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Various groups and individuals have considered themselves chosen by God for some purpose such as to act as God's agent on earth. This status may be viewed as a self-imposed higher standard to fulfill God's expectation.

Specifically, in the Hebrew Bible, (or the Tanakh), called the "Old Testament" by Christians, the phrase Chosen People refers to the Hebrews/Israelites. In the Book of Deuteronomy, YHWH proclaims the Nation of Israel, known originally known as the Children of Israel, as His holy people, chosen above all others (Deuteronomy 7:6). As mentioned in the Book of Exodus, the Hebrew people are God's chosen people, and from them shall come the Messiah, or redeemer of the world. The Israelites also possess the "Word of God" and/or "Law of God" in the form of the Torah as communicated by God to Moses. Jews and, by extension, Christians consider themselves to be the "chosen people". Adherents to Islam make, by the same extension as Christians, the same claim of chosenness by accepting what they see as the validity of the Law of God as told by Moses.

Chosen religion vs chosen raceEdit

The subject is controversial due to the racial implication of Jews being chosen not merely as a religious community, but as a distinct ethnic group. While some sects of Judaism are inclusive of other ethnic groups, the commonly held view is that to be a Jew one must be of Jewish blood, specifically through the maternal bloodline, or convert through somewhat rigorous process. Different Jewish groups (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform) have a different idea of what is involved in that process. In Israel, only Orthodox conversions are considered legitimate.

EthnocentrismEdit

Views of being a chosen people are sometimes connected with self-superiority and ethnocentrism The accusation can be used to justify or create cultural imperialism, racism, and xenophobia (e.g., British Israelism and the Christian Identity Movement claim that white Anglo-Saxons are the "true Biblical chosen people of God," while Black liberation theology holds that blacks are "God's chosen people"[1]). But religious Christians and Jews alike respond to such arguments that the chosen status by definition is a humbling one, as it requires responsibility and sacrifice, not simple privilege.

JudaismEdit

In Judaism, chosenness is the belief that the Jews are a people chosen to be in a covenant with God. In modern day Rabbinical Judaism, the idea is not connected with being the descendants of Jacob as it was in Biblical Judaism, since non-ethnic Jews can become Jews.

The Jewish idea of being chosen is first found in the Torah (five books of Moses) and is elaborated on in later books of the Hebrew Bible. This status carries both responsibilities and blessings as described in the Biblical covenants with God. Much is written about this topic in rabbinic literature.

The chosenness refers to a specific set of responsibilities beyond the 7 Laws of Noah given to all mankind. It is every child of Noah's (non-Jewish person's) responsibility to live by the seven Noahide laws.

Though not held by authority figures of the religious Jews around the world, there are people with the opinion that the acceptance to adhere to the laws and commandments of Judaism make the chosen-ness as one of the Jewish people choosing to be in the covenant with God, and not the other way around. Usual Orthodox thinking states that even completely secular Jews are part of the Jewish nation and are 'full-fledged' Jews.

ChristianityEdit

Supersessionism is the traditional Christian belief that Christian believers have replaced physical Israelites as God's chosen people. In this view, Israel's chosenness found its ultimate fulfillment through the message of Jesus; Jews who remain faithful to Judaism are no longer considered to be chosen, since they reject Jesus as the Messiah and son of God.

Christians who ascribe to supersessionism rely on Biblical references such as Galatians 3:28-29 to support their position that followers of Jesus, not Jews, are the chosen of God and heirs to God's promises to Abraham today: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Also, many Christian denominations have considered themselves to be the "true" Christians, at some time or another.

Roman CatholicismEdit

During the Second Vatican Council, the term People of God was introduced in Church ecclesiology, denoting a common heritage between Christians and Jews.

Seventh-day AdventismEdit

In traditional Seventh-day Adventist theology, the Seventh-day Adventist church is identified as the end time remnant identified in Revelation 12:17. According to this view, Adventists are "chosen" by God to proclaim the three angels' messages of Revelation 14 to the world.

