I wrote on this analogy a couple of years ago, but it is worth repeating. For many, corporate election doesn’t make sense because groups, or certain kinds of groups, aren’t real entities. James White once referred to it as a “impersonal nebulous group” in his debate with Michael Brown. This doesn’t quite make sense considering that the group is formed through personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but I digress.
My point of the baseball analogy is that one can in fact elect groups, and have personal connection to both the group and to the members of the group in a way that makes sense. So I use something which is very familiar: the election of one’s sports team, in this case baseball.
My father grew up on Staten Island, which is Yankees territory, and seeing how I fell in love with baseball watching it with my father, naturally I am a Yankee fan. But I didn’t choose a bunch of players, and then those players were my team. I chose a group.
And it isn’t like I have no attachment to the players either. But my attachment to Jeter or Petite is due in part to their being Yankees. It is a natural part of being a baseball fan.
Now it is not exactly the same thing. That’s what makes it an analogy. The sole point that I am making here is that electing corporately does make sense, and an individual being part of that group recieves affection through the group.
Old Testament: Rahab
Now I want to talk about two biblical examples of corporate election unto physical salvation. These go beyond simply being analogies to being examples of how corporate election works. They are only analogous in the sense that they are physical salvation instead of spiritual salvation.
Onto my OT example:
Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.” “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.” -Joshua 2:12-14
If I were to ask you why Rahab was saved, what would you answer? It is rather simple really. She was saved because she preserved the spies. So what is corporate about her salvation? Not much.
But let us think a little broader than this. Let’s say that Rahab had a brother, let’s call him Achrahab. What about Achrahab’s fate? He was saved as well. So why was Achrahab saved? Answer: because of his relationship to Rahab. In this way, Rahab operates as a corporate head, and all those connected to her are saved corporately. Achrahab did nothing to deserve his salvation. All he did was when his sister came to him and told him to stay in her room, he trusted her. That’s it.
Now Achrahab could have ignored his sister. He could have said, “Sis, you’re crazy. I need to help in the defense of the city.” Perhaps she had some relatives who did precisely that. But instead he trusted his sister and stayed with her. So he was saved, not because of anything that he had done, but because of what his sister did.
This is how salvation works. We are not saved because of what we have done, but because of what Christ did, and our salvation comes by us being with Him. It is in this that salvation is in Christ, by Christ, and from Christ.
New Testament: Paul in the Boat
But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of [any man’s] life among you, but of the ship. –Acts 27:21-22
This is an interesting little analogy/example. Considering that we are talking about election, and election presumes that there are other options as far as people who could be saved, we have to ask how this is an example of election. It can be answered by framing the context with this question: why does God save the people of this boat, and not those who are on other boats which are caught in similar storms? In this case, it is for the preservation of Paul, thus an election unto salvation of a group through association with one member of that group, Paul.
One of the things which makes this example really worth talking about is what Paul says later:
And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the ship’s boat into the sea under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go. -Acts 27:29-32
This talks a little bit about eternal security, or, as it is often refered, OSAS (Once Saved Always Saved). A large portion of the texts that advocates of OSAS point at deal with the group at large, and yet there are texts in Scripture which directly warn or discuss individuals who fall away from the faith. Here we see a similar kind of comparison. Paul initially says that no one’s life will be lost, then he says that anyone who leaves the group would die. Was Paul wrong earlier?
No, and here’s why. Initially he was expressing God’s promise, and God’s promise was to the group. Once someone leaves the group, the promise no longer applies, hence the apparent contradiction. Likewise, our security isn’t in some unknown decree where our names are individually listed, but instead our security is in Christ Himself, and as long as we remain in Christ, our salvation is secure.
For original post and comments, see here.