An Apparently Not So Brief Response to C. Michael Patton on Rom. 9

I wrote a lengthy response to C. Michael Patton’s post on Rom. 9 entitled “Why Does He Still Find Fault”: Predestination, Election, and the Argument of Romans 9.  Apparently, it was a little too lengthy for Patton’s taste since he deleted all but the first in a series of posts and then made a general comment about people spamming his site, to which I responded,

I apologize for the length of my posts and that several of them were posted in a row, but the question you ask in your post requires a very detailed answer. So I didn’t see it as spam. I saw it as a detailed response to a question that was repeatedly asked in this thread: that someone offer an alternative interpretation to the one you have offered if one is to properly challenge that interpretation. I do intend on putting my comments above into a post at my blog at some point, but in doing so one can never be sure how many will think it worth pursuing. So I was trying to engage your post in the most direct way as possible. I thought that is what you were after and I made sure to limit the content to Rom. 9.  But again, I apologize if that response was longer than you approve of. I did not intend to violate your blog rules.

So for the sake of sharing an alternative interpretation and taking on the claims that the Arminain interpretation simply cannot honestly make sense of the text in question (esp. Rom. 9:19), I offer the entirety of my response below which was not permitted on Patton’s site.  I will also link to it at his site as he suggested long winded commenters like myself do.  I am tempted to add to it since I have the freedom to do so now, but for now I will leave it as is and maybe develope it further in subsequent posts:

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CMP,

There is so much to say concerning this that it is very hard to put it all in a post or two.  I really do think that the Arminian interp is in far better harmony with the greater context of Rom. 9-11 than the Calvinist interpretation.  I would also take issue with your view that Paul is speaking of unconditional security in Rom. 8:28-39.  Rather, Paul is speaking of all of the benefits that come to the believer through faith union with Christ (notice the bookend “in Christ” language in Rom. 8:1 and 8:39).   While one remains in Christ through faith, nothing in this world can separate the believer from Christ.  However, the passage says nothing of those who may reject Christ at a later time and remove themselves from the sphere of God’s elective love (which is “in Christ Jesus”, 8:39).

I would also argue that Paul is primarily speaking of the corporate body of Christ, the church, in Rom. 8:28-30 and of individuals secondarily only as they relate to and are identified with the elect corporate body that ultimately finds its identification in Christ (for more on the corporate election view see here).  So while these things are true of the corporate body of believers, they are only true of the individual on the condition that he or she remains in that elect body through faith.  This truth is clearly brought out in Romans 11:16-24.  So Rom. 8:28-39 does not preclude the possibility of apostasy on the part of the individual who may ultimately be broken off from the elect body through unbelief.  However, in his reflection on all of the covenant blessings and benefits that belong to the church as a result of their union with Christ, Paul’s thoughts quickly shift to his own people who have largely been denied these benefits due to their unbelief.  So the question naturally arises, have God’s promises to Israel failed?  Has God been unfaithful to Israel in denying them participation in the new covenant that the Gentiles are now enjoying?

In short, the answer is a resounding “no”, since God has the sovereign right to choose His covenant people on whatever basis He decides upon.  This basis is union with Christ through faith rather than heritage or works.  God decides who His covenant partner will be and who His covenant people will be.  This is Paul’s point in Rom. 9:1-13.  God chose His people through His sovereign election of the covenant heads (the patriarchs) and this election was not based on man’s decision but God’s decision.  But God’s ultimate purpose in election was to open the door for all people to enjoy His love as God’s chosen covenant people and that purpose has now been realized in Christ (cf. Rom 4:16-25).  Therefore, the children of the promise are not those that God unconditionally elected from all eternity, but those who receive the promise by faith (cf. Rom. 3:21-4:25; Rom. 9:8; Galatians 3:15-29).

