Predestination and Romans 9-11

Discussion in 'Sacred Scripture' started by Jenkins, Apr 7, 2019.

  1. Jenkins

    Jenkins New Member Anglican

    Posts:
    21
    Likes Received:
    24
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglicanism
    Dear fellow Anglicans, I was hoping for some help/advice from you concerning a certain matter. I’ve been invited to participate in a series of Bible studies (I don’t know yet how many) with a few other members of my parish on the subject of predestination. Specifically, the plan is to read through Romans 9-11 together, then discuss it over the course of a few sessions. This was brought on by a friend of mine who enquired of and had a talk with the Rector about the topic of predestination, the main result of which was the planning of these group discussions, the first of which is next week. I’m concerned to be able to present the orthodox position on this matter (which I would be regardless of the topic) as I participate, however for a couple of reasons I’m perhaps a bit more concerned than I would otherwise be. Firstly, I know at least three of the other participants (I believe there are five of us in total excluding the one who raised the issue for discussion in the first place) are quite Calvinistic in their theology, including the Rector (who suggested the Romans passage), and I wouldn’t say any of them (possibly excluding the Rector) are at all concerned with what is or is not Anglican, nor overly concerned with whether or not something is truly and properly Catholic, only with what they think is Biblical. Secondly, (but of no less importance), my friend who instigated this has begun taking Christianity quite seriously over just the last couple of years and has asked for this to happen in a spirit of genuine enquiry and a desire to mature in her faith, and I get the impression that the topic of predestination has been weighing on her mind for a while. I'm therefore especially concerned that when it comes to this subject she comes out of these Bible studies rightly oriented, and that I'm in a position to contribute positively to that.

    What I'm asking for your help with, then, is how to correctly exegete Romans 9-11. Are you familiar with a Calvinistic interpretation of these chapters, and if so, can you suggest how best to combat it? I've read the material on predestination on this website but it's more on the topic in general rather than this passage of Scripture in particular, and in any case, I'm still not sure my head is sufficiently around it to feel overly confident talking about it, and when particular verses are pointed to that sound on their face like they're in harmony with Calvinistic predestination, I don't know that I'd know how to respond.
     
  2. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    888
    Likes Received:
    1,056
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Much of understanding Romans has to do with how you understand the letter.

    There are those who declare that this is Paul's theological last will and testament. Whilst I understand why they might want to say that, I concerns me a little in that I am not convinced that Paul set out to be a theologian, so much as he set out to bring the good news to the gentiles. Some see this letter as written to the Church more widely, whilst others conceive that it was written to the Church at the seat of Empire.

    I find it helpful to think of Romans as Paul's internal dialogue. Paul is clearly a Jew of good order and credentials, (Philippians 3:3-6) yet the significant work of the second part of his life was to open salvation to the Gentiles. Everything he did and everything he had been are engaged in conversation. In a way the letter of Paul to the Romans is Paul writing to Paul.

    A friend of mine a long time ago declared that the main theme of Romans was summed up in the statement 'Just because the Jews are circumcised does not mean that they are a cut above the rest!' There is no doubt that this is a trifle amusing, yet carries a truth.

    There is a long discussion about the Righteousness of God, and Justification, which in a way we don't get in English so much as in Greek they hang around the same word. In English it might be better if we talked about the Righteousness of God and being made Right with God.

    The calvinists lose me when they speak of people being predestined to hell. It seems to me that such a notion is totally alien to the God who loves us so much he gives us free choice, and then seeks to rescue us from the consequences of our own decisions.
     
    Magistos likes this.
  3. Fidei Defensor

    Fidei Defensor Active Member

    Posts:
    223
    Likes Received:
    47
    Country:
    Kingdom of Heaven
    Religion:
    Christian
    Predestination goes like this in my estimation, “you have free will to believe in Jesus (John 3:16), Christ wants all to repent and be saved (2 Peter 3:9), you were chosen by the Holy Spirit that lead you to believe in Jesus (John 14:26, 15:26), and you are chosen because Christ foreknew you would believe in Him and call you; you are predestined because Christ lives not in time (2 Peter 3:8) and so could see you would chose to believe and confess Him (Romans 10:9-10).”
     
  4. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    247
    Likes Received:
    176
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Reformed High Anglican
    Article XVII sums it up well.
     
    dariakus and Botolph like this.
  5. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    695
    Likes Received:
    624
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    High-Church Laudian
    All too typical in much of Anglicanism today, especially the ACNA (and the Diocese of Sydney). Calvinists are constantly attempting to force their views on those around them as being the "real Anglicanism."

    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/davea...ausible-non-calvinist-alternate-exegesis.html

    http://ministry127.com/christian-living/does-romans-9-11-teach-calvinism

    http://jackcottrell.com/uncategorized/does-romans-9-teach-calvinist-predestination/
     
  6. GJensen

    GJensen New Member

    Posts:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Christian
    The plan should be to properly exegete the text in the proper context, like you say, but with an open mind. Not with the plan to combat an opponent. Let the text speak for itself whether or not it causes you a difficulty or them a difficulty. They must commit to doing the same. It is our responsibility to submit and wrestle with what the text says. It is good to wrestle with what makes us uncomfortable. This is where we grow.

