true.
Another problem with this issue (children of the elect) is the destiny of Ishmael. If children of Christian parents are elect, then Ishmael (son of Abraham) should have been part of the elect and so should all of his descendants (the Arab nations).
Another problem with the issue of the children of the elect is the eternal destiny of Esau. Both Esau and Jacob (twins) came from Isaac. If the children of the elect are elect, Esau should also have been one of the elect. Yet, one of the main arguments of the Selective Salvationist’s position is the phrase, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Romans 9:13). Look at the chapter Jacob and Esau for more information on this subject.
If a person believes the Bible teaches selective salvation, they need to make a decision on the eternal destiny of Esau. If they believe Esau is going to Heaven, they have to conclude the phrase "Esau I hated" does not support the doctrine of selective salvation. If, however, they believe Esau is going to Hell, they then have to then conclude the children of Christian parents are not automatically part of the elect. You can't have it both ways.
Finally, if children of the elect are not automatically part of the elect, you have to explain why Christian parents have a higher percentage of Christian children. This phenomenon provides significant reason to seriously doubt the doctrine of selective salvation. It shows that being exposed to strong positive Christian influences increases a person’s chance of becoming a Christian (which is consistent with open salvation).
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