Tag Archives: election

On theological mumbo-jumbo.

I don’t have a habit of giving myself theological labels. But I have said that, insofar as I know what it means, I am not a Calvinist. I am deeply troubled by Calvinism’s notion of predestination, whether it is double predestination or single (which, in my view, is by implication the same as double predestination). It may well be that I simply don’t understand the nuances of Calvinist thought, but, Calvinism having been explained to me a number of times, it never gets any clearer.

I’m reading an article by D. A. Carson–“God’s Love and God’s Wrath”–for a major paper due in a couple of weeks. It occurred to me as I read that I cannot deny the general notion of “election” because it’s there in scripture. Whether it is “clearly” in scripture is debatable. In fact, how we understand election is one of the foundational differences between Calvinists and Arminians. The notion is there. We’re just can’t agree on what it means.

As much as I cannot deny the notion of election, I equally feel like I am not in a place to take that notion much further than that: there are “elect”. Beyond that we start getting into the question of who’s “in” and who’s “out”, which, while not completely inappropriate, too easily devolves into sectarianism and a level of dense and nit-picky theological mumbo-jumbo that exhausts me in its sheer unhelpfulness. As if we can have any degree of certainty about who “the elect” might include. Even if we do manage to define every theological concept relevant to “election” to its finest point, so little of it (if any at all) is, in the end, in our control, that thinking about it seems like an exercise in futility.

I guess it’s a pastoral bent in me that rails against this kind of discussion. The gospel is not about who is “elect”, it’s about Jesus Christ as (and currently Scot McKnight’s King Jesus Gospel is influencing my thought) the fulfillment of God’s work to set the world right through his covenant promises to Israel (or something like that). That leads to salvation. We can’t determine with a great deal of certainty whether or not we are among the elect who will be saved until it’s too late to do anything about it (if indeed we could do anything about it!). So what’s the point of worrying about who is “elect”? All we can do is trust in and follow the example of the one who lived, died, rose again, and ascended into heaven, and will return. Never mind “elect”.

Maybe I’ve missed the point of Calvinist “election” entirely. Or maybe this makes me an Arminian.

Not that it matters.

Obama

Well, I see Obama has been elected President of the United States of America.

And so I join the throng of bloggers across the globe who in the last couple of hours have at least typed the word Barack and/or Obama at least once.

I admit I haven’t followed the U.S. election campaign very closely, and so the Obamic* appeal for me is based purely on his apparent ability to inspire hope in people—hope for possibility and change.

Will things change?  Some people seem to be giving Barack a messianic air.  I, on the other hand, tend to be quite pessimistic about politics.  In Canada, at any rate, it seems that as sincere as a candidate’s campaign promises may be, his or her hands will be fairly tied once in office.  Maybe it’s different in the U.S.  And maybe Obama is a president-elect unlike any other in recent history.

But right now any promises he has made are still promises.

Having said that, and with my almost complete ignorance of the candidates’ respective policies (which makes the following statement fairly vacuous) in mind*, I’m pretty excited that Barack Obama was elected. For some reason he inspires hope in me, too, and I’m not an American.

Clever campaigning? Or sincerity? Once again, we shall see.
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*Keep you eyes open: I’m counting on “Obamic” and maybe even “Obamic appeal” to become a pundit mainstay in the relatively near future. And, as far as I know, I just coined it!
**Please don’t bring up the abortion issue now. I’ve been thinking about it again and may post my thoughts soon, so maybe save your comments until then. Also, there are probably elements of both candidates’ policies with which I take issue. Which candidate has more offensive material? Or, which candidate’s offensive material overpowers whose? That’s not for this post (or for me, in my ignorance, to even ponder at this point).

Canada’s electoral system

Look like a slightly stronger Conservative minority government on the way.  I’m OK with that.

But I’m looking once again at the popular vote statistics and the numbers are out of whack.  I know I do this every election, but bear with me.

Currently a party wins seats in the house of commons based on the number of ridings won by its candidates, regardless of relative populations of those ridings.

So, hypothetical worst-case scenario: there are 3 ridings in Saskanada, Riding 1 has a population of 100,000; Riding 2 has a population of 10,000; and Riding 3 has a population of 5,000.  The Marc Party could form Saskanada’s government by getting 51% of the vote in Ridings 2 and 3, even if the Dixie party won 100% of the popular vote in Riding 1.  It’s more nuanced than that, I’m sure, but that’s the problem in an nutshell.

The problem is strongly evident in the division of seats between the Bloc Quebecois (which really only represents the interests of Quebec and not the nation’s and runs only in Quebec) and the Green Party (which runs nationwide).  The Bloc won (or is currently at) 10% of the popular vote.  The Green Party is very close to the Bloc with 7% of the popular vote.

BUT…because of our electoral system, the Bloc has won 50 seats in the House of Commons and the Green Party has not won a single seat .  In other words, a 3% difference in popular vote but a 5000%+ difference in number of seats won (of course, you can’t really calculate a percentage difference between 0 and 50).

This is why I’m for electoral reform.