Adam and Eve and the “fortunate transgression”

May 14, 2016

For my new sermon series, I’m reading Edmund Clowney’s book The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament. In it, he speculates briefly about the way in which human history would have unfolded if the Fall hadn’t happened. I know, I know… It’s strictly hypothetical, but still…

We do not know in what way God would have owned His image in man through Christ if Adam and Eve had not disobeyed. Surely Adam as an obedient son would have been brought to know the beloved Son. But we do know that human sin did not frustrate God’s plan. Indeed, God’s triumph through Christ over sin is so glorious that we are driven to conclude that apart from sin, such incredible love and mercy in the heart of God could never have been displayed. We can almost sympathize with Augustine, who cried out, “Felix culpa! (Fortunate transgression!).[1]

Is it better that humanity sinned so that greater depths of God’s love, mercy, and compassion could be revealed? I don’t have a counterargument for Augustine. Perhaps I would respond this way: The Fall wasn’t good in and of itself. But God transformed it, as he does so many other bad things, into something good for us.

1. Edmund Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013), 37-8.

39 Responses to “Adam and Eve and the “fortunate transgression””

  1. bthomas Says:

    Sometimes… it really is true. People can’t see the trees for the forest. The quote in this post is proof positive.

    • brentwhite Says:

      Do you mean that the “trees” in this case refer to the greater depths of God’s love and mercy, and the “forest” is devastating effects of the Fall?

  2. Grant Essex Says:

    God had a plan for man and for all creation. I believe that even the fall was a part of the plan. The redemption of man was to be a gift from the Father to the Son. Conversely, the Son was in a sense God’s gift to mankind (at least to the elect of mankind). God’s plan is eternal, not temporal. The temporal is just that; temporary, earthly and of this life.

    Why did God do it this way. I was taught that He did it “For His glory”!

  3. Tom Harkins Says:

    Well this is a very interesting question, and reminds me of one of my mottos–“I don’t answer hypothetical questions”!

    Having so said, I will wade in a little bit nonetheless. I don’t think God planned creation with a view that no sin would result. (For that matter, even a chunk of the angels “fell away,” apparently prior to mankind doing so.) What I think is that God, speaking anthropomorphically, “considered all the “possible universes” that he could create and settled on what I refer to as the “love universe.” The primary “alternative” universe would have been one of “robots,” where it would simply not be possible to disobey God–there would be no real “choice” in the matter. God knew that if he created a universe with “free choices,” such choices would sometimes be “against Him.” Yet he chose to go with “that kind” of universe because he knew it would ultimately prove to be the “best one.”

    So, we can’t really address the question of, what of Christ becoming incarnate if Adam did not sin? Such a universe was simply never on the radar. God “foreknew” that we would “fall” when he created, and therefore foreknew that he would need to have a plan of salvation; hence, Christ was “slain before the foundation of the world.”

  4. Grant Essex Says:

    If God foreknew it, how could it have been any other way?
    Again, that seem circular to me. Just a way of avoiding fore ordained.
    But then, we’ve been down this road before. 🙂

    • Tom Harkins Says:

      Well, I agree with you that it could not have been any other way. But that does not mean that no one has any “choices” in the matter as far as they themselves are concerned. If it were possible that I would always know how my son would respond in various situations because I “knew” him so well, that would not be a proof that I precluded him from actually having a “choice” in the matter just because I procreated him. This is exactly and more perfectly true with God. God foreknew what each person would “freely” choose to do when he “flipped the switch” for that type of universe to be the one he selected. But he selected that type of universe precisely because it was the one with “free choosers” in it. Otherwise, it would not be the perfect “love” universe that he desired.

  5. Grant Essex Says:

    If God created us such that we could only react one way to each and every possible circumstance, and if God is in control of all circumstances, then how is it different from pre ordination? Certainly, we still exercise our “free will”, while God at the same time is the one who, having made our tiniest trait and compulsion is “in control”.