The promise is ultimately the promise of a new covenant people through Christ Jesus (Rom. 4:16-5:9; Gal. 3:21-25).  It is through faith that we receive the promised Spirit and become children of God (Gal. 3:14, 22-29).  The first part of Romans is concerned with God’s divine right to name His covenant people based on whatever conditions He decides to set forth or based on whomever He decides to choose as the corporate representative through whom His people are named and draw their identity.  It was through Isaac that Abraham’s offspring would be “named” (i.e. called), for it was through Isaac that the promise would come to the people.  Further, God named His people through Jacob/Israel.  The covenant people of God were chosen in Jacob/Israel and this according to God’s sovereign right to make Jacob His corporate covenant representative rather than Esau.  The concept of corporate solidarity is plainly seen in Paul’s reference to the prophecy given to Rebekah (Rom. 9:11-13).  The people of God are tied up in the corporate representative Jacob/Israel and derive their identity and name through Him,

Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger. (Emphasis mine; Note: the person Esau never served the person Jacob)

This is a prophecy of the destiny of these two people groups tied up in the persons of Jacob and Esau through whom these people would be “named” (i.e. “called”) and derive their identity.  God had the sovereign right to choose Jacob as the corporate representative of His covenant people, but this was only the beginning since the true “Seed” of Abraham was yet to come.  And it is ultimately through this chosen “Seed” (Christ) that God’s people will draw their identity as God’s chosen covenant people, and through whom all of the blessings and promises of the new covenant would be imparted to those who put faith in Him (Rom. 4:16-5:5; 9:8, 30-10:13; Gal. 3:14, 21-4:7).  Note especially Gal. 3:16-22, 29.

Furthermore, God has the divine right to make inclusion in the people of God based on the condition of faith in Christ, through which we are joined together with Him and receive all of the spiritual blessings that reside in Him (including election, cf. Eph. 1:3-13). So it is not of works or heritage, but of faith in Christ.  It is to this that the Jews protest since they believe that the promises belong to them unconditionally as children of Abraham and observers of the covenant laws and customs.  But God reserves the right to have mercy on whom He will have mercy (i.e. on those who put faith in Christ) and to reject/harden those who reject His divinely appointed means of effecting the new covenant and naming His new covenant people (through faith union with His chosen covenant Head and corporate representative- Jesus Christ, the true “Seed” of Abraham through whom the “promises” are received by faith, Rom. 4:13-17).

This brings us to the passage that you seem to find so convincingly in favor of the Calvinist interpretation (Rom. 9:19).  Paul is not addressing the protest of an Arminian but the protest of a Jew.  Paul just mentioned that even the hardening of Pharaoh ultimately served God’s purpose in that His name might be displayed in all the earth.  However, Pharaoh was not hardened arbitrarily.  His hardening was the result of His rejection of God and God’s right to do what He willed with His covenant people.  This is the parallel drawn with present day Israel.  The Israelites have experienced a hardening due to their rejection of God’s chosen means to effect His covenant and name His covenant people (through Christ).  However, just as with Pharaoh, their rejection and subsequent hardening have actually served to further Gods’ purpose in that His name is now proclaimed among the Gentiles and His glory more fully displayed through the inclusion of the  Gentiles as God’s covenant people through faith in Christ.  So the objection is not about why does God harden us irresistibly and then blame us?  The objection is: why does God hold us accountable when our rejection and hardening actually served His purpose in increasing His glory and making Himself known among the nations?  It is similar to the objection raised in Rom. 3:7,

If my falsehood enhances God’s faithfulness and so increases His glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?

This brings us to Paul’s use of the Potter imagery which draws on Jeremiah 18.  Rather than being used at this present time for noble purposes, the Jews are being used for “common use” in that they are still serving God’s purposes, but not in the way that God originally intended.  God has been forced to use them through their failure rather than through their obedience and faithfulness.  God had noble purposes for Israel, but they could not be fulfilled due to their rejection and rebellion.  Therefore, God endured them as objects of wrath just as He endured and sustained Pharaoh while simultaneously preparing objects of glory even through their rebellion and stubbornness (in the case of Israel God continued to enact His plan to send the Messiah through Israel [by whom He would prepare a people for glory] despite Israel’s continual rebellion and rejection of God and His covenant).

