The TULIP’s Petals and Sepals, part 2

May 7, 2013

by Ronnie Rogers

  1. Unconditional Election: God chose for some to be the objects of His unmerited favor, and salvation is totally a work of God—monergistic.Calvinism’s understanding of unconditional election necessarily includes that God has selected to give the salvifically required new nature to only some of His vast humanity even though all are in equally desperate need of such in order to experience salvation. Accordingly, it has pleased God to select some of His created people to experience incomprehensible eternal bliss while being equally pleased to withhold this surety from the vast majority of His humanity; thereby, ensuring their equally incomprehensible eternal suffering in the cauldron of inescapable torment of pain and the absolute loss of love and hope in hell. This doctrine is maintained with full awareness that God could have just as easily chosen to provide such favor upon any and all of His humanity, but it pleased Him to select only a few, comparatively speaking, to be so favored. These inextricable realities of unconditional election are neither explicated nor moderated by retreating to phrases like, “God is just to send all to hell” or “God is gracious to save even one sinner” or “God loves the non-elect differently” because none of these contribute one whit to either explaining how this is perfect infinite love, mercy, and compassion, or explaining the scriptural portrayal of God’s exercise of such. I find all Calvinists’ attempts to assuage the reality of these entailments as dreadfully troubling and actually serving to enfeeble the doctrine of unconditional election.

Therefore, if a person believes the Scripture teaches the following, he cannot be a Calvinist: God salvifically loves all of His humanity and has graciously provided for everyone to be able to receive the treasures of the gospel by simple faith. Just as God is perfect holiness and would therefore never be pleased to act unholy; He is also perfect love and mercy, and would therefore not be pleased to withhold the offer of salvation from billions of His creation, thereby delightingly assuring their eternal doom in hell when He could have just as easily offered them salvation. God is not pleased to predestine the incomputable majority of His humanity to spend forever in the crucible of hell’s torment, which torment by comparison makes the most shuddersome, gruesome, ghastly, and torturous woes of crime or natural catastrophe nothing more than trifling annoyances. These truths are embraced by other biblical approaches but not Calvinism.

Ronnie is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Okla., and is the author of  “Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist.”

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JB

Romans 9:11-24

“for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” … 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.”

Paul already answered your argument before you made it. He is the potter. He can do what he pleases.

    Robert

    JB simply quotes from Romans 9 one of the most favored “proof texts” that Calvinists use.

    He then adds:

    “Paul already answered your argument before you made it. He is the potter. He can do what he pleases.”

    Not true at all. First of all, there are valid non-Calvinistic interpretations of Romans 9. Just presenting these verses while holding a Calvinistic interpretation of them does nothing but “preach to the choir”(i.e. it only convinces likeminded Calvinists). I can easily interpret these verses from a non-calvinistic and non-deterministic perspective.

    Second, God **is** the potter and does have the right to do as He pleases in any and all situations. Calvinists do not believe that God is sovereign in this way. They cannot accept, refuse to accept that God created mankind with the capacity to have and make their own choices (i.e. to have free will as ordinarily understood). The evidence for people having and making their own choices is all over the Bible.

    In fact, before the fall, there is clear evidence that mankind had free will as ordinarily understood. God brings the animals before Adam and tells him that they will have whatever name he chooses for them. If a human father tells his daughter after buying here a doll, that the doll will have whatever name the daughter names her as its name. both the Father and Child understand that the child has free will and is freely choosing to name the doll whatever she wants to name it. The choice is up to her, given to her, not made by the Father. Even the youngest child understands all of this and that she is choosing freely while having free will. God speaks the same way to Adam about the naming of the animals and God and Adam understood the same thing that Adam was freely choosing and the choice was up to him not a choice being made by God or a predestined outcome. Adam and Eve also had a genuine choice of listening to Satan or listening to God regarding the fruit.
    Calvinists give lip service to the idea that God is sovereign (i.e. that He does as He pleases in any and all circumstances). They believe that he has to predestine everything, they refuse to believe, despite abundant contrary evidence in both the Bible and their own daily experience, that God could (and did) choose to create mankind with the capacity to have and make their own choices/to have free will as ordinarily understood.

    Robert

      Stephen

      Your point is not true. The typical sbc semi- arminian interpretations are not faithful to what Romans 9 says. You folks are just going to have to admit that your emotional disgust of calvinism blinds your ability to do exegesis. That is why at the end of the day all te arguements against calvinism that are seen on this blog and others like it are not seriously wrestling with the text instead the arguments are cheap simplistic theological arguments.(ie. if calvinism is true then you can’t offer the gospel to people). This is the reason why younger folks are not buying your anti-calvinism. You guys just don’t even realize just how bad your arguments truly are both exegetically and theologically. I still find it interesting that the self- identifying arminian baptist like many of my free will baptist friends consider you “traditional” statement flat pelagianism. Even some of the comments on this thread lead in that direction. Do your self a favor and learn from the freewill baptist how to consistently debate Calvinist.

volfan007

Ronnie,

Incredible insight. Thank you for sharing this.

I really think that if someone really believes the TULIP theory, then they have to believe that God predestined some people for Hell, and wanted it to be so. That He created them for the very purpose of sending them to Hell for all eternity, and this is for His glory. In other words, they have to believe in double predestination….to really follow Calvinism to it’s logical end. They’d have to believe that God desires for some people to go to Hell….planned for some people to go to Hell….and those people have no hope, at all, whatsoever….nada…none….they are on thier way to Hell, and that’s just the way it is, and shall be….and God desired it to be so….

Whenever the Bible tells us that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked…He’d rather them turn…be saved….and, God desires the salvation of all men…and, God provided a way for all people to be saved….So, I guess I’m saying that I just cant see how Calvinism lines up with what the Bible teaches about the desires and the heart of God.

David

David

    Robert

    Hello David,

    You wrote:

    “I really think that if someone really believes the TULIP theory, then they have to believe that God predestined some people for Hell, and wanted it to be so. That He created them for the very purpose of sending them to Hell for all eternity, and this is for His glory. In other words, they have to believe in double predestination….to really follow Calvinism to it’s logical end. They’d have to believe that God desires for some people to go to Hell….planned for some people to go to Hell….and those people have no hope, at all, whatsoever….nada…none….they are on thier way to Hell, and that’s just the way it is, and shall be….and God desired it to be so…”

    Your comments here are absolutely correct.

    The calvinists even have a technical term for this, a term not found in the Bible and yet necessarily part of their theology. They call this “reprobation”. And those God chooses to damn from eternity are called the “reprobates”. And you will find this double predestination doctrine in the theology of all **consistent** calvinists. I say consistent because if you claim that God predestines EVERYTHING. Then there are no exceptions, everything is predestined. Who is saved is just as predestined as who is damned. Who does the right thing in a situation is just as predestined as who does the wrong thing in a situation. It is like a human author who writes a story where that author decides everythng that will happen in that story, every thought, every character, who will be a hero and who will be a villian.

    Calvinism is actually very, very simple to understand. It is simply the notion that God preplans everything and then controls everything to make sure that everything he preplanned comes to pass exactly as planned.

