Monday, October 28, 2013

Response to Joel Anderson's Critique of My Book, Part 4

About a week ago, Dr. Joel Anderson wrote a critique of the chapter "God is Sovereign" from my book "God Is: Exploring the Nature of the Biblical God". As usual, he was quite prolific. Below is my response.

Joel says this concerning Romans 9:10-21: "Randy finds this troubling, especially for anyone who claims the Bible is inerrant. How could God just predestine one person for salvation and another person for hell?"

Well, I didn't actually say in my book that the passage should be interpreted as predestining some to heaven and others for hell. My concern was that the passage indicates that God chooses some for mercy and others for hardening. In other words, some of the actions we take while on Earth in our human bodies are out of our control according to Paul. If you read Romans 9 carefully, you will see that that is exactly what Paul is saying. If not, then the translators really messed up. Paul knew what he was saying and knew that his readers would object to it. Look at Romans 9:14-21:

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

How much clearer can one be? Paul anticipated someone like me wanting to know how God could blame us for actions we took that were under God's control because we cannot resist his will. Paul could have explained why he didn't mean what it sounded like he meant, but he didn't. He just said God was the potter, we are the clay. We don't have the right to speak back to God and question his actions. Basically, God is in control, get over it.

The only other comments I have concern Joel's explanation of Romans 7:7-25. He said this passage was talking about Paul's life before he became a Christian. Perhaps, but if so, the translators messed up terribly. In the passage, Paul is talking in the present tense. He was not talking about the way he was, but the way he is. If he was talking about his past self, what he said doesn't seem to hold true. I hear of Christians all the time having internal struggles with staying on the straight path. In fact it is disconcerting how often I hear of Christians who fail in that struggle and turn to sin. If this warring struggle between right and wrong does not occur in believers, does that mean those who have that struggle and even give in to the dark side are not really Christians. That is not the message I hear coming from the churches. Most believers view Paul's statement as applying to post-conversion people, not just pre-conversion people.

No comments:

Post a Comment