  6. Tom Harkins Says:

    I get what you are saying. It played a significant role in my “resigning” from Christian belief for about a decade. But the “truth” (in my estimation) is the “imponderable.” God “foreknew” what we would freely choose to do. He did not “build that in.” Instead, KNOWING how we would choose, either for him or against him, he then “arranged” everything else around those foreknown “free choices” to bring about both the “manifestation” of what our hearts are like (for “out of the heart come the issues of life”) and the “historical narrative” he desired–most especially the plan of salvation, including particularly the incarnation.

    How could God do such a thing? Build everything “around” the “free choosers” without tinkering with the ultimate “free choice mechanism” itself? As I say, imponderable. But nonetheless NECESSARY. And why necessary? Because under any other scenario of people “falling” (recognizing that we seriously disagree about this), God would be an “ogre” for sending people to hell forever based on choices that he made them make (with NOTHING intrinsic within them that led to such choices).

    • brentwhite Says:

      Not that I disagree with you, Tom, but Grant would surely say that this “intrinsic” thing within them was also created by God; therefore, they’re still doing what God has foreordained them to do. Otherwise, he would have created them intrinsically different.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        That’s exactly the key point. God took a “hands off” approach to what we “intrinsically” are. Can’t see how. But must be true. Otherwise, we would have to say God was incapable of creating free choosers, badly as he may have wanted to do so.

  7. Tom Harkins Says:

    To restate this last point a little bit, we have God as the omnipotent, omniscient being, who is both capable enough and wise enough to do anything he wants to do. What does he want to do more than just about anything else? Create a love universe, which is ultimately the best universe. But what one thing above all else is necessary to have a love universe? Free choosers, people who were capable of choosing either to go with God (ultimate exercise of love) or reject God (chief exercise of hatred) WITHOUT GOD “CAUSING” THEM TO DO SO. Therefore, either God can or cannot do such a thing–create free choosers. Since God by definition (and in reality) can do whatever he wants to do, and since he wants to create free choosers, we must believe he is capable of doing so, difficult as it may appear to us.

    Hence we have as the two greatest commandments: “Love the Lord thy God” and “Love thy neighbor as yourself.” We must have the capacity to either do this or not, to keep these commands from being “empty,” and also to have the “love universe” that God wanted to (and therefore could) create.

    (Interested to see where my logic goes astray on this.)

  8. Grant Essex Says:

    Imponderable. That’s a good word for it. But, ponder it we do. And, in our limited anthropomorphic way, we try and explain something only God could do. Your ‘love universe” helps explain it for you, and that’s good, because it brought you back to that, from which you had “resigned”. And, you are a strong witness for it.

    I, on the other hand, see myself more like Saul on the Damascus Road. The short version is that, I was kicking at the goads and fighting the Truth of Jesus Christ, when God struck me blind and dumb. The subsequent weeks of introspection and soul searching convinced me that God had another plan for me, and that He was going to prevail. That He would lead me and sustain me in a way that I simply could not do for myself. For this, I will be eternally grateful. My only explanation for this, as I looked back on it (and look back on it even now) was that “God had decided what I would decide”. Without His sustaining power, I would surely slip back into the abyss. That’s what works for me when I ponder this imponderable.

    • Tom Harkins Says:

      I can’t particularly “take credit” for my “coming back” to God myself, in the first instance. That is, God “dogged me” in perhaps a similar fashion to you (speaking generally). However, I did choose to “succumb” to God’s efforts–I specifically “made a decision” to “come back to the fold” (so to speak–not trying to address any theology about whether you can TRULY “lose salvation” or not and “get it back”–in my estimation, I did not “lose” it, but instead took a prolonged “detour”) at a specific time on a specific day (December 25, 1984). Thus, Jesus “stood at the door and knocked,” very strenuously, and then I “opened the door” and he came in (or whatever the “correct” terminology or theology may be for someone who “detours”). I would never have opened the door without the “knocking”; Jesus would never have “come in” had I not “opened the door.” That is the way I see it.

      Thus, I am not arguing there must be some substantial degree of “righteousness” that is required to become a Christian. I am saying that there has to be “something somewhere within” that is willing to “accept Jesus as Lord and Savior,” and that it is this “intrinsic something” that must “be there” before salvation will inhere in that person. This it is which separates the “saved” from the “damned.” This it is which must be there, in my estimation, for God’s ultimate choice of who is saved and who is damned to be a “righteous” choice, as opposed to an “arbitrary” one.

