Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Recovering from Arminianism & Romans 9

In dealing with the question "Why are the Jews not saved if God gave the Jews great promises of salvation?" Paul answers "Not all national Israel are spiritual Israel. The reason the nation was not all saved is because not all of them are chosen for salvation. Not every individual to a man was selected by God for eternal life."  To prove this point he quotes a number of times where God chose one person and passed over another, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.

The Arminian (and by this I mean also myself at one time) takes this to mean that the nations were chosen. God chose the nation of Israel, and passed over the nations of Ishmael. But does this stand up? No! Paul has been using the individual to explain the nation, not using the nation to explain the nation. It doesn't make sense to say "the reason the nation of Israel was by in large not saved is because God chose the nation of Israel for salvation" but it does make sense to say "the reason the nation of Israel was not saved by in large is because not everyone individually was chosen for salvation." If you follow that logic you get to the nation of Moses, and the nation of Pharaoh, which is a complete collapse of reasoning. So it's talking about people, and how some are chosen, and some are not.

To cap this argument Paul sets the corner-stone in verse 13 - "Jacob I have loved, and Esau I have hated."
This is the crown jewel of his exposition, the climax of the argument and this is where the weak kneed scholar buckles under the logical consequences of what Paul is saying- so desperate is the Arminian to find a way out that he completely upends the meaning of the reference quote and doubles down on his nation theory.
 Malachi 1:2-4 - "I have loved you," says the LORD. "Yet you say, 'In what way have You loved us?' [Was] not Esau Jacob's brother?" Says the LORD. "Yet Jacob I have loved; But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness." Even though Edom has said, "We have been impoverished, But we will return and build the desolate places," Thus says the LORD of hosts: "They may build, but I will throw down; They shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, And the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever.

Reading this again, stripped of my Arminian bias, it has become clear that I've been looking at it wrong - the destruction of the nation of Esau is a consequence of the feelings God has for the individual. God so hated Esau that He would not let him have descendents or a land, or a people. It's a proof. The people are asking for proof, and He gives it to them. How, how has God loved us? God tells them He loved Jacob, and they are Jacobs children, and they are blessed through their faithful ancestor. Meanwhile, God hated Esau and would not bless him, and would not bless his heritage.

And that only makes sense right? Because otherwise Paul is really taking wild liberties with the text of Malachi in Romans, bending it completely beyond recognition, taking two nation groups and pushing them into a defense of individual predestination. But if you understand that Paul is quoting it rightly, that the men themselves are hated and loved, then you understand that Malachi is not about two nations it's about two people. Paul is just taking a direct quote, meaning for meaning, and omitting the proof portion in Malachi.

Which means that Jacob God loved, and Esau He hated.

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