    In such a scenario the unfortunate “reprobates” which is the majority of the human race were predestined for damnation. These “reprobates” never ever have a chance to be saved, their entire life is prescripted. Their every action, thought, is decided beforehand. Then they get to the final judgment where they are then condemned for eternal punishment for doing and being exactly what God preplanned and controlled for them to do and be. It sure doesn’t’ suggest that God has the character that He reveals in scripture.

    Robert.

Jim G.

I have an honest question for my Calvinistic brothers and sisters, since today’s topic is unconditional election. What is it “about God” that would make him want to not elect a human being to salvation? I understand why he would want to elect human beings to salvation (because God is love), but what is it about himself that would make him unconditionally want to reprobate (either directly via double predestination or indirectly via single predestination)? Moreover, what are the consequences of such a view of God? The two answers I have heard for such a question I find woefully insufficient (the circular argument that God does all to glorify himself or the need of hell to show God’s justice). Is there a better answer out there as to why? I think this is in line with the original post.

Jim G.

    Bill

    Jim: Here’s one Calvinist who understands the difficulty of the Calvinist view. But non-Calvinists have a similar problem. We all worship a God who has structured the way of Salvation in such a way that the vast majority of humanity will never even hear of it, let alone reject it. God allows and has allowed untold billions to be born whom He knows will never hear the Gospel, without which no one is saved. We all have to face this. Non-Calvinists can say that God has salvific love for everyone, but that love does not extend to actually giving them the opportunity to be saved. God created the universe knowing that his creation would rebel and most of them lost forever. This is an issue for Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike. Saying that a first century South American animist could actually be saved if they wanted to just doesn’t cut it.

    If I became unconvinced of unconditional election, I would have to go to corporate election. Election because of foreseen faith is not election at all.

      Jim G.

      Thanks, Bill, but you do fully realize you never touched my question. I knew the “but you have the same problem” defense would come; it always does. The fact is, no, I do not have the same problem. I do not believe in unconditional individual election to salvation/reprobation.

      Jim G.

        Bill

        Jim: The problem I am talking about is that you say God has salvific love for everyone but hasn’t made it possible for everyone to hear that message, let alone accept it. You ask what does our view say of the nature of God. I ask you the same question.

        But you are right, I didn’t answer the question, because frankly I don’t know the answer. The two typical Calvinistic arguments you cite are not satisfactory to me.

          Jim G.

          Hi Bill,

          Don’t you find it interesting that you cannot give a basic reason within the heart of God for the claim you hold so tightly? I’m not putting you down for this, it’s just an observation. That such a fundamental tenet of Calvinism cannot be explained from the revealed character of God found in the law, prophets, or Jesus Christ himself is one reason why so many reject Calvinism.

          Jim G.

          Bill

          Jim: I could speculate, but I think there are a lot of things where we could say “why would God do …….”?

          Election is in scripture, so we must do something with it. Either if refers to individuals or groups. I think the biblical argument is stronger for individual election. The prevailing non-Calvinist view of election (based on foreseen faith) is in my opinion without merit.

          Will you answer my question?

            volfan007

            Bill,

            Election just mean that God chose us…He chose to save whoever believes…He could’ve left us to live on in a fallen, sinful condition…He could’ve just chosen to send us all to Hell…but instead, He chose to save whoever ….He chose to come to us…

            David

            Jim G.

            Hi Bill,

            I’m much more Barthian than anything else on election, which means I tend to reject conditional election as well. I believe that all humans are included in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (present and passive) just as all humans were included (present and passive) in Adam when he sinned. Because the entire world is reoriented in the work of Christ in ways which we cannot comprehend and which are not fully disclosed to us through divine revelation, I cannot say with complete certainty that the first century animist is eternally damned. I would hold out hope for him, although I cannot be certain either way. I can only be certain that those who hear and believe are saved and those who hear and do not are damned. Scripture permits me go this far. I therefore certainly do not have the problem of explaining why God would reprobate someone from all eternity or trying to discover what it is about his character that would please him to do so. That problem sits like a ton of bricks in the lap of every honest and thinking Calvinist. My own lap is not without its burdens, but I believe mine are far lighter, at least from my vantage point. I hope I answered your question satisfactorily.

            Jim G.

            Bill

            Jim: Fair enough. Maybe I’m just not a good Calvinist, but honestly in my opinion, allowing someone to be born into a situation where they cannot hear the Gospel and be saved is essentially reprobation.

            David: I don’t disagree, but I don’t think what you are describing is election.

            volfan007

            God chose to save all those who will believe…who respond to His call…. election.
            God planned to save all those people, who respond to His calling and convicting….and to conform them to the image of His Son….predestination.

            DAvid

    Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

    Jim,

    You raise a very important question. I’m sure the answer gleaned from the Bible will not satisfy you, and to be honest, there are days it doesn’t satisfy me, but then I go back to the Word, and there it is again. I can either choose to believe the Word or not.

    Romans 9:22-24 says this:
    22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

    There is the biblical answer to your question. God chose to pass over some and pour out His wrath on them so that the elect (ie, vessels of mercy) would know the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy. So, one of the reasons God did so is for the sake of the elect, that they might worship Him even more for being gracious to them.

    I struggle with that answer from my human perspective, but it’s, nevertheless, what the Word teaches.

      Jim G.

      Hi Ben,

      Thanks for your attempt to answer the question. You did not answer it fully, in that you did not answer what it is “about God”, but you did attempt to do so. Your answer raises two important issues that I would like your input on.

      1. Since you answered my question from this passage alone, how does this passage alone not make God the author of all evil? If Romans 9:22-24 is the key passage to see into God’s heart, so to speak, doesn’t it reveal a God who not only allows, but also authors and controls all evil? How is this consonant with God’s goodness declared all over the Bible? If you want to use this text as a controlling text, I suppose you can. But then it must control unilaterally.

      2. Does not this passage, as you have interpreted it, make the idea of rejection a necessary part of God’s being? That is, if God eternally (and please note that sin is not eternal – it has a beginning and will have an end) rejects some of his creation, how do we know that God is not a God who both accepts and rejects, which completely destroys the idea of divine simplicity? In other words, is there something in the Father that hates the Son or despises the Spirit? I don’t see how God can be eternally loving ad intra, but eternally discriminating ad extra.

      In both of these issues, we see God as being both sides of a dualism, which obviously he is not. How do we not avoid the necessary consequences of such a view of God’s election?

      Jim G.

      Robert

      Ben Simpson wrote:

      “You raise a very important question. I’m sure the answer gleaned from the Bible will not satisfy you, and to be honest, there are days it doesn’t satisfy me, but then I go back to the Word, and there it is again. I can either choose to believe the Word or not.”

      I and others who are not calvinists “go back to the Word” as well. The problem is that we don’t come up with the same interpretation that you come up with regarding Romans 9.

      Ben then quotes Romans 9:22-24 and writes:

      “There is the biblical answer to your question.”

      Actually that is not quite accurate.

      Recall Jim’s question:

      “I have an honest question for my Calvinistic brothers and sisters, since today’s topic is unconditional election. What is it “about God” that would make him want to not elect a human being to salvation? I understand why he would want to elect human beings to salvation (because God is love), but what is it about himself that would make him unconditionally want to reprobate (either directly via double predestination or indirectly via single predestination)?”

      Note Jim was asking about God’s motivation to reprobate people (if we assume Calvinistic double predestination to be true, which is dubious to say the least, but for the sake of the question it assumes Calvinism’s view of reprobation to be true).

