The doctrine of election can be very divisive. Many people are quite vocal about this doctrine, both for and against it. However, this doctrine and our understanding of it affects so many other parts of our theology that it is worthy of study and discussion. Since the voices are so loud on this matter, this can deter some from ever digging deeper. Joshua Banks makes getting started easier.
In Yes It Matters: The Influence of the Doctrine of Election on Sanctification, Banks gives a complete overview of the doctrine, its opposing views, and its effects on sanctification. Defining election as “God choosing to save some out of the entire human race, and pass over others and allow them their due justice,” (34) Banks recognizes the importance of a right understanding of ourselves and God, and studying this doctrine helps us to understand that better.
Banks breaks down fourteen chapters into three sections: The Sovereignty of God, Understanding Election, and Election and Sanctification.
Each section builds on the previous one, and evidence is given fairly on both sides. Banks does make rebuttals against the opposing view; those rebuttals come from the Bible and the interpretation of the passages used as proof texts.
Banks does a great job of not making blanket statements about opposing views. Even among Arminians, there are further differences within this theological camp. Banks helpfully shows multiple views within this camp of thought and where these interpretations originate from.
I believe Banks also graciously shows some of the holes in their arguments, the implications of their interpretation, or how they may not line up with other parts of Scripture. He digs into passages such as 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:4, 4:10. Most famously, he discusses the multiple Arminian interpretations of John 3:16 and the implications of their views (Chapter 6).
Banks recognizes and states that his book is not an exhaustive study of this doctrine. Instead, he gives his understanding of what the Bible teaches on the matter (Section 2). Although not exhaustive, Banks is clear and concise on what the Bible teaches. He explains complicated thoughts so the reader can understand them.
The third section is the culmination of this study and why it matters. Our understanding of election affects our understanding of sanctification and our daily practice of living holy, Christ-like lives. To quote Banks, “The authors of Scripture and God himself, as he is the Divine Author, had an intended result in mind when this doctrine was taught. It was to produce a greater love, a greater praise, a greater comfort, and so forth unto the Lord” (177–78).
There are tough questions each side has to answer regarding election. For example, for the Calvinistic/Reformed side, we must deal with the narrowed scope yet efficacious nature of God’s salvific reach (Jesus died for some, but for those he saved, they are his and will come to him in faith). Arminians have to deal with a widened scope but non-efficacious nature of God’s salvific reach (Jesus died for “all,” but not everyone comes to faith). We have to ask and answer if election is biblical, is it corporate, conditional, or unconditional? How does our understanding of this doctrine affect our understanding of other doctrines, such as sanctification? These answers matter; thus, the doctrine of election and its influence on sanctification is worthy of our study and discussion.
Each chapter ends with discussion questions, which are great for personal reflection or to be discussed as a group. I felt encouraged and renewed on the doctrine of election and how that affects sanctification. I think it is an important doctrine to constantly be coming back to for more in-depth study, and this book would greatly aid anyone studying.
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