Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Doctrine of Election in the Novel "True Grit"

[Lately, I've been reading the novel True Grit. As a Southern Seminary grad, the following paragraph was particularly interesting to me.]

The Indian woman spoke good English and I learned to my surprise that she too was a Presbyterian. She had been schooled by a missionary. What preachers we had in those days! Truly they took the word into "the highways and hedges." Mrs. Bagby was not a Cumberland Presbyterian but a member of the U.S. or Southern Presbyterian Church. I too am now a member of the Southern Church. I say nothing against the Cumberlands. They broke with the Presbyterian Church because they did not believe a preacher needed a lot of formal education. That is all right but they are not sound on the doctrine of Election. They do not fully accept it. I confess it is a hard doctrine, running contrary to our earthly ideas of fair play, but I can see no way around it. Read I Corinthians 6:13 and II Timothy 1:9,10. Also I Peter 1:2, 19,20 and Romans 11:7. There you have it. It was good for Paul and Silas and it is good enough for me. It is good enough for you too.

[I find a couple of things in the above paragraph particularly noteworthy:

First are the particular proof-texts used for the doctrine of Election. In my experience of having seen proof-texts for this doctrine in the past, this seems an unusual list. It seems that 1 Corinthians 6:13 is included to demonstrate that it is not contrary to God's character to bring about destruction; 1 Peter 1:19-20 speaks of God's foreknowledge of Christ for the sake of "you:" i.e., the Christians to whom Peter was writing.

Second, the mention of the "U.S. or Southern Presbyterian Church" is noteworthy due to recent events. The group to which the heroine of True Grit refers later joined with other Presbyterians to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). At the time in which the story of True Grit was set (and even, probably, when Charles Portis wrote True Grit) these Presbyterians were best known for a conservative view of the doctrine of election. As I noted yesterday, the PCUSA is now known for something else entirely.]

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