The doctrine of 'Unconditional Election' is the doctrine that countered the 'Arminian' doctrine that stated, 'God elects or reproves on the basis of foreseen faith or unbelief.'
This is probably the most popular view concerning election in the Christian church at present. Sadly, it's wrong. This statement actually negates itself, and by virtue of being negated is a useless attempt to explain a useless doctrine. Consider it for just a moment, if God elects based on the fact that we would have faith, then, what's the purpose? Is God trying to steal our glory? Is God taking the glory for our faith by imposing His election over the top of our faith? This is a question that 'Arminians' must deal with. All Christians have a doctrine of election. We must have a doctrine of election because election is in the Bible. But to base election on our faith begs the question, why should God even bother revealing a doctrine of election if it is just His response to our faith?
The answer is that God reveals this doctrine of election to us through the pages of scripture, not because it is based on anything that we do, but for His own glory. (Ephesians 1:1-14, Romans 8-11, John 15:12-17)
I guess I need to address the two verses that always gets pulled on me when I mention election.
Acts 2:23 ...This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. (ESV)
This verse is usually cited and I am told that Jesus death was based on foreknowledge. I agree. But foreknowledge is not foreseeing that something will happen. The context of this verse bears that out. Rather, foreknowledge is God determining before hand what will happen and knowing what He is doing. And this is exactly what this verse teaches. That the foreknowledge of God delivered Jesus into the hands that God's foreknowledge ordained for the death of Christ.
Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
This verse actually strengthens my belief in God's 'Unconditional Election more than any other. The picture this verse paints is of a God who knows me, and yet loves me anyway, and based upon no good quality in myself, manifests His love to me through the gift of predestination to salvation. Ephesians chapters 1 and 2 show this also very clearly.
Now to the misconceptions. Election is not unconditional as it relates to God Himself. God has very definite and purposeful plans for each of His chosen. Election is unconditional as it relates to us. In and of myself there is no good thing abiding in me. I am an enemy of God, full of sin, and without faith. But God, in spite of me, and based upon no goodness in me, solely for His own glory and pleasure set His love on me and saved me. It is not of works foreseen, but by His grace alone that I have been saved.
Since I am 'Totally Depraved', I must trust in God alone and His grace. I don't just need help, I need a Savior. God is my Savior. As a depraved being I was running towards hell as fast as my legs could take me, but the God who made me, loved me, even before I was born, and determined to save me. And if anyone is ever saved, it is solely based on His 'Unconditionally Electing' power.