Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Salvation: Individual or Communal? (part 2)

When the thought first surfaced about salvation being primarily communal in nature with individual implications (rather than the other way around), I wasn't necessarily thinking about how one "gets saved" as much as I was thinking about how we live out our lives as saved people. But since a number of folks brought it up, maybe I should spend some time unpacking what I believe the Bible teaches about this.

I do not believe in the doctrine of individual election. I don't buy the idea that in eternity past God went down an aisle of people made in his own image and said, "That person is elect, and that person is not. This one's in, and that one's out."

Rather, I believe that God's election is corporate in nature. Every time the adjective "elect" is used in the NT, it is plural (except for Romans 16:13 and 2 John, where the references are still not to individuals as elect). Nowhere does the Bible refer to one person as elect and another person not elect. The elect is always a group of people.

So, I believe that in eternity past God decided who he would save: those who are in Christ. And then he revealed how we who are helpless can get "in Christ". Oddly enough, it is through surrender. Throughout the Bible, it is made clear that there is only one kind of person who receives grace: the humble. It takes a humble person to realize that they are helpless and must surrender to God.

I realize that there are really smart people who don't agree with my take on this theology. That's okay. There are other equally smart people who do agree with me. I still think the folks who disagree with me are saved, and I hope they think I'm saved. None of this is really the point I wanted to think about. The practical question I want to think about comes next.

What's the difference between these two?

1. I am saved because God called me, and I responded.


2. We are saved because God called us, and we responded.

Clearly, there's not a total either/or here. But mostly we concentrate on that first one. What would happen if we concentrated more on that second one?