  9. Grant Essex Says:

    So……….why do you have this “intrinsic something”, and your neighbor (a good man) does not?

    Who put the “intrinsic something” there?

    • Tom Harkins Says:

      That is exactly what Brent surmised you would counter with. And I make the same response–God in an “imponderable” fashion “allowed” people themselves to decide for or against. Don’t know how he is able to do that. I expect no one does or will until we meet the Lord on the other side.

      But, what is the alternative to that? That God made such a choice “willy nilly”? Why would God choose me instead of my neighbor (you presume him to be a “good man”) if it is not based on anything that distinguishes me from him? Why would that be “fair and right,” from your perspective?

      So we either have to go with a “mental” imponderable, on the one hand, to sustain God’s declaration of his righteous and loving character, or a “simple thing” mentally (God just chooses) which has terrible implications for God’s character, on the other? I choose the imponderable option.

      And, indeed, I still come back to what God has the “capacity” to do if he wants to do something. If, indeed, God wanted to have a “love universe” (which he clearly did–just consider the two greatest commandments), who are we to say he cannot create “free choosers” just because God’s having such a capacity completely “baffles” us?

      • brentwhite Says:

        Tom, I like your description of a “love universe.” If God wants love to be meaningful (which in my view, means choice must be part of it), then this is the universe God makes.

        On a somewhat related note: In a debate between a skeptic and Christian recently, when they got to the problem of evil, the skeptic said, “Why would a good God create a universe with so much evil and suffering?” The Christian apologist responded: “Well, for one thing, God must have wanted the universe to include you and me. If God made some other universe, we wouldn’t be in it—not the way we are now!”

        I do like that answer.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Yeah, I like that too. Very true.

  10. Grant Essex Says:

    When I have trouble understanding, I go to Scripture. So, why does God choose some and not others?

    Romans 9:

    10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of thim who calls—12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
    14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

    I don’t see how people can take this to mean anything other than what it plainly says, but when something doesn’t say what one wants for it to say, one tries to make it say something else, or that it would mean that God chose “Willy-Nilly”. Alas, this discussion will only be understood “when we meet the Lord on the other side”. 🙂

  11. Tom Harkins Says:

    Grant, you are focusing on one passage here (thought there are others). Conversely, I have referenced many which make no sense absent free choices of men that defy God, or that show men have an option whether to defy God or not. So, it is not as easy as just latching on to Romans 9.

    Although certainly difficult, I think Romans 9 can be read consistently with my view. It is true that God selected Jacob instead of Esau before either one had done anything good or bad. God selected all people for heaven or hell before he created the first one of us. The question is, why? The passage says, “not because of works.” Again, true. Paul makes this a substantial emphasis of his: “For by grace are you saved THROUGH FAITH, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. NOT BY WORKS, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.

    Let’s tease this out a little bit. God chooses nobody because they are perfect; otherwise, he would not choose anybody. But does that mean that God, in his sovereignty, is looking at NOTHING in the person to make his “election”? Paul says he is looking for faith. Ephesians 2:8. The v.8-9 passage CAN be read to say that the faith itself is nothing on our part–just a gift of God that he can “dole out” to whomever he wants, for whatever reason, or no reason (i.e., arbitrarily). I don’t think that is correct.

    As I understand it, there was no “punctuation” in the text in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek in which the original was written. So, my “interpretation” is: “For it is a matter of grace that you are saved by faith. And this arrangement is not something you came up (‘not of yourselves’); rather, it is the gift of God. If by works, you could boast.” So, God “elected” that those who have faith (or who would have faith) are saved, rather than those with the “most good works.” Therefore, God did not look at how much “good or bad” Jacob or Esau would do. Instead, God “elected” to choose them on some other basis (totally up to God). That basis, we see in Ephesians and much of Paul’s other writing (including a chunk in Romans itself) and in Hebrews 11, is that what God is looking for is faith. And, as James says, such faith will necessarily manifest itself in good works (as Paul himself next says in Ephesians 2:10).

