Friday, 17 October 2008
The Free and Unmerited Initiative of God
It is significant that the origins of God's call of Israel are remembered no further back than the call to Abraham and Sarah. God initiates the call to Israel, and this free choice and initiative of God is always the practical, historical expression of what we call, generally, grace. God chooses, God initiates, and the relationship with God never begins with a movement from the side of creation. It is because God initiates that God is free to be surprising and novel in the relationship with creation, and God' response is never determined by human action (particularly failure).
Later Israel's election was set in the broader context of the implied covenant of creation and the covenant made to Noah and all creatures. This is why the covenant through Noah precedes the covenant with Abraham. However, it is interesting to note that Israel never took its election to be a specific example of this wider covenant between God and creation. There is evidence in the Scriptures that Israel did understand her election in a broad and universal context, but as the fulfillment of the general, not a particular example of a more universal covenant. Israel's covenant was particular in itself and unique, related to the covenant with Noah, but not just an expression of it.
See Hans Urs von Balthasar, Engagement with God, pp. 13-14.