Election is not about heaven…

Posted: 15th July 2009 by ElShaddai Edwards in Faith & Theology

“Election is not about who gets to go to heaven; election is about who God chooses […] to bring healing to the world.”

— Brian McLaren, Christianity Today (2004)

  1. Hans Vlek says:

    Hailing from the Netherlands, I follow your website with some frequency, being a sort of a bible fetishist myself.

    I am very happy with people like Brian McLaren, who try to modernize evangelicalism to this postmodern world so that christianity can be a force of good influence in nowadays society.

    As a religious humanist, I feel closest to the Church of England but I keep following what happens in american evangelicalism, since it produces so many wonderful bible translations.

    Hans Vlek, Netherlands

    • Thanks for the note, Hans – I have to confess that I haven’t spent much time learning about McLaren, Rob Bell and the rest of the Emergent/PoMo “conversation”, but it does seem valuable inasmuch as they focus on Christianity as something to be lived out in the world, not received in a religious bunker as the church far too often is.

  2. Kevin Sam says:

    “Election is not about who gets to go to heaven; election is about who God chooses […] to bring healing to the world.”

    I’d have to disagree with this one on McLaren because it does include who gets chosen to inherit eternal life. Actually, I would think that election has less to do with bringing healing to the world because that’s God’s job, isn’t it?

    • Hans Vlek says:

      Kevin, what if God prefers to act through human beings/his body on earth? Being a cradle catholic, I’m used to see the church as a ‘sacrament’ meaning it is the church community that is being used by God to bring about redemption and healing. I am convinced emerging christians try to get the good out of different church traditions to bring about change, the way in which they do it is open to debate of course. In this same line of reasoning election is for the church as a whole, of which we as individuals are a part, I am aware this is a more catholic/ecumenical way of reasoning about election kihd of reasoning, that is also present in the so called Open Theology.

    • Kevin – I don’t disagree that salvation and election are wrapped up together (though I suspect we’d disagree on who is elect and how they get there —
      I tend to agree with Hans on the aspect of corporate election). I think McLaren’s point is that if the church has been called to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world around us, then our election and “church membership” carry an immediate responsibility in life today, not just a reward in the life after. I think it’s dangerous to think that just because I’ve “been saved”, my job as a Christian is done and I’m just waiting to die and go to heaven.

  3. Hans Vlek says:

    sorry for the tipos in my last post, I will pay more attention

  4. Kevin Sam says:

    Hans & ElShaddai,
    I also don’t agree with the idea that “because I’ve been saved, my job as a Christian is done”. Here is my reasoning for election first, then mission (healing). It’s a matter of priority, not either/or.

    1. At election out of God’s love for us (Eph. 1:5), our love for God arises.
    2. God empowers us for his service (Eph. 3:20).
    2. Then it’s out of our love for God that we do the work of God’s mission, to be God’s hands and feet, and be vehicles of healing in our world (Eph. 4:11-13).

    McLaren (emergents), those who are liberal-leaning and conservatives have it wrong when they think we have to do good works. It’s always out of our election out of God’s love for us that we do good works. Our good works never comes first before election, and it is never a measure of our election.

    • Kevin – I agree 100% that works never come before election and also are not a measure of our salvation, either qualitatively or quantitatively. I guess I didn’t read the “they think we have to do good works” in McLaren’s quote, which admittedly is isolated here apart from whatever other beliefs he holds.

      What would you say is the purpose of election in our lives today?

  5. Kevin Sam says:

    Elsh, the reason why I knocked McLaren was because his theology seems to put social justice before faith and salvation. I read his book: “Everything must change” which he co-wrote with Tony Campolo. I got the impression that he was first for social justice issues and downplays the importance of salvation of one’s soul. This is not the evangelical gospel. The gospel is not about going-green, or minimizing our carbon footprint, though these are important issues for Christians to be a part of. I work to protect the environment.

    What would you say is the purpose of election in our lives today?

    Good question. I think the purpose was, is, and will be for our salvation and to be in fellowship with God. Good works of social justice issues should come after, and can only arise from, our faith. Otherwise, our Christian faith is no longer about active faith but about social activism. Some of our mainline churches that have gone this way may talk about mission but it seems more like an non-governmental-agency furthering their agenda of good works/social activism than about the gospel where faith in Jesus is active.

    • Yep – a Christian’s work on social justice issues should be a response to the grace of God, not to earn it. There are lots of good people in the world doing good things, but not all of them are doing it as worship to God. If our work isn’t anchored to the cross, then we may be blown this way and that as social needs change.