I am not one anymore who cares to get into theological debates, and I find any debate among Christians on predestination and election particularly tiring in that it tends to be divisive, with little or nothing to show for its efforts. Though I suppose it has its place.
For many Christians, their view on the biblical teaching of predestination and election marks them as to where they are, on the Christian theological divides. For me, I wish we'd get beyond all of that, I guess- hopefully not sounding like I'm above it or them. I for one have been on several sides. Once I would have counted myself as a moderate Calvinist, now I might say I side more with the Arminian side. But all in all, I'm not sure the Bible lines up with either side.
God's election of Israel in Scripture is culminated with God's election of his Son. We all know that the Son, Jesus, did not have to be elected for salvation. The election, then is for something else. For us who need Jesus and his redemptive work as Savior, this election certainly includes salvation. But it's a salvation not just to save people, but to get them into God's mission and his works. Whatever God is doing now on the face of the earth in Jesus in the new creation in God's kingdom, is what God's saved ones are to be doing.
Israel's error was to suppose that it was all about them and their salvation and that for others to join and be elected, they'd have to get into this exclusive club. I think Christians can promote the same error, and that even theologies on both sides (Calvinist and Arminian) tend to promote this error. Especially when their teaching on predestination and election is up front and at the fore center of their faith and actions in the world.
Of course to have predestination and election as an important part of one's belief and actions in itself, I don't believe is off. But the church is chosen to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. In other words the church, in Jesus, is chosen to be in mission. Certainly salvation is part of that, and it's important, and we must never lose sight of it. But we're missing the point if we simply stop there. Jesus brought the great salvation and redemption in his coming and once for all work for us on the cross. The resurrection in Jesus begins now (Romans 6, while in Romans 8 we still await the resurrection of our bodies, of course), and those of us in Jesus who participate in it begin to see the new creation in all our works in Jesus. Somehow each new work will find it's place in the new creation in Jesus, forever.
I write this under the influence of N. T. Wright's latest book, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. Of course while N. T. Wright has influenced me, I seek to base all of my belief and practice on Scripture. I think we can learn alot from him and others of course, but just like any other human, we have to judge his words from and by Scripture. I have found him quite helpful myself. The Challenge of Jesus, which I read around eight years ago, shook my theological world and was important towards fulfilling my theological paradigm, and I've remained convinced that there is much there that is helpful.
Do you agree or disagree, and why? Or what might you like to add here? And by the way, I won't be drawn into any long debates here. :)