What is Election?

Recently, a conversation has brood on a friend’s blog (www.davedack.com/home.htm) about the idea of election. My friend has recently been reading Leslie Newbigin’s book, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society, which is a fascinating, and as my friend would say life-changing, book. In this book, Newbigin gives a fresh spin on the idea of election as it relates to the gospel and salvation. Some people get caught up in the argument of free-will vs. predestination/sovereignty of God/election. Although I find this argument to usually be very shallow and using an ever more shallow biblical hermeneutic that picks and chooses verses to build an argument for some western systematic theology that any good eastern Christian would find maddening, Newbigin gets to the heart of the matter about the issue of election and helps people get beyond the typical Calvin versus Arminean argument. Here is my edited comment from davedack.com:

I think that Newbigins idea of election differs
from all ideas presented. I think the main reason for this is that implicit in
most of the arguments mentioned, salvation is linked to the afterlife. This is
not so with Newbigin. Salvation is definately an eternal thing but hardly
anywhere in scripture can this be construed with the idea of afterlife (I’m not
saying that afterlife isn’t mentioned. I’m just saying that salvation is rarely
if at all linked with it most of the time in scripture; thus, our emphasis on
this is overstated and should probably not be a part of our salvation language
most of the time). Salvation is about the redemption of humanity, the Earth, and
indeed all of creation. It is about healing and mending what was broken in Eden.
It is about bringing the kingdom of God (the rule of God or dominion of God) to
every point on the planet so that His will is enacted in everyday life among all
humankind. Election is about being chosen to bring this good news to the
nations. The good news is not something that is necessarily to be accepted or
rejected. It existance is not dependent upon humanity. Salvation is not either.
Humanity will be saved. Creation will be saved. Salvation is not about choice
(its not about God forcing some afterlife destination on people or about an
individual choosing God to get there either). Salvation is a matter of fact
about the future. Faith is about believing that this future will exist and
helping to bring it about on this planet, spreading it around, and living as a
parable of it in the present. Being elected is just like being elected
President. God has chosen a group of people (emphasis on a group and not on
individual) to spread a message that the kingdom of God is here and that its
rule is beginning to take place. It is a message of peace and love, of wholeness
and perfection, of eternal rather temporary. It is about telling the nations of
the Earth that God is coming and will renew all things when he does come. Its
about telling people that fresh new life is coming there way. At the end of
telling people this, they are not choosing whether they want this or not
(because it will come no matter what), instead they are choosing to become a
part of an elected community to spread the message and live out the kingdom in
the present.
I hope all of this is understood in the way it was intended. I
have tried to summarize my interpretation of Newbigin (which I hope has been
accurate).


Disclaimer: No one should read any type of universalism into this post. The only way universalism could be found in this post is if one did not really read it. Universalism at its bottom line is all about the afterlife. Salvation is primarily about the kingdom of God being enacted on this earth.

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9 thoughts on “What is Election?

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