Election and God’s love
The author of The Drama of Ephesians: Participating in the Triumph of God, Timothy Gombis, has recently begun his own blog. Its a good read. I have previously posted some comments by Gombis on election/predestination from The Drama of Ephesians.
On his blog, Timothy has posted on election: ‘Divine Election vs God’s Love’, ‘The Purpose of Divine Election’, ‘Deforming Divine Election’, Chosen in Christ and Divine Election: Summary & Conclusions.
The following comments on election from Gombis are perhaps the most sensible and biblical I have come across:
“Paul tells believers in Asia Minor that they were on God’s heart and mind from eternity past (Ephesians 1:3-14). He set his love on them and pursued them to save them. These “nobodies” in the world’s eyes are precious to God.
My point, then, is just to say that election language in Scripture functions very specifically to shape the identity of the people of God. We are the ones who have our origin in the love of God from eternity past. He set his love upon us and sought us out to reclaim us and redeem us.
That is the only function of election language in the Bible.
We pervert divine election when we take it out of the context of God’s love for his people and use it to speak of those outside of God’s love. Now we have the “elect” and the “nonelect.” We only end up with that latter category when we take election talk out of its biblical context as God’s love language for his people. But the “nonelect,”—or the “elect unto damnation”—isn’t a biblical category.
When Scripture considers the group of people outside of God’s saving love, it sets election talk aside and picks up other sets of language. Scripture talks about those to whom the elect are sent in order to demonstrate God’s love. Scripture talks about those whom God longs to redeem. Occasionally Scripture talks about those who are enemies of the gospel, perhaps those who have rejected God and are persecuting God’s people.
But the Bible does not consider “those whom God has chosen for damnation.” When it comes to election, the two groups are the elect—those upon whom God has set his love in order to save—and those to whom the elect are sent so that they might also be swallowed up into God’s love.
We must be careful to respect the biblical function of election talk. Too often election talk has been excised from its biblical contexts and put to use in doctrinal systems. It does not belong there. That move distorts the Scriptural depiction of God.”