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Divine Exasperation

Since high school, it has been my practice to read through the Scriptures each year.  Upon readings in more recent years, I have been struck repeatedly by strong expressions of divine exasperation.  Of course, I acknowledge God’s awareness of what free choices human beings will make, and I recognize that God can use free human choices and rebellion to accomplish his sovereign purposes.  Humans can harden themselves (e.g., Mark 3:5) and then God, if he chooses, may add to this hardening (e.g., Mark 4:12); that is, human self-hardening gives way to “phase two” when God withdraws his grace and further removes humans from repentance, “giving them over” to the consequences of their own self-initiated resistance to God’s grace.  Let me add here that Kenneth Keathley’s book Salvation and Sovereignty (B&H Academic) does a fine job of expounding on themes surrounding this divine-human interplay.  I further recommend the work of Thomas P. Flint and William Craig (which also offer a Molinist account) for those who want to go even deeper into these areas.

I am hoping to do some writing in this area of divine exasperation, and I thought that I would check with faithful Parchment and Pen readers to get your take on the following verses.  As I read them, they strongly suggest God’s legitimate expectation of spiritual fruitfulness, repentance, or obedience. That is, what hinders their repentance is not God’s withholding grace so that they cannot repent.  Indeed, abundant grace has been given that justifies the expectation of repentance—even if God in his foreknowledge knows it is not forthcoming.  Despite God’s initiating grace, humans continue to “resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51)—to grieve him (Ephesians 4:30) and quench him (1 Thessalonians 5:19).  God commands all people without exception to repent (Acts 17:30); so presumably God’s initiating grace is available for all to do so.

What is your take on the following sampling of verses that reflect “divine exasperation”?  

  • Genesis 4:6-7:  “Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.’”
  • Psalm 81:10-11: “Open your mouth wide, and I [God] will fill it.”  Israel’s response? “But my people did not listen to My voice, and Israel did not obey Me….Oh that my people would listen to Me…!”  God goes on to say that if they did listen, he would subdue their enemies and feed Israel with the finest of wheat (vv. 13-16).
  •  Isaiah 5:1-7:  “Let me sing now for my well-beloved a song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.  He dug it all around, removed its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it and also hewed out a wine vat in it; then He expected it to produce good grapes, but it produced only worthless ones.  And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between Me and My vineyard.  What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?  So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.  I will lay it waste; it will not be pruned or hoed, But briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”  For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah His delightful plant.  Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.”
  • Jeremiah 5:3: “O Lord, do not Your eyes look for truth? You have smitten them, but they did not weaken; you have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.”
  • Jeremiah 5:21-25: “‘Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see; who have ears but do not hear.  Do you not fear Me?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.  But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and departed.  They do not say in their heart, “Let us now fear the Lord our God, who gives rain in its season, both the autumn rain and the spring rain, who keeps for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.”  Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have withheld good from you.’”
  • Ezekiel 6:9: “How I [God] have been hurt by their adulterous hearts.”
  • Ezekiel 18:23, 32: “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked?” “Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies…. Therefore, repent and live.”
  • Matthew 23:37: Jesus laments over Jerusalem: “How I longed to gather you . . . but you were unwilling.” (It appears that it wasn’t Jesus or his Father who was unwilling!)
  • Luke 7:30:  Israel’s religious leaders had “rejected God’s purpose for themselves.”
  • John 3:16-17: “God so loved the world [which stands in opposition to God/Christ] . . . God did not sent His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
  • Romans 10:21: “All day long I have stretched out my hand to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:20:  “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
  • 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9: God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”; God “is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance.” Surely the sense of the text cannot be turned around to mean that God is willing that certain people should perish and not come to repentance!
  • 1 John 2:2: Christ died for the sins of “the whole world [holou tou kosmou]”—the same “whole world” that lies in the hands of the evil one (1 Jn. 5:19) and that Satan leads astray (Rev. 12:9).
  • Revelation 2:21-22: Regarding the Thyatiran false prophetess “Jezebel,” Jesus says: “I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.”

What do you all think?  If these are not genuine expressions of divine exasperation and genuine divine calls to freely repent in response to God’s grace, how are we to understand them?  I’d appreciate your input.

270 Responses to “Divine Exasperation”

  1. As a compatiblistic Calvinist, I take these as very real expressions of divine desire. Knowing that God knows the future and (from a Calvinistic standpoint) knowing that people cannot come to him without his sovereign grace, I know that these can be very confusing. They are to me.

    But the fact of God’s transcendence, omniscience, and sovereignty does not give us any right to teat these any less real. I always dislike it when people play the “anthropomorphic” card, saying that these are just human emotions being ascribed to God (really “anthropopathic”). I don’t believe in anthropopathicism. I might be unique here, but what would the parallel be to claiming these are anthropopathic? They have to have some function and communicate something true about God.