      There is no scripture anywhere, neither Old Testament or New Testament that ever addresses why God reprobates people. It just is not there. So what do Calvinist determinists do? They interpret Romans 9 in particular from their deterministic perspective and they also proof text from Romans 9 ASSUMING THEIR INTERPRETATION to be the correct one as they do so.

      But what if their interpretation of Romans 9 is wrong?

      What if these verses they so often proof text from are not even discussing the election of human persons in general?

      What if instead the chapter is dealing primarily with Israel and their first century unbelief? If the chapter is actually dealing with Israel’s unbelief, not individual election or reprobation from a Calvinistic perspective, then there is no biblical basis for calvinism’s doctrine of reprobation.

      Without getting into a verse by verse analysis (as this is not the right context or place for that): what if the “vessels of wrath” referred to in 9:22 are not a reference to nonbelieving people in general (which Calvinists **assume**, and from their perspective) but specifically and contextually refer to the first century Jews who have rejected faith in Christ (i.e. Paul’s gospel) and instead believed they are saved through their keeping of the law rather than faith in Christ (compare it to verses also found in Romans 9, verses which calvinists don’t often quote because they are not part of their proof texting attempt, look at Rom. 9:31-32: “but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.” Paul goes on in Romans 10:1-3 to make this mistake of the first century Jews crystal clear: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation [note he started Romans 9 with this same exact concern]. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God[their zeal for God being shown by their attempt at keeping the law], but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness [the righteousness found in Christ rather than the law], and seeking to establish their own[by their own keeping of the law], they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”[they rejected Christ in order to try to justify themselves before God by their keeping of the law, their own works].

      So Paul is not taking about humanity in general, unbelief in general in Romans 9:22, he is speaking specifically of unbelieving Jews in the first century. Notice the text ****does not*** discuss God’s plans in eternity, instead it talks about what God was doing in time. God could not have been patiently enduring these individuals in eternity because they did not exist in eternity, they only exist in real time and history. He was enduring with much patience these people in history. It is also critical to keep in mind that Romans 9-11 functions as a unit, it has to be interpreted together, not just isolating a portion of it away from its context. Paul later in Romans 11 speaks of some people and says: “I say then they [who are “they”] did not stumble so as to fall, did they?” [so these people stumbled but not totally] May it never be! But by their transgression [again who are they and what is their transgression?] salvation has come to the Gentiles to make them jealous. [ “they” have to be unbelieving Jews then as by their fall the Gentiles get the opportunity to be saved] Now if their transgression [again has to be referring to nonbelieving Jews] be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! [note God says they failed but it was not a permanent failing, they will come back in some way according to these verses] Paul will go on to speak of branches that are broken off of the tree that may later be regrafted in. Who are these broken branches that are later regrafted in? Are they not the “vessels of wrath” that God patiently was enduring when Paul wrote Romans and most of the Jews had rejected Christ?

      The point is that Calvinists like Ben assume that Romans 9 is a discussion of humanity in general and nonbelievers in general. But this assumption does not fit the context or what the text of Romans 9-11 taken as a whole is discussing. It is not discussing unbelief in general but specifically first century Jews who were unbelieving. That is what Paul is discussing in Romans 9-11. The issue is, Paul if your gospel is true, then why are so many Jews rejecting it? If God keeps his promises then why the Jewish first century unbelief? In context and properly interpreted Romans 9-11 is focused not on humanity in general but on Israel in particular. But this is missed when Romans 9 is severed from the rest of Romans 9-11/the unit that ought to be interpreted as a unit.

      Ben continuing to assume that Romans 9 is a dissertation of the Calvinistic conception of election and reprobation writes:

      “God chose to pass over some and pour out His wrath on them so that the elect (ie, vessels of mercy) would know the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy. So, one of the reasons God did so is for the sake of the elect, that they might worship Him even more for being gracious to them.”

      And this assumes the “them” is a reference to reprobates (which further assumes Calvinism to be true) rather than referring to first century unbelieving Jews. And note that Romans 9:22 does not actually say that God poured his wrath on them. It says that God could have done so but was instead enduring them patiently. Calvinists assume that this verse is talking about eternity and the final judgment. But God could not have been patiently enduring the vessels of wrath unless they already existed (which was not true in eternity). And the text does not say that he in fact DID pour his wrath on them, it says God was justified to do so BUT INSTEAD was patiently enduring them. So the text was not talking about the final judgment either as at that final judgment God will no longer be patiently enduring those who rebel against Him. The patient enduring the verse refers to then could not be eternity nor could it be the final judgment, it was happening in Paul’s time. And who was God patiently enduring at that time? Unbelieving first century Jews.

      Lastly Ben wrote:

      “I struggle with that answer from my human perspective, but it’s, nevertheless, what the Word teaches.”

      Ben assumes his Calvinistic interpretation is “what the Word teachers.”

      But I and many others are convinced that the Calvinistic interpretation of Romans 9 is mistaken. The Word does not teach what Ben believes about reprobation and election, his system of theology says that. The Word teaches about unbelieving Israel in the first century, that their unbelief was not stopping God from achieving his purposes. The Word teaches that though many Jews were rejecting Christ and trying to be righteous by keeping the law, these branches that had been broken off could still be regrafted to the olive tree if they placed their faith in Christ alone for salvation.

      Robert

        Ben Simpson

        Robert,

        I hope Norm is taking note here and gets you out of the stands and onto the court. You are putting forth quite the effort here and need to be an article writer instead of just a commenter. I mean, you logged just a hair short of 1,500 words just in response to me, which is over three times the amount of words Ronnie Rogers used in his article. And I see that you logged another 1,500 words commenting to others. Double space all of that you just wrote a term paper!

        Ben Simpson

        (Now to the content of your term paper. I think I’ll use the 3rd person as well.)

        Robert put forth that Ben didn’t answer Jim’s question, but Ben did indeed answer Jim’s question. Ben basically said that one of the things “about God” is that He desires to show the riches of His glory to vessels of mercy by not being merciful to everybody (passing over them and leaving them to justly endure His wrath), and thus intensifying the gratefulness of the elect toward God.

        Ben prays that Robert will forgive Ben for believing that Ben’s own interpretation of Scripture is correct.

        Robert incorrectly postulated that Romans 9 is dealing primarily with Israel and their first century unbelief and has nothing to do with individual election, but just the verses Ben quoted above–Rom 9:22-24–begin to prove Robert wrong because it takes the scope of the discussion outside of the Jewish people when it says in v24, “even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.”

        Unfortunately, Robert has missed the entire point of Romans 9. The point is that God’s promise to Israel has not failed because all of Israel is not Israel. True Israel is not by blood but by God’s sovereign election of both Jews and Gentiles.

        Romans 10 tells us how to become a part of Israel, namely call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved.

        Romans 11 illustrates for us that God has one people made up of elect Jews and Gentiles. While the tree is Gentile heavy now, the root is Jewish, and there will be intense Jewish growth again near the end of the age. So, Gentiles shouldn’t get arrogant.

        Robert wrongly isolates Romans 9-11 to 1st-century Jews. There is absolutely no textual warrant for that and is flatly wrong.

          Randall Cofield

          I think I’ll use the 3rd person as well.

