According to reformed theology:

  • God, before the foundations of the universe, chose to elect some humans

  • God ensures that the elect will come to believe and follow Christ

Thus, the question:

  • For the elect, is loving God a choice? [this appears to be a "no"]

  • If not, how do the elect differ from robots?

  • Also -- some have claimed "the reason Adam/Eve" was given a choice -- was that it was so that they could prove their love to God by not eating of the tree. Is there a way to resolve this with reformed theology? We appear to come back to the point where -- if God ensures that the elect believe in Jesus -- then the fact that the elect love Christ is not a matter of choice, but a matter of God's works.

  • This is to do with these two thoughts: free-will and predestination. Check this reference here: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/6820/… Aug 22, 2012 at 15:06
  • This is quite a deep topic, and far too broad to answer well in an SE post. Please consider looking up the following terms as defined in a Reformed Theological work: "concurrency" and "necessitation" especially regarding their relation to "ordination" and ask some questions regarding them when you don't understand something. Aug 22, 2012 at 15:17
  • You're asking about the concept of irresistible grace.
    – wax eagle
    Aug 22, 2012 at 20:07
  • If I offered you a million dollars if you would just 'sign here', you would not question about your free will and yet you would would find it irresistible. Free will and irresistible grace do not have to be positioned as being in conflict, it just may seem that way. He who created our will easily knows how to direct it without overriding it.
    – Mike
    Aug 24, 2012 at 0:06

1 Answer 1


You're asking about two different elements of the traditional reformed acronym TULIP:

  • Unconditional Election - That Christ's elect are called without regard to their own merits.

  • Irresistible Grace - That the elect are drawn to Christ despite the fact that their sin nature keeps them away and this drawing is actually irresistible.

The crux of your question is not the unconditional election part. You can sort of have that without the Irresistible grace part, but it makes the election virtually meaningless (We'll get to why in a minute).

Irresistible grace is not a method of turning humanity into automatons. It is however, God's way of drawing his people to himself. God is an all powerful being, the fact that we do not desire and worship him is an unnatural state. Much like all things desire to revert to their natural state, God providing even the ability for it to become so causes a human to revert to said state. This is much like shorting a circuit. Electrons are content to mill about in their circuit, but the moment a circuit is shorted they make a beeline for the short. This is what Irresistible grace is like. You're milling about aimlessly, but then the most direct path to fulfillment is opened and you make a beeline for it, without even thinking.

This is how it works on a spiritual level. However, what is apparent in the mind of the person is that it just makes sense, or you feel do down at out that you have no where else to turn. You don't necessarily feel the tug. It just happens. Although some people do feel it more than others (Lewis famously described it as "being dragged kicking and screaming").

I said something at the beginning though that is probably controversial, but it's true. Without Irresistible Grace election is both meaningless and is either impossible or makes God ignorant or impotent. Let me unpack that just a bit. If we start with the assumption that God calls those that he elected, then either he is willingly calling people that he knows will not come or all of those that he calls will come. If not all of the people that he calls do not come, then why does he call them in the first place? If all of the people that he calls do come, don't we have to include that the call itself is compulsive?

If not all that come at God's call then what is the meaning of that call? Isn't it effectively meaningless? Can some come that are not called? are all called? Do those that come when called have some kind of merit that distinguishes those from that that do not? (I'm asking a lot of rhetorical questions, hope that's ok)...

Anyways, in summary: Those that are called must be drawn irresistibly or the call is both meaningless and makes God out to be impotent or ignorant.

  • Wow, three questions... You're on a tare! Aug 22, 2012 at 21:32
  • Is a call to all necessary so that those who don't answer the call are without excuse? If there was no call, then are they guilty of not responding to it?
    – Jeff B
    Sep 24, 2014 at 16:10
  • wax eagle, How about if the call itself has a "Law" ? Something like if you answer, then bla3x - if you don't answer, then blu3x. Where the point is : the listener will believe or not that that bla3x or blu3x will happen. And how about if for example like this : because you ask me to call and I know your asking is sincere, then I call you (the example maybe similar with Matthew 7:7-11 ?).
    – karma
    Mar 9, 2017 at 21:20
  • And what about Do not give dogs what is holy; do not throw your pearls before swine ? Does it mean : Do not call the unelected, call only the elected ? Do the dogs/swine ask ? Or do the dogs/swine won't ask (impossible ask) because they are not elected ? Or do the dogs/swine ask, but not sincerely (impossible sincerely) because they are not elected ?
    – karma
    Mar 9, 2017 at 21:31

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