I’m either posting this cartoon because I think it could be used as a good discussion starter on predestination, total depravity, and evangelism, or because I just want to rile up the Calvinists. I’m not sure. Either way, here you go.
Do you see it? We have an immense propensity to take the gospel and turn it into law. We love to take good and turn it into chains. Why do we do that?
- Sam Storms wants to know Why Doesn’t God Save Everyone?
If election were solely based on what God wanted and not anything in us that might differentiate the chosen from the un-chosen and thus account for why this one and not another, why didn’t God choose all? If he could have, why didn’t he?
- And, also from Reclaiming the Mind, Michael Patton asks, Why Did God Put Satan in Eden?
While there is more we could expand on here, the question of the hour is this: If Satan is so evil and “anti-God” why did God put Satan in the Eden? While there is no way to know what would have happened had he not been present, it is evident from the narrative and the ensuing curse that Satan played a big part in the fall.
- Here’s an interesting summary of Peter Leithart’s understanding of baptism and apostasy.
According to Leithart, water baptism has “virtually unbelievable powers” that makes someone a member of Christ instead of Adam, turns someone into a member of Christ’s body, and brings someone into acceptance with God.
- Brian LePort wants to know if we should say that Jesus is God’s Facebook.
- Chimpanzees have not only figured out how to disarm traps, they may have learned how to pass the knowledge on to future generations.
- And, the Onion reports that the gap between the rich and the poor has been named the 8th Wonder of the World.
- Mark Galli’s article, “Insignificant Is Beautiful,” has gotten a lot of attention and is a timely warning about the dangers of aspiring for significance.
We should honor any generation that strives for significance, especially if it is a longing to make a difference in the world. Better this than striving to make money and live a comfortable life! But the human heart is desperately wicked and the human soul subject to self-deception, and this colors even our highest aspirations. Even the best of intentions mask the mysterious darkness within, which is why we need to be healed also of our best intentions.
- Paul Helm discusses Thomas Aquinas’ view of predestination.
The fact that God wishes to give grace and glory is due simply to His generosity. The reason for His willing these things that arise simply from His generosity is the overflowing love of His will for His end-object, in which the perfection of His goodness is found. The cause of predestination, therefore, is nothing other than God’s goodness. (Providence and Predestination, 116)
- The NIV 2011 is now available online, along with an introduction by Douglas Moo and the translator notes. From the notes:
- Here’s a nice roundup of posts from a recent discussion on inerrancy.
- And, the October 2010 biblioblog rankings are out. We’re down a bit since classes started in September, but still doing quite well. Thanks everyone for taking the time to read and comment here.
Romans 9:18 – Reflections on God’s mercy, His hardening, and the so-called doctrine of double predestination
By Ben Brumund
The strict parallelism between mercy and hardening suggests that mercy and hardening function the same way – that just as God shows mercy to whom He wishes, He hardens whom He wishes. Some deny this, arguing that God’s hardening functions like the ‘handing over’ of sinners to their sin which they themselves had already chosen (see Romans 1). Yet, this is a problematic approach, as it takes the ultimate initiative away from God and places it with man. Against this, first, Exodus 4-14 does not clearly indicate that Pharaoh’s hardening of himself was God’s basis for hardening him. In fact, a good case can be made for the opposite. God predicts twice (4:21 and 7:3) that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart, and there are five passive references (with God being the implied subject) to Pharaoh’s heart having been hardened (7:13, 14, 22; 8:11, 15). Second, Paul clearly states that God hardens ‘whom He desires.’ There is no qualification of this. God does as He pleases. Third, the most natural response in the world to the question of Romans 9:19, ‘why does God still blame us?’ would have been to say, ‘because you deserved it due to your actions.’ Yet, Paul does not use this line of argument. It is not the point Paul is making. God is just in bestowing mercy and hardening as He will because He is free to do so and His will requires no justification by any standards of human logic or morality. Hardening which leads to damnation then (9:22-24, 11:7) is a sovereign act of God not caused by anything in those individuals who are hardened.
This text, then, appears to provide support for the doctrine of ‘double predestination’: God decides, on the basis of nothing but His own sovereign pleasure, to bestow His grace and so save some individuals, and to pass over and so damn others. As it is so contrary to our common perceptions of human freedom and divine justice, it is inevitable that this doctrine is destined to be the object of more negative reaction and consternation than any other. Yet, we must recognize that God’s hardening is an act directed against human beings who are already in rebellion against God’s righteous rule. God’s hardening, then, does not cause spiritual insensitivity to the things of God; it maintains people in the state of sin that already characterizes them. This does not mean that God’s decision about whom to harden is based on a particular degree of sinfulness with certain human beings; He hardens whomever He desires. But, it is still simultaneously true that God hardens whomever He desires and human beings, through sin, are still responsible for their own condemnation. Mercy and hardening are different in this respect: hardening is always deserved; mercy is always undeserved.