Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 6 – Romans 9:15, 18

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the second portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

Scripture says God is sovereign in his decision to whom he will have mercy which is in accordance with Romans 9:16 and other scripture Romans 9:15,18 The natural man doesn’t come and can’t come 1 Corinthians 2:14 John 6:44 John 6:65 He doesn’t have the ability because he lacks spiritual discernment because he doesn’t have the spirit.

Romans 9:15 – For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

Romans 9:18 – So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

This set of two texts, as proof texts for individual election are very powerful if provided without the general context. All those of the reformed inclination focus on these verses and seem to give more weight than any other verse or set of verses that might temper or provide guidance in the overall teaching of the New Testament.

As reading this set of verses in Romans 9, I have suggested a corporate reading of the text. One way to consider this viewpoint is in the following “picture”

A king wished to be entertained by a singing group, and called upon a nearby town to provide a singing group. All the townspeople had an opportunity to join the singing group, and eventually, one month before the appearance before the king, a group was established.

Of course, as the day of appearing before the king grew near, an occasional singer may fall sick, choose to drop out or simply give up. Also during this time, those within the town have changed their mind and requested to join the group. In the kings invitation, the stipulated requirement was to provide the choir, not specific people to make up the singing group.

In front of the king, on that fateful day, the choir sang before him and the invitation to perform in front of the king was a success. Specific townsfolk decided (willfully or otherwise) to either join or ignore the opportunity. But the calling (invite) was for a singing group. Specific people in the group still retained the freedom the join or abandon the opportunity, yet the calling of the singing group was complete.

As you read through that feeble attempt to explain my understanding, there will be those who find fault in the picture. That is to be expected, since I (as all others) are looking through a glass darkly. I do not want to imply this is the only way to understand Romans 9, as a text on its own.

Yet, in the larger context of Romans 9-11, I find passages that have a very inclusionary feel about the gospel.

Rom 3 has clearly stated that

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God

Pauls theological teaching on the gospel of God comes t a close with Romans 22 and immediately prior to the praise Paul beaks into of the inestimable riches, wisdom and knowledge of God, he makes the following summary statement.

The supposed calling of a specific individual election to salvation, prior to the foundation of the world seems to be left behind in this summary statement.

How could Paul, in giving so strong of an argument convining his readers of the sinfulness of all in Romans 3, and continuing with the all inclusive language of God consigning all to disobedience in verse 32, then immediately restrict His ability to have mercy on only a subset of the all?

Romans 11:32 tells us of the intent of God consigning all to disobedience. He desires to have mercy on all.

Following are a number of translations for the reader to consider of Romans 11:32, in order to quell any doubt as to the intent of the apostle

For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.


For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.


For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.


For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.


For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Thanks for dropping by.

As many who read this bIog may know I have spent many of the days of my pilgrimage in dwelling on specific passages that seem to support my thinking. I spent many years rejecting any teaching (or passage) that seemed to challenge a specific belief. I found I wanted to indoctrinate others to find support for my own faith, as opposed to simply seeking a balanced view of the Scripture, not emphasizing one portion of the Word over another. This is far more difficult than it may seem, and although I believe my intentions are good, my skill level at navigating through this effort is far inferior to many who may read this blog.

As always, your comments are appreciated and will be considered as they are delivered. Thanks again, and may your day be blessed

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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