Understanding Biblical Election. By Ron Merryman. Jacksonville, FL: Merryman Ministries, 2020. 44 pp. Spiral bound, $17.95.
Because of the disastrous effects of Calvinism and Reformed Theology, many have had their assurance of everlasting life wrecked. Many Christians have wondered, “Am I one of the elect? How do I know God chose me? How can I be sure I have eternal life if I don’t know whether God picked me?”
Unfortunately, there are not many books written on this important Biblical subject that look at the Biblical data without the bias of Reformed Theology. This book attempts to examine election from the perspective of church age saints. Thus it is not an exhaustive look at this Biblical subject.
Merryman begins by considering the election of Messiah and Israel. He uses the election of Israel to introduce the concept of corporate election. Israel is a nation comprised of ethnic Jews. It was a group. In a similar manner, the writer concludes that the election or choice of the church is corporate.
He then looks at the word group for election used in the NT and notes the translations and uses of the word group. He lists all uses of the underlying Greek words but does not discuss them all. However, he does make observations about them.
To support his conclusion that the election of the church is corporate, he discusses Eph 1:1-13; 1 Thess 1:2-4; 2 Thess 2:13-14; Rom 9:1-24; and 1 Pet 1:1-2.
In discussing Eph 1:1-13, he assumes the words “we” and “us” are speaking about church age saints (i.e. the Church). He does not address whether the pronouns used in Ephesians refer to Jews (we, us) and Gentiles (you).
In the Thessalonian passages, he observes the corporate nature of election and that the choosing is for “salvation.” He describes this as the “entire salvific package.” He understands this to be everything someone receives when that person believes in Christ. He concludes this section by saying the Church is chosen for God’s glory. He does not address any other possible meanings for the word “salvation” in Thessalonians. (For the view that salvation refers to the Rapture in 1-2 Thessalonians, see the discussion of 2 Thess 2:13 in Chosen to Serve: Why Divine Election Is to Service, Not to Eternal Life, by Shawn Lazar [Denton, Texas: Grace Evangelical Society, 2017], 213-224.)
In discussing Rom 9:1-24, he is correct to point out the importance of asking the question of “Election of whom and to what?” He makes some good observations in this section and rightly shows the fallacies of the Reformed view.
In discussing 1 Pet 1:1-2, he takes the view that the “elect” refers to church age believers in Christ. He does not see that Peter is describing Jewish believers in Jesus, the Messiah.
He includes a section of observations about the Reformed view of election. He makes some worthy observations and concludes, “Scripturally, Reformed Soteriology is bankrupt.” It is!
JOTGES readers may not agree with everything written, especially about the message of eternal life. Merryman says that OT people were saved by faith “in the sacrificial system God had designed” (p. 5, note 3). He says likewise that NT people are saved by faith “in the death-resurrection of Christ” (p. 39) and that “Faith…rests its case for forgiveness of sins totally upon the death and resurrection of Messiah, Jesus Christ” (p. 41, note 28). His view of the message of life relates mostly to sin and forgiveness of sin. It also relates to believing what Christ did (His work) as opposed to believing in Christ for everlasting life.
There are many valuable observations and analyses in this brief book. There is much that is worthwhile.
I recommend this book for pastors and theologians.
Long Beach, CA