A Little Bedside Reflection
I have not been sick in a long time. Ah, well. Today finds me snuggled in bed on the Sabbath. A cup of homemade tea on my nightstand… raspberry, strawberry, violet and mint leaves with a dash of purple clover flowers, steeped to get-well perfection.
And on my lap (‘til I traded it for the laptop) has been John H. Walton’s Genesis Commentary, compliments of Zondervan.
What better way to spend a sniffly Sabbath? Good tea and good commentary.
In the midst of it all, I had this irresistible urge to write to you. (Pardon me if I sneeze along the way. It might be the symptoms of my illness, or it might be a nervous reaction when broaching a topic of some controversy.)
L.L., you say, “What topic of controversy?” I whisper back, “Election. Not like in who I think will be elected for president… Obama, or Giuliani, or Clinton, but like in election for salvation.”
I suppose this is not a suitable topic for a sick person to approach. Indeed, the healthy and good-natured Craver hosted a lively and friendly discussion on Calvinism last week, which brought up the issue of election.
At the time, as part of one comment, I said…
Abraham was chosen so his people could bring blessing to all people. Eventually, the Israelites lost sight of why they were "chosen." I wonder if we too are "elected", not as a club invitation but as chosen ones to go out and bring blessing to the rest of the world... "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation..." (2 Cor 5:18)
Imagine my surprise when I fell upon this, then, today in Walton…
But the larger question concerns the purpose of the covenant. God could make promises without a covenant. The covenant included election, so we must ask, election to what (if not salvation)?
…the structure of Genesis directs our attention to the issue of revelation. Since the knowledge of God had been lost and the concept of God distorted [see Gen. 1-11], God determined to embark on a program of revelation. Abram and his family were elected as instruments of that revelatory program…[Gen 12]” (p.52)
I can hear you now. “Egads, L.L.! Take a nap! Don’t start in with something like this!”
So let me reassure you. I’m not trying to start another discussion on Calvinism. And I’m not in any condition for heated debate. I want, instead, to focus on a practical matter.
See, I find it interesting that Paul structures Romans 1-11 similarly to Genesis 1-12, in the sense that he first sets up the premise that knowledge of God has been lost and distorted. Then he launches into this very confusing (I think) discussion of what we call election.
So, here’s the rub. If Paul is potentially saying that we are elected, not unto salvation, but for the purposes of revelation, how would this affect us on a practical level? I’m going to suggest that the answer begins in Romans Chapter 12.
And, I ask that you have mercy on me, a sick person, and just play along regardless of your theological bent. In other words, I am looking for refreshment, in a discussion that compares the PRACTICAL differences that issue from one view or the other… election unto salvation versus election unto the task of revelation. (It is true that you may have to read Romans 12 in order to play along.)
Okay, and now I see I misled you. This was not a little bedside reflection. It was, indeed, one of the longest posts I’ve ever done. Oh…. pardon me… aaaaaacccchhhoooo!!!
Wisteria Cross photo, by L.L. Barkat.
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