  2. You make excellent points, but I’m afraid this is one the those topics (which grow in number) that will either fall on deaf ears or amount to the rest of us as “preaching to the choir.”
    To use Michael’s analogy I learned from the Intro Theology, we have have a “stage of truth” upon which rests all the factors we utilize to determine truth.
    However, one topic he didn’t cover, at least directly, is how much influence America is under chiefly by Sigmund Freud and his disciples.
    On many peoples’ stage of truth, right up at the front standing taller than any other is self.
    While Michael talked about how powerful one’s feelings/emotions and experience are in determine one’s Theology, I believe this religion of “self” can use many factors, even the mind – why I think just speaking of them separately without addressing the goal – the preeiminence of self at all costs, renders other discussions inefficient.
    Even challenging Sigmund’s doctrines in many church circles is met with immediate scorn. Heck even challenging that we should listen to pyschology itself will result in the same treatment.
    Notice, now there’s two things a “Christian” shouldn’t challenge – the Authority of Scripture and Psychology!
    That phenomenon is when my discernment attenenas were raised.
    I got “saved,” was immediately grounded in the fundamentals and discipled, then noticed something else was given equal weight as Scripture, yet no one has yet to prove this behavior from Scripture to me.
    So here’s my point. How when one’s self, self-preservation, self-importance reign supreme in one’s mind can we expect them to be open to ANYTHING critical of their behavior or thoughts when we’ve already given ex-cathedra abilities to practioners of psychology.
    And please no one reply with labels to argue against my point, such as “Christian…,” as if a labels proves anything.

  3. Rev 3:16,

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand how your comment applies to the question Paul asked in the OP. Would you clarify for me, please?

  4. I believe that God hardens hearts that are hardened. I also believe that no one can resist repentence if God doesn’t want them to. I believe God is sovereign and in complete control. And yes, I realize the scriptures that speak of resisting the Holy Ghost. However, in my understanding we must and will warn the world not to resist the Holy Ghost because it is God’s will that he may use us to lead them to repentence. However, if God doesn’t want them to repent, they wont. It is difficult to understand with our tiny minds, but God is in complete control of everything.

  5. I’ve always wondered about, “And Jesus answered, ‘O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?'” (Matthew 17:17) Answering a man who asked for healing for his son.

  6. I think it is pretty fair to say that God does not need us, he was around forever without us, so his expressions of “divine exasperation” exist more to help us understand where we stand than where God stands. I rather doubt that God gets all worked up that his plan isn’t working out the way he intended it to work out, that would strip God of his sovereignty.

  7. I think the Calvinist point of view often makes God/Jesus out to be bipolar. He is longing to gather these people to Himself or stretching out His hand for them to repent. He tells Israel they will have blessings IF ONLY THEY didn’t stray and worshiped Him…yet Calvinists will say GOD damned people to hell. Or, rather, He just let them go their own damnable way. Makes God out to be silly and weird. He longs for them to be saved and worship Him, yet He didn’t have the kindness to give them the ability to do so! How cruel is that? You want blind people to follow you, yet you don’t speak so they can hear Your voice. You don’t open their eyes. Strange stuff.

  8. We should be careful in our exegesis of these passages. Your Matt. 23:37 for example, leaves out an important point. There are 3 persons in this passage. Jerusalem (the leaders), “your [Jerusalem’s] children” (the people), and Jesus. 99% of pastors I’ve heard preach on this actually quote this verse and leave out the word “children”.

    “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”

  9. This verse as well as many others makes it appear to many that God wants to do something he can’t, or at least how it was quoted above, I need to look again at the KJV and see what it says. It is easy to get confused when we stray from the bible.

  10. Paul,

    I have always understood those verses as you have. I don’t know how they can be read otherwise either without twisting them to mean something other then what seems to be very obvious.

  11. I think you’re right, Cheryl and “Bible Study.”

    Michael, I think that you are overemphasizing the “you” and “your children” distinction in Matt. 23. The point is the “you [Jerusalem]” is the same “you” that is “not willing” to turn to Christ.

    As for the “anthropathism” issue you raise, Michael, I would latch on to your main point: these are “very real expressions of divine desire.” Indeed! But why then differentiate “desire” from “divine decree”? God does what he pleases or desires. My fear is that “compatibilistic Calvinism” actually seem to be saying the *opposite* of the plain reading of the text in many places. For example, it would appear that, according to this view, God IS willing that MANY should perish and NOT come to repentance. If God truly desires that Israel not die but turn from its wicked ways and live, then who is at fault that they do not turn? The obvious answer (in this view) would be: “God.” But this is the thrust of my blog post—that “real…divine desire” IS being resisted and that repentance is possible (but not guaranteed) because God’s initiating grace has been at work in advance. Surely, Stephen’s charge in Acts 7:51 that “you are always resisting the Holy Spirit” surely doesn’t imply that they are resisting God’s *hardening* influence!

