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Here is a fresh look at one of the Reformed tradition's most controversial and defining doctrines: election. In conversation with the writings of John Owen and Karl Barth, Suzanne McDonald argues that acknowledging the significance of "representation" - representing God to others and others to God - is key to understanding the nature and purpose of election.
Re-Imaging Election investigates anew the scriptural contours of election and, especially, the prominent role of the Holy Spirit. Election, McDonald says, is not only "in Christ" but also "by the Spirit."
While Re-Imaging Election is firmly rooted in the Reformed tradition, McDonald's insights open up new opportunities for dialogue across the theological spectrum and offer possibilities for reclaiming this central but often-divisive doctrine in the life of the church.
In Re-Imaging Election Suzanne McDonald offers a fresh approach to the doctrine of election from a Reformed perspective, first by seeking greater acknowledgment that election is not only in Christ” but also by the Spirit,” and second by building on the scriptural and theological links between the doctrines of election and the image of God. McDonald here combines an analysis of John Owen and Karl Barth with those links to develop a constructive proposal that posits representation (representing God to others and others to God) as a fruitful category for understanding the nature and purpose of election. In doing so, she seeks to restore the robust pneumatology characteristic of the earlier Reformed tradition without losing some of the central insights from Barth’s christological re-orientation of the doctrine.
While Re-Imaging Election is firmly rooted in the Reformed tradition, the re-expression of the doctrine presented here opens up new possibilities for dialogue across the theological spectrum and offers suggestive directions for reclaiming an often-divisive doctrine in the life of the church.
Any attempt to revise the doctrine of election today has to go through Karl Barth. Suzanne McDonald builds upon his legacy even as she seeks to introduce critical modifications. For her, election has to do with the priestly work of a community empowered by the Holy Spirit to represent God to others and others before God. The last-named form of representation is of special interest to her. The Christian community represents others before God in that it holds the personhood of the apparently rejected within the sphere of God’s promised blessing and, thereby, bears their rejection in itself. That such a thesis would provoke questions about the relation of Christ’s work to the work of the church is, of course, inevitable. McDonald’s book will further conversation not only about the doctrine of election but also about the state of Reformed theology today.”
Princeton Theological Seminary