          … Robert, brother, I am not your enemy because I am a Calvinist. I do hope you understand that. If you will do me the courtesy of addressing me in the first person…and “write tight,” I would be delighted to have a conversation with you.

          Grace to you, brother.

          Robert

          Ben wrote:

          “(Now to the content of your term paper. I think I’ll use the 3rd person as well.)”

          I really don’t care whether you use third person or not, what is important is the points that are made and what the arguments are in support of the points being made.

          Ben wrote:

          “Robert put forth that Ben didn’t answer Jim’s question, but Ben did indeed answer Jim’s question. Ben basically said that one of the things “about God” is that He desires to show the riches of His glory to vessels of mercy by not being merciful to everybody (passing over them and leaving them to justly endure His wrath), and thus intensifying the gratefulness of the elect toward God.”

          Actually I did not say that you did not answer Jim’s question, my point was that Romans 9-11 interpreted properly is primarily concerned about first century Israel and the fact that most were rejecting Paul’s gospel.

          “Ben prays that Robert will forgive Ben for believing that Ben’s own interpretation of Scripture is correct.”

          Ben also missed my point here as well. I understand that people believe their interpretations of scripture are correct. My point was that Ben presents it as if he is merely going according to what the Bible teaches. He is going by HIS CALVINISTIC INTERPRETATION OF THE WORD.

          What the Word teaches and how someone interprets it may be two very different things.

          At one time I worked with Walter Martin on counter cult ministry and every cultist makes this same error of equating their interpretation of the Word for what the Word actually teaches.

          “Robert incorrectly postulated that Romans 9 is dealing primarily with Israel and their first century unbelief and has nothing to do with individual election, but just the verses Ben quoted above–Rom 9:22-24–begin to prove Robert wrong because it takes the scope of the discussion outside of the Jewish people when it says in v24, “even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.””

          I never said that Romans 9-11 says **nothing** about individual election. I said and Ben even quoted me correctly that it is PRIMARILY dealing with Israel. Check out Romans 10 and 11 (which are part of the unit of Romans 9-11 and are supposed to be interpreted as a unit) and those chapters are not primarily concerned with individual election (which is why you rarely hear Calvinists quoting these chapters when they are proof texting). According to Romans 9-11 an individual is elect (whether they be Jew or Gentile) if they place their confidence in Christ alone for salvation.

          “Unfortunately, Robert has missed the entire point of Romans 9. The point is that God’s promise to Israel has not failed because all of Israel is not Israel. True Israel is not by blood but by God’s sovereign election of both Jews and Gentiles.”

          This is one of the most incredibly wrong statements by a professing Christian than I have ever seen.
          One of Paul’s major points throughout Romans is that people ARE SAVED THROUGH FAITH ALONE.

          The apostle Paul argues this in Romans and also Galatians. Paul does not argue ANYWHERE in Romans or ANYWHERE else for that matter that as Ben puts it people are saved “by God’s sovereign election”. Throughout the New Testament the message is salvation BY FAITH not election. In fact this was one of the very errors of first century Jews that Paul was attacking. They thought they were elect simply because they were Jews. Paul came along (as did Jesus and everyone else in the NT) and argued that it is not being a Jew alone, being a part of the elect nation of Israel that saves you, IT IS FAITH IN CHRIST ALONE THAT SAVES YOU. To see someone make such an egregious error attempting to defend his Calvinistic theology shows how bad things can get because of a commitment to Calvinism.

          The gospel message is that we are saved by faith in Christ not by election. It is interesting that with cults you find the same thing: we are not saved by faith in Christ alone, we are saved by works, or by adherence to the teachings of the group, or . . . or . . .

          “Romans 10 tells us how to become a part of Israel, namely call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved.”

          No, Romans 10 does not tell us how to become “a part of Israel”: it tells people whether they are Jews or Gentiles that they can only be saved through faith in Christ. We are not saved by becoming a part of Israel, we are saved by faith in Christ alone. Again that was one of the major problems in the thinking of first century Jews: they believed that if you were Jewish and were trying to keep the law (cf. Rom. 9:30-33, Rom. 10:1-5, Rom. 11:7-12) that would save you (even if you rejected Christ). Paul argues against this and argues that keeping the law does not justify you before God (again he does this most strongly and clearly in Romans and Galatians and I will not innumerate all the verses on this here, I assume that readers know this to be true): rather, only faith in Christ justifies you (hence Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith throughout the book of Romans).

          “Romans 11 illustrates for us that God has one people made up of elect Jews and Gentiles. While the tree is Gentile heavy now, the root is Jewish, and there will be intense Jewish growth again near the end of the age. So, Gentiles shouldn’t get arrogant.”

          Romans 11 tells how God’s hardening of the first century Jews and bringing in the Gentiles by faith was going to work itself out (Rom. 11:11-32).

          “Robert wrongly isolates Romans 9-11 to 1st-century Jews. There is absolutely no textual warrant for that and is flatly wrong.”

          I don’t **isolate** it to first century Jews, Romans 9-11 like all scripture has relevance for believers in all ages. I never said that Romans 9-11 only applies to first century Jews. I argue, and correctly, as this is the proper context of these chapters, that Paul is primarily concerned with first century Jewish unbelief and how that is compatible with his gospel that says only faith in Christ saves a person.

          As a point of fact, in order to properly interpret a biblical passage we first interpret it in its original historical context. That comes first. Once you have done that, then you may look for practical applications for contemporary believers.

          What Calvinists like Ben do is to ignore the first century context, so they end up interpreting it mistakenly as a dissertation by Paul on individual election according to Calvinistic premises (if you want an especially good example of this in an academic context check out John Piper’s book on Romans 9, you find the same eisegesis and almost complete disregard of the Jewish context of these chapters). But Paul was not talking about Calvinism or presenting Calvinistic principles at all. You only find Calvinism in these verses if you READ IT INTO THESE VERSES. Calvinists end up eisegeting the passage rather than interpreting it properly according to its first century context. And this is again exactly what cults do with scripture as well: they read in what they want to see in a passage completely ignoring its original context and intended meaning. They also equate their interpretations which result from eisegesis of the text rather than exegesis of the text as the actual Word of God. It is striking the parallels between how non-Christian cultists and Calvinists handle their “proof texts” [note – This is not to say that Calvinists are non-Christian cultists, only that their interpretative practice with these passages is remarkably similar.]

          Robert

      Ben Simpson

      Jim,

      Actually I did answer the question fully. You asked what it is “about God” that would make him want to not elect a human being to salvation. My answer was that one of the things “about God” is that He desires to show the riches of His glory to vessels of mercy by not being merciful to everybody, and thus intensifying the gratefulness of the elect toward God. If that doesn’t answer what is “about God,” then I don’t know what you mean by “about God.”

      Robert, please take note of what I just said above since you felt I didn’t answer Jim’s question either.

      Now to your questions, Jim:

      1. You asked how does this passage alone not make God the author of all evil. Romans 9:22-25 in no way implies such. It simply says that God put up with wickedness to display His unsurpassing kindness to the elect.

      2. Maybe you’re just on another level than I am, Jim, but you’re second question and set of comments make absolutely no sense to me. Either what you’re saying is nonsensical or you’re just smarter than me. It’s probably the latter. :o) If you’d like to have me weigh in, how about you bring it down from professor level to the just regular ol’ pastor level. Thanks!

        Jim G.

