Reflection #4
RS 20, Telford Work

Election, or predestination, is one of the most troublesome issues in the Protestant tradition. While some students love engaging the issue, many find it discouraging. This essay will help you work through the issue of reconciling God's love for the world, the gravity of sin, divine initiative, and God's apparent favoritism of some people over others.

I have recently published an article on predestination for the Scottish Journal of Theology, called "Annunciation as Election." It tries to cast the debate in a more fruitful direction by changing its terms. Guthrie chapter 7 also has a helpful guide for understanding the doctrine.

Review Guthrie pp 118-131 and my lecture notes on the main positions on predestination. (The "Pelagian," "Universalist," and "Semi-Pelagian" traditions are considered heretical. Guthrie irresponsibly ignores the Arminian position, for which you will need to refer to lecture notes.) Then begin your essay with a personal response to these traditions, indicating your agreements and your objections. What of the orthodox (non-heretical) positions is helpful? distortive? unbiblical? These should be more than just emotional responses ("I don't like Calvinism")!

Now read Guthrie 131ff and Work's "Annunciation as Election." Finish your essay by showing how these approaches do or do not improve on the traditional orthodox positions. How, if at all, do they affect your view of the issue? The best answers here will appeal to materials from elsewhere in the course to show that they do or do not honor the "deep grammar" of Christian theology.

Papers are due Tuesday, February 5, at the beginning of class. After they have been peer-reviewed, we will discuss them briefly on Thursday, February 7. Please keep your paper three pages, double-spaced, and follow the directions in my handout for writing papers.

Remember, I want to see proper style, clear writing, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.