    Regardless, the whole doctrine does not rise or fall on these two chapters. We have 66 books that speak to this, beginning early in Genesis. In fact, if we do not have a sense of what God is doing from the Garden and then Abraham on, we do not have a proper frame of reference for these two chapters. A wholistic reading of Scripture, seeing redemptive history as a whole is key. Paul understands this. This is what he is doing.

    A book study of Romans is a better way to go, but if you have to restrict this effort to chapters 9-11, at least consider a thoughtful reading of chapter 8 beforehand.

    And you should take Paul's perspective into account. Remember that his heart was set against Christ, on his way to persecute the body of Christ, when he was called out by Christ. He credits our Father for setting him apart from the womb, and divine intervention. (Galatians 1.13-15. ) What he knows of God, being a Jew (and their history), his personal history, and this dramatic experience is never far from his mind. he does not see himself as stumbling across some fanciful idea and becoming convinced of it on his own in spite of his heart being turned against it. He sees it all as a supernatural work of God.

    This is a challenging, and it should be. Too often, both sides are right, and both sides are wrong. We back up to each other, or another way to put it . . . T two truths running parallel with each other. We see it from our perspective in the here and now, but then there is a sweeping view of history. We see this tension throughout. For example, Genesis 50.20. Here we see man's responsibility and God's sovereignty in one view at the same time.
     
  7. GJensen

    GJensen New Member

    Posts:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Christian
    I am new to the internal debates Anglicans are having, but this debate is not unique to this tradition. Even the Southern Baptists are wrestling with this.

    But for Anglicans, this has always been true. This was true from its beginnings, and I think will be true until its end. This history fascinated me. The push and pull of the Reformed Protestants and the Catholics. The one that still exists today.

    This is appealing to some. How a variety of people with a variety of views can exist under one roof, united in worship, less the extremes.
     
  8. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    247
    Likes Received:
    176
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Reformed High Anglican
    While some Anglicans may get annoyed it seems that Reformed dare to show their faces in Anglican circles, there can be no doubt that Reformed soteriology has been with Anglicanism since the beginning.
     
  9. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,053
    Likes Received:
    864
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    This has nothing to do with the Reformed or whatever. The Reformed have (and had) no one common theology and interpretation of Romans 9-11. From Jacob Arminius all the way up to Franciscus Gomarus. Today from Roger Olsen and the Southern Baptists, up to R. Scott Clark.

    Lutherans too have had a ton of variations. Luther seems like he taught a kind of double predestination but most Lutherans (Melancthon, Chemnitz) have followed what sounds more like an Anglican doctrine of it.

    Not that we need to make any one a copy of someone else, as these were and are all distinct camps.

    In the Anglican circles John Davenant, although he attended the Synod of Dort, taught "hypothetical universalism" (that God would have all men saved, even though not all are). Actually none of the Anglican attendees of Dort adopted double predestination which seems to have been taught by the folks on the Continent. Bishop Carleton, Balcanqual, these all taught strictly article 17 by the letter, and theology around it similar to Davenant's hypothetical universalism.

    Davenant was closely following Augustine and Peter Lombard's Sentences, which state: “Christ died for all, sufficiently; Christ died for the elect, effectually”)

    That to me seems the most defensible position, and most compatible with the patristic Synod of Orange which strongly endorsed a form of predestination. Our article 17 is a good statement of the patristic doctrine of predestination without falling into the errors of Double Predestination (as taught in Calvin).

    Here is an amazing article on Davenant, recently written (with links to Peter Lombard):
    https://calvinistinternational.com/...ohn-davenant-answering-an-acrimonious-critic/
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
    Peteprint likes this.
  10. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    247
    Likes Received:
    176
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Reformed High Anglican
    By Reformed soteriology I mean the position that would become common in later Reformed Orthodoxy and is commonly used today, i.e TULIP. While I am declining to hash out whether it is true (I tend to find myself thinking it is), it is clear that there have been Anglican divines from the beginning who did hold to this and continue to do so. It's not the only interpretation of Article 17 but it's one that is consistent with the Articles.
     
  11. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,053
    Likes Received:
    864
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    So is the contrary view. I'm not sure what you mean here.

    Article 17 literally has nothing to say on the pro- or anti- calvinist question, leaving those modern labels and parties to fend for themselves. It contends itself with the ancient position.
     
    Peteprint likes this.
  12. GJensen

    GJensen New Member

    Posts:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Christian
    I am new to the Anglican tradition. Would you be willing to provide a brief explanation of the "contrary view" that is consistent with Article 17?

    For full disclosure, for several reasons, I would have said that Article 17 is a reformed statement of predestination.
     