God could have destroyed them entirely many times, but endured them with great patience for the sake of His promise to bring the promised “Seed” out of Abraham’s descendents, through whom He would bless the world (Rom. 9:4, 5).  As Jer. 18:5-11 plainly testifies, God had noble plans for Israel but brought destruction on them instead due to their rebellion (Jer. 18:5, 9-12).  In the same passage God states that the nations of whom God warns of destruction can come into favor and avoid destruction through repentance (Jer. 18:7).  This is exactly what has happened in Paul’s day.  The Jews have been rejected, not unconditionally but as a result of their rebellion, and the Gentiles have been spared destruction and given hope through Christ due to their positive response to the Gospel (see also Isaiah 29:16; 45:9 which describes the same basic concept of judgment for rebellion as described in Jer. 18).

The Jews have rejected God’s ways and purpose fulfilled in the person of Christ and will now suffer the just consequences while the Gentiles who had previously rejected God and were cut off from the promises of God, will now enjoy His favor through their acceptance of God’s purposes in the person of Christ.  The allusion to Jer. 18 and the imagery presented there makes the Calvinist interpretation of these passages impossible.  So God reserves the right to say “not my people” to those who were formally His people and to call them “my people” who were formally cut off from the benefits of God’s covenant people (Rom. 9:24-29, and note again that “called” is used in these passages in the sense of “naming” a people for God, and not as some divine summons made irresistible for the “elect”; for more on that see here).  “My people” are those who receive the promise through faith in Christ (both Jew and Gentile) and “not my people” are those who reject Christ (both Jew and Gentile).  Romans 9:30-33 sums this up nicely in again locating the distinction between the people of God and those rejected of God as being based on those who have faith and those who do not.  Nothing is said of an unconditional election in Paul’s conclusion to this section, because this was not at all what Paul had been discussing in the chapter.

As we continue to read Rom. 10-11, the Arminian interpretation only gains strength while the Calvinist interpretation falters repeatedly.  Much, much, much more could be said, but I have already gone on far too long.   Thanks for letting me share an alternative perspective.

God Bless,

Ben

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18 Responses

  1. Ben,

    I just asked Michael (on his blog) why your full post has now been erased. I was quite disappointed as I only had a chance to skim your work when I first noticed it had been posted at Parchment and Pen. I agree that to interact with Michael on this topic, it required a well thought out and comprehensive reply.

    Thank you very much for now posting it on your site.

    Brian

  2. Thanks so much for this thought out response to the Calvinist interpretation of Romans 9. I found it helpful and thought provoking.

    – Wavering Calvinist

  3. Hello Ben,

    I was going to post on Michael Patton’s site but then saw what he did to your posts over there. I really don’t want to waste time posting and then having my comments deleted. So I am going to post here for anyone to see some of the major problems with Patton’s comments on Romans 9.

    It appears that Michael intended to use Romans 9 in order to discuss his belief in unconditional election. But I think his whole discussion is misguided because he makes some assumptions which then become his controlling assumptions as to how the text ought to be interpreted. And these controlling assumptions are mistaken, so his interpretation is wrong.

    One of Patton’s major and erroneous assumptions is that the text of Romans 9 is primarily concerned with God choosing individuals for salvation in eternity (i.e. the Calvinistic concept of unconditional election). He then reads this assumption into the chapter and argues that the chapter is in fact arguing for unconditional election.

    Patton begins by contrasting two views of election (neither which is presented by the text of Romans 9).

    He then issues a disclaimer about how unconditional election may be difficult to take:

    “Although I understand the sting that unconditional election brings, I am a very strong advocate of unconditional election. This is not necessarily because I believe it is the understanding that I am most comfortable with or because I think it creates that least amount of problems, but because I believe it is what the Scripture teaches. I try to follow my own dictum, the palatability of a doctrine does not determine its veracity.”

    Patton then declares that Romans 9 is the clearest passage on unconditional election in scripture:

    “Of all the passages that teach unconditional election, there are a few that take priority. And there is one that stands out more than any. While I can see and understand how people might interpret other “election” passages differently, this one is one that I simply cannot explain outside of a Calvinist worldview–Romans 9. I believe that the plain reading of this passage tells us that Paul believed in what is to most a radical doctrine that seems both bizarre and unfair.”

