Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Romans 9 for Calvinists part 1 of 2

This blog was entirely inspired by this great page that explains Romans chapter 9 beautifully.

Right off the bat,I am not claiming to have something new to offer here..I remain perplexed at the narrow minded and blindly biased interpretations of these texts that the Calvinists present.Here I am anyway to go over some points that I hope will help people who want to make a defense against Calvinists and for Calvinists who have probably already heard similar or identical points but chose to ignore them.

First,we have to recognize the context of Romans chapter nine,as well as the OT passages which these scriptures reference in order to obtain an honest exegesis,as opposed to a manmade eisegesis.What we discover,in context,is a chapter irrefutably about a NATION'S rejection(Israel) after God had used them to produce the Messiah,as had been promised to Abraham.Anticipating the moans and groans of this nation that many probably thought should be saved simply because of the favoritism God has shown it in times past,Paul here emphasizes God's right to reject a nation that has been impenitent and haughty and foolish,regardless of ANYTHING the individuals therein may say or do to insist that they SHOULD be saved because of God's mercy and acceptance and blessings for them in times past.Israel's reaction would likely be like spoiled children who have been bombarded with gifts and later think they should continue to be "just because" even though they behave like brats,given our human tendency to desire favor and blessings no matter what we've done to prove we don't deserve them.This chapter is all about God's absolute right to determine the acceptance or rejection,the condemnation or the salvation,of a person or nation no matter how adamantly one may feel or think one deserves the ultimate blessings and kingdom of God.

I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called." That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. (Romans 9:1-8)

Here Paul is letting us know that all Israelites cannot be members of Christ's body or of "spiritual Israel" just because they are descendants of fleshy Israel.God will determine in his own perfect judgement who will receive a blessed inheritance based upon one's being declared righteous by faith and penitence in Christ.There is positively nothing in scripture to indicate that just because God molds and chooses an individual or nation for a specific extraordinary purpose that that means God will be the puppetmaster of that one forever and make sure he is saved.Solomon was used to compose 3 OT books and to build a glorious temple etc..but because Solomon was unrepentant in certain wicked acts,he lost favor.And ,again,there is absolutely nothing in scripture to indicate God made him do these wicked acts and then cause him to cease to ever repent of them.The whole notion is ridiculous.And I'm basing this fact on scriptural language,clarity OF that language and repetitive testaments to the truth that we have free will we can use in concert with God's will,that God is impartial,and would find anyone who isn't an abomination.To say God ISN'T impartial would mean he doesn't live up to his own standards of what is decent and just and that scriptural language is to be regarded as moot..Someone like Paul being chosen for all the marvels he accomplished by God's power doesn't mean that if he had become overcome by the world in some fashion and unwilling to humble himself in returning to God's ways that he wouldn't have been condemned,even though God has obviously used him in remarkable ways!Everything in scripture indicates that what we do by our own choices,independent of God's supposed Calvinistic merciless force,will result in his favor or not,in his spirit working in concert with our will or not.Even if he has molded us to accomplish something pertaining to his will,we can STILL,as the bible says,fall away.Or be "grafted out."(Romans 11:17-24)..Entirely dependent upon our faith and obedience(or not) and God's righteous judgment of our lasting conformity(or not) to his fair standards.

Couple brief examples of how if one holds to a Calvinist interpretation,scripture become meaningless:

James 1:13 When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone. 14 But each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.

If God doesn't try anyone with evil and people's desires aren't always God's desires(unless God is unrighteous ..never may that be said!),according to these texts,how can you say God tries who he wishes with evil and gives everyones' desires to them ,forcing them to sin.All the text itself says is that they are our OWN desires,belonging to no one else prior to us heaping them upon us.Calvinist interpretations are simply eisegesis in the highest order of the word.

Let's go to another text in James:
James 4:8:Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you indecisive ones.

So this text ,as clearly as is possible,is a great example of how OUR free will in drawing close to God compels God in his love to reciprocate the intimacy,appreciative I am quite sure of some people's spiritual need being cultivated and addressed.God doesn't send invitations throughout his holy word to a few people while the rest of everyone sits reading and hoping and praying while there is just NO hope whatsoever.Frankly,that would make God like a parent who has 10 children but doesn't care a thing for most of them and in fact will burn them up in an oven just because he likes to play sadistic duck duck goose.(or if you believe in the orthodox greek philosophically inspired hell doctrine,never letting them be burned up at all but rather letting them continuously burn forever mercilessly,as if God is infinitely sadistic and the anger he has will be forever even though he said it was temporary.)Again,God is not unrighteous and wicked.Satan and some people are.So let us not attribute the characteristics of the devil to our God of love and mercy and impartiality.Absurd!

