Monday, February 10, 2014

Elect in Christ

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Eph 1:3-7).
I'm going to comment on this post, by a Barthian universalist:
In the first place, there is no obvious why the predestination here being described could not possibly be understood in an inclusive as opposed to exclusive way.
Only if we isolate the passage from Paul's statements about eschatological judgment.
Secondly, the predestinarian affirmations are always qualified by the important locution “in Christ” (or also “in him”). The repetition of this phrase over and over again throughout the span of a few verses suggests that this is a critical aspect of Paul’s understanding of God’s predestination. As I understand Paul, he is speaking about a revelation of God’s plan and intentions which have been revealed through the story of Christ — his incarnation, life lived in obedience, death, resurrection, and ascension. Now because the election of Christ is understood from the very title christos — anointed by God for some task — it seems to me proper to understand Paul’s deriving our election from the election of Christ who acts for us; we are elect because Christ is chosen to act for us, on our behalf, in our stead, for our sake.
i) 1:4 doesn't say Christ is chosen. Christ is not the object of the verb. Christians are. 
ii) It's certainly possible that to be chosen in Christ is a compact way of saying that Christians were chosen in union with Christ, as their federal head, who acted on their behalf. That, however, doesn't furnish any evidence for universalism.
iii) Moreever, I  think that contextually, it's best to understand v4 in relation to v7. We were chosen in Christ to be redeemed in Christ. We aren't elected apart from the work of Christ. Rather, election and redemption are tightly correlated. Those, and only those, whom the Father elects, the Son redeems. 

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