Marcel on Divine Election

I’m reading a Frenchman named Marcel on baptism at the moment. It’s a fine book so far, and well worth reading for anyone interested in the theology of infant baptism in particular. He treats the subject against the backdrop of God’s covenant(s) that runs through all of scripture, and includes a rather good paragraph on divine sovereignty and human freedom. It’s not going to feature in my paper, but it’s worth recording, so here it is.

He’s talking about the belief that God initiates and empowers every part of our salvation, even the faith required to respond to the gospel, which would seemingly rob humans of freedom in the process:

Let us not imagine, then, that God’s decision to possess Himself of man by a decree leaves man passive and inert. It is the opposite that takes place! The covenant of grace does not kill man; it does not regard him as a block or a piece of wood, but it takes possession of the man, it lays hold of him in his entirety with all his faculties and powers of soul and body, for time and for eternity; it does not annihilate his powers, but it removes his powerlessness; it does not destroy his will, but frees it from sin; it does not stifle or obliterate his conscience, but sets it free from darkness; it regenerates and recreates man in his entirety and, in renewing him by grace, causes him to love and consecrate himself to God freely, spontaneously, voluntarily, with all his heart, all his soul, all his mind, and all his powers, both of spirit and of body.

Marcel, PCH.  1953.  The Biblical Doctrine of Infant Baptism.  London: James Clarke & Co.

So, God’s work in us (and his work in the world in general) isn’t felt to rub against the grain; God’s presence isn’t an alien intruder, but a natural power by which we become more human, not less.

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