A Missional View of the Doctrine of Election – Part VII
Part I is the introduction to this series. In Part II, I look at missional modes of theological reflection. In Part III, I look at Grudem and Newbigin’s starting points (key questions and key texts), and in Part IV their views on the doctrine of election. In Part V, we looked at how they understand election and judgment, and in Part VI, I shared my assessment. Now for the conclusion.
I have sought to demonstrate that a missional view of election, espoused by Newbigin, is to be preferred over and against a historical Calvinist view, as espoused by Grudem, because it demonstrates congruence with the universality of God’s love and the nature of salvation as cosmic, corporate and personal, thus enabling us to engage in mission more faithfully.
This was accomplished by demonstrating that Newbigin’s starting points (key questions and texts) were superior to that of Grudem’s, and led him to a more missional approach to the purpose of election. Grudem’s purposes for salvation are more focused on “us” while Newbigin’s purposes for salvation helps us (the elect) focus on “the other”. In addition, Grudem’s starting points led to a reductionistic view of the gospel, while Newbigin’s led to a robust understanding of the gospel. Finally, Grudem’s view of election leads one to believe that God shows favoritism, which is incongruent with scripture. Newbigin, on the other hand, demonstrates a scriptural understanding of election that leads to a strong missiology, equipping us to engage our pluralist world more effectively. He answers the “scandal of particularity” by helping us understand that some were chosen, not to be exclusive beneficiaries, but to bear the blessings for the sake of all.
Because the doctrine of election is central to the scriptures and mission, further studies could be done in how the doctrine of election relates to an evangelical theology of religions. In addition some creative thought could be given on how to help the church as a whole gain a missional view of the doctrine of election, so that she might live more faithful to God. For the God we worship is a choosing God and a missionary God, and as those who have been chosen and blessed, seek to carry that blessing to the world through power of the Holy Spirit, we will bear fruit and glorify God.