    If the compatibilist Calvinist view is correct, then it seems that God does equally desire the salvation of the elect and the damnation of the non-elect. Put another way: If, as John Piper writes, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, does this mean that God can’t be as glorified by those who don’t find their satisfaction in God? Or is he equally glorified and pleased in the condemnation of some as he is in the salvation of others? These are the kinds of concerns that I have….

    Rev. 3:16: Sorry, I couldn’t quite grasp your point; feel free to clarify.

  12. The best response I’ve seen from Calvinists to this type of verse listing was to repeat each point, and then say “We agree with this.”

    Yes, we agree that God did an AMAZING amount of things for all humans, and that humans are therefore without excuse. The righteous response from God is indeed “exasperation”.

    That’s fine as far as it goes. But the Bible goes MUCH deeper. If it stopped there, Romans would be missing chapters 2-10. The Bible also says that people WILL persistently refuse. Jesus explains to some of his own followers that they don’t believe him because they are the children of Satan — and some of those unbelieving followers left Him because He said that (John 6). Jesus didn’t promise that those people could come to Him if only they would listen and believe; He said instead that they couldn’t hear and believe because of who they were and were not, and because of what the Father had not done for them. And those people LEFT because He said that! Do you think John was disappointed in Jesus for having done that to potential converts? Is that why he included that speech in his Gospel? I think he included it because Jesus was preaching something vital to the Christian faith.

    And there is so much more like this in the Bible. It’s not JUST that God is righteous in His indignation, and both longsuffering and compassionate toward us. There’s more in the Bible.

    And all too often, what’s missing is in the very passage that’s being quoted. Michael pointed out that Matt. 23:37 was being edited to obscure WHO was doing the resisting (it’s not the children who were resisting, but rather the leaders). But this happens commonly. Deut 30 is quoted to show that Israel could have chosen life or death — but Deut 30 starts with a prophecy that Israel WILL choose the curses, and God will pull them back to life.

    -Wm

  13. Paul:

    I think that you are overemphasizing the “you” and “your children” distinction in Matt. 23. The point is the “you [Jerusalem]” is the same “you” that is “not willing” to turn to Christ.

    That’s true, but the “children I longed to gather” is not the same as the “you” that Jesus is cursing in the passage (read the whole chapter at least — it’s a curse, not a declaration of mercy). And the thing that “you” are not willing isn’t “to turn to Jesus”, but rather to allow Christ to gather the children under His wing.

    And Christ doesn’t say that He failed to gather the children of Jerusalem; instead, He simply curses the leaders for not being willing. (Now, God did not get to give the blessings to those children of Jerusalem, due to the disobedience of the leaders; but God always kept a remnant for Himself.)

    -Wm

  14. WM,

    I’m not sure that “children of Israel” here should be interpreted as referring literally to Israeli children. The notes in the NET seem to indicate that this refers to Israel in general and is a figure of speech.

    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,46 you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you!47 How often I have longed48 to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but49 you would have none of it!50

    46sn The double use of the city’s name betrays intense emotion.

    47tn Although the opening address (“Jerusalem, Jerusalem”) is direct (second person), the remainder of this sentence in the Greek text is third person (“who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her”). The following sentences then revert to second person (“your… you”), so to keep all this consistent in English, the third person pronouns in the present verse were translated as second person (“you who kill… sent to you”).

    48sn How often I have longed to gather your children. Jesus, like a lamenting prophet, speaks for God here, who longed to care tenderly for Israel and protect her.

    49tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.

    50tn Grk “you were not willing.”

  15. I’m not sure that “children of Israel” here should be interpreted as referring literally to Israeli children.

    Where and how did you get the idea that anyone was talking about literal children? Absurd.

    Read what I wrote. Or better yet don’t waste your time with my writing (grin); read the entire chapter in the Bible, and you’ll see that Christ is CURSING the so-called-spiritual leaders of Jerusalem. He’s not making loving promises; His eyes aren’t welling with regretful tears. His words are WOE, WOE! He’s prophesying judgement.

    And as I said, Christ also isn’t saying that the people who killed the prophets prevented God from gathering His people to himself; God has always preserved for Himself a remnant. God did establish covenant curses that the leaders brought down upon the people (including the righteous remnant, as Jeremiah explained), and that same disobedience forbade the covenant blessings God had also promised (but then God knew that would happen, and gave Jesus to bring those blessings not only to Jerusalem, but to all nations).

    -Wm

  16. If the compatibilist Calvinist view is correct, then it seems that God does equally desire the salvation of the elect and the damnation of the non-elect.

    Could you clarify why you believe that we believe God desires both equally? I don’t see that. I know there are some who say that He decreed both (sometimes called double predestination), but I don’t know any who actually say he WANTED both with the same want.

    -Wm

  17. Let’s not get off track on one verse here! RT France observes that Jesus is here broadening out from the religious leaders to the entire Jewish