    Here is my take as to the prior part of Romans 9 that you left off–Pharaoh and the hardening of his heart. What does that mean? Did God “twist a screw” in Pharaoh’s head or heart? I think not. I think he put Pharaoh in the time and place that he did (facing this upstart Moses who was telling him to let Pharaoh’s slave labor force walk off the job) because he, foreknowing the type of heart that Pharaoh would have, knew that his heart would “harden” as a result. And this would accomplish the Exodus.

    I realize that the text can be read differently–my point is that, in light of other passages, I think it can be read my way. And my way leaves God’s righteousness intact.

  12. Grant Essex Says:

    Oh, I could come up with dozens and dozens of passages from the Epistles and the Gospels, but that gets us into “dueling verses”.

    As I have said before, greater theological minds than ours have chewed on this for centuries and it has come down to a divide which will on be sorted out by God Almighty himself.

    You believe that man has the last say in his salvation, and I say that it is up to God. I can live with that.

    • Tom Harkins Says:

      But you can see, can’t you, the “weight” of my position? To me it is not simply an “intellectual exercise” as to which it “hardly matters” who is right. In one sense that is true, I guess, given the historical impasse. Yet in a fundamental sense for me the “goodness of God” hangs in the balance. That’s why I try to interpret all passages I come up against in a “free choice” manner if intellectually possible (as with this “mainstay” passage of Romans 11 which many predestinationarians rely on so heavily). So, while I recognize I am not likely to “win you over,” that’s why I try.

      One last thought. Why is it that I believe and argue for free choice in the first place? Why would God give me such a passion for a “clearly wrong view” on this issue in the first instance if he is “in charge” with no room for any other “influence”? It seems to me that if predestination were true, this makes no sense. If free choice is true, however, it is understandable.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Sorry, Romans 9.

      • Grant Essex Says:

        I’ll say it one last time. God is sovereign over every molecule in the universe, without doing damage to man’s “free will”. How God can both predestine and allow free will is beyond my keen, but it’s what I believe. (We are learning many things in quantum physics that cannot be true at the same time, but they are there to see. Why not that much more so with God?)

        God’s goodness is never in question. God is good, and only good, all of the time, even when He allows evil, pain and suffering. That’s another one that you cannot get your brain around with human reasoning.

        So Tom, it’s not a matter of you “winning me over”, or of me changing your mind. It’s simply a difference in how we see God’s sovereignty. You don’t have to be wrong for me to be right, or vice versa. How these two seemingly different views reconcile is what we will one day learn.

  13. Grant Essex Says:

    On vacation in Florida last week, a friend and I got to discussing this. He made some interesting points. He put them in the form of questions/answers/assumptions:

    1. Do you think the future is random? Was where you are today known to God five years ago? Is where you will be five years from now known to God?

    2. If the future is known, how can it be random. It must involve thousands of interacting “free will decisions” to arrive where it does.

    3. If you examine the implications of the above, you must question exactly what “free will” means. We say that it means that we make a conscious choice in virtually every step we take. However, the outcome of all of those choices is already determined. How does that happen, unless God is in total control of all things?

    4. Lastly, can you change a decision you made in the past? Obviously not. Therefore, why do you think you can change a decision you will make in the future? His point is that you cannot. It is both free will and God’s will.

    I know all of this is somewhat mind bending, but that’s why we say that only God knows the ways of God.

    Interesting.

    • Tom Harkins Says:

      God certainly knows the future. He calls the end as if it were already here. The question is, WHY does he call it the way he does? Is it just “arbitrary”? If there is no rhyme or reason to it, then how can we maintain the “goodness of God” in sending many to Hell? Since we must maintain that goodness, then we must conclude that God “sees something in us” that is different one from another. Hence, as Abraham says, “Will God treat the righteous as the wicked? Will not the Judge of all men do right?” There has to be a difference in people that is not “determined” by God. There is just no way around that.

      So, how does that “work”? We don’t exactly know. But what we CAN know is that two morally opposite things cannot both be true. God cannot be “arbitrary” and “just” at the same time. Therefore, the PRACTICAL problem, we have to live with. The moral “problem,” however, we don’t. We know that God knows the HEART of man (“out of which come the issues of life”), even if from “eternity past,” and then arranges all circumstances around that. So God’s directive of history is built around the “free choice” of men (even if known in advance by God). That’s the way I see it.