    OK if a “plain reading” yields unconditional election (i.e. God choosing individuals to be saved and making this choice in eternity) then where in this text does it discuss or refer to God’s making decisions in eternity first and then ensuring that this occurs in history? You assume both a total plan exhaustively predecided by God and unconditional election, neither concept is presented in the text of Romans 9. Where in the text of Romans 9 does it refer to God in eternity making decisions about who will be saved and who will not be? It is not there. Where in the text does it refer to God’s actions in eternity? Instead the text refers repeatedly to God’s actions in time, specifically in the history of Israel.

    Another error occurs when Patton presents the supposed context for Romans 9:

    “We must understand some contextual background here. In Romans 9, Paul is defending the security of a believer in God’s love that was put forth in Romans 8. Remember, he ended that chapter by saying that there was nothing that could separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.”

    No, that is not the context for Romans 9 through 11. Romans 9-11 functions as a unit and the initial issue that Paul is in fact dealing with is the question as to why if the gospel (which Paul has carefully explicated for the previous eight chapters of Romans) that Paul is preaching (and its corollary that a person is justified through faith not the works of the law) is true, then why have the Jews as a whole rejected it? Does that mean that God’s promises/Word has failed?

    Patton attempts to make Romans 9 a discussion of eternal security:

    “That is an incredible statement that Paul seeks to defend. Most certainly he had been in this situation before. Try to imagine. In Ephesus, teaching on the security of the believer, Paul makes the same proposition: “Nothing can separate you from God’s electing love in Christ Jesus.” Someone in the audience raises their hand and says, “Paul, this is great and all, but I have a problem.” “What is it?” Paul responds. “Well you say that the elect are secure in God, right?” “That is right” Paul says. “Well, what about Israel? Weren’t they God’s elect? Weren’t they promised security as well? What happened to them? They don’t seem to be following God right now? If their election is the same as my election, my election does not seem too secure.””

    Here Patton invents a dialogue in which someone is objecting to eternal security, he then claims this objection is Paul’s motivation for writing Romans 9. Wrong. Paul clearly and explicitly states his motivation, his authorial intent, in the first three verses of Romans 9 (verses Patton inexplicably completely left out of his discussion of Romans 9, the verses which in fact establish the proper context for Romans 9 through 11).

    “It was a good objection and needed to be responded to. Paul does so in Romans 9-11. This is what this section is all about: defending the righteousness and integrity of God.”

    With regard to the security of salvation? No. That is not “what this section is all about”. Examination of standard commentaries will also bear this out.

    “Notice, Paul begins 9 by saying, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed” (Rom. 9:6). Why would he need to say this unless there are those who might be tempted to question the integrity of God’s word?”

    The reasons he says this is that the reality at that time in the first century was that many Gentiles were being saved through faith but the Jews as a whole were rejecting the gospel that Paul was preaching and were not being saved (cf. the preaching and the responses throughout the book of Acts). That’s the concern (cf. especially Paul’s own statement from his heart in verses 1-3; note verses 1-3 precede Romans 9:6-24 and they establish the context of Paul’s discussion, not as you claim Romans 8:38-39).

    “He wants to show that the word of God has not failed with Israel and it will not fail with the Church. Notice as well that Paul ends this section by reinforcing the security claims of Romans 8, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29). So the entire section is about security.”

    No, the entire section is not dealing with security of salvation. The irrevocability referred to in Romans 11:29 refers not to individuals but to the NATION OF ISRAEL (God chose the NATION OF ISRAEL to be his people, that National calling is irrevocable, cf. New Testament statements about “to the Jew first” etc,.)

    “It is in defense of God. It is in defense of His claim that we cannot be separated from His love in the face of what seems to be evidence to the contrary—the current state of the nation of Israel.”

    Romans 9-11 is not a defense of eternal security, you are mistaken in this claim. There are also verses especially in Romans 11 that argue against eternal security (e.g., the branches of the tree that can be broken off and lost).

    Patton also makes a major mistake with the identity of the “objector” in Romans 9:

    “Once again, this brings up another objection that Paul has most certainly heard through the years of teaching. Imagine this Ephesian once again hesitantly raising his hand saying, “Okay Paul. Forgive me, but now I have another question. If this is true, that God elects some individuals and not others as was the case with Jacob and Esau, this seems very unfair. Why does God still find fault? Who resists His will?”