MormonismEdit

In Mormonism, all Latter Day Saints are viewed as covenant, or chosen, people; they have accepted the name of Jesus Christ. This acceptance of entering the covenant is initiated by baptism. In contrast to supersessionism, Latter Day Saints do not dispute the "chosen" status of the Jewish people. In LDS doctrine all people who have ever lived will have the ability to enter into this covenant during the Millennium. Mormon eschatology holds that Jews, as a chosen people, will ultimately accept Christianity (See Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Every practicing LDS member receives a patriarchal blessing that reveals their lineage in the House of Israel. This lineage may be blood related or through "adoption;" therefore, a child may not necessarily share the lineage of her parents (but will still be a member of the tribes of Israel). It is a widely held belief[citation needed] that most members of the faith are in the tribe of Ephraim or the tribe of Manasseh.

IslamEdit

Destiny is believed in true Islam, as it clearly stated in several verses in Qur'an (Shora:30, Ra'd:11, Nesa':79). One should beware of all actions, words and thoughts right until the very ending of ones life. The consequences of a single unthoughtful act can exclude someone from true believers. Whereas a good deed and the consequences can turn someone a member of true believers. Thus no one's final and true identification is not predetermined before his or her death.

HinduismEdit

Hinduism does not emphasize any concept of a chosen people. In general, Hinduism believes that salvation (moksha) is attained through realization of the truth and through spiritual experience. God is seen as impartial. Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk who advocated the harmony of all religions, taught that although the concept of "chosen people" is not ultimately true, it is a stage of growth and evolution that many religions must go through before they reach the higher truth of oneness. Vivekananda explained:

[Such religions] naturally believe in a Personal God who is purely anthropomorphic, who like a great potentate in this world is pleased with some and displeased with others. He is arbitrarily pleased with some people or races and showers blessings upon them. You will find that in almost every religion is the idea: "We are the favorites of God, and only by believing as we do, can you be taken into favor with Him." And, therefore, in the nature of things, [such] religions are bound to fight and quarrel with each other.[2]

However, there are a few features of Hinduism that are reminiscent of a "chosen people" concept. The caste system of India confers a degree of birth-right on higher castes such as the Brahmins, which some claim is sanctioned by God or by the scriptures. However, there is controversy within Hinduism.

Brahma KumarisEdit

There also exist a few cults or new religious movements that consider themselves to be the Chosen people, e.g., the Indian born Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University [BK]. The BKs believe in a strict hierarchy of human souls in which they occupy their members are top 8, 108, 16,108 and 900,000 most spiritual human beings, the only religion which God talks to in person and the only one that will both inherit and rule Heaven on Earth for 2,500 years.

RastafariEdit

Rastafaris beliefs contain six fundamental principles, including the complete chosenness of the black race in the eyes of Jah (God incarnate), rendering them supreme physically and spiritually to all other people. Many Rastas are also physical immortalists who believe the chosen few will continue to live forever in their current bodies. This idea of ever living (rather than everlasting) life is very strong and important.

Given Jewish biblical tradition and Ethiopian legend via Kebra Nagast, Rastas believe that Israel's King Solomon, together with Ethiopian Queen of Sheba, conceived a child which began the Solomonic line of kings in Ethiopia, rendering the African people as the true children of Israel, and thereby chosen. Reinforcement of this belief occurred when Beta Israel, Ethiopia's ancient Jewish community, were rescued from Sudanese famine and brought to Israel during Operation Moses in 1985.

Unification ChurchEdit

Reverend Moon teaches that Korea is the chosen nation, selected to serve a divine mission. Korea, Moon says, was "chosen by God to be the birthplace of the leading figure of the age", [1] and to be the birthplace of "Heavenly Tradition", ushering in God's kingdom.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Black Theology and Black Power, pp. 139-140
  2. Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Vol. II.141 (18th Reprint 1995) ISBN 81-85301-75-1
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