17 Sections
Choice –Part 3: Is Choice Really a Choice Without a Choice?


Important Note

This section on selective salvation is 66 chapters long. If you arrived at this page via an Internet search engine, you might want to start with the first chapter. This will provide you a complete presentation of this subject.

Click Here to go to the first chapter
Click Here for a quick summary
Click Here to view all 66 chapters
Click Here to download a book version of this study

Chapter: 14.43
(Section 14: Selective Salvation)
Copyright © Michael Bronson 1998 - 2005

A basic premise of selective salvation is God selected people to go to either Heaven or Hell. The selected people have no say in the matter. There is no way a person could alter his eternal destiny.

When a person "chooses" to accept Christ as his Savior, he actually does not make the choice himself. The desire to make this decision is implanted by God. Before God implants this desire, the person literally has no ability to decide spiritual things himself. Listed below are some of the comments by Selective Salvationists that say we have no choice:

  • "In fact, the sinner is of himself neither capable nor willing to receive salvation." (Hoeksema, Whosoever Will, p. 14)

  • "The Bible stresses the total inability of fallen man to respond to the things of God; he is not able to do so. This is what the Calvinist refers to as total depravity." (Talbot and Crampton, Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism, p. 20)

  • We are confronted with the fact that the natural man is unable to love and serve God, and the sinner, of himself, cannot repent and believe." (Pink, Sovereignty, p. 149)

  • "[Man] no longer has the ability to choose good (righteousness)." (Talbot and Crampton, Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism, p. 19)

Selective Salvationists say the reason we are unable to make these decisions is because we are spiritually dead. They say a spiritually dead person is unable to make any type of response. It is like throwing a life preserver to a dead body floating on the water; it can’t even reach over to grab the preserver. Therefore, a spiritually dead person is totally unable to do something as simple as choosing to accept Christ as his Savior. Listed below are some quotes by Selective Salvationists concerning this:

  • "A dead man cannot exercise faith in Jesus Christ." (Clark, The Biblical Doctrine of Man, p. 102)

  • "A dead man is utterly incapable of willing anything." (Pink, Sovereignty, p. 141)

  • "A dead man cannot cooperate with an offer of healing." (Gerstner, Predestination, p. 18)

  • "The corpse does not restore life to itself; after life is restored, it becomes a living agent." (Dabney, Calvinism, p. 35)

  • "A corpse does not cry out for help." (Custance, The Sovereignty of Grace, p. 18)

Selective Salvationists will use another analogy to show our total inability to accept God’s salvation. Basically, they say since a baby does not choose to be born, we cannot choose to be born again. Listed below are some quotes by Selective Salvationists concerning this:

  • "The infant does not procreate itself, but must be born of its parents in order to become a living agent." ((Dabney, Calvinsim, p. 35)

  • "A baby never desires or decides to be born. He never contributes an iota toward his own birth. In the whole process from conception through birth, he is completely passive and totally unable to control his birth." (Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism, p. 17)

  • "We cannot have a birth of ourselves; a babe cannot be born of itself; nothing can have its original from itself, for it would then be before and after itself; it would be and would not be at the same time." (Ness, An Antidote Against Arminianism, p. 88)

  • "The new birth is solely the work of God, the Spirit, and man has no part or lot in it. This from the very nature of the case. Birth altogether excludes the idea of any effort or work on the part of the one who is born. Personally, we have no more to do with our spiritual birth than we had with our natural birth." (Pink, Sovereignty, p. 72)

  • "What creature has ever successfully resisted his own creation or made any active contribution to his own creation?" (Gunn, The Doctrines of Grace, p. 23)

  • "Non-being –nothingness – can never produce itself. The very concept of creation necessarily implies total passivity and inability on the part of the object that is to be created. What is true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual realm: individuals are totally unable to make of themselves new creations in Christ." (Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism, p. 17)

The Bible contradicts this viewpoint. There are many verses that say we have a choice to accept or reject salvation. A list of the verses can be found in the chapter What Does the Bible Say?

How do Selective Salvationists reconcile these verses? How can they say we have no choice and yet be in agreement with the verses that say we have a choice? How can they say we are totally incapable of making any spiritual decisions when we are able to make decisions to commit sin?

"Irresistible Grace" is the central theme of selective salvation. Basically, it means when God chooses (elects) certain people to be saved, they will be saved. He forces them to accept Him. He puts an irresistible desire in their hearts to want God and there is nothing they can do to reject God. They have no say in the matter.

According to Selective Salvationists, once God puts this irresistible desire in a person’s heart, he automatically starts to desire God. As a result of this desire, he "chooses" to abandon his sinful ways and turn to God. Since the targeted person (unaware of God’s intervention) seems to come to this conclusion on his own, he is said to have a "choice."

