Hello Reformed Baptists, I would like to enter into a dialogue with you concerning Ephesians 1:4. Let me be upfront when I say that I am a Classical Arminian, Southern Baptist who believes in Eternal Security, and with a Molinistic "Middle Knowledge" perspective of God's Providence. I will allege that Calvinistic Election involves Two Elections, that is, a primary election "in the Father" with a secondary election "in the Son." (In the event that some are unaware that the term "in the Father" is in the Bible, refer to 1st John 2:24.) 1) I will present a segment of Ephesians chapter 1 in terms of how passionately Paul spoke of what we have "in Christ," as opposed to what some may argue that we had "in the Father," independent of Christ. 2) I will present a series of quotes from John Calvin, and some other modern Calvinists. I do not ask that you defend them, but merely that you help explain them. My purpose is to shed light on what I have understood to be the essense of Calvinistic Election, and then to compare it with Scripture. Let's begin: Ephesians 1:3-4: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him." At Ephesians chapter 1, notice how prominently "in Christ" is found. Paul mentions “In Him,” “In Christ,” “In the Beloved,” 11 times in the first 13 verses: “The saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.” (v.1) “Blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (v.3) “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” (v.4) “Which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (v.6) “In Him we have redemption through His blood.” (v.7) “Which He purposed in Him.” (v.9) “The summing up of all things in Christ.” (v.10) “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance.” (v.11) “We who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” (v.12) “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (v.13) Just so that there is no confusion, let me be very clear when I state that John Calvin absolutely did affirm an election in Christ. The question is whether he taught it as a seconday Election. Calvin writes: “Paul testifies indeed that we were chosen before the foundation of the world; but, he adds, in Christ (Eph 1:4). Let no one then seek confidence in his election elsewhere, unless he wish to obliterate his name from the book of life in which it is written.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.126, emphasis mine) So Calvinism absolutely does indeed affirm that election is in Christ. Again, the question is whether or not he taught it as a secondary election, on the back end of an "in the Father" election. Consider the following quotes which seems to indicate that Calvin taught that God chose us "in Himself," first and foremost: John Calvin writes: “Paul further confirms this, declaring that God was moved by no external cause; He Himself and in Himself was author and cause of our being elected while yet we were not created, and of His afterwards conferring faith upon us.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.69, emphasis mine) Calvin writes: “Then, when Paul lays down as the unique cause of election the good pleasure of God which He has in Himself, he excludes all other causes.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.69, emphasis mine) Calvin writes: “Christ therefore is for us the bright mirror of the eternal and hidden election of God, and also the earnest and pledge. ... We see here that God begins with Himself when He sees fit to elect us....” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.127, emphasis mine) Calvin adds: “The calling is therefore a certain and specific calling, which seals and ratifies the eternal election of God so as to make manifest what was before hidden in God.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.70, emphasis mine) Calvin writes: “First he points out the eternity of election, and then how we should think of it. Christ says that the elect always belonged to God. God therefore distinguishes them from the reprobate, not by faith, nor by any merit, but by pure grace; for while they are far away from him, he regards them in secret as his own.” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.393, emphasis mine) Calvin writes: “Christ certainly counts none among His own, unless he be given by the Father; and He declares those to be given who before were the Father’s (ibid. 17:6).” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.147, emphasis mine) Calvin writes: “God has chosen His own to be holy and without blame (Eph 1:4).” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.134, emphasis mine) John Calvin writes: “This way of speaking, however, may seem to be different from many passages of Scripture which attribute to Christ the first foundation of God’s love for us and show that outside Christ we are detested by God. But we ought to remember, as I have already said, that the Heavenly Father’s secret love which embraced us is the first love given to us.” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, pp.76, emphasis mine) Calvinist, William MacDonald, writes: “Election refers to His sovereign, eternal choice of individuals to belong to Himself.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, pp.2290-2291, emphasis mine) Calvinist, James White, concludes: “I just also believe the undisputed and unrefuted fact that I come to Christ daily because the Father, on the sole basis of His mercy and grace, gave me to the Son in eternity past.” (Debating Calvinism, p.306, emphasis mine) Putting it all together, these quotes from Calvin, MacDonald and White, seem to indicate that God has an eternal flock of sheep called "the elect" and that the Father has given His own secret sheep to His Son, such that these whom God has eternally hidden in Himself, He then has chosen "to become" in Christ. Is this understanding faithful to the Ephesians text, which text seems to ascribe to Christ, the first foundation of our election? Election according to Adrian Rogers: Election is essentially that based upon our position in Christ, we have the privilege of adoption in the Father as a child of God. In other words, God has chosen us, not to become in Christ, but rather that God has chosen us in union with Christ, and that it is this union, in which we have become "one spirit" with God (1st Corinthians 6:16-17), in which we have become enjoined to His body, that we were foreknown in Him. (Romans 8:29) This is not foreknowledge of faith. This is foreknowledge of a people, that is, a people in Christ, by grace through faith. These who are "chosen in Christ" are both individually foreknown in Christ, as well as corporately predestined, by the Father, to receive all that He has sovereignly placed in His Son, as stated in Ephesians chapter 1, and in Romans chapter 8, which is 1) the believer's conformity into the image of Christ, 2) the Christian Calling for unique purpose in the body of Christ for the edification of the Body and for the evangelization of the lost, and 3) justification and glorification. I trust that this dialogue will become fun and exciting, but not mean-spirited. I look forward to a stimulating conversation.