    The objector is not an Ephesian church member questioning the doctrine of eternal security, but is a first century unbelieving Jew questioning Paul’s gospel of justification through faith rather than the works of the law. Paul presents the objector and his objections to show Paul’s response to those unbelieving Jews who are rejecting his message and gospel preaching.

    “Now at this point we must realize the significance of this question with regards to the Calvinism/Arminianism (unconditional election/conditional election) debate. Remember, this is the same question that we have when we first read this. When Paul says, “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires” (Rom. 9:18), we are taken aback.”

    We are not “taken aback” about this **unless** we isolate 9:18 away from the rest of the 9-11 unit. This is another extremely common error made by Calvinists: to isolate Romans 9 as a proof text for their belief in unconditional election divorcing the text from its context which is the entire unit of Romans 9-11. In 9:18 God says he has the right as God, to have mercy on whomever he wants. The question then becomes: and whom does he desire to have mercy upon? Which Paul directly answers at the conclusion of Romans 11 in verse 32: “that he might show mercy to ALL” (vv. 33-36 is a doxology of praise, verse 32 is actually the conclusion to the section)

    “We think to ourselves the same as Paul’s imaginary objector. How can God hold someone accountable for making this choice when it is only God’s election that can cause them to do otherwise? It is a good question. One that I often ask myself. But we must realize this: the question itself helps us to understand that we are following Paul correctly. If you don’t empathize with the objection, then you have misunderstood Paul. But if we do understand how such a question could arise out of Paul’s seemingly radical comments, it means that we are interpreting Paul correctly.”

    Here again Patton mistakes the nature of the objector. The objector is a first century unbelieving Jew who rejects Paul’s gospel. The objector is not a twentieth century person rejecting theological determinism because they want to hold onto free will. You mistakenly frame Romans 9 as if it is a Paul presenting Calvinism and the objector is an Arminian questioning exhaustive determinism/unconditional election/Calvinism! Patton has read in **his** concerns and interests, rather than exegeting the apostle Paul’s concerns and interests (to defend his gospel, to show how God was in fact keeping his promises through the gospel, to show that both Jew and Gentiles are justified through faith alone not the doing of the works of the law, the salvation of his own people who must reject their reliance on salvation through keeping the law and accept that justification is through faith not keeping the works of the law, to establish that the gospel is available to both Jew and Gentile, to establish that God’s people are those who trust Him alone for salvation rather than trusting in their own works, etc.)

    “Now, when the objector says, “How can God still find fault, for who resists His will?”, if the Arminian position of conditional election were correct (that God simply looks ahead into the future and has decided to elect all who trust in Christ), there is really no problem at all. Paul just needs to calm the objector down by explaining how he has misunderstood the argument.”

    The objector is Jewish and is an unbeliever in Paul’s gospel and Christian message. So he is objecting to the claim that God has mercy on whomever and hardens whomever, because he assumes that all Jews will be saved by God merely because they are physical descendants of Abraham (cf. the people who said to Jesus “our Father is Abraham” thinking physical descent alone meant they were all saved, when Jesus then responded your Father is the devil). The objector is not bringing up free will nor is that a concern of the objector.

    “If the Arminian position were correct, this is how we would expect the diatribe to proceed:

    Objector: ”If this is true, why does God still find fault in people. Who can resist His will?”
    Paul: “Oh, you have misunderstood me. You think that I am saying that God’s will is the ultimate cause of our salvation, not ours. Let me clarify. God’s election is not based upon His sovereign unconditional decree, but upon your will to choose Him. Therefore, He finds fault in people who do not choose Him by their own natural freedom. Doesn’t this make perfect sense?”
    Objector: “Oh, yes, it does. I feel much better. But you need to teach more clearly in the future. I thought you were saying something radically different.”

    Nice caricature, straw man constructed by Patton. 