        Hi Ben,

        Thanks for your reply. You did not answer my question the way I intended, but it is probably my fault. I think face to face we would have understood more easily, and such is the drawback of typing on blogs.

        There are (at least) two uses of the word “why” in our language. One is the instrumental “why” (i.e. the “why” that provides a result, for example, to bring about thankfulness in the elect) and the second is the motivational “why.” (i.e. the “why” a person chooses one course of action and not another, for example, why God would choose to reprobate rather than save everyone). These are not technical terms, just senses of the word. I was asking why in the second sense and you answered the why in the first sense. Instrumentally, (provided I agree with your hermeneutic used in Romans 9, which I do not), you gave as good an answer as I think you could. But I’m looking for the “why” that gives an insight into God’s character. I don’t think the Romans text does that.

        I think you need to think more deeply on the author of all evil comment. I’ll leave it at that.

        To clarify the second point, (in the case of the motivational sense of “why”) I know that you believe that God, from all eternity, has elected some folks to salvation. Others he did not so elect (I’m assuming your view is single – P). Where does his pleasure to not elect some folks come from? Why would God deny himself to a significant part of his creation? Obviously, the answer must lie in God and not in us, because election is (in your view) unconditional and individual, as well as eternal and in that sense, before creation. That is, there is something in God himself that rejects (I take “choosing not to elect” and “rejects” synonymously, since the end result is the same) and rejects unconditionally. The horrible consequence of the doctrine of election is reprobation, and if reprobation (either via single or double P) is indeed the eternal, unconditional choice of God, then 2 things in my mind immediately follow:

        First, there is no such thing as divine simplicity. As I wrote in the Augustine paper, God is good to the elect and just to the reprobate. And exactly which is which lies in God alone. To the elect he is the merciful father, but to the reprobate (and he decides, by decreeing and then withholding his grace as to who the reprobate are) he is the terrible God of justice. He decides to love some and hate others based alone on his own choice. He is in effect one God to some and an altogether different God to others. The ancient doctrine of divine simplicity cannot be maintained.

        Second, if it is in God’s nature to eternally reject, then rejection must exist within the intra-triune relationship. I don’t know how such a conclusion can be avoided. In eternity past, all that existed was Father, Son, and Spirit. Rejection was present there. For God to be unconditionally and eternally (and those are the key words – unconditionally and eternally) pleased to pass over his fellowship to some of his creation is to say that God’s eternal nature has rejection in it. Therefore, there is something in the Father that necessarily rejects the Son or the Spirit. That, Ben, is unthinkable.

        The unconditional passing over of some humans implies a passing over between Father and Son from all eternity, because that is all there is in eternity past. In the end, there is only one answer to my question that makes any sense as to why God (in the motivational sense) would reprobate, and that answer is “because it is who he is.” And, Ben, as a student of history, that is the God of fourteenth-century nominalism that got adapted into the Protestant Reformation via nominalist Augustinians like Luther and Calvin, rather than the God of the first-century apostles.

        Jim G.

JB

Robert,

So you’re using Adam’s naming of the animals as your proof? Did Judas make a free choice to betray Christ? Or was that choice predestined before the foundation of the world? And did it necessarily have to happen?

    Robert

    JB asks:

    “So you’re using Adam’s naming of the animals as your proof?”

    It is not a “proof” it is however clear evidence of the existence of free will prior to the fall. This suggests that God intended to create mankind with the capacity for having and making their own choices/free will, because Adam prefall was what God created him to be and he clearly had free will as ordinarily understood.

    Even little children understand that when you tell them that something is whatever they want to name it, then they have free will as ordinarily understood and the choice is up to them not another person. Calvinists seem to not be able to grasp this concept when they are espousing their theology/philosophy/system which is surprising because watch them with their own kids and they talk to their kids as if free will exists as well. They sound just like everybody else when they talk to their kids or spouses.They tell their kids you can choose to use your money for the candy or the toy or whatever (knowing that the child understands they have free will and the choice is up to them not the Parent).

    “Did Judas make a free choice to betray Christ?”

    Yes, he could have chosen otherwise and he should have chosen otherwise. Part of the reason he went and hung himself was that he felt regret at what he had done. Regret only makes sense if you know you could have and should have done otherwise.

    God via foreknowledge (i.e. God knows how people will freely choose before they make their choice) knew Judas would freely choose to betray Christ so God was able to prophecy about this event and other events to come since he knew they would in fact take place via his foreknowledge.

    But God foreknowing something will in fact take place in the future is not at all the same as causing it to happen or bringing it about or controlling someone to ensure they do what they were predestined to do.

    “Or was that choice predestined before the foundation of the world?”

    The choice was foreknown but not predestined.

    The choice was not predestined, there is no Bible verse that says this. That is only a Calvinistic assumption. Calvinists such as yourself merely assume this to be true, but assuming something to be true does not make it true.

    “And did it necessarily have to happen?”

    It didn’t have to happen, it was not necessitated because it was not predetermined to occur.

    I assume that you are a believer, do your sins have to happen, are the sins you commit NECESSITATED?

    Or do you choose to sin?

    When you face a temptation and God provides the way of escape (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13) and yet you choose to give into the temptation: was your sin, your giving into the temptation NECESSITATED?

    Or should you have chosen otherwise and taken the way of escape provided by God?

    And if you are going to argue that all our sins are necessitated then what necessitates the sins of a believer?

    Did his sin nature necessitate that he/she sin?

    Did God necessitate that he/she sin because God predestined for him/her to commit that particular sin?

    Again, our sins are not necessitated they are freely chosen. And yet God via foreknowledge knows we will freely choose to sin. Since we freely choose to sin and God foreknows we will do these sins, we are responsible for our own sins not God. The same is true of Judas’s sin or any other sin: they are foreknown by God but not necessitated.

    Robert

JB

Hey Norm, I thought I posted the whole passage from verse 11 to verse 24. Did I accidentally leave out the middle section?

    Norm Miller

    No. I deleted the middle section. Henceforth, simply cite the pssg. Don’t paste it all.

Jim P

Election in great respect and more than many will admit is focused on God’s employing nations and or individuals for service not salvation to heaven or hell. Yes, Romans 9

    Jim P

    One more point. He employes them into service regardless there qualifications.
    Yes, Romans 9.

Ron F. Hale

Ronnie,

Ideas have consequences.

Reformed theologs cannot escape one great and consuming truth according to their doctrine: Than any sinner who is not one of the “elect” cannot and will not respond positively to the Gospel. Therefore, the offer of the gospel is not a bona fide offer to everyone.

Thanks for your work!

Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

Bro Ronnie has made a fine emotional appeal. I have to admit that there are days that I say, “Can unconditional election really be true? It just feels wrong.” But, then I go back to the Bible, and there it is clearly spelled out, in my opinion. Therefore, I affirm it and gladly so on most days.

    Lydia

    “Bro Ronnie has made a fine emotional appeal.”

    I wish there was some better training on “emotions” as this back door insult gets old. Truth is, the most cold calculating Nazi who shut the gas chamber door was operating on emotion. Your comment that I copied and pasted above was “emotion” driven. Every word, every act has some sort of “emotion” attached to it. You cannot escape it. What I had to learn as a fact-only driven person is that even that bent is “emotion” driven. What you are really saying is that there is some standard for acceptable and unacceptable emotions to be displayed. I agree with that. But your comment was as emotion driven as Ron’s. After all, you admit it as there are days what you believe “feels” wrong. :o) But the fact you appealed to his comment as an emotional appeal was, emotional.

