Salvation a reciprocation?

Friday, June 16, 2006

During our training session yesterday, I was to deliver a 2-hour lecture on Influencing in Action. It was quite a tough one for me to prepare. My life, by God’s grace, has been evolving mainly around my faith and belief, my God and my Saviour that to talk about influence in a secular way was a challenge. Thankfully, I did manage it quite well, though I felt it wasn’t that great.

What got me into thinking though was this particular moment when I was talking about the 6 principles and the 8 styles of influence. The other trainer-facilitator (who is also one of my bosses), who keep butting in much to my chagrin, gave an example in each of the instances. He mentioned briefly about God and reciprocation: “if you do this, you will go to heaven and if you don’t, you’ll go to hell.”

What struck me was this: I am not a Calvinist and I don’t know enough Arminianism to really label myself an Arminian. And I do believe in predestination though maybe not in the Calvinist way. But when he said those words, I began to appreciate the Calvinist standpoint – that God elects, nothing we do can bring us salvation. It is only by his grace.

But our choosing to believe in God does seem to be something that we do and that by doing so, we have salvation; which is something I suppose the Calvinists would definitely challenge.

This is the first time I think about the relevance of the election concept in a non-Christian environment. Is it wrong to say “if you do this, you will go to heaven and if you don’t, you’ll go to hell.” If the answer is no, then how different are we from the other beliefs and what about justification by faith and not works? If the answer is yes, then how does election play a role? What would be the non-Christians’ reaction if we tell them that it is God that chooses them, not they who choose God. “If he chose you, good and if he does not, that’s too bad.”

I know I will never resolve this issue of predestination. It has been discussed at length in Codepoke’s blog. I feel unequipped to give it more than a mention anyway. And I am not sure if I really need to, resolve it, that is.

Maeghan
Picture by Dez Pain

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4 comment(s)

  1. I recently(ish) read _Why I am not a Calvinist_ followed by _Why I am not an Arminian_ - or was it the other way round?

    I've long known the terms and something of the argument but had not really got to grips with them before.

    The practical upshot of reading both books, was that I can't help feeling there's a third way which combines elements of both and doesn't mean either way is 'right' or 'wrong'.

    It reminded me of some of the debates they had in the early church that seemed really serious and divisive then but don't even figure in Christian thinking these days (I must learn some examples!).

    I'm not sure there can easily be a third way given that the debate has been around a long time and much brighter minds than mine have tackled the subject but I'm both convinced by and unhappy with both sides of the argument. But 'both' in that sense can't be the answer. I want to take a 'broader' view but don't have the language or theological ability to work it out!

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  2. Timothy,
    I have been working almost 20 hours since Tuesday. Too tired to think ...

    Who wrote those books? I should add them to my collection and then read them. Maybe the third way would the the neither Calvin or Arminian way :)

    I'm not sure there can easily be a third way given that the debate has been around a long time and much brighter minds than mine have tackled the subject

    Yes, you are so right.

    but I'm both convinced by and unhappy with both sides of the argument. But 'both' in that sense can't be the answer. I want to take a 'broader' view but don't have the language or theological ability to work it out!

    I get what you mean. It's the thought that we can't put into words.

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  3. It's 20 hours daily. My brain isn't working so well.

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  4. You should read A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren. He talks about all the approaches to the Christian Faith and how no one can get it exactly right but every way adds something. I know I sound vague... sorry, I'm in a rush.

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