Dr. Leighton Flowers has recently invited someone on his podcast to butcher Romans 9. That is a ritual and passage into manhood in the lands of the traditionalist. They spend the rest of their time trolling old John Macarthur sermons. So, back to the article, it was written by Dr. Eric Hankins. This won’t be a complete response article because I’m not that dedicated.
The repugnance of reprobation is why Calvinists like Grudem come up with philosophically incoherent fixes like “single predestination,” God’s “asymmetrical relationship” to election and reprobation, God’s “two wills,” “two loves,” and so on. Grudem concedes that it seems disingenuous to speak of God’s sorrow over the reprobate if he decrees it. His answer is that “God can decree something that causes him sorrow yet ultimately will bring him glory.” But God’s decreeing something sorrowful is not the problem with reprobation. It is God’s decreeing something evil. Jerry Walls’s observation at this point is apt:
[T]heological compatibilists [like Grudem] often make claims and engage in rhetoric that naturally lead people to conclude that God loves them and desires their salvation in ways that are surely misleading to all but those trained in the subtleties of Reformed rhetoric. . . . Such language loses all meaning, not to mention all rhetorical force, when we remember that on compatibilist premises God could determine the impenitent to freely repent, but has chosen instead to determine things in such a way that they freely persist in their sins.
God’s refusal to determine the repentance of sinners when it is within his power to do so can be called nothing other than immoral. Damning certain people by withholding something freely given to others is not glorious. It is indeed a horrible decree.
Dr. Hankins steps out of the exegetical domain to take puck shots at the Calvinism. That seems to be an argument that he isn’t ready to have, but he takes his shots. The first being that the language of “two-wills” is disingenuous. That needs a lot more argument than mentioning Dr. Grudem concedes it. Even if the language is difficult and apparently contradictory the Christian is justified in believing in paradox if the Bible teaches( read Dr. James Anderson on the Trinity and incarnation). He is not dealing with the text exegetically here but dealing with philosophical issues. So, after pretending to be a philosopher he then appeals to a real professional fake philosopher Dr. Jerry Walls. Where is the argument that God ought to elect everyone? Where do they get the notion that God’s goal is to say everyone he possibly could? Who deserves to be saved? Where is the logical or biblical argument that “God’s refusal to determine the repentance of sinners when it is within his power to do so can be called nothing other than immoral”? The other issue is that he pretends as if the Freewill theist God is also the cause of evil, but that ignores the argument Calvinist have used to show that Freewill theism suffers from the same objection:
I’ve gone and picked out from a just a handful of refutations of Dr. Walls. So, Hankins isn’t adding anything new to the conversation.
So, where did the Romans 9 reprobation readings of the last 1500 years come from? From this one fact: Paul’s overwhelming concern about Jewish rejection of the gospel has not been shared by those interpreting the text in subsequent generations. The unbelief of Jews as a primary falsifier of the gospel has not been a feature of Christian soteriological reflection in many centuries. When the central concern of Romans has been lost by those reading it, is it any wonder that confusion ensues? Is it any wonder that Paul’s interests have been replaced with those of Western metaphysics of divine action and human freedom? It turns out, however, that Romans 9–11 is not about the ontological function of reprobation in service of God’s justice, but the salvation-historical function of present Jewish unbelief in service of a great Jew and Gentile redemption.
…Again, Grudem’s definition of reprobation states that God settled his decision about unbelievers “before creation.” Paul, however, is talking about a temporary state of affairs for currently unbelieving Jews.
He asks this question in this article, but the irony of this is that he appeals heavily to the “New Perspective on Paul”. Where has that view been for almost 2,000 years? The issue is that we reject the New Perspective on Paul. It has been challenged by scholars like Charles Lee Irons, Robert Cara, and D. A. Carson. So, his hermeneutical grid is faulty from the outset. The second problem is that he thinks we are reading “Western Metaphysics” onto the text, but isn’t that the entire libertarian script? Third, the point is that Romans 9 is about Jewish unbelief making sense in terms of God’s plan and choice. The obvious reason why reprobation is a timeless decision of God is that God is a timeless being. We know from the Pauline corpus that the choice is made before the world existed(Eph. 1:4). For more on Romans 9: