A Missional View of the Doctrine of Election – Part II
Catch up on the introduction, if you missed it.
Missional Modes of Theological Reflection
Van Gelder describes the development of missional modes of theological reflection over the last century in his book The Missional Church in Perspective(Van Gelder 2011:15-98). Karl Barth is credited to having kicked things off, as he re-introduced the Trinity and a Trinitarian missiology to the conversation. Consequently the concept of missio Dei developed and there was a shift from a church-centric approach to mission to a Theo-centric approach. The starting point for mission was no longer the church, but God. As Jurgen Moltmann has said, “It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world; it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church” (Moltmann 1977:64) In other words, there is mission because God is a missionary God.
The initial quest for the historical Jesus as well as the third quest put a needed emphasis on the life and teachings of Jesus, with a developing consensus in regard to Jesus’ central message – the kingdom of God. Thus a more holistic understanding of the good news was developing. God wasn’t just interested in saving individuals, but there was also a corporate and cosmic aspect to the good news.
As ecclesiology and missiology began to be fused back together through the understanding of missio Dei and the kingdom of God, the realization that the church was missionary in essence was being understood at a deeper level, as was reading the scripture with a missional hermeneutic. Lesslie Newbigin was a key figure in all of this, which in turn shaped his approach to the doctrine of election.
With this in mind, I will bring Grudem and Newbigin into conversation, comparing and contrasting their view of election at three particular points – their starting points (key questions and key texts), their understanding of the purpose of election, and how election relates to judgment. I will then assess their views on the doctrine of election from a missional view, looking at how it speaks to the nature of salvation, it’s usefulness for missional engagement and how it shapes our understanding of God.
Join me for part three as we look at their starting points (key questions and key texts) in Part III.