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In Christian, non-traditional Arminian soteriology, corporate election is a doctrine and interpretation arising from passages in scripture regarding election and predestination. Historically, the doctrine of election has been individualistic, as in Calvinism, where God chooses the specific persons to be destroyed and the persons to be redeemed, and He makes this choice prior to the creation of the world. In corporate election, it is the Church, the body of faithful, which is chosen prior to creation and not necessarily specific individuals though some theologians who recognize corporate election also hold to individualistic election.
Corporate election has received considerable support from the New Perspective on Paul, which holds that many of the passages by the apostle Paul that are proof-texted for individualistic election are about God's choice of a new chosen people on the basis of their faith in Jesus Christ rather than on the basis of birthright or adherence to the Mosaic law, or on the basis of God's hidden will and eternal decree (see "unconditional election"). Hence these passages are not about the appointment of certain individuals to salvation. Advocates of corporate election recognize that God chooses individuals, but these choices are for specific tasks and ministerial offices, and not specifically for redemption.
Another view on corporate election regards the Messiah. Jesus Christ is God's chosen, and the Church is elect via its marital union with Him.
Corporate election is of interest to some free will theists who do not hold the view of conditional election. Corporate election allows for the possibility that people may freely enter the chosen body or freely leave the chosen body, hence one's membership in the elect is a temporal fact, and not a matter of eternal predestination on the basis of foreseen faith, as in traditional Arminianism.
Corporate election is also a way to reject the position of unconditional election. Unconditional election teaches that God is solely responsible for the salvation of sinners, by grace alone and without their assent (see monergism). In Calvinism, He chooses the individuals whom He will save by giving them the gift of faith in Jesus Christ. Corporate election states that God has graciously allowed sinners to include or exclude themselves from the elect body in covenant with God.
- Corporate Election - Article from Theopedia.com
- Excursus on Election – Is it Corporate or Individual? by Michael Browne