Friday, July 03, 2009

Romans 9 and Emotionalistic Synergists

Up until now, I've avoided delving into the Calvinism/Arminianism debate, but recently somebody linked me to a certain poster from the biblocality forums (which happens to be pretty anti-Calvinistic). This poster was replying to his opponent's exegesis of Romans 9, and in the process made some really big problems. I would like to tackle his assertions one by one on this blog post.

(By the way, you may view the original post here. Parture's comments are shaded.)

Where your analysis is essentially wrong is Rom. 9 discloses certainly God foreknew Jacob and Esau, but doesn't say how. How? By foreknowing their free-choice and not irresistible coercion, the characteristic of an evil tyrant which is the god you worship, because man loves evil, so you worship an evil god even Satan. If you can find no verses for irresistible coercion then you are just reading into the text God made in your image.

First paragraph and this guy's fallen off the tracks already. It's amazing how often folks resort to emotionalistic responses like "you worship a tyrannical God" when they can't come up with a coherent argument. Anyway, his denial of irresistible coercion runs afoul of the text alread, particularly in the sections where it says God has mercy on whom he desires and hardens whom he desires (Romans 9:18). The rest of the text corroborates this when it talks about how the potter has a right to do what He wants with the clay. Anybody wanna point out to me where the text supports synergistic decisional election? I don't see it, so maybe it's actually him who is reading into the text.

Think of it this way. God has prepared for destruction the Calvinist. How? Why? Because you refuse to repent and believe in Christ to be regenerated. Who are you o man to fight this? Since you can still find no evidence in Romans 9 of irresistible grace rather than God affording them the choice and that is why God decided while they were still in the womb, then realize you worship Satan.

It's pretty presumptous of this person to think that Calvinists refuse to repent and believe in Christ, or worship Satan for that matter (where does he get this stuff?). Once again, you can plainly see who is reading into the text when he says verse 19 talks about man's free decisions. That is nowhere stated or even implied in the text. Remember, man in his natural state is a slave to sin. His heart is naturally inclined towards the things of this world (Romans 8:5-8), and will continue in that state unless God changes the man's heart (Ezekiel 36:26).

God enables anyone to repent whosoever is willing. He has not enabled you to repent, because you don't want to be saved His way. Your way is where you can think like you are Hitler's Aryan race and just caused to be that way where others like the Jews belong in the gas chamber. Don't you have a conscience to see how evil this is? Will God have to harden your heart further like He did to the Pharaoh until accept His way? A will that is enslaved is not a will that can't help an old lady across the street or accept what Jesus did on the cross for you. Do you see how you jump to the conclusion slavery means total depravity even though it doesn't. Salvation is all of the Lord, and not your will, but that doesn't mean God doesn't require your free-will choice to receive His free gift and offer of salvation. God does the saving. Your will does not do the saving, but your will made in God's image is the condition God sets forth for the saving.

More emotionalism. Really, if you really want to prove that you are defending biblical Christianity, then please, exegete the texts! Yes, an enslaved will cannot accept Jesus by itself:

There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, there is not even one.
(Romans 3:10-12)

There you go, folks. There is none who seeks for God, all have turned aside. In light of this, how can one say that salvation is received through an act of autonomous free-will? Biblically speaking, Jesus Christ has made it clear that one cannot come to Him unless one is drawn by the Father:

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
(John 6:44)
For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.
(John 6:65)

The apostle Paul also affirms this when he writes to the Thessalonians:

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
(2 Thessalonians 2:13)

Moving on, we get to more emotionalistic argumentation, not to mention some exaggerated statistics:

All one needs to do is show that if Romans 9 can not conclude either way whether God saves irresistibly or provides the choice, then you you must look to other chapters. Scripture as a whole can show other verses where God doe provide the choice to disprove Calvinism, such as the 4000 cases of free will in Scripture. Do you see how illogical it is to assume into the text one way or another to render your conclusion while overlooking all the other verses which speak of free-will? You don't let evidence be your guide by the Spirit of Truth!

4000 cases of free will? Really? I did a search on the term "free-will," and the term only occurs in the context of "free-will offerings." I also did a search on "choose" and "choice," and most of the passages refer to God choosing, rather than man. Especially prominent are Jesus' words to His disciples:

You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you
(John 15:16)

And finally, I did a search for "decision," and failed to find any instances of synergistic regeneration. In fact, I found quite the opposite:

The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.
(Proverbs 16:33)

I love Proverbs 16. It contains some passages that simply cannot be squared with the Arminian position. In addition to verse 33 quoted above, there are also these two little gems:

The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
(Proverbs 16:1)

The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.
(Proverbs 16:9)

The ESV is more explicit than the NASB on this one, it actually says in the ESV rendering of Proverbs 16:9 that that the LORD establishes his steps. So far, so good. I don't see how this guy's case is being held up by scripture.

