Tuesday, October 01, 2013

On Being The Elect

Many are called, but few are chosen.

Who are the elect? Throughout the Bible the term "the elect" is used to refer to "God's chosen people," and I had always assumed, influenced by culture and my Protestant background, that the elect were synonymous with the saved. However I read an article lately that has challenged this unexamined assumption.

The article was written by a Russian Orthodox priest, R. P, Alexander Turincev, in France in 1966. The article is now being translated into English, and I have been privileged to see a pre-publication version of the translation. I imagine that I will be speaking much more about this article once it is published, but for right now I would like to consider with you just one idea, an idea Turincev mentions in passing.  

Turincev says that the elect are not synonymous with the saved, but that the elect are those who are called to be the light and salt in the world. And just as salt saves (preserves) meat (the body), so the elect work with and by the Grace of the Holy Spirit to save the whole world.

Such a thought had never occurred to me before.  ut as I think about it, Turincev's interpretation makes much more sense than what I had thought before. Salt preserves something else. Light illuminates something else. Israel, the Old Testament type of the Church (or even the Church of the Old Testament), was called God's elect so as to be a light to the gentiles. "Through you," God says to Abraham, "all the the nations of the earth will be blessed."

That such a thing as God's elect, or chosen, exists, does not necessarily mean that the non-elect (if we could even identify who those are) are damned. It seems more likely to me that Turincev is right, that like Israel of old, election has to do with our calling to participate in the work of the Holy Spirit to save the whole, to transfigure the universe, to be salt and light in the world.


Michelle said...

I really like this. :D

Anonymous said...

Do you know where the article will appear once fully translated? I would be very interested. Thanks, Fr. Joseph Bittle

Fr. Michael said...

I think the plan is to offer it first to St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly since it was St. Vladimir's Library that was got us the original in French.