William Klein has written several books and is published in many magazines and journals, and has served as a pastor. He is currently Professor of New Testament and Chairman of the Division of Biblical Studies at Denver Seminary
William W. Klein currently resides in the state of Colorado.
William W. Klein has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The New Chosen People?
Good Work, Yet Unbalanced and Inconsistent Jun 24, 2008
The previous reviewer has done well in presenting the overall content of this book, so I won't repeat the majority of what he has already stated. However, I do give my approval alongside him about the excellent organization of this title. Klein has broken up the chapters well, and attempts to go to the scripture for his answers. Even though the previous reader has stated that the author begins with too much proof texting, I would slightly disagree given that the exegetical sections do proceed after Klein has given the reader a short background on OT perspectives and OT extrabiblical literature. These sections aren't meant to be exegetical but background work. However, it is clearly your choice whether or not to accept if his scriptural citations strengthen his belief that corporate election was the primary understanding held in the OT scriptures.
I believe the book overall was slightly disappointing. I say 'slightly' because there are some strong moments where I believe Klein gives good biblical proof for his conclusions, though I would agree with the previous reviewer that his exegesis at times is much too brief (such as Romans 8-9). However, I felt he handled the majority of texts well from the corporate viewpoint, such as from the Synoptics, Acts, the general epistles (especially James and 1 Peter), and 2 John.
Though I am not a strong believer in individual election to salvation (in either the Calvinistic or Arminian sense) I believe there are overtures of it throughout the scriptures, yet I am not particularly convinced of how it is fully understood in relation to corporate election to service and to a task. I believe they are related in a way, yet simple unification of them together, the primacy of Ind. Elec. to salvation, or the omission of corporate elec. to service does the scripture a great disservice in my humble opinion.
That being stated, I feel Klein is overall inconsistent in his treatment, especially in texts such as 2 Pet. 1:5-11. The reason I say this is because while Klein desires to give us the view of the primacy (and even exclusivity) of the corporate model of election, he ends up interpreting one of the most difficult passages (2 Pet. 1:5-11) like a Calvinist seeking his/her personal assurance of salvation by individual perseverance. This passage is simply one example, yet a very strong mark against the purpose of the book. I find a book trying to prove the case for corporate election essentially conceding itself here to the traditional individual election to salvation interpretation since so many passages link election/choseness to perseverance in the Christian life. For that, I feel Klein has failed, though the book is strong on many other levels.
Also, I would agree in passing that overall Klein must do much more in-depth analysis of passages such as Romans 9, Eph.1, etc. to convince Calvinists, though I am not one. I still believe that his overall treatment was strong enough biblically to stand since the language in Romans 9 is strongly corporate and service oriented in nature ('nations in her womb', 'Pharaoh to display His glory to all nations' - Pharaoh as the head of a nation, Egypt; just as Jacob is of Israel, Esau of Edom), though individual understandings within those corporate entities are also present within that broader spectrum. I still see service and being used as God's instruments vocationally more strongly supported than individual election to salvation, though overtures of that is there (John 6), I cannot deny that. Klein ultimately says the same throughout his book - Corporate Election to Service/Task/Vocation is the larger picture of the scriptures, though some understanding of individual election to salvation also seems to run through certain passages.
The previous reviewer is not convinced by the interpretation of Eph. 1:3-4 (I do thank him for his honesty and holding to his convictions from scripture); however, I believe election 'in Him' is the primary and only foundation, not a eternal past choseness where 'WE' are chosen in Him; we are elect only because of the election of Jesus and our relationship to Him by grace through faith. So we are chosen because we are 'IN HIM' the Elect One. The same could be said of the title "Christian". We are called "Christians" because of our relation to "The Christ". Not because we are in any sense primary in view or the substance of that word, but because He alone is that source, He is the essential substance of The Way. Election to me is the same.
Jesus is the only elect one, our election is subservient to the primacy of Christ's election, and we have not been 'elected' apart from faith in Him, or we come close to being elected along with Christ in some manner, which is clearly unbiblical. Our Election seems to be leaning towards the 'historical' JUST as Israel's election was. Only Jesus is the eternal Elect One. To say we have been 'elect' previous to faith/regeneration would mean we have already and always been rightly related to God (which some people actually teach).
For how can we be 'elect in Him before the foundation of the world', yet not related to Him rightly? For if we are elected, and our election is in Christ, we must be related rightly to God for Christ clearly is. This understanding of election clearly has major problems. Is it completely unbiblical? I cannot say dogmatically that there are not shades of it we need to struggle with, but I believe it not to be biblical. Theorizing on this argument (which is the normal approach) is pointless since biblical data does not support that those who are `elect' in Christ have always been elect and rightly related to Him in the since of justification/regeneration as Paul intends.
With all this being said, I would view it very similarly to Klein in the sense that Jesus is the only true elect individual since He is first and primary in all things - no one is 'elect' like He is 'Elect'. We are elect in Him because we have been grafted into Him by the Sovereign grace and mercy of God. God has elected Jesus as His Chosen/Elect one. God has not Chosen individuals in a similar fashion as He has Chosen Jesus, His eternally begotten Son. I say fashion because Christ's election seems to be unique both prophetically and substantively. No one else could do what the Father asked. We are called to imitate that election - it seems that the bible calls this 'the approved one' (2 Tim. 2:15, Jas. 1:12, etc.). I see this theme throughout as Jesus, through His obedience to God, is consistently (and vocally) 'approved' by God. This is seen in His public baptism, His transfiguration, the time before He was handed over as a criminal, in crowds during His faithful work, etc. This is seen especially throughout John's Gospel. We imitate Him through our life of service to Him and for Him, firmly grounded in a saving faith in Him.
