Unconditional Election? News Flash: Foreknowledge is a condition!

Examine the following verses:

Romans 8:29
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

1 Peter 1:2
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

In the Soteriology essay of one reformed scholar, a section entitled “Arguments Against the Conditional View of “Foreknowledge” states:

While the general meaning of the term [Foreknowledge] is maintained at both Acts 26:5 and II Peter 3:17, the other five uses of the term in the NT clearly do not share this meaning. The remaining five passages (Romans 8:29; 11:2; I Peter 1:2, 20; Acts 2:23) al[l] have God as their subject and do not refer to simple intellectual knowledge (“know before”), but rather indicate a specific relational knowledge and indeed mean “enter into a relationship before” or “determine before”.

Lets examine two different definitions:

G4268
πρόγνωσις
prognōsis
Thayer Definition:
1) foreknowledge
2) forethought, pre-arrangement



Part of Speech: noun feminine

A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G4267
Citing in TDNT: 1:715, 119
G4267
προγινώσκω
proginōskō
Thayer Definition:
1) to have knowledge before hand
2) to foreknow
2a) of those whom God elected to salvation
3) to predestinate

Part of Speech: verb

A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G4253 and G1097
Citing in TDNT: 1:715, 119

The Greek term prognōsis used in 1 Peter 1:2 and Acts 2:23, while derived from and related to proginōskō  (which is used in verses like: Romans 8:29; 11:2, 1 Peter 1:20; Acts 26:5 and 2 Peter 3:17) is not identical in meaning to it. In other words, prognōsis (noun) is not only a different part of speech than proginōskō (verb)  but it also has a different semantic range (see definitions above). This is important because while proginōskō (verb) may refer to either previously knowing a person or thing (Romans 8:29; 11:2, Acts 26:5) or previously knowing information about a person or thing (2 Peter 3:17), prognōsis (noun) only ever refers to the previous information known about the person or thing (1 Peter 1:2 and Acts 2:23).

This means that the above scholar’s assertion that 1 Peter 1:2 does “not refer to simple intellectual knowledge” is not supported by the Greek lexicon referenced above (Thayer’s Greek Definitions). This also means that according to 1 Peter 1:2, foreknowledge is a condition upon which election is based. Of course, this is nothing new as there are precedents in the scriptures; for example, in Genesis 18:17-19 God blesses Abraham and discloses to Abraham His future plans based upon His foreknowledge of Abraham. Perhaps of even more significance, Galatians 3:8 states that, “the Scripture [Christ] foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached beforehand the gospel unto Abraham. In other words, God foresees and then God takes action based upon the foreknowledge.

Logically speaking, the only way that one could say that election is unconditional is if the Election is a based upon a purely random selection scheme or upon no scheme at all.  If God used but did not disclose His criteria for election, that would not make election unconditional; rather, election would be conditional but it’s criteria undisclosed. The fact is that Election is based upon “foreknowledge (See Elect according to the foreknowledge of God ). Regardless of how one later defines what this means, we are forced to conclude that foreknowledge is a condition upon which Election is based.  If one could illustrate this using a control flow segment used in modern computer languages, the pseudo code would look something like this:

if ( FOREKNOWLEDGE == X )
{
     You are elected
}
ELSE if ( FOREKNOWLEDGE == Y )
{
     You are not elected
}

– Where the variable X and Y are undisclosed (but also deducible by necessary inference)

This means that in the Calvinist’s attempt to dissociate God’s choice from any human-emanating criteria (presumably to avoid the appearance of cooperation–as if this was ever in scope to begin with–between God and Man) they have merely traded one condition (foreknowledge of obedience to the Gospel) for another condition (the noun: foreknowledge).

Once again, since Election is not only tethered to “foreknowledge” in the Scriptures but is actually preceded by “foreknowledge” and irreparably predicated upon “foreknowledge”; then by the irresistible force of logic we must conclude that no matter how one chooses to define (or redefine) “foreknowledge”, it is nonetheless a condition.  Therefore, Calvinists, contrary to what their doctrine states,  are subscribers to conditional election.

Incidentally, additional general conditions for election that the Bible reveals include:

  1. Not many scholars (wise men after the flesh) are among the elect (1 Corinthians 1:26)
  2. Not many powerful persons (mighty men) are among the elect (1 Corinthians 1:26, John 7:48)
  3. Not many noble persons are among the elect (1 Corinthians 1:26)
  4. Not many rich persons are among the elect (Luke 18:24-25)
  5. Many poor people ARE among the elect (James 2:5, 1 Corinthians 1:28, Luke 6:20)
  6. Persons that are persecuted because they pursue righteousness are elect (Matthew 5:10)
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