Monday, September 18, 2006

Can Predestination Be Preached?

The Ponitificator has a truly stellar post up on this problem in which he exactly recognizes the problem with predestination as a doctrine: that neither the Arminian/Molinists nor the Augustinians/Calvinists have found a way to preach that doctrine as good news, as Gospel, as something to be believed and trusted in and rested on. Building on the writings of James Daane, he points out the problem that no one preaches predestination because no one knows how to do it.

And when he speaks of preaching, the Pontificator rightly excludes apologetic lectures:

In the New Testament predestination is not so much a doctrine to be taught as good news to be proclaimed. When the Apostle Paul writes that “those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son … And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Rom 8:29-30) he was not engaging in a bit of abstract theological speculation; he was proclaiming gospel to the believers in Rome and offering a powerful word of hope and encouragement. God has predestined you to glory! Therefore, you need not fear “trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword” (Rom 8:35). The biblical language of predestination is first- and second-person discourse. It is a way of speaking the gospel to those who have died with Christ in Baptism and been raised to new life in the Church. But this way of speaking the good news of Jesus has been effectively nullified by the transposition from proclamation to intellectual speculation. The doctrine of election has been divorced from the gospel; it has been divorced from Israel, Incarnation, and the Church.

Well, we Augsburg Evangelicals think we have a doctrine of predestination that avoids the Scylla of Arminianism and the Charybdis of Calvinism. (In fact, one might say we have two of them -- see here and here; more on the topic here, here, and here.) But in seven years sitting in Evangelical pulpits, I haven't heard predestination preached. This post of the Pontificators levies exactly the right challenge: if we have such a great teaching why don't we preach it? Is it because we can't make it sound like Good News? And if that's the case, then we have a problem.

Can we live up to this challenge? Do any readers have any examples of Augsburg Evangelical preaching on predestination that is authentically good news -- whether they heard it or preached it?