Archive for the ‘election and predestination’ Category

Why did Oskar Schindler save Abraham Bankier?

January 4, 2013

On June 3, Abraham Bankier, Oskar’s office manager, didn’t turn up at Lipowa Street. Schindler was still at home, drinking coffee in Straszewskiego Street, when he got a call from one of his secretaries. She’d seen Bankier marched out of the ghetto, not even stopping at Optima, straight to the Prokocim depot. There’d been other Emalia workers in the group too. There’d been Reich, Leser … as many as a dozen.
Oskar called for his car to be brought to him from the garage. He drove over the river and down Lwowska toward Prokocim. There he showed his pass to the guards at the gate. The depot yard itself was full of strings of cattle cars, the station crowded with the ghetto’s dispensable citizens standing in orderly lines, convinced still—and perhaps they were right— of the value of passive and orderly response. It was the first time Oskar had seen this juxtaposition of humans and cattle cars, and it was a greater shock than hearing of it; it made him pause on the edge of the platform. Then he saw a jeweler he knew.

Seen Bankier? he asked. “He’s already in one of the cars, Herr Schindler,” said the jeweler. “Where are they taking you?” Oskar asked the man. “We’re going to a labor camp, they say. Near Lublin. Probably no worse than …” The man waved a hand toward distant Cracow.
Schindler took a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, found some 10-zloty bills and handed the pack and the notes to the jeweler, who thanked him. They had made them leave home without anything this time. They said they’d be forwarding the baggage.
Late the previous year, Schindler had seen in the SS Bulletin of Budget and Construction an invitation for bids for the construction of some crematoria in a camp southeast of Lublin. Bel@. Schindler considered the jeweler. Sixty-three or comfour. A little thin; had probably had pneumonia last winter. Worn pin-striped suit, too warm for the day. And in the clear, knowing eyes a capacity to bear finite suffering. Even in the summer of 1942 it was impossible to guess at the connections between such a man as this and those ovens of extraordinary cubic capacity. Did they intend to start epidemics among the prisoners? Was that to be the method? Beginning from the engine, Schindler moved along the line of more than twenty cattle cars, calling Bankier’s name to the faces peering down at him from the open grillwork high above the slats of the cars. It was fortunate for Abraham that Oskar did not ask himself why it was Bankier’s name he called, that he did not pause and consider that Bankier’s had only equal value to all the other names loaded aboard the Ostbahn rolling stock. An existentialist might have been defeated by the numbers at Prokocim, stunned by the equal appeal of all the names and voices. But Schindler was a philosophic innocent. He knew the people he knew. He knew the name of Bankier. “Bankier! Bankier!” he continued to call.
He was intercepted by a young SS Oberscharf@uhrer, an expert railroad shipper from Lublin. He asked for Schindler’s pass. Oskar could see in the man’s left hand an enormous list—pages of names.
My workers, said Schindler. Essential industrial workers. My office manager. It’s idiocy.
I have Armaments Inspectorate contracts, and here you are taking the workers I need to fulfill them. You can’t have them back, said the young man. They’re on the list. … The SS NCO knew from experience that the list conferred an equal destination on all its members. Oskar dropped his voice to that hard murmur, the growl of a reasonable man, well connected, who wasn’t going to bring up all his heavy guns yet. Did the Herr Oberscharfuhrer know how long it would take to train experts to replace those on the list? At my works, Deutsche Email Fabrik, I have a munitions section under the special protection of General Schindler, my namesake. Not only would the Oberscharfuhrer’s comrades on the Russian Front be affected by the disruption of production, but the office of the Armaments Inspectorate would demand explanations as well. The young man shook his head—just a harassed transit official. “I’ve heard that kind of story before, sir,” he said. But he was worried. Oskar could tell it and kept leaning over him and speaking softly with an edge of menace. “It’s not my place to argue with the list,” said Oskar. “Where is your superior officer?”
The young man nodded toward an SS officer, a man in his thirties wearing a frown above his spectacles. “May I have your name, Herr Untersturmfuhrer?” Oskar asked him, already pulling a notebook from his suit pocket. The officer also made a statement about the holiness of the list. For this man it was the secure, rational, and sole basis for all this milling of Jews and movement of rail cars. But Schindler got crisper now. He’d heard about the list, he said. What he had asked was what the Untersturmf@uhrer’s name was.
He intended to appeal directly to Oberfuhrer Scherner and to General Schindler of the Armaments Inspectorate.
“Schindler?” asked the officer. For the first time he took a careful look at Oskar. The man was dressed like a tycoon, wore the right badge, had generals in the family. “I believe I can guarantee you, Herr Untersturmfuhrer,” said Schindler in his benign grumble, “that you’ll be in southern Russia within the week.”
The NCO going ahead, Herr Schindler and the officer marched side by side between the ranks of prisoners and the loaded cattle cars. The locomotive was already steaming and the engineer leaning from his cabin, looking down the length of the train, waiting to be dispatched. The officer called to Ostbahn officials they passed on the platform to hold up.
At last they reached one of the rear cars. There were a dozen workers in there with Bankier; they had all boarded together as if expecting a joint deliverance. The door was unlocked and they jumped down—Bankier and Frankel from the office; Reich, Leser, and the others from the factory. They were restrained, not wanting to permit anyone to detect their pleasure at being saved the journey. Those left inside began chattering merrily, as if they were fortunate to be traveling with so much extra room, while with emphasis in his pen strokes, the officer removed the Emalia workers one at a time from the list and required Oskar to initial the pages. As Schindler thanked the officer and turned to follow his workers away, the man detained him by the elbow of his suit coat. “Sir,” he said, “it makes no difference to us, you understand. We don’t care whether it’s this dozen or that.”
The officer, who had been frowning when Oskar first saw him, now seemed calm, as if he had discovered the theorem behind the situation. You think your thirteen little tinsmiths are important? We’ll replace them with another thirteen little tinsmiths and all your sentimentality for these will be defeated. “It’s the inconvenience to the list, that’s all,” the officer explained.
Plump little Bankier admitted that the group of them had neglected to pick up Blauscheins from the old Polish Savings Bank. Schindler, suddenly testy, said to attend to it. But what his curtness covered was dismay at those crowds at Prokocim who, for want of a blue sticker, stood waiting for the new and decisive symbol of their status, the cattle car, to be hauled by heavy engine across their range of vision. Now, the cattle cars told them, we are all beasts together.

