Friday, July 24, 2015

Second Response to Mr. Grahame Smith

The initial blog/comment thread can be seen here:

Here is my response:

Ross my intro to Romans 9 more to follow as promised. Big chapter big topic......
Paul was explaining to the Jews that if God wanted to use and save the Gentiles that God in His sovereignty had that right. In order to understand what God is saying through Paul one has to read what is before and what is after chapter 9 to get the big picture. Rather than taking one passage from Romans one must look up specific words to see what they originally meant and also what they meant in context of what was being discussed and to whom it was being addressed. You have to consider the entirety of God’s word and not just certain passages or chapters. IM sure you know this. When put in Biblical and historical context there is nothing in Romans 9 in my view for those in the Reformed Theology position to justify the doctrine of predestination.

Wrong. Paul clearly gives his reason toward the beginning of chapter 9 for why he is about to say what he says. Romans 9:6,7 - But it is not as though the word of God has failed (meaning that since many of the people of Israel have rejected Christ over which Paul is in great sorrow, see vs 1-5, and then he goes on to say why it has not failed). For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring... Paul's reason for all the rest of the chapter stems from these verses - showing how the word of God has not failed because it's not just the physical children, but through the children of promise, vs. 8. Paul goes on to show several things in the following verses
  • The promise was Sarah will have a son (as opposed to the child of the flesh, of Abraham's trying, Ishmael)
  • God chose Jacob before either had done good or bad, why?
    • That God's purpose of election (choosing) might stand
      • Which is not because of works but because of God's call
  • God loved Jacob, but Esau He hated
    • The Greek word hate here is miseo meaning hate, love less, even a semitic form of divine choosing of one clan over another; in other words, God chose to at least love Esau less, or at most, hate him.
Now if all that is not enough, if you think you can still twist it to mean God does not choose some individuals as opposed to others, Paul raises the objection he would only raise if what I am saying he meant was what he really did mean. Romans 9:14 - What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. If his words to us were less provocative as you claim they are, then he would not have raised this possible objection.

 For example: Predestination, and election are always connected with foreknowledge. Romans 8, “whom he foreknew he predestined” not to salvation, but to be conformed to the image of his son. Predestination and election are always unto a blessing never unto salvation in my understanding.

This is incorrect. Just a verse later Paul writes, "And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." Right there you have predestination grouped with those who are justified and glorified. If that does not mean salvation then I cannot fathom what else it means. To be saved, to have salvation, means to be justified and then when we die, to be glorified. So to be predestined is to be predestined to salvation according to the Bible.
Why even mention foreknowledge if God just does it? No, the ones that he knew would respond to his grace and to the gospel, he has marked out blessings for them.

Where does it ever say that? It never says in the Bible that God chose based upon what we would do or how we would respond to His Gospel. In fact, the opposite is declared. Back to Romans 9:11 "though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad..." It is pointed out that God's decision is NOT based on anything we do or don't do. 

Now these vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, these are the ones that God knew what they would do. He knew their evil hearts. He knew their rebellion. 

Again, Romans 9:11. Not that God did not know what they would do or not do, but this verse declares that His choice is irregardless of what they do or don't do.

If you go back a ways to Pharaoh, it wasn’t that God made Pharaoh be the bad person that he was, but God knew the heart of Pharaoh and he arranged for Pharaoh to become Pharaoh, just to be there at that time. It does say that he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but on the other hand, Pharaoh hardened his own heart before God did that. And if you go back and read the story God tells Moses one of the first things he says is, “I know he won’t let the people go.” Well then why does God harden his heart? If Pharaoh is as Reformists teach totally depraved, God wouldn’t have to harden his heart. Pharaoh is scared to death because of the plagues that have been released onto the Egypt's so out of fear he let the people go. However his heart wouldn’t have changed as demonstrated he chased them with his army. So if you go back in the Hebrew, the word for “hardened” means “strengthened”. He strengthened; he gave him the courage to be his true self.

The Bible tells us that both happened so we believe both happened. Reformed theologians would say that God hardened his heart, but that he hardened his own heart as well. There's no discrepancy in God doing it and man also doing it. If God brings a trial into my life, and I persevere through it, there is a sense in which I did it. I persevered. Yet, I know that God was giving me the Grace to do so. Therefore, He ultimately did it. Pharaoh hardened his own heart. But God ultimately did so as well. Whether God actively hardened his heart in a point in time, or He just left pharaoh's heart to do what all of our hearts naturally do on their own when it comes to God's will, that's open to conjecture. If I don't mow my grass for weeks, it has grown wild and out of control. What's the difference in saying the yard is out of control, or Ross does not take care of his yard? It's really a matter of perspective and just how you wish to say it.

I think the translation hardened is a good one because the idea of "made strong" applies to being hard. It is further confirmed by the word Paul chooses to use in Romans 9:18, which is definitely translated hardened. A little NT commentary on an OT passage!

More later if you wish.....

I would like more, but more of what I requested which was a serious dealing with Romans 9. The comments you made were really cursory: you made a summary of the passage which the text shows as incorrect and then really only came back to Romans 9 to talk about pharaoh. There's a LOT more in the passage than just pharaoh.

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