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Election Theology and the Problem of Universalism

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image of Horizons in Biblical Theology

This essay critiques the widespread tendencies to assume that universalism is always progressive while particularism is always regressive and that the Bible over time moves away from an intolerant particularism toward a tolerant universalism. In the course of the study, one comes to see that utilizing these binary modern categories often impedes one’s ability to understand the text in its own context. The author concludes by arguing that the Bible’s election theology provides evidence that universalism arose not through a waning of Israel’s sense of her self identity as God’s chosen people, but rather through Israel’s ever deepening reflection on the meaning and significance of her elect status.

Affiliations: 1: Smith College, Email:


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