    Ben Simpson

    LOL, you are great at drawing a circle, Lydia. Unfortunately, your circle won’t roll. I merely stated that emotion certainly plays a roll in what we believe and can be a great tactic in polemics, but I encouraged us to push past that to the objective facts of God’s Word. That’s what I try to do and pray I have. Oh, I hope that wasn’t emotional!

      Lydia

      “I merely stated that emotion certainly plays a roll in what we believe and can be a great tactic in polemics”

      Actually, you didn’t communicate that originally, if you are honest. A great “tactic” is telling people that God is Love? Which is an emotional appeal?

      “but I encouraged us to push past that to the objective facts of God’s Word. That’s what I try to do and pray I have.”

      Objective facts of God’s Word? You mean, according to your Augustinian filter and Calvin based ST for hermeneutics. That means your prooftexting is going to be a problem for discussion with those who do not use those filters.

      (Calvin was a murderous tyrant who loved power and not someone to base biblical understanding on)

      “Oh, I hope that wasn’t emotional!””

      Arrogance is definitely an emotion. As is condescention. I admit that about myself. You can. too, and remember that next time you trot out the “emotion” insult..

    Norm Miller

    Ben: You owe Pastor Ronnie an apology for demeaning his scholarship as “a fine emotional appeal.” How condescending.

    On April 5, Ronnie responded to you in this way; and given your comments, then Ronnie’s bear repeating:

    “Unfortunately you have misrepresented my statements and thoughts (as though I do not recognize different kind of loves). In addition, I do understand Calvinism sufficiently to articulate the entailments of Calvinism, and have no desire to misrepresent. I do have a strong desire that Calvinists be more forthright about these disquieting realities, at least as much as they are about the more palatable aspects, which some are. However, I seem to have been unsuccessful in my interactions with you, and I simply received more standard Calvinistic answers, which I recited myself for many years. I must assume that you really do not see these inescapable entailments of Calvinism. I learned them all from Calvinist by the way. Consequently, I do not see that any further comments would help.”

volfan007

Bill,

Everyone has light of some sort…conscience, creation(nature), and then some also have the Gospel. But, everyone has light…AND, the more we’ll get the Gospel, out there, to the world, then the more Gospel light some will have…so that more can be elected.

David

    Bill

    David: That “light” cannot save them apart from the Gospel. It can only condemn them. Everyone freely sins (free insofar as their nature allows), but if they never are confronted with the Gospel, how can they be saved? Even today, but so much more so throughout human history, people are born, live, and die without ever knowing that there is a remedy for their sins. Billions.

volfan007

I’m not sure why my comments always go to the bottom of the comment thread…I’ve noticed that in every post….my comments never end up under the comment which I’m responding to…even though Im hitting the reply button underneath the comment that I want to reply to. Anyone????

David

Randall Cofield

Hi, Jim G.,

You asked:

I have an honest question for my Calvinistic brothers and sisters, since today’s topic is unconditional election. What is it “about God” that would make him want to not elect a human being to salvation?

Your use of the term “want” probably needs a little qualification, but the answer to your question is rather simple:

His inscrutable Holiness

The more profound question is: What is it about God that would cause him to elect a fallen, rebellious, sinful wretch like me to salvation and eternal joy in His presence? You say “because He is love.” I say “what manner of love is this?” I cannot comprehend it.

Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou my God should’st die for me…

Grace to you, brother.

    Jim G.

    Hi Randall,

    You did not answer my question, but I do agree fully with you that God has saved you because he loves you.

    Neither you nor I can fully comprehend the love of God, but that does not mean we cannot comprehend it in part. God invested his image in humanity and called Adam and Eve very good on the sixth day of creation. His love for his creation (and the prize of his creation – human beings) is so great that he will not let their rebellion negate his love. At least that much I can comprehend, as can you.

    Now, what is it about God – in himself – that would cause him to, from all eternity, reprobate certain people when we know his holiness, justice, and love meet at Calvary? I presume that the average reprobate is not a whole lot better or worse than you were (or I) before we came to know Christ, so it is not God’s holiness that causes reprobation, now is it? We offended the holiness of God as much as the run-of-the-mill reprobate. Yet God was willing to call us into his saving glory anyhow. So why would God eternally decide to reprobate his own creation and deny them his fellowship unconditionally?

    Jim G.

      Randall Cofield

      Hi Jim,

      I presume that the average reprobate is not a whole lot better or worse than you were (or I) before we came to know Christ, so it is not God’s holiness that causes reprobation, now is it?

      Well, your question rather quickly morphed from God “not elect(ing) a human being to salvation” to God “from all eternity, reprobat(ing) certain people.” I don’t hold to double-predestination, so the latter form of the question doesn’t apply.

      My answer to the original question holds: Because of His inscrutable holiness.

      None are worthy of salvation; quite the contrary, we are all rebel sinners (the cause of reprobation), and are/were “children of wrath” according to Eph. 2:3. …but God, being rich in mercy because of His great love, made us alive with Christ…by grace you have been saved.

      God’s wrath is the product of His holiness, and His love does not negate either His holiness or His wrath. His wrath is ceased only toward those made alive (by grace) in Christ because Christ bore His wrath against us…for us. His love did not negate His holy wrath, rather His love propitiated His wrath for those saved by His grace.

      Again, what manner of love is this? I cannot comprehend it.

      Grace to you, brother.

        Jim G.

        We’re missing each other, Randall. In my original question, reprobation is the result whether via single or double predestination. If God passes over the non-elect, they become reprobate. It may be a distinction, but the result is exactly the same via single- or double-P.

        Surely you agree that God could have elected all should he have chosen to do so. What is it about God that pleases him to either reprobate actively (double P) or simply choose to not elect some (single P)?

        Jim G.

          Randall Cofield

          Jim,

          Same answer, brother. We are fallen, rebel sinners before a holy God, and not one of us is worthy of Him redeeming us.

          The far more astonishing question is why He would choose to save even one of us…at the cost of the sacrifice of His one perfectly obedient Son.

          Grace to you, brother

            Randall Cofield

            Or, to touch both ends of the spectrum of your question:

            Salvation belongs to the Lord, reprobation is the doing of willfully rebellious sinners.

          Randall Cofield

          Jim G.,

          I noticed further up the thread that you said you lean Barthian on your view of election.

          Do you maintain, as did Barth, that in the end grace will triumph even over unbelief?

          Grace to you, brother.

            Jim G.

            Barth is such a complicated figure. I am not a universalist (nor was he in my opinion, although opinions vary), if that is what you are asking. There is a lot about the future that none of us know.

            Jim G.

    sbcissues

    Randall,

    You wrote… “The more profound question is: What is it about God that would cause him to elect a fallen, rebellious, sinful wretch like me to salvation and eternal joy in His presence? You say “because He is love.” I say “what manner of love is this?” I cannot comprehend it.”

    My answer is that He didn’t elect a fallen, rebellious, sinful wretch like you to salvation. You heard the gospel message because someone shared it with you…. God revealed Himself to you and sought to reconcile you to Himself and the Holy Spirit convicted you of your sins and the blood of Jesus was presented as the remedy for your sin and you by faith believed that God was everything that He says He is and He will do everything that He says He will do and you praying and asked God to forgive your sin and He did because He said He would and He adopted you into His forever family.

