Note: This was written before the author’s conversion to Orthodoxy.
I have heard a few times Arminians seek to explain away Romans Chapter Nine’s obvious teaching pertaining to double predestination. They usually say something along the lines of:
However, 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.
Yes, Romans 9 clearly teaches God’s sovereignty and the immutability of God’s election. However, we have learned to be careful and not to interject our prejudices into the context. By exercising diligence (II Timothy 2:15; II Peter 3:14-18), we have examined the context of the Old Testament passages quoted by Paul, so we could clearly see that God’s unconditional election only applied to the role of nations in producing the Messiah, not the salvation of individuals (Genesis 25:22-23; Malachi 1:1-4).
Though I recommend watching the video for an emphatic presentation of the above view (complete with the “proper” interpretation given as an answer to prayer), it is more useful for us to read the synopsis above.
Indeed, as Anderson correctly notes in Romans 9:7-12 God is probably talking about the nations Esau and Jacob represented more than the actual individuals. Also, as Anderson conveniently leaves out, Rom 9:14-18 unequivocally pertains to the hardening of a specific individual (Pharoah) so God’s purpose according to His choice may stand.
However, in this whole silly conversation, we need not spend a lot of time exegeting crystal clear passages such as “it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (Rom 9:16) and “He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires” (Rom 9:18). Let’s just look at the assertions made by the Arminians themselves:
[W]e can observe where God has manipulated nations in His grand scheme…so we could clearly see that God’s unconditional election only applied to the role of nations in producing the Messiah, not the salvation of individuals.
Think about that for a second. Even if the whole passage talks about nations and nations alone, how does that change a single thing?
1. Nations are made up of PEOPLE. If God hardens an entire nation of people (Babylon) and yet is gracious to another (the Israel of God), isn’t it true that God hardened each individual within the despised nation and had shown exceedingly great mercy to each individual making up the other nation?
2. A careful reading of the Scripture shows we are not saved as individuals. Read the Old Testament. Think of the nation of Israel. God saves a people (that’s a plural folks)! Thanks to revelation given to Paul, we know the real Israel of God are not literally the genetic children of Abraham, but those that have the faith of Abraham. So, indeed the entire Israel of God is saved because they are the Church. Paul speaks a great mystery when he says, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (Eph 5:31-32).
So, we are saved because we are members of an entire body that is in union (one flesh) with Christ. This is why the Scripture says, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3).
As we can see, we would have to ignore the two exceedingly obvious points in order for the nations interpretation of Romans 9 to even begin making sense…and even then, it would require us to believe the Scripture is teaching nonsense (i.e. God can predestine entire nations and harden the hearts of all their people, but it is somehow outside the scope of His power to harden the hearts of individuals.)
One last comment. Steve Anderson in response to “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) quotes John 12:32 (“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”)
Seriously Mr. Anderson? So, does this mean all men are saved, because after all this would mean all men are drawn to Christ? Interestingly enough, unless we accept universalism, the only workable interpretation is that Christ will draw men of all nations, not each and every single man. Obviously, being that there are men thrown into the lake of fire, we know that the universalist interpretation is literally impossible.
Even though Steve Anderson might have read the Bible cover-to-cover in five different languages, sadly God has not given him eyes to see the obvious: If God predestines nations by showing grace to some and hardening others, the same is true of each individual that follows the whore of Babylon or descends from Abraham by faith.