      • Grant Essex Says:

        God cannot be “arbitrary” and “just” at the same time.”

        Absolutely true! God is only just, and if he gave us all justice, then he would send us all to hell. But, God is also merciful. For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”.

        Justice and Mercy are not morally opposite, so they are both possible.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        The problem with your “justice and mercy” suggestion is that God “arbitrarily” decides whom to bestow mercy on. Also, if God is “in control” of whether we obey or not, how can it be “just” to punish us for that?

      • Grant Essex Says:

        God is “arbitrary” in His dispensing of Mercy. That is the definition of Mercy. He has his reasons, but he is not accountable to man to explain himself.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        No, that is too simple and would not get God “off the hook” if that were the case. In your view, God can simply send people to Hell or not simply because he “wants to.” I don’t believe God is like that, nor do I think scripture conveys him that way. “God is love,” John declares. It is impossible for God to be a “God of love” if he arbitrarily (i.e., for no apparent reason) selects some for Heaven and others for Hell.

      • Grant Essex Says:

        You may think it’s too simple, but that’s clearly what God said.

  14. Grant Essex Says:

    Brent, I have a question on Methodist doctrine.

    Per John Wesley:

    In John Wesley’s sermon “On Working Out Our Own Salvation” (sermon #85), Wesley stated that prevenient grace elicits, “…the first wish to please God, the first dawn of light concerning His will, and the first slight transient conviction of having sinned against Him.”

    Wesley insisted on prevenient grace as a solution to two great problems in Christianity: the belief of original sin and the Protestant doctrine of salvation by grace alone. Wesley thought that prevenient grace enabled the doctrines of original sin and salvation by grace to co-exist while still maintaining God’s sovereignty and holy character as well as human freedom.

    My question is: Do all people get an equal dose of “Prevenient Grace”?

  15. Tom Harkins Says:

    I am not a Methodist, but what I believe is that God is not “obliged” to give grace to all if he foreknows their hearts are such that they would not respond favorably if shown to them. However, at least mostly God does “show grace” to men who don’t accept it. He “stands at the door and knocks,” and it is up to us whether we “open the door” or not (regardless of that being “foreknown”).

  16. Tom Harkins Says:

    Grant, there are many places in scripture where it appears that God acts toward men according to what men do, as opposed to “arbitrarily.” About half the Old Testament bears that out. And what about, in the New Testament, the letters to the seven churches? Isn’t God saying, “I will bless you if you are ‘good,’ and punish you if you are ‘bad'”? I don’t think “for whom he will he hardens” can be taken as a stand-alone refutation of WHY he hardens some versus others. I agree that it is ultimately up to God what he does–I just think he EXPLAINS how he does it. It is based on the heart.

  17. Grant Essex Says:

    I’m not saying that God doesn’t reward “good deeds”. I’m just saying that even our most righteous deeds are as filthy rags. Mercy is not earned.

    Perhaps you want for it to be black and white. And you want for God to grade on the curve. I just don’t see that. As the Gaither brothers song goes, “I’m just a sorry sinner, saved by Grace”.

    But, I’m not having a problem with what you are saying either.

    • Tom Harkins Says:

      Can’t really go with your last comment, I don’t think. Seems somewhat along the lines of all religions lead towards God when they have contradictory beliefs. In other words, your view and mine are in some ways mutually incompatible, so both can’t be true in every respect.

      Recognizing your agreement that God rewards good works, you then cite that often overused verse on “filthy rags” to imply that such deeds have no impact on whether God extends “mercy” or not. What exactly do you mean? If God “takes into account” our “deeds” in distributing rewards, yet everything he does toward us is based on “unearned” mercy, what exactly is the point of the good works? Doesn’t God just bestow mercy, whether for salvation or rewards, without regard to how “good” we may be (in other words, how “obedient”)? What is the purpose of being obedient in the calculus under your view?