For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son." And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." (Romans 9:9-13)

In context,I can't really see anyone being able to honestly argue that this chapter isn't speaking of NATIONS..which is exactly what Esau and Jacob represent here..NOT individual men and whether or not God ultimately saves them regardless of their actions,dependent upon his fictional partiality.If this were about the individual,it woud be a failed prophecy,(something inexplicable scripture wise!) considering Esau did NOT serve Jacob but, if anything,Jacob served Esau,bowing before him 7 times,offering him his family and possessions,etc..just so his brother wouldn't avenge the birthright he stole from him.I'm not denying that God can use and mold people to fit his will(still,not always resulting in their salvation unless they obeyed and served God righteously in faith),but this simply isn't about him doing that with these two men.Examining the OT references should put that to rest.As well as the fact that "the older DID NOT serve the younger!"A common Calvinist objection might be that even if it is pertaining to nations that God's sovereignty over them displays his absolute sovereignty and partiality even more strongly,but again,this ISN'T about God determining the ultimate SALVATION of individuals in these nations,or else everyone in Israel has eternal life and everyone in many other nations can't.Is that the case?Of course not!It is about God using a particular nation for an exceptional purpose,resulting in the birth and death and resurrection of our great Lord Jesus,and then that same nation(though not every individual therein) losing his favor because of it's continuous rebellion.No way would Paul have written these texts and expected anyone to assume they meant the literal two men when the Old Testament,which the new testament doesn't contradict but rather reiterates,from which Paul quoted explains everything:

But the children struggled together within her; and she said, "If all is well, why am I like this?" So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her:"Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger." (Genesis 25:22-23)

So Jacob and Esau represented nations.This has to be one of the simplest concepts imaginable.The narrow minded and biased Calvinist interpretation confounds me.

So in context,we've ALREADY established
1.This chapter is about nations,not individuals.
2.It would be a FAILED prophecy if it WERE about individuals because Esau DID NOT SERVE Jacob but rather the NATION that descended from Esau served the NATION that descended from Jacob.
3.In their OT context,the meaning is kindergarten,SIMPLY gathered.

How anyone could take these facts and assume these scriptures are in relation to the foreordination of individual mens' eternal salvation or eternal death is beyond me.If they've studied the facts,the context,and the references.

Even further:

The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. "I have loved you," says the LORD. "Yet you say, 'In what way have You loved us?' Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" Says the LORD. "Yet Jacob I have loved; But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness." Even though Edom has said, "We have been impoverished, But we will return and build the desolate places," Thus says the LORD of hosts: "They may build, but I will throw down; They shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, And the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever. (Malachi 1:1-4)

It really doesn't get more succint than that!Esau is identified as Edom..a nation,correlating with Romans chapter nine ,which is about NATIONS.Just to recap,if you think this is literally applied to these two men,it becomes a failed prophecy and the OT context becomes moot in your interpretation which ultimately equals eisegesis,considering Paul wouldn't rearrange the OT texts to introduce a whole new concept in the NT,which is quoting from the Old!That would be eisegesis,again.

As for Jacob(Israel) being loved, and Esau being hated..All that means is that Isreal was ESPECIALLY favored and Edom was less favored,not that God literally hated every person in Edom or even the nation.Let's examine a text to help clarify this:

Luke 14:26:If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.

In scripture to hate someone or something sometimes means simply to love less.If we REALLY hated our own family ,God would reject us.So it HAS to mean that we love Christ MORE than our family but we would still have to love our family,even though the term "hate" is used.This is also how it is used here in Romans.Jah loved Edom less than Israel.Understandably,as Israel would bring about the promised seed,our savior.

To quote the website linked at the top:
"If we look closely at Romans 9 and its referenced passages, we can observe where God has manipulated nations in His grand scheme, or judicially hardened rebellious individuals. Yet, He still allowed the ultimate fate of both nation and individual to be chosen through either penitent obedience or stubborn disobedience.God's unconditional election only applied to the role of nations in producing the Messiah, not the salvation of individuals."

I'll leave you with this irrefutable compelling text:
Acts 10:34 At this Peter opened his mouth and said: “For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, 35 but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.

You can't reconcile these texts nor too many others to count with Calvinist theology without special pleading of the most desperate tragic kind.

More later.

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