Arminian Today

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A Word About Romans 9 Before We Begin

Romans 9 has tripped many people up.  I have known people who read the book of Romans and when they get to Romans 9, they skip to Romans 12.  It seems people can’t seem to follow Paul’s reasoning in Romans 9-11 as they had in Romans 1-8.  Yet when we skip Romans 9-11, we miss seeing the hand of God involved in His saving work.

So why am I only dealing with Romans 9?  Why not first deal with Romans 1-8 before laying hold of Romans 9?  And why not do a study of Romans 9-11?

The answer is simple: time.  It would take me well over a year (perhaps two or more) to cover Romans 1-8 as I would like to.  No doubt Romans is a wonderful book and it is my favorite epistle.  It is the closest thing we have to a systematic theology book in the New Testament and it lays down Paul’s theology masterfully.  Christ is exalted in the book of Romans and His saving work is glorified.  God is seen as the sovereign God who sends His Son for our salvation.  The book of Romans is a deep book.  You cannot merely cover Romans in just a few blog posts.  It would take too much time to dive into the depths of the riches of this book.  Perhaps if I were a full-time student or a full-time Bible teacher, I might could devote long studies to the book of Romans but I simply cannot.  Between my family and my work, I don’t have the time.  I do recommend two main commentaries on Romans.  The first is by Dr. Vic Reasoner and can be found here.  The other is by Dr. Jack Cottrell and can be found here.  Both of these are worth the price for them.

Secondly, why not deal with Romans 9-11?  Again, time.

But why deal with Romans 9 at all?  Because I have seen many people read into Romans 9 what they want to see.  I have watched Calvinists for years read into Romans 9 “God’s absolute sovereignty in His unconditional election of people.”  I have had Arminian friends who were not strong in their Arminianism fall into Calvinism because of Romans 9.  Dr. R.C. Sproul says that he was an Arminian for the first five years of his salvation until he read Romans 9 and he could not get around it.  Sproul states that he finally bowed his head to the sovereignty of God but not his heart until later.  For Sproul and many others, Romans 9 is the point where they find Calvinism to shine.  I have read many works by Calvinist theologians and every single one of them point to Romans 9 as the bedrock for unconditional election.  I have had a Calvinist friend admit to me that he reads and re-reads Romans 9 often because he finds such comfort in finding Calvinism in the Bible especially here (and he adds he reads John 6 and Ephesians 1 in there as well).

Calvinists see Romans 9 as the picture of unconditional election.  They see the sovereignty of God dripping from every verse in Romans 9.  They see their own salvation pictured here and the reason why they hold to unconditional election.

That said, if you can show Romans 9 then to not teach Calvinism, you can show the Calvinist their errors.  On the other hand, when Calvinists can take Romans 9 and teach their view of unconditional election, Arminians are often hard pressed to give a reply.  This is why we Arminians must answer.  We must not sit by and allow Romans 9 to cause other Arminians to embrace Calvinism.

Thankfully Arminians before me have paved the way.  It is foolish to think that since the times of Arminius, no Arminian has replied to the Calvinist in regard to Romans 9.  Of course we have.  But with the rise of Calvinism today in the Western Church, Arminians must again wrestle with Romans 9 and provide a clear exegesis of the text. Sadly, few are willing to join this fight.  I have known several non-Calvinist churches (not Arminians per se) who completely ignore Romans 9-11 when preaching a series on Romans.  We must not do this.  We must show that we can properly use the Word of God to provide a biblical basis for our faith.  Arminianism does not rest upon the works of Arminius but upon the Word of God if in fact Arminius was sound in his exegesis of key texts.  The duty of the Arminian is to open the Word of God and provide sound exegesis.  I hope to do just that.

I will have more to say about Romans 9 in a longer introduction to come.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/31/2013 at 12:06 PM

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