Altrogge prooftexts Deuteronomy 7:6

From 5 Reasons I’m a Calvinist. The first reason is unconditional election. Stephen Altrogge writes:

I believe in the doctrines of grace because they run throughout the entire Bible, like a golden thread from Genesis to Revelation. In the Old Testament, we see that God unconditionally chose Israel to be his people.

Deuteronomy 7:6-7 says:

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples…

This theme, of God choosing a people for himself, comes up again and again, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. God clearly chose Israel to be his people, and that choice was not based on anything they had done. It was an unconditional choice.

Altrogge is prooftexting in an awful way. The face-value of the quote is not an “unconditional election”. It just states that God wasn’t picking a people based on strength. Just because God doesn’t pick on strength does not mean the choosing was not based on anything. Instead, the context explains that the picking was entirely conditional. The reason God picked Israel (the part of the passage that Altrogge conveniently forgets to quote) is that God had a longstanding promise to Abraham:

Deu 7:6 “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Deu 7:7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples,
Deu 7:8 but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

The picking in Altrogge’s prooftext is not referring to the Abrahamic covenant, but the liberation from Egypt. Moses claims that God is picking based on His previous promises to individuals.

Interestingly enough, God’s choice of Abraham/Israel was not unconditional. God relates how He knows Abraham is worthy of his calling and how He knows Israel will serve God:

Gen 18:17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
Gen 18:18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
Gen 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. [KJV]

God did not choose Abraham for no reason, but because He saw in Abraham a kindred spirit. God even tests Abraham’s loyalty in Genesis 18, with Abraham passing the test. God’s expectations are that Abraham, a righteous man, will spawn a righteous nation. This expectation does not materialize within the Bible. God is thwarted. He time and time again wishes to kill all of Israel and restart due to failed expectations. Moses is confronted twice with this reality, in which God wants to destroy all of Israel but doesn’t because of Moses’ petition.

Altrogge’s prooftext about God’s unconditional election is in context of God choosing a people He regrets choosing and then attempts to kill. This is an odd concept for unconditional election. It sounds fairly conditional, conditional on Israel’s continued loyalty to God.

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