Thomas Keneally, Schindler’s Ark, 136

Why did Schindler pull Bankier out of a cattle wagon full of Jews headed to the gas chambers? Schindler knew him. Schindler chose him. Bankier was no more or less deserving than the others but it was Schindler’s choice and nothing in Bankier that is vital to understand.

So too, God elects the undeserving to eternal life of His own good pleasure because he sets His love upon some (foreknowledge) and passes over others. God alone is free; we deserve nothing but His wrath. We should not ask why some are overlooked but why some are saved at all when justice demanded them also being left to their fate.

Calvin on Election

December 30, 2011

4. According as he hath chosen us. The foundation and first cause, both of our calling and of all the benefits which we receive from God, is here declared to be his eternal election. If the reason is asked, why God has called us to enjoy the gospel, why he daily bestows upon us so many blessings, why he opens to us the gate of heaven, — the answer will be constantly found in this principle, that he hath chosen us before the foundation of the world.The very time when the election took place proves it to be free; for what could we have deserved, or what merit did we possess, before the world was made? How childish is the attempt to meet this argument by the following sophism! “We were chosen because we were worthy, and because God foresaw that we would be worthy.” We were all lost in Adam; and therefore, had not God, through his own election, rescued us from perishing, there was nothing to be foreseen. The same argument is used in the Epistle to the Romans, where, speaking of Jacob and Esau, he says,

“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” (Romans 9:11.)

But though they had not yet acted, might a sophist of the Sorbonne reply, God foresaw that they would act. This objection has no force when applied to the depraved natures of men, in whom nothing can be seen but materials for destruction.

In Christ. This is the second proof that the election is free; for if we are chosen in Christ, it is not of ourselves. It is not from a perception of anything that we deserve, but because our heavenly Father has introduced us, through the privilege of adoption, into the body of Christ. In short, the name of Christ excludes all merit, and everything which men have of their own; for when he says that we are chosen in Christ, it follows that in ourselves we are unworthy.

