Deforming Divine Election

A brief word about theological method.

The narrative shape of Scripture must discipline our theological speech so that we speak faithfully of God and God’s ways with his people.  Our theologizing about any notion within Scripture must be constrained and shaped by the form of that notion within the narrative.

Divine election has its proper form and shape as God’s love language for his people.  It shapes our identity and mission.  We are the people who celebrate God’s love for us that stretches back to eternity past.  And we are the people appointed to radiate God’s love to the world in hope that even more people will be swallowed up into God’s love.

If we take divine election out of its narrative form and put it into a doctrinal system, we have just deformed it.  If we take it out of the narrative that shapes it properly, we have a misshapen doctrinal notion.

We will now have a deformed and misshapen view of God, one that creates serious theological tensions.

We must not put divine election to use in order to speak of unbelievers so that we have a theological category labeled “the unelect,” or “the elect unto damnation.”  That isn’t a category in Scripture. 

It may very well make good sense according to how we’ve constructed our doctrinal system, but we’re no longer being disciplined by Scripture.  Insofar as Scripture speaks of those outside the faith from the perspective of election, it speaks of those whom God is pursuing in love through his elect.

This is the case because of the purpose of divine election.  Divine election always has a “so that,” and the “so that” has to do with God’s mission to reclaim the nations so that all of creation will enjoy God’s life-giving reign.

There’s much more to say about divine election, but with regard to theological method, we must respect the role of election within the narrative lest we deform it and end up with unfaithful theological speech.

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