Election

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God calls His people, and in doing so He creates them as a people and gives them a purpose. This choice, not just for their advantage but for His purpose for creation, is what we mean by ‘election.’ However this does include His gift of salvation to the faithful.

Think of it this way. On the one hand we cannot save ourselves. On the other, what He wills come to pass. As a result we can say that it is only by God’s election that we come to be saved. This does not mean we don’t have a role, which God also gives to us. This also opens the question of election to eternal loss - here too it is God who allows us to be left to our own devices. The important emphasis is on His loving purpose for His creatures. These questions provide the bridge to matters having to do with the human person and the Christian life.

It is often helpful to remind ourselves what is not being said. Grace says we don’t have the power to save ourselves, nor are we partners with God in the effort. This is a core message of Paul, reiterated famously in the early 5th century by St. Augustine in his writings against the British monk Pelagius. Secondly God does has the power to oversee history, including our beginnings and our end. (But as we have already said about His grace and our freedom, He has the power to work in and through our broken selves as well as upon us. Election displays how His agency is greater than ours in just this way).

Grace

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Grace

If God is surpassingly dynamic and sovereign, then the initiative is always His. His is the ground of all being, the impetus before all action, the Alpha and Omega of all creation. 

But what of our own free will? What of our ‘Yes’ to open the door to God? This idea of the divine initiative is called ‘grace.’ This means that even when we seem to take the lead, He enables us to do so. When He seems absent, He by His initiative chooses to be so. The interaction between God and the human is arranged so by His gracious will. 

What I am describing relates first to all actions in the world, and then to the very special case of His saving acts toward us. 

What does it mean that God requires us to ‘do what we can’? How does this relate to grace? (This was a famous maxim in the Middle Ages.)

 

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