    Did He know WHAT you would do BEFORE you did it, I believe He did. Did He determine that you would do what you did BEFOREHAND, I do not believe He did and I do not believe the Bible comes close to indicating that He did.

    The spies to Rahab what to do and if she did what she was told to do, she and all that were in her house would be saved. Moses told the children of Israel what to do before the death angel passed by; those who did what they were instructed to do did not receive the visit of the death angel. Once again, God told Moses to tell the people who were bitten by the serpents to look up at the serpent on the pole and they would live… Did God predetermine who would and would not follow His instructions in these examples… No… He gave them the instructions and He gave them the consequences of their choices and God did what HE said He would do and He is still doing the same thing today.

Robert

In reading this exchange between bill and Jim it seems to me that Bill makes a statement which may skew the discussion. Bill says “God allows and has allowed untold billions to be born whom He knows will never hear the Gospel, without which no one is saved.” Ny problem with this statement which Bill appears to assume as absolute3 truth is that the statement bill makes is in fact false. Bill says here that no one can be saved without hearing the gospel. But if that were true then all babies and the mentally disabled who are incapable of hearing the gospel with understanding would all automatically go to hell. So unless you want to take that position you have to qualify this somewhat. Seems to me that all are saved through Christ, but not all have to hear the gospel with understanding in order to be saved. Because of the cross of Christ as it is sufficient to save anyone and everyone, God has the right to save or have mercy on whomever He wants to save. Now we know from scripture that in the case of able minded persons who do hear the gospel they must believe it in order to be saved. But we should not expect this to be true across the board, if we believe that babies and the mentally disabled can be saved. Most acknowledge this to be the case and admit this to be somewhat of an exception. And once you open this door to these “exceptions” there may alos be exceptions in regards to those who cannot believe the gospel because they never have the opportunity to hear it. Even this possibility seems to bave scriptural warrant as the most of the Jews in the OT whle trusting in God and being in a saving relationship with God never heard about Jesus and never heard the gospel which involves his death and resurrection from the dead. We also have these odd cases of obviously saved persons who did not hear the name of Jesus or hear the gospel nor did they seem to be under the OT law and yet they were saved. Here I am thinking of Melchesedic and Job. Job was in relationship with God and yet no mention of either the OT law or Jesus appears anywhere in the book of Job. Based on the fact that babies and the mentally disabled will be saved apart from hearing the gospel about Jesus, it seems clear that we cannot dogmaticaly and categorically claim that no one can be saved without hearing the gospel of Jesus. And once we open this door which it seems we must, then it is possible that others who never hear the name of Jesus may also be saved. It could be the case that God judges each individual based upon the light or revelation they have received. So I don’t think we can assume as Bill does that no one can be saved apart from hearing about Jesus and believing in him. It also seems to me that Bill tries to make an emotional appeal based upon these billions who never hear about Jesus. But I already know that millions of babies have all died due to abortions, are they are hell bound since they never heard of Jesus?

It is clear from scripture that God desires that all be saved: clear because that is what He explicitly says. If that is the case then he will save the able minded who hear the gospel only if they have faith. If he also wants to save all then he can have mercy on all babies and the mentally disabled if He wants to. and with regard to those who never hear about Jesus, God can save them through Crhist based upon their response to the light they have received. It seems that there cuold be exceptions to the rule that a person is saved through faith in Christ alone. Again if you do not condemn all babies and the mentally disabled to hell and see them as exceptions to the general rule, then you cannot unring the bell and simultaneously declare that all who never hear about Jesus automatically go to hell. As Bill assumes this to be true, if this assumption is false the whole discussion is skewed. This may not be the place to discuss the fate of babies, the mentnally disabled and those who have never heard the gospel:this possibility of some exceptons needs to be keptin mind here.

Robert

    Alan Davis

    Is this a “Traditionalist” view? Robert said: “And once you open this door to these “exceptions” there may alos be exceptions in regards to those who cannot believe the gospel because they never have the opportunity to hear it.”

      Robert

      Alan in the past the issue of infant salvation has been extensively discussed here. Onee of the Trads also wrote a whole book on the subject that was discussed here as well. It seemed that both Trads and calvinists for the most part agreed that all babies who die in infancy will be saved by the mercy of God. It seems to me that once this door is opened then you have to serioulsy consider whether other “exceptions” would include the mentally disabled and those who have never heard the gospel message. It seems arbitrary to say all infants are saved without hearing the gospel but not extend this possibility to the mentally disabled and those who have never heard as well.

      Robert

Donald

Stephen,
Try these out for “cheap simplistic theological arguments”.

Dr. Malcom Yarnell
http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/files/myarnellchapelchapel093009_fd1.mp3

Dr. Ken Keathley
http://apps.sebts.edu/multimedia/?p=294

Donald

“the answer to your question is rather simple: His inscrutable Holiness”

You do realize that “inscrutable” means “impossible to understand”. How is this “rather simple”

    Randall Cofield

    Donald,

    Simple to understand in relation to the subject at hand, impossible to completely comprehend, brother.

    We all throw around statements like “the love of God” and “the holiness of God” as if we really understand them.

    We don’t.

    Grace to you, brother.

Clark Dunlap

Interesting logic, but not without holes. Are you a universalist because of God’s infinite love? If not your logic fails.

    Randall Cofield

    … :-) ….

    Lydia

    “Interesting logic, but not without holes. Are you a universalist because of God’s infinite love? If not your logic fails.”

    It only fails when you take man’s volition out of the equation totally. Which is what Calvinists do. So your either/or position is:

    God choosing some before Adam sinned

    OR

    Universalism

    Because you believe that God is actively controllling every molecule 24/7.

    You were trained not to think outside that box.

    And, except for a few being given special knowledge or anointing to understand it for us peasants who, according to some Calvinists, do not have the mental processes to really understand it all. Very Greek.

Kevin

Right on Ben. And Pharaoh (v.17) was not a first-century Jew. lol

    Robert

    I took the time to write about the Jewish context of Romans 9-11. In response Kevin writes:

    “Right on Ben. And Pharaoh (v.17) was not a first-century Jew. Lol”

    Kevin where did I say that Pharaoh was a first century Jew??????

    I don’t appreciate your attempt at mockery here at all.

    And the fact that Paul makes reference to Pharaoh, a Gentile does not change the fact at all that Romans 9-11 was primarily discussing a first century Jewish context.

