There is a brooding. A sense of distrust. Your church has split in half again and again. You're down to the final two members and your spouse isn't showing many "fruit of the Spirit" these days. Should you go for your knife?
Okay. Maybe slightly dramatic.
But seriously, the questionable habits of high predestinarians always sit like a vulture perching. Perhaps for some the old demon on the shoulder imagery is more fitting. Election is affirmed, a godly thing to be affirmed, but now the impact laden question begins to percolate in the brain.
"Who is of the elect?"
This is a logical question. Perhaps a valuable question. But behind it lies a brooding reality. The ultimate of unsavory conclusions: in asking the question the church often begins to answer the questions.
This is unacceptable. For in seeking to answer the question we place ourselves somewhere between a raging charismatic and apostolic nutcase. If election is true, which it is a godly thing to affirm, then this election is outside of time. It is removed from natural revelation and even written spiritual revelation. Answering this question is ultimately against most of the church's pertinent theology. But the results are worse than inconsistent theology. The separation described above in dramatic fashion slowly becomes a verifiable reality. This is a gross misuse of the doctrine of election and a shameful pox on the church.
The question manifests itself simply enough. "Do you think they..." or "Surely they aren't..." are completed with some religious slang for "the ultimately saved based upon their election in Jesus Christ from the foundation of the world." We should blush at asking or even contemplating such things. So what is a strong predestinarian to do?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Well as with most things related to John Calvin's theology, the church should probably just listen to Calvin.
To this I answer, that we are not curiously to inquire about the election of our brethren, but ought on the contrary to regard their calling, so that all who are admitted by faith into the church, are to be counted as the elect; for God thus separates them from the world, which is a sign of election. (Commentary on 1 Peter 1:1)
Let us demonstrate a question of charity. Let us in good faith presume that the church is made of the elect and call the church to persevere in faith. Instead of asking who in the church is really the church, charity states that the church is the church.
The person in the pew is elect.
Let that decisional charity (even if it may not be reality) sink in. Will you greet them in the genuine resurrection grace of the Lord? Or will you go for your knife?
Joshua Torrey is the sole proprietor of Torrey Gazette (don't tell Alaina) and the fullness of its editorial process. That means everything wrong with TG can legitimately be blamed on him.