That we should be holy. This is the immediate, but not the chief design; for there is no absurdity in supposing that the same thing may gain two objects. The design of building is, that there should be a house. This is the immediate design, but the convenience of dwelling in it is the ultimate design. It was necessary to mention this in passing; for we shall immediately find that Paul mentions another design, the glory of God. But there is no contradiction here; for the glory of God is the highest end, to which our sanctification is subordinate.

This leads us to conclude, that holiness, purity, and every excellence that is found among men, are the fruit of election; so that once more Paul expressly puts aside every consideration of merit. If God had foreseen in us anything worthy of election, it would have been stated in language the very opposite of what is here employed, and which plainly means that all our holiness and purity of life flow from the election of God. How comes it then that some men are religious, and live in the fear of God, while others give themselves up without reserve to all manner of wickedness? If Paul may be believed, the only reason is, that the latter retain their natural disposition, and the former have been chosen to holiness. The cause, certainly, is not later than the effect. Election, therefore, does not depend on the righteousness of works, of which Paul here declares that it is the cause.

We learn also from these words, that election gives no occasion to licentiousness, or to the blasphemy of wicked men who say, “Let us live in any manner we please; for, if we have been elected, we cannot perish.” Paul tells them plainly, that they have no right to separate holiness of life from the grace of election; for

“whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified.” (Romans 8:30.)

The inference, too, which the Catharists, Celestines, and Donatists drew from these words, that we may attain perfection in this life, is without foundation. This is the goal to which the whole course of our life must be directed, and we shall not reach it till we have finished our course. Where are the men who dread and avoid the doctrine of predestination as an inextricable labyrinth, who believe it to be useless and almost dangerous? No doctrine is more useful, provided it be handled in the proper and cautious manner, of which Paul gives us an example, when he presents it as an illustration of the infinite goodness of God, and employs it as an excitement to gratitude. This is the true fountain from which we must draw our knowledge of the divine mercy. If men should evade every other argument, election shuts their mouth, so that they dare not and cannot claim anything for themselves. But let us remember the purpose for which Paul reasons about predestination, lest, by reasoning with any other view, we fall into dangerous errors.

Before him it love. Holiness before God (κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ) is that of a pure conscience; for God is not deceived, as men are, by outward pretense, but looks to faith, or, which means the same thing, the truth of the heart. If we view the word love as applied to God, the meaning will be, that the only reason why he chose us, was his love to men. But I prefer connecting it with the latter part of the verse, as denoting that the perfection of believers consists in love; not that God requires love alone, but that it is an evidence of the fear of God, and of obedience to the whole law.

Calvin’s commentary on Ephesians 1:4

Aquinas on God’s purpose in election

November 15, 2011

God chooses to reveal His moral excellence in human beings. He reveals it through His mercy in those whom He predestines to glory, by pardoning them; in others whom He reprobates, He reveals His moral excellence through His justice, by punishing them. This is the general reason why God elects one part of mankind and rejects the other…Yet why in particular He chooses these people for His glory but reprobates those – there is no reason for this except His own will. As Augustine says, ‘Why He draws one but not another, do not seek to know, unless you wish to go astray.’

Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Part 1, question 23, article 5.


Aquinas “

God takes no delight in the wicked but does not attempt in vain to save ultimately lost

January 27, 2011

…the existence of a real and unfeigned pity in God for “him that dieth” does not imply that God has exhausted his divine power in vain to renew the creature’s “free-will” in a way cothe existence of a real and unfeigned pity in God for “him that dieth” does not imply that God has exhausted his divine power in vain to renew the creature’s “free-will” in a way consistent with its nature, because the pity may have been truly in God, and yet countervailed by superior motives, so that he did not will to exert his omnipotence for that sinner’s renewal. The other extreme receives the same reply; the absence of an omnipotent (and inevitably efficient) volition to renew that soul does not prove the absence of a true compassion in God for him; and for the same reason the propension may have been in God, but restrained from rising into a volition by superior rational motives. nsistent with its nature, because the pity may have been truly in God, and yet countervailed by superior motives, so that he did not will to exert his omnipotence for that sinner’s renewal. The other extreme receives the same reply; the absence of an omnipotent (and inevitably efficient) volition to renew that soul does not prove the absence of a true compassion in God for him; and for the same reason the propension may have been in God, but restrained from rising into a volition by superior rational motives.

