Ware writes from the Calvinist perspective and argues firstly for unconditional election.
"Unconditional election refers to the claim that God's selection of those whom he would save was not based upon (or, not 'conditioned' on) some fact or feature of those individuals' lives, in particular...not conditioned on something they would do, some choice they would make, how good or bad they might be, or anything else specifically true about them in contrast to others also enslaved to sin and deserving God's just condemnation." (3)
Dean Ware begins to make his case with the prayer of Jesus in John 17, using specifically verses 2, 6, 9, and 24. The phrase Ware points to over and over again is "to all whom you have given him (Jesus)." The phrase occurs in similar ways in the verses Ware mentions above. Anticipating an argument from classical Arminians, Ware states, "Belief is necessary, to be sure. But those who believe are those given to Christ by the Father" (7).
Professor Cottrell responds to the idea, by maintaining "...that Jesus' references to 'those whom the Father has given him' apply to the twelve apostles, not to the totality of saved individuals" (59). Cottrell's argument is based upon verse 20, which reads, "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word" (NRSV). Cottrell moves on to argue the election in John 17 is for apostolic service rather than for salvation (59). His belief is the call to apostolic service is also true of John 15:16. The Arminian professor then maintains "their (the apostle's) salvation is not assured simply because they have been 'given' to Jesus by the Father" (60).
It's obvious that the two interpretations of the prayer of Jesus in John 17 (at least with election) are polar opposites. One of these distinguished individuals might be wrong (causing the other to be in error), both may be wrong, but it seems both cannot be correct. Which begs the question: Is the exegesis provided good exegesis? Do either or both of these individuals go to this passage with "an end" in mind? If so, isn't that dangerous?
What are your thoughts about this particular passage and how it fits into election?