    Patton **reads in** the Calvinist/Arminian disagreement into the text, specifically into the thinking of the objector. So the objector is, according to Patton, an Arminian who believes in libertarian free will arguing against Calvinism/exhaustive determinism/unconditional election supposedly presented in the text of Romans 9.

    But this objector represents ***not an Arminian concerned about defending libertarian free will***, but a first century unbelieving Jew who questions Paul’s gospel because he believes he is saved by keeping the works of the law and because of his physical descent from Abraham, and who has rejected justification through faith, Paul’s message.

    “But of course this is not the direction the conversation goes. In fact, it gets stronger and more shocking. Notice, Paul did not have a definite answer to the objector’s question. He confirms that the question assumes the right presupposition (unconditional election) by His response. ”On the contrary, who are you to answer back to God oh man. Will the thing molded say to the molder why have you made me in such a way? . . . ” There is no need for such a response if conditional election is in view! It is only under the supposition of unconditional election that this makes sense.”

    No, the objection makes perfect sense for an unbelieving Jew who rejects Paul’s gospel of justification through faith to be saying. You read in the Arminian/Calvinist debate when that was not the issue at all. Paul is arguing that God is sovereign, that God had decided upon a plan of salvation centered in Christ by which both Jews and Gentiles are saved through faith not by keeping the Jewish law. The objector is not objecting to Calvinism or determinism or unconditional election, he is objecting to Paul’s gospel of justification through faith.

    “I could see the objector cowering in the fierceness of the response. He is simply doing the same thing that I would do and have done upon reading this passage. The response lets us know that while we don’t have the answer we were looking for, the presupposition, unconditional election, is indeed what Paul is teaching. There is no other way to take it in my opinion.”

    The fact that Patton now puts yourself into the objectors shoes shows how misguided his interpretation is. The objector is a first century unbelieving Jewish person, he is not a ***generic human being*** questioning Calvinistic determinism/unconditional election.

    Patton then makes some statements that are not problematic until you get to his eisegetical conclusion:

    “In sum, I believe that Romans is inspired.”

    Yes I believe that we would all agree with this.

    “I believe that Romans should be included in the canon.”

    Yes definitely, no one is questioning that.

    “I cannot approach this passage from any other hermeneutic than an authorial intent.”

    Yes and what does the author of this text, the apostle Paul set as the context in the opening three verses of Romans 9?
    “It seems to be the case that the intent of Paul was to say that God unconditionally elects some people to salvation and not others. This is the Calvinist’s doctrine of Predestination.”

    Here Patton gets it wrong as he reads in what he wants the text to be discussing rather than what Paul the author is actually discussing.

    “As difficult as this doctrine may be for some, we simply don’t have the option of flying in the face of the argument simply because we don’t like it.”

    Right we take the text for what it is teaching whether we like it or not. But the text is not teaching unconditional election as you read into it (the text of Romans 9-11 is discussing the issue of rampant Jewish unbelief in Paul’s gospel of justification through faith rather than through the works of the law).

    Patton’s concluding words merely explain why he personally holds to unconditional election and again have nothing to do with the text of Romans 9-11.

    Patton also writes:

    “While there are others whom I respect very much who do not follow me in a belief in unconditional election (such as fellow blogger Paul Copan), I have never been able to see much validity in any other interpretation of this passage. It is, to me, too clear.”

    And unfortunately it is too clear to me that Michael Patton has made certain assumptions (all assumptions deriving from his Calvinistic system rather than derived exegetically from the biblical text) and then read them into the text of Romans 9 leading to errors. Patton separates Romans 9 from the rest of the Romans 9-11 unit which leads to errors. What Patton ends up doing is merely **proof texting** based upon his own mistaken assumptions attempting to use Romans 9 to support Calvinism. In doing so, Patton provides a very good example of **eisegesis** of the text. And eisegesis is very common when one is attempting to **use** a biblical text as a proof text for what one really wants to believe.

    Robert

  4. Ben & Co.,

    It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I hope everyone has been well and has had a great holiday. I can’t say anything earth shattering or mind-blowing to aid the discussion, but I felt the need to say something.

    The poster referenced in the article is right. Romans 9 is the beginning point of their theology; it is the source from which most all of their theological rivers flow, down into the great sea of Calvinism. If a battle is to be fought regarding their theology, it needs to be fought here. That’s why so many people responded, that’s why Ben’s post was so long.