Is this truly a choice? Can it actually be said this person chose God out of a truly free heart? Does a person really have a choice if he is forced to accept or reject God? The dictionary defines "choice" as, "The voluntary act of selecting. The right and power of making a selection."

Just because someone calls something a choice doesn’t mean it is actually a choice. In 1995, Saddam Hussein wanted to show the world He was a great leader and was loved by his people. He wanted to dispel the notion he was a ruthless dictator who was hated and despised by his oppressed subjects. He, therefore, held "free" elections for his office. Saddam Hussein received 99.96% of the votes. (In 2002, Hussein held another election obtaining similar results.)


Saddam Hussein and his infamous rifle

These elections, of course, raised many eyebrows. No one took these numbers seriously. Just about everyone realized truly free hearts did not cast these votes. They realized these votes did not reflect the true sentiment of the Iraqi people.

To illustrate this, let’s consider two different types of elections of the exact same population in Iraq. The first election would be an open election and the second would be a secret closed election. In the open election, everyone in Iraq has to openly cast their vote on a large chalkboard (in front of everyone). The names of the voters (and their selection) are recorded and given to Saddam Hussein.

The secret election, however, is done in such a way that the individual votes are kept secret. There is no possible way for anyone to find out how a person votes. The voter is able to truly vote his conscience.

If we were to conduct both of these elections on the same day on the exact same population in Iraq, do you think there would be a substantial difference in the final count? Do you think Saddam Hussein would receive 99.96% of the votes in both elections? Do you think these people would express their true feelings if they knew Saddam Hussein would have a list of all negative votes?

If you think there will be a substantial difference between the two votes, you would have to admit that the Iraqi people were not able to make a truly free choice in the open election. Yes, it is true they did make a "choice" in the open election, but it wasn’t a true choice. That choice was a sham and mockery of truth, fairness, and common sense. A true choice comes only when a person has the freedom to choose opposing views.

Likewise, when Selective Salvationists talk about choice, they are not talking about a true choice. The "choice" they are talking about is a mockery of truth, fairness, and common sense. I do not believe a God of integrity would ever perpetuate such a deception.

A person does not have a choice in salvation unless he has the realistic opportunity to accept or reject salvation. I see only two options for a person who believes in selective salvation. The first option is to admit those who are the elect have no choice or free will to accept or reject God. If a person believes in this option, he has to explain why a large number of verses say we have a free choice to accept or reject God.

The second option is to admit that those who are the elect have a real choice to accept or reject God. If people have a true choice, some will choose to reject God. Therefore, some of the elect will never become Christians. You cannot say the elect have a free will to accept or reject God if there isn’t the realistic probability some will reject God. Therefore, if you believe in selective salvation and believe these people have a choice in the matter, you are then forced to accept the fact some of the "elect" will end up in Hell.

Article 11 and Error VI (Canons of Dort) say all of the elect are going to Heaven and not one of the elect will go to Hell. Therefore, if you say an elect person cannot reject God, you are forced to accept the first option that says the elect have no choice or free will to accept or reject God. God has the sovereign right to do this, but I have to stand by my earlier contention that you can’t force someone to love you. If this is true, I have to believe there are a large number of people in Heaven who do not love God. They may not hate Him, but they did not choose to love Him.



Other Chapters in this Section

PART 1: What is Selective Salvation?
PART 2: What Does the Bible say about Selective Salvation?
PART 3: Problems with Selective Salvation
PART 4: “Choice” –The Achilles’ Heel of Selective Salvation

Choice 1: The Contradictions of Selective Salvation
Choice 2: Can You Force Someone to Love You?
Choice 3: Is Choice Really a Choice Without a Choice?
Choice 4: Do We Really have a Free Will?
Choice 5: Can Prayer Change Things?
Choice 6: Can God be Grieved by Our Sins or Moved by Our Repentance?
Choice 7: The Choice to Sin
Choice 8: Are We Incapable of Choosing God?
Choice 9: Choice and the Moral Standard
Choice 10: The Purpose of Choice
Choice 11: The Suffering of Job
Choice 12: Why is God Pleased with our Obedience?
Choice 13: The Rich Young Ruler
Choice 14: Why was God so Excited when the Lost Sheep was Found?
Choice 15: A Man After God's Own Heart
Choice 16: Choose You this Day whom You will Serve
Choice 17: Appointed as a Ruler over many Cities

PART 5: Difficult Questions Answered
Appendix: Foundational Documents used by Selective Salvationists

Tell a Friend about this page

-Top of Page-

Copyright © 1987 -2004 Michael Bronson | Site Design by Imagination 2 Reality