God’s Indiscriminate Proposals of Mercy,
As Related to His Power, Wisdom, and Sincerity.
by R. L. Dabney


Regeneration precedes faith – causal not temporal order

August 6, 2010

The following example may help grasp why (the idea that regeneration preceeding faith and justification does) not occur in some temporal order. In the physical world, consider a pool ball that hits another – ask yourself, does one hit first and then the other? No, both pool balls hit each other at the same time, but it was only the ball rolling with the momentum that actually caused the other to move. In this way, two events can happen at the same time as another even if one event caused the other. This is a causal order, not a logical or temporal order and this expresses a little about how God acts on us. His work comes in from the outside, apart from which we can do nothing. That initial move of regeneration we are passive (sic), but from this regeneration concurrently springs faith, justification and the beginnings of sanctification. How can this be? Because God is not a creature and is not locked into a temporal history as we are. His acts from the outside are what change our heart instantly from a poisoned spring to a fresh spring.. Apart from the Spirit’s work our heart remains dormant or hostile to Christ. Our regenerative grace in Jesus Christ is what makes all the the other benefits spring forth at once.

John Samson

We were not chosen because of our goodness

April 25, 2010

“You did not choose me,” Christ says, “but I chose you” (John 15:16). Such grace is beyond description. What were we, apart from Christ’s choice of us, when we were empty of love? What were we but sinful and lost? We did not lead him to choose us by believing in him; for if Christ chose people who already believed, then we chose him before he chose us. How then could he say, “You did not choose me,” unless his mercy came before our faith? Here is the faulty reasoning of those who say that God chose us before the creation of the world, not in order to make us good, but because he foreknew we would be good…We were not chosen because of our goodness, for we could not be good without being chosen…salvation is not by grace if our goodness came first; but it is by grace – and therefore God’s grace did not find us good but makes us good.

Augustine of Hippo, Commentary on John 15:16 quoted N.R. Needham, 2000 Years of Christ’s Power : Part 1, Grace Publications 2002, p.261-2

How can I know if I am one of those who have been “given”?

November 24, 2009

(Bunyan’s biographer, Faith Cook, relates how he found assurance and rest for his troubled soul in the second part of John 6.37)

The first half of John 6:37 had formerly terrified him: ‘All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.’ ‘What’, he would think, ‘if my name is not among that number? How can I know if I am one of those who have been “given”?’ At last he found untold solace in the second half of the verse, ‘…and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out’ , for that certainly included John Bunyan!

Faith Cook, Fearless Pilgrim: The Life and Times of John Bunyan, Evangelical Press, 2008, p.119

Let a man go to the grammar school of faith and repentance before he attends the University of Election

October 12, 2009

Let a man go to the grammar school of faith and repentance before he attends the University of Election.

John Bradford

From George Whitefield’s Journals (London: Banner of Truth, 1960), p. 491. Quoted in George Whitefield, Vol. 1 by Arnold Dallimore, p. 570.

Liberal ‘optimistic figments’

September 12, 2009

The doctrines of predestination; of original sin; of the innate depravity of man and the evil fate of the greater part of the race; of the primacy of Satan in this world; of the essential vileness of matter; of a malevolent Demiurgus subordinate to a benevolent Almighty, who has only lately revealed himself, faulty as they are, appear to me to be vastly nearer the truth than the “liberal” popular illusions that babies are all born good and that the example of a corrupt society is responsible for their failure to remain so; that it is given to everybody to reach the ethical ideal if he will only try; that all partial evil is universal good; and other optimistic figments, such as that which represents “Providence” under the guise of a paternal philanthropist, and bids us believe that everything will come right (according to our notions) at last.

Thomas Huxley, Life and Letters, vol.3, p.220, ed. L.Huxley, Macmillan, 1903

online source

There is a reason why these ‘faulty’ doctrines ‘appear’ to comport so well with our experience of the real world, Mr Huxley. They (except the mistaken idea of the vileness of matter – had he read Genesis 1?) are not faulty.

You asked me how I gave my heart to Christ

August 17, 2009

You asked me how I gave my heart to Christ,
I do not know;
There came a yearning for Him in my soul
So long ago;
I found earth’s flowers would fade and die,
I wept for something that would satisfy.
And then, and then, somehow I seemed
To dare
To lift my broken heart to God in prayer.
I do not know, I canot tell you how;
I only know He is my Saviour now.