    Like most blogs, the thread quickly descended into an unanswerable pile of hypothetical questions, and other elitist blabber. It’s painful to read.

    My thought on the topic is this. Paul has had a lot to say about salvation long before he ever wrote Romans 9. Chapters 1-5 are great at outlining man’s problem and God’s solution in Christ. The sacrifice was just like the sin – everyone who found sin from the heritage of Adam found grace through the death of Jesus. The same number. All men.

    Why we have to take Romans 9, without any other passage, and only then begin to understand salvation I will never know. The entire book of Romans he is dealing with corporate election contrasting Jews and Gentiles. God can pick who he wants to save. The Jews were the beneficiaries of that during the Old Law, so they shouldn’t be shocked that God chose the Gentiles to join them as brothers in Christ. How they get out of it that individuals are chosen to be saved or lost I will never know.

  5. The election is corporate as evidenced by how Paul concludes the chapter, comparing how the Jews collectively missed the righteousness from Christ, while the Gentiles collectively accepted it.

    verses 30-32. As if you guys didn’t know it 🙂

  6. Jon,

    I am glad you found this helpful. As I mentioned, much more could be said, especially regarding Paul’s continuation of his argument in chapters 10 and 11, which really renders the Calvinist interpretation of Rom. 9 impossible in my opinion. I trust that as you continue to look into this you will likely move further and further away from Calvinism. I suggest you take a look at X-Calvinist Corner when you get the chance (if you haven’t already).

    God Bless,
    Ben

  7. Steven,

    Thanks for dropping by again. I think your assessment is very good concerning the need to understand Rom. 9 in the greater context of the epistle and not use it as an occasion to re-interpret all that Paul had said prior to this chapter. It is especially important to view the passage in the context of the entire argument given in chapters 9-11. As you mentioned, Rom. 30-32 certainly does give the passage a corporate orientation, but regarding a corporate elect body that one can come to be a part of by faith or be cut off from due to unbelief, you can’t beat Rom. 11:16-24.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  8. Robert,

    Excellent comments. I think you did a fine job showing how one’s presuppositions can push one towards eisegesis. Certainly we can all be guilty of this and need to continually guard against it. I understand how Calvinists can come to their conclusions regarding Rom. 9 if read in isolation, but when read within the unit of 9-11, one should immediately begin to see that such an interpretation is extremely problematic. I especially liked your pointing out how it was improper to base his argument on imagined interactions with a fictional “Ephesian”, begging the question from the start that Paul was addressing a question based on his supposed teaching of eternal security for the elect. This is why I began my response by addressing his misunderstanding of what Paul was teaching in Rom. 8:28-39.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  9. Ben,

    You said: “This is why I began my response by addressing his misunderstanding of what Paul was teaching in Rom. 8:28-39.”

    And you were right to do so. His entire view of the passage was based on his view that Paul is continuing to talk about individual security.

    No one would disagree with what Paul is saying in Romans 9. The issue is in how we apply what he is saying, and to whom. Romans 9 is clear, no doubt. It’s the application that leaves theologians and layman alike pondering the alternatives.

    Thanks again for all the time involved in keeping this site going. It is always informative and thought provoking.

    -steven

  10. Ben, excellent post, and very concise for a treatment of Romans 9. That is too bad that CMP deleted it. I wonder if he read it. Hopefully people come check it out here.

  11. Personally, I think CMP doesn’t allow for long comments because it is more apt to disprove his erroneous points.

  12. Dawn, that’s a very uncharitable accusation. CMP has always struck me as a fair individual. What has he done or said that would lead you to ascribe dishonest motives to him?

  13. Ron,

    I don’t know how likely Dawn is to check in again and notice your comments. However, I would point out a few things. First, she made it clear that this was just her opinion. She didn’t say that it was necessarily the case. Second, I am not sure how her comment assigns “dishonest” motives to CMP. Hopefully she will chime in at some point and give you the clarification you seek.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  14. Hi Ben, thanks for the reply.