    Paul is explaining how his message (that a man is justified by faith in Christ rather than by the keeping of the law is true). Paul is explaining why, if his message is true, why are so many first century Jews rejecting this message? Paul says explicitly that the problem was not with the Word of God: “But it is not as though the word of God has failed.” So what was the problem then? The problem was that the first century Jews for the most part were trying to be justified before God by keeping the law rather than faith in Christ. Paul says this explicitly in Rom. 9:31 – “ but Israel pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works” and Rom. 10:2-3 –“For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”

    Paul also argues that because of this rejection of Christ in favor of trying to justify themselves by their keeping of the law, that God had hardened them. Paul says that God being sovereign is justified in hardening people. Paul argues this point in Romans 9:14-18 concluding that “So then He has mercy on whom He desires and He hardens whom He desires.” Paul uses Pharaoh as an illustration of hardening. Pharaoh kept saying No go God, he first hardened himself, so then God hardened him for his unbelief. Paul is using the example of Pharaoh to the Jews to say: don’t be like that! Paul also says explicitly in a few places in Romans 9-11 that God had hardened the unbelieving Jews: “From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers” Who are these people who “are enemies for your sake” at that time? They are unbelieving first century Jews. Paul says that a few first century Jews (such as himself) did believe but most did not and were hardened. And yet Paul also says that while most of them were unbelieving and hardened and thus cut off branches from the olive tree, they could still be regrafted into the tree if they had faith (see especially Paul’s discussion of the olive tree, in Rom. 11-17-24.

    If you understand all of this then it makes perfect sense for Paul to use Pharaoh as an example of hardening as a warning to his fellow Jews not to continue in their unbelief. And using Pharaoh as an example of hardening in no way argues against the Jewish context of Romans 9-11.

    Robert

volfan007

Bill, yes, it’s true that that light condemns them. But, it also is light, in that it shows them that there is a God, and there are rights and wrongs….and, it should be enough light to make them want to know this Creator, and get right with Him…and, if any of them wanted to get right with this Creator, then I believe that God would send some Jonah to them to share the Gospel with them. Of course, most of them turn away to a god, or a religion of thier own making, instead of seeking after the Creator….but still, they have light…enough light that it makes them think of God….and, it’s enough to make them think about getting right with God….the point is, even the ones, who’ve never heard the Gospel do have light.

David

    Bill

    David: That sounds good, and I’d be glad if it is true. But do you have any scripture to support that belief?

rhutchin

Pastor Rogers affirms that all are not saved. If God were to elect all people to salvation, there would be no problem. So, just how do people come to be saved if God does not elect them?

The non-Calvinist God is like a lifeguard watching as people swim out into the ocean but then all are drowning. He sends Christ out in a boat to persuade people to climb aboard the boat and thereby save themselves. Christ is not very persuasive as a lot of people ignore His pleas and refuse to save themselves with the result that they drown.

So, Pastor Rogers has problems with the Calvinist God who refuses to exercise His omnipotent power to save all. He prefers the non-Calvinist God who also refuses to exercise His omnipotent power to save all.

I don’t see why his objects to Calvinism as the same people are saved and the same people are lost regardless which system he embraces.

I have not read all the comments, so if someone has already made this point, it just means that great minds think alike.

    holdon

    “So, Pastor Rogers has problems with the Calvinist God who refuses to exercise His omnipotent power to save all. He prefers the non-Calvinist God who also refuses to exercise His omnipotent power to save all.”

    Has it not occurred to you that perhaps there is a possibility the God CANNOT save all? That it may not be a matter of power, but principle? He said He desires to save all. So, why are not all saved? The only explanation is that Man has to repent and believe. That is the will of God.

      Robert

      Holdon you wrote:

      “Has it not occurred to you that perhaps there is a possibility the God CANNOT save all?”

      And that possibility would be a reality if God designed a world where He wanted human persons to have genuine free will, where they actually had and make their own choices. If God wanted such a world (and the available evidence is overwhelming that he did, because we see people having choices all over the Bible and we experience this reality ourselves daily) and if He also wanted salvation to involve our freely made choices (say choices to repent and choices to trust Him) then people being saved would not be a unilateral power display on the part of God. Instead he would be genuinely interacting with real people in real situations where their choices were real and had real consequences (i.e. just as we find in the Bible for example!).

      “That it may not be a matter of power, but principle?”

      Holdon you are correct it is not just a matter of brute power on the part of God. It is a matter of genuine relationship and real free will and the salvation plan that God Himself designed.

      “He said He desires to save all. So, why are not all saved? The only explanation is that Man has to repent and believe. That is the will of God.”

      Able minded persons who hear the gospel are condemned for their unbelief, their refusal to trust in Christ alone for salvation. Or put another way: God wants all to be saved, but not all want to be saved (cf. when Jesus gave the parable about the invitation going out and different people having different excuses for why they were not coming, in that parable the nonresponse was chosen by the people making excuses not by the one who invited them).

      Robert

    Robert

    Rhutchin wrote:

    “The non-Calvinist God is like a lifeguard watching as people swim out into the ocean but then all are drowning. He sends Christ out in a boat to persuade people to climb aboard the boat and thereby save themselves. Christ is not very persuasive as a lot of people ignore His pleas and refuse to save themselves with the result that they drown.”

    My major problem with this and other Calvinist caricatures of the non-Calvinist position is an extremely simple but usually completely missed point: the nature of the plan of salvation is completely up to God. If he designed a plan of salvation, as the non-Calvinist contends, that includes him offering salvation but not forcing it upon people (i.e. not making it an issue of power, but of freely made choices on the part of people). That includes him providing atonement for all but only applying it to those who repent of their sin and trust Him alone for salvation. Then THAT IS THE WAY IT IS GOING TO BE. You can try to question it and mock it with illustrations, you can object to it all you want, you can tear your hair out over it. Doesn’t matter what you do, how much you despise his plan of salvation. It remains His plan of salvation and that is the way it is going to be.

    “So, Pastor Rogers has problems with the Calvinist God who refuses to exercise His omnipotent power to save all. He prefers the non-Calvinist God who also refuses to exercise His omnipotent power to save all.”

    The Bible does not present salvation as God ***unilaterally exercising power*** to save all. Instead, he invites people to be His followers. People are told they must repent and believe in order to be saved. If it was a straight unilateral act of power then God would just do it, and the Biblical writers would not talk about repentance and faith things that people need to choose to do in order to be saved. Actually if it was strictly the unilateral power of God you would not even need to preach the gospel, God would just zap people and they would be saved. But it does not work that way at all, and God is much more relational than that. It is not surprising that determinists emphasize power so much, as determinism is very impersonal and not relational at all. The Bible on the other hand is extremely relational because God is interested in genuine relationship with us and so He is genuinely interacting with people not just zapping them with unilateral power displays.

    “I don’t see why his objects to Calvinism as the same people are saved and the same people are lost regardless which system he embraces.”

    Well this leaves out a big chunk of truth. In Calvinism salvation is not our decision, if we are lucky we get zapped and so are saved, if unlucky we don’t get zapped and it is impossible for us to be saved. In non-Calvinism God interacts with people, he invites people, he urges people to repent and to believe. In non-Calvinism if a person ends up damned it is not because they never had an opportunity to be saved (as is true in Calvinism where the “reprobates” cannot be saved, it is impossible for them to be saved, they are in fact chosen for damnation): it is because they repeatedly for their entire lifetime rejected God over and over.

    Put another way rhutchin you intentionally ignore that how an outcome comes about makes a big difference. Two people both end up in the hospital, that is the outcome for both of them. But if one ends up there to see his wife giving birth to their child and another is there because they were shot: we don’t conclude, “but the same two people ended up at the hospital what difference does it make how they got there”. Similarly if two people end up in hell, we don’t say that it does not matter how they got there, they just both ended up there. We see, or we should see a big difference between one that was predestined to be in hell and God made sure of it, versus one that is there because God gave them the opportunity not to be there and yet they kept saying No to God and His grace for their entire lifetimes.

    Robert

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