The consistent Calvinist says He has elected a set number of individuals in Christ, yet this election usually pans out solely focused on salvation, which is different than God's Chosen purpose in Christ. The reason I have so much trouble with election primarily seen as salvific is because God's election of Christ was for service (Isa. 42), as well as was Israel's. The nation was Chosen as the Servant of YHWH, yet not all were saved. That's corporate election, essentially. In Eph. 1 the traditional interpretation seems to run contrary to the fact that in view is 'US' (The Church), 'IN HIM', and the mystery of God summing up all things in Christ through the Church. Thus the corporate group is in view, not a previous set number of individuals as the Individual Elec. advocate holds to. The focus of Eph. seems to be the mysterious plan of summing up all things in Christ through the Church, not the individual election of a set number from eternity past. I do say all this in grace because I cannot be dogmatically certain of this interpretation at every scriptural level, but neither can the consistent Calvinist.
In the end, I feel Klein, though strong on many points, is inconsistent and unbalanced. He is inconsistent because his thesis for the book at times is not presented strongly enough (or at all) in some of the most famous (and difficult) passages dealing with election. He is unbalanced because there needs to be more exegesis on the grandest (and most difficult) passages of all in election: Rom. 8:28-30; Rom.9, John 6; Eph. 1; and Matt. 22. Though I feel he has done a good job at points in all these passages, I feel they must be deeper and even more thorough because he is writing contrary to centuries of Protestant (and Jewish-in the sense of election as a nation to salvation, ex. John 8) thought and history. Though those things clearly don't make something correct, it does mean that the opposition will have to be even more diligent in their study and even more articulate in their propagation of it.
A good study companion book that supports the corporate view (yet is not Arminian in the sense of losing your election), is James Daane's book "The Freedom of God: A Study of Election and Pulpit" which primarily puts forth the view of Christ as the Elect One in singleness, primacy and a foundational fashion. Though Daane's book is more of a response to classic Reformed and Lutheran teaching on election and the single decree, where he critiques them in the vein of Karl Barth, the book is short (200 pp.) yet thorough and pointed enough for the corporate discussion. The book is biblical and not simply philosophical (like Barth much of the time). Daane was Reformed (and taught at Fuller Seminary), yet was a critic of the Reformed Church as a whole when it can to the single decree and the blurring of election, foreknowledge, and predestination into a single entity being seen as a shadow of the essence of God Himself. I would still pick up a copy of Klein's book, for there is a lot in it that contributes to our study of how we have been `Elected in Christ'.
A decent defense of corporate election. Feb 14, 2003
As a serious Christian, I am strongly convinced that the doctrine of election is a very important and critical biblical concept. Desiring to understand how all the verses used by Calvinist's to support individual election could be interpreted to support a corporate model, I approached Mr. Klein's book with excitement and interest because I am very unfamiliar with the idea of corporate election, and would like to understand it more fully.
That being said, I believe that Mr. Klein's book is an adequate defense of corporate election. Klein established his argument in a straighforward manner by beginning in the Old Testament. He argues that corporate terminology and corporate language abound in the Old Testament. Furthermore, Klein advocates the position that Israel believed that they were chosen as a nation, and that an individual received the promises of God by being a member of Jewish the nation. Klein examines many applicable Old Testament passages to prove that corporate solidarity was the common mentality among the Old Covenant Palestinain Jews.
Once Klein finishes his examination of the Old Testament he briefly moves into Qumran and Rabbinic sources to show that they also adhered to a corporate mindset. After a brief survey of these sources, Mr. Klein delves into the main sources of his study and investigates the New Testament literature. He breaks up his study into convenient groups and scrutinizes each unit as a whole. His studies of the Synoptic gospels, the Johannine literature, the writings of Paul, and finally the remaining epistles are interesting.
The strength of the book resides in it's organization. Klein does an excellent job of organizing his texts into specific groups. Namely, verses that deal with election to a task, election to salvation, appointment of times, and God's call of individuals and nations. This is just a rough representation of how the texts are broken up, but it illustrates how the author went about arranging his texts. Each section provides commentary and exegesis on the relevant verses and there are plenty of verses to comment about. In his New Testamnet survey, Mr. Klein analyzes any verse where any significant elective them is discussed; Definitely a large and challenging job seeing as the New Testament abounds with such verses.
Nevertheless, this book does suffer from a few flaws. The fact that Klein opted for a rapid-fire proof texting approach, rather than a smaller and more considerate study, seriously detracts from this book. Instead of providing some detailed and insightful commentary on just a handful of key verses, the author chooses to provide sparse commentary on each applicable verse. This leaves the reader wanting for more exegesis because the corporate election concept isn't defended to the extent that it should be.
Likewise, Mr. Klein does not handle the traditional Calvinist proof-texts as well as he should have. His exegesis on Romans 9 is very unconvincing and way too brief. These are some of the most important verses that deal with the idea of election, and Klein just breezes by them without giving a through and solid argument for a corporate mode of election by arguing from the text. Furthermore, Klein's reading of Ephesians 1:3-4 is a very unnatural and awkard interpretation. I just don't see how one can argue for the position that Christ is the chosen one being described in the text. There are many other verses that are not treated fairly and considerately and this really subtracts from the book.
After finishing the book, I will admit that I became more familiar with the idea of corporate election, but I am far from convinced of it's validity. Although the book possesses excellent organization and some decent arguments, it fall short where it matters most. Mr. Klein attempts to convince you by throwing numerous examples at you, but when it comes to seriously wrestling with critical texts he falls way short. If this book provided a solid Arminian interpretation for Romans 9, John 6, and Ephesians 1 it would be much more convining. Unfortunately, The New Chosen People fails to do what it's title states; Although Klein argues for the corporate model, he does not thoroughly convince the reader that corporate election is the standard mode of election found within the Bible.