You're doing what all cults do. For example, Mormons make the Godhead multiple beings because of twisting God's 3 Persons in Scripture and can even rationalize it by saying "One" means One Godhead of many beings. He is no longer then a singular Triune personal God. But this approach is easily disprove when you realize there can only be one uncreated Creator not multiple uncreated beings. You would have to ask where do these others gods come from if there is more than one uncreated Creator? There is no basis for adding on gods. Likewise, in Calvinism, you assume into the text irresistible coercion in a chapter that doesn't specify one way or another, but there are tonnes of other chapters that speak on free-will, e.g. Jesus says, "come to may take of the water of life freely." Pray on this. And may you come to Christ to be saved one day, God willing.

Comparing Calvinists to Mormons is just low. Really below the belt tactics he has there. The poster here is comparing apples and oranges. Quoting Revelation 22:17 doesn't help his cause either, since "freely" is a very misleading translation (it comes from the NLT, which is not exactly the best translation to use when trying to exegete scripture). The word there is δωρεάν, which literally translates to "gratuitously." So obviously, the passage has nothing to do with decisional regeneration, and the only way you can read the passage that way is if you've presupposed that everyone is capable of coming to Christ (which is sheer Pelagianism, and is flatly contradicted by the scriptures just mentioned). The best translation of that passage would be the NASB's, which states let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. Moving on:

"They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God's special children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave his law to them. They have the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises...Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to the Jews? No, for not everyone born into a Jewish family is truly a Jew!" (Rom. 9.4,6) Why has God not failed? Because though all Israel is given sufficient grace and all should be saved, not all are saved because some refuse by their own free-will.

OR, it could mean that God has not failed because God's plan was that through Israel's rejection, the gospel came to the Gentiles (Romans 11:11,25). Funny enough, this same passage talks about how the people of Israel's hearts were hardened. So much for refusing by their own free-will.

"So then [it is] not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy" (Rom. 9.16). I think you are misunderstanding this verse. To willeth is like the new age approach if you just will it into being it will come to be. That is not the same thing is choosing. Runneth is certainly works, even hard works. So you can't work for it or will it into being, but that doesn't take away from the free-choice God has afforded you. Do you see? Read the Scriptures with the Spirit, not by the flesh. He hardened the heart of the Pharaoh because the Pharaoh hardened his own heart first. God chooses whom to enact His mercy and grace upon in this way though never takes away from providing sufficient grace for all.

Once again, more eisegesis, more emotionalism. Nowhere in the text does it say that Pharaoh hardened his own heart first. I want to know though: if God gave sufficient grace for all to come to saving faith, why don't all people come to saving faith? Surely Jesus did not lie when He said that all that the Father gives Him will come to Him and and that He will never cast them out (John 6:37).

You complain to God why has He made you this way that you have to choose? so you choose your own way and assume regeneration before repentance and faith. Choosing is not that hard. Just do it. God has given you the grace to be able to do so. Why are you not His people? Because you refuse to repent and believe in Christ to be regenerated. Like Israel, God has given you immense grace, but you still refuse to come to the cross as a helpless sinner to receive Him as your Lord and Savior.

Still reading stuff into the text. This is getting tedious. By the way, it's not "You are not of Him people because you refuse to believe." It's the other way around: You refuse to believe because you are not of Him (John 10:26).

"Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand on the seashore, only a small number will be saved...Well then, what shall we say about these things? Just this: The Gentiles have been made right with God by faith, even though they were not seeking him" (Rom. 9.27,30). Even though you are not seeking God of the Bible but the god of Calvinism, you too can be saved by faith through repentance if you are willing. "But the Jews, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded" (v.31).

Simply nonsensical. No comment...

You try to so hard to "persevere" because you don't know if you are saved since according to you it was not your choice in the law you make unto yourself "instead of depending on faith" (v.32); faith is a free gift you may receive from God (and obtain freely) if you come to Him with an honest heart. You have "stumbled over a great rock in their path" (v.32). That Rock is Jesus who you went right past Who died for the sins of the whole world even you. But if you were to "believe in Jesus you won't be disappointed" (v.33).

Of course Calvinists know and affirm that we depend on faith to be saved. The bible says so (Ephesians 2:8-9). However, it makes no sense to say you receive faith "if you come to Him with an honest heart." Why? Simple: Because the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). It is also dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). This is the main reason why we cannot come to Christ unless God removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh. This is the chief flaw in Arminian and Molinist theology: It fails to take into account the fact that the natural man lacks any disposition to do anything good, let alone come to saving faith. For this to happen, God's efficacious grace is necessary to supersede that rejection of Christ with a saving faith in Him.

And THAT, is a biblical view of salvation.

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