What is Election? image

What is Election?

The other day, in response to a book review here, Alastair Roberts made an extremely interesting point in one of the comments. There's a decent chance that very few readers will have noticed it, especially since it came in late, so I'm reposting it here. It concerns the nature and referent of election language in Paul (emphasis added):

The group of people that Paul was addressing was visible and known. Paul’s letter was probably read out before the church(es) and it is hard to maintain that they would not have been understood as addressing the churches in general and to all of their members. By contrast, election is typically taught as a doctrine in Reformed circles, but it is seldom that one hears pastors addressing their churches, declaring that *they* are elect. It seems to me that this is what Paul is doing here. This is far more specific than most Reformed Christians are prepared to get.

While the elect are an entire humanity—the new humanity—not every human being is elect. Only those who are in Christ are elect. While most Reformed doctrines of election leave us uncertain about who exactly is elect, my argument is that the identity of the elect is clear in Paul’s theology (see Philippians 4:3, for instance). If you are a member of the body of Christ, the family chosen before the foundation of the world in its head, Jesus, you are elect. Until you are united to Christ, however, you are not elect.

In Ephesians 1, as elsewhere, election is not the timeless teaching that God has selected a number of individuals out of the mass of humanity for salvation, but that from the very outset God determined to form a glorious humanity and family in his Son and that now, in the fullness of time, he has done so and that *we* are that humanity and family.

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