Friday, October 14, 2005

Election implies...

Happily, I have been reading a few bits and posts about involving the doctrine of election recently, including Dave Bish's comment that 'Election implies evangelism'. There are two ways I could think of what that could mean. One very important and encouraging one, that we were discussing in our cell meeting (on evangelism) last night, is that because it is God who changes hearts not us, anyone can have their eyes opened by God's grace (this was the meaning Dave Bish had at the top of his mind).

The other meaning I can think of is that we are elected for reasons, including being co-workers in the out-pouring of God's grace on others. This has been at the top of my mind since I read Newbigin on it a few days ago.

Probably no-one reads beyond this point in a blog post, but I think it is worth commiting the seeming blunder of quoting at incredible length what Newbigin has to say. It needs some sifting, but this has been a great source of challenge and thought for me over the last few days. That's why I thought it worth the effort to copy out every word of the following:


In the light of this crucial passage [Rom 9-11] we can expose the false ideas which have gathered around the doctrine of election and which have made it unacceptable to many Christians as well as to others. In the first place, and most obviously, there is the idea that election is election to privileged status before God. This false belief is something against which the prophets of Israel had constantly to contend. It is indeed true that in many moving passages of the Old Testament we are told of Gods undying love for Israel, of his commitment to its cause. Yet this love and commitment are to Israel as the instrument of God's purpose of love for all the nations, and when Israel interprets God’s love as a license to do as it pleases chastisement follows. In a classic passage Amos says in the name of God, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins" (Amos 3:2). As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that to be God’s chosen people means not privilege but suffering, reproach, humiliation. Israel is called to embody in her own life God's agony over his disobedient world. And in the New Testament this comes to its final manifestation in that God's chosen one is called to suffer the ultimate agony of a death which carries God's curse, on behalf of all peoples. We know that this disastrous misunderstanding of what God's election means has persisted right through the history of the Church and to the present day, so that Christians believe that as Christians they have a claim on God's love which others do not have. The trenchant words of Paul have been quietly ignored in the history of the Church: "There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him" (Rom. 10:12). But that recognition, so far from eliminating the doctrine of election, becomes for Paul the very basis for that doctrine, for how shall they call on him of whom they have not heard, and how shall they hear without a preacher, and how can they preach unless they are sent? It is the universality of God’s saving love which is the ground of his choosing and calling a community to be the messengers of his truth and bearers of his love for all peoples. Once again we have to remember that neither truth nor love can be communicated except as they are embodied in a community which reasons and loves.



At 4:32 pm, Blogger thebluefish said...

Thanks for picking up on what I'm saying and identifying my meaning. Helpful quote - v.long but I'm happy to read it!

Election has many implications.


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