  13. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,053
    Likes Received:
    864
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    The problem is there is no substance behind the term Reformed. The label means too many things to too many people to be useful. For example reformed baptists consider themselves reformed, but are seen as heretical by presbyterians. There are/were reformed episcopalians who would consider presbyterianism to be heretical.

    Even on questions like TULIP, you have a LOT of variations:
    1. Amyraldianism ("4 point calvinism")
    2. John Davenant's hypothetical universalism
    3. Gomarus' double predestination
    4. Jacob Arminius

    I note that all these positions emerge fifty years after the signing of the Articles. So trying to fit the Articles into something that happens after them is entirely out of place. All I'm saying is that the word "reformed" has no content behind it any longer (if it ever had). People squeeze their favorite theology identity markers into it, and try to possess it for themselves (or accuse it on others).

    --

    Now on the point of predestination: it has been taught by Peter Lombard (the inspiration for Davenant), by St. Augustine, by Thomas Aquinas, so there's absolutely nothing uniquely Reformed about it. Like, at all. It's just a traditional Christian position. Everyone and I mean everyone, including Arminius, taught predestination. The fact that Article 17 talks about it just means that we reject Pelagianism.

    That being said, one of the reasons why Calvin's and Gomarus' "double predestination" theology might be actually heretical is:
    1. It takes the traditional doctrine of predestination and pushes it beyond its bounds. Something Anglicans and Lutherans have not done. Thomas Aquinas was pretty calvinistic (actually), so Roman Catholics had to battle with each other on what to do, but it's not a problem for Anglicans and Lutherans.

    2. It doesn't incorporate a key point in soteriology which is Prevenient Grace. It's something Arminius claimed, but he's a late-comer to the party, and doesn't own the term.

    Prevenient Grace is already taught in Article X:

    Article X, Of Free Will
    "The Condition of man after the Fall of Adam is such, That he cannot turn & prepare himself by his own natural strength & good works, to Faith and Calling upon God: Wherefore we have no Power to do Good Works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the Grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good Will, and working with us when we have that good Will."

    Because of this, some have argued that the Anglican Articles are actually Arminian, if you had to pick one of the camps, but we don't have to pick any of the camps. They are all late to the party, including Arminius and Calvin. Arminius doesn't get to own a term that existed for centuries before him; and he adds to it doctrines that are unwarranted.

    1. We confess that God predestines all men, meaning he is sovereign above all.
    2. On their own, naturally, men have no capacity for free will, being subject to God's sovereignty, and also having their nature corrupted by original sin and concupiscence.
    3. But the form God's predestination takes, is, he provides his prevenient grace, which (through his sheer graciousness) enables men to actually have a free will and choices.

    That is the traditional doctrine of the Council of Orange, of St. Augustine, Peter Lombard, etc. Thomas Aquinas mucks things up (actually teaching double predestination), but that doesn't apply to us.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2019
    Peteprint and antiquarian like this.
  14. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,051
    Likes Received:
    789
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican (ACNA)
    What about people like William Baxter?, as clear a calvinist as there was one... You can't deny that some English folks adopted calvinistic positions
     
  15. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    247
    Likes Received:
    176
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Reformed High Anglican
    My point is that some tend to overreact when TULIP finds its way into Anglican circles when in reality it has been home here for quite some time.
     
  16. Fidei Defensor

    Fidei Defensor Active Member

    Posts:
    223
    Likes Received:
    47
    Country:
    Kingdom of Heaven
    Religion:
    Christian
  17. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    695
    Likes Received:
    624
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    High-Church Laudian
    Baxter was hardly an orthodox Calvinist (read the section on his theology here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Baxter#The_English_Civil_War).

    While a saintly man (I greatly admire him), he was, to all intents and purposes booted from the Church of England following the Restoration. A Godly man, but not really a great example of either a Calvinist or an Anglican.
     
  18. Tiffy

    Tiffy Active Member

    Posts:
    457
    Likes Received:
    140
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    There was once a church debate on predestination vs free will.

    The attendees were divided into two groups for discussion. One person arrived late and wondered which group he should be in.

    First he went to the Predestination group and asked "Am I a member of this group"? They answered "If you don't already know then you are not in this group. You can't just choose to be with us, go and ask the other group"

    So he went to the Free Will group and asked, "Am I a member of this group then"? They answered "Don't you know? If you can't choose and decide for yourself, you must be in the other group, go and join them".

    He eventually got fed up with asking and being shunted around so went home to do some gardening and take the dog for a walk.
    .
     
    antiquarian, Botolph and Magistos like this.
  19. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,051
    Likes Received:
    789
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican (ACNA)
    True
     
  20. Jenkins

    Jenkins New Member Anglican

    Posts:
    21
    Likes Received:
    24
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglicanism
    Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. Fortunately the first of these group discussions has been postponed so I'll have time to read the articles people provided links to and do some further preparation beforehand.
     

Share This Page