I want to keep pressing this idea on the importance of election. Beyond drawing bright lines between various tribes of interpretation I want to emphasize the import of this doctrine materially, and the impact it has upon our perception of God and us. I think too often what gets lost in a discussion like this is, indeed, the actual constructive theological consideration we purportedly are endeavoring to engage with. In other words, I am afraid that we get too interested in trying to self-promote our own theological identities to the point that we get lost in that fog and fail to recognize the significant material (and formal) theological distinctions on offer; and thus we fail then to capitalize on the value that the array of theological loci have towards cultivating disciples of Christ in our local church bodies (I digress!).
So the following will be a quote from G.C. Berkouwer (again!), and his read of Barth’s understanding of election and its impact on a doctrine of assurance of salvation. [Berkouwer does not agree with Barth, ultimately, but he does offer a pretty good description of Barth’s approach, and what Barth was attempting to squelch in regard to self-focus and anxiety relative to discerning one’s salvation] Berkouwer will offer a little historical detail, and then jump right into Barth’s view and how it relates to his interpretation of Ephesians 1:4.
καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ,
just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. Ephesians 1.4
What, then, is the deepest reason for the difference between Calvin and Barth? [on election] Our earlier analysis will already have suggested the answer to this question. According to Barth, the Lutheran and the Reformed doctrines of election have weakened the connection between Christ and election. In that doctrine Christ is seen only as the executor of election, not as its foundation. Therefore there is a vacuum behind election which the pastoral office is not able to fill.
In a certain sense, the debate centers around the exegesis of Eph. 1:4. Barth judges that there can be certainty only when this verse is understood to meant that Christ is not only the executor but also the foundation of election, because the decision of election is taken in Him and thereby all men have been elected in Him. Only then is certainty possible, only then can there be a knowing unmarred by threat. In the revelation of Christ the fact of the election of all men has been revealed. This universal election stands revealed as God’s decisive election. All uncertainty is removed by this universally decisive act of God. That which Barth sees as a “blind spot,” a sinister “vacuum,” in the traditional view, he fills with this decisive act of God which forms the content of the kerugma. In this manner Barth thinks to correct the Reformation doctrine of election on the score of the certainty of salvation and thus do full justice to Eph. 1:4.
This certainty can now point to its foundation: Christ as the rejected and elected One. The kerugma has this unassailable decisiveness as its concrete content, and as God’s definite decision precedes all human decisions. It does not assume the human decision, but in faithfulness it triumphs over that decision which is a rebellion against grace. In this way Christ is not merely the mirror of election, He is the manifestation of our election in Him.
Berkouwer follows what I just quoted from him (in his book) with fear that Barth’s program necessarily leads to universalism; even though he recognizes that Barth didn’t think so (and rejected universalism).
Beyond that, what do you think worry about hooking into one particular theological tradition over another will do in the way that we receive Barth on his ostensible reformulation of the trad conception of election? I think if we move beyond trying to locate ourselves theologically and simply look at Barth’s critique and reformulation of the trad conception of election that it becomes pretty clear that he at the very least is onto something!
We need to be able to look at Christ as not only the exemplum (exemplar) of humanity, but to use Calvin’s language as the very ‘mirror of our election’ without remainder, without partiality. If there is a 1% chance that Jesus may have not elected to die for you personally, then when extrapolated, that 1% can become an infinite gap between the possibility of you and God being truly reconciled; and 1% is just too much to bear. Jesus didn’t become 99% human for us (pro nobis), he became 100% human for us, and that before the foundation of the world (Deus incarnandus ‘the God to be incarnate’). The force of this fact is much more than a declarative one, it is ontic reality; viz. the eternal Logos, the eternal Son has elected to be the very ground of our humanity as he is the very icon or image of God (cf. Col. 1.15) in whose image we not only have been created but recreated (resurrected), in his vicarious humanity.
How do I tie this somewhat fragmented post up? Let’s just say this: It is all about Jesus!
 G.C. Berkouwer, The Triumph Of Grace In The Theology Of Karl Barth: An Introduction And Critical Appraisal (Grand Rapids, Michigan: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956), 286-87.