    The implied and often stated reason that almost all comment boxes have character limits is to prevent spamming / flooding. Comments are meant to be just that, comments (not full-length articles). To accuse CMP of having character limits to prevent being disproved would indeed be an accusation of dishonesty, as this is not his stated reason for having such limits.

    Or, to avoid quibbling over words, would at least admit that she is ascribing less than noble motives to CMP? Do you agree with me that her comment was uncharitable and unwarranted?

    Less importantly, I don’t see how saying “personally, I think” changes anything. It’s implied that what she wrote are her personal thoughts.

    Regards,
    Ron

  15. Ron,

    I am not trying to question Patton’s motives. I never suggested that he was just trying to avoid answering my questions, but I can see why some would think that. When I posted there I posted a few posts in a row so that they would form a unit. They were very detailed and directly addressed the subject matter. They remained on the site for a little while and then they were removed. It should have been obvious before they were removed that it was not spam. Michael’s post was detailed and required a very detailed answer if it was to satisfy anyone. A few tried to answer before me and they were challenged that their answers were not adequate. Yet, when someone tried to be adequate and firmly address the issue, those posts were removed.

    So again, I can see why someone could come to such conclusions. Michael can run his blog however he wants, but when he writes strong challenges to an opposing view which requires a tremendous amount of detail to adequately address, and then limits one’s response to just 2000 characters, it can seem to be a little unfair. That may be all that Dawn was trying to express.

    Also, if you read through the thread you will see that many people left numerous posts which were way off topic. Michael kept saying things about it, but let it continue. He eventually closed the thread, but not before numerous such posts were made despite CMP’s constant warnings. Yet, to my knowledge, none of those posts were removed. My posts were really no longer (though they were posted closer together) and they were dead on target with the topic at hand. So again, I can see why someone might draw such conclusions, though I would not personally question his motives, nor would I say he was being dishonest (and again, Dawn did not say that either).

    God Bless,
    Ben

  16. BTW, one of CMP’s stated rules for posting is to keep the comments shorter than the intial post. My combined comments were still nearly a page shorter than Patton’s initial post.

  17. Ben, I’m sorry to have left you to have to answer for one of my comments. I only came back to this post because of a link to it and I wanted to refresh my memory about the topic. So just for the record, I will try to answer Ron’s accusations against me.

    Ron,

    I never said CMP was being dishonest. I have no idea what he’s actually stated as the reasons he doesn’t allow comments over a certain number of characters, but if one wants to have a serious discussion about a particular topic then there ought not be a limit on characters as long as one stays on topic. At the very least, CMP should have made an executive decision and allowed Ben’s comments to stand because he stayed on topic. He could have explained why he has bent the rules, in Ben’s particular case. (According to Ben, his comments weren’t longer than CMP’s original post.) But, to me, CMP chose to delete Ben’s comments because they effectively disproved CMP’s position. I suspect that his character limit rule was simply his excuse (and his right) to delete such a credible refutation of his original post; therefore, CMP, himself, would not have to respond to Ben’s well thought out and well written comments AND, Ben’s words would, hopefully, not be read by others who might be persuaded by the truth of Ben’s comments. I’m not saying that his character limit rule isn’t primarily there to prevent spam/flooding (if that’s what he’s stated then I’ll take him at his word), but I believe the bonuses to that rule are: 1) to stop others from effectively refuting his points, 2) he doesn’t have to respond to such comments which allows him to save face and, 3) to keep others from reading such effective refutations.

    I’ve witnessed this sort of thing time and again on various subjects from various people who are challenged on their topics. And I believe I witnessed it in this particular case because Ben was obviously not a spammer or flooding the comments section with irrelevant information. I’m sorry you think that it is uncharitable of me to state my opinion. It’s CMP’s blog and he is free to run it as he wishes, but he doesn’t fool me.

    Ben, if you feel this comment is uncharitable then please feel free to delete it. It is not my intention to be uncharitable but sometimes I don’t know how to say things other than to just come out and say it.

  18. Dawn,

    I think you are entitled to your opinion and I think others are entitled to disagree. That is why I let your initial comment stand as well.

    God Bless,
    Ben

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