      Just because you can’t deserve something does not mean you don’t have to do anything to get it. And it does not mean that the person giving whatever it might be is precluded from taking into account what kind of person you are in deciding his “dole.” We know this from every day experience, we who are “made in the image of God,” but we seek to divorce God from such considerations. When I say half the Old Testament shows God deals with people based on their obedience, and Christ says he will deal with the churches on a similar basis, this shows that God, indeed, “takes into account” obedience in deciding how to treat us–regardless of the fact that this approach must be “tempered” with mercy because nobody is good enough to “earn” his way in, standing on his own. It is not an “all or nothing” proposition. Otherwise there would be no basis whatsoever for Abraham to ask God to be true to his nature and not treat the righteous the same as the wicked.

      So, I certainly believe that God has to act toward his children from a standpoint of grace and mercy, but I insist that God does not do so “arbitrarily” (by which I mean, based on nothing in the person himself–just “however God decides to do it”). Genesis to Revelation reveals that God extends his mercy toward those who are willing to obey him–regardless that they don’t do a perfect job of it.

  18. Grant Essex Says:

    Quick response:

    1. All religions do not lead to God. In fact, I’m becoming more convinced that only a relatively small percentage of people who claim to be Christians will end up in Heaven. Certainly still millions and millions of people, but far less than the number excluded.

    2. On what basis does God grant eternal salvation? Only one actually. That you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and give your heart to Him.

    3. All the rest of your deeds (dirty rags) will effect your “reward level” in Heaven. They do not get you in.

    That’s the short response, on how I interpret the New Covenant.

    • Tom Harkins Says:

      Grant, I agree all religions don’t go to God, and did not mean to imply that you thought otherwise. My point was that contradictory beliefs cannot both be true, such as predestination and free choice, as I see it. Some things can be difficult, or even for us as currently constrained in our finiteness and fallen state, impossible to “understand” now, but that does not mean that concepts clearly contrary to each other can both be true. That was my point. (And I also agree that, relatively speaking, “few will be saved,” as Jesus says.)

      Also, I don’t necessarily disagree with your assessment of “what is needed” for salvation. Though I think that “give your heart to Him” may need to be “unpacked” a bit, insofar as it means to acknowledge Jesus as “Lord,” as Paul says.

      Finally, I also agree that our deeds cannot “merit” us Heaven. It is likely largely in that sense that our deeds can be compared with “filthy rags” (i.e., so far from the perfection [pure white robes] of Jesus that they look “filthy” in comparison). But our deeds are nonetheless “meritorious” in gaining us “better eternal standing” with God (which “translates” into rewards).

      So, mostly I agree with you. The “sticking point” mainly comes down to, is there not indeed “something” within us that God looks to in bestowing His “gracious” salvation on us as opposed to the rest of mankind? I still maintain that this is necessary for God to be a God of love and justice, as the scripture plainly reveals Him to be.

  19. Grant Essex Says:

    And, I agree with you that God is not arbitrary, or capricious. He extends His saving grace to all whom He wishes to give to the Son, as co-heirs of the kingdom.

    To quote Calvin:

    “Christ was so ordained the Saviour of the whole world that He might save those who were given unto Him by the Father out of the whole world, that He might be the eternal life of them of whom He is the head, and that He might receive into a participation of all the “blessings in Him” [Eph. 1:3] all those whom God adopted to Himself by His own unmerited good pleasure to be His heirs.”

    Now, I’m not trying to make you a Calvinist here. I know that to be impossible, as you understand the meaning of Calvinism. What I am saying is that Calvin and Luther understood something called “The Bondage of the Will”. As I understand that, they meant, that left to our own resources, we can only will to sin. It is God’s enabling grace that allows us to overcome that. Whether that grace is resistible, or irresistible, is of less consequence to me than to hard-liners. It is enough for me to know that a loving God took the initiative to save me. He gave me the strength ( and continues to give it to me everyday), without which I would still be lost.

    In any event, we are in agreement on the result, which is prize we all so longingly grasp for.

    • Tom Harkins Says:

      Just so we are clear, the basic significant thing that we disagree about is that I think there is “something” in those God chooses for salvation which “differentiates” them from those He does not choose as the basis of His choice, whereas you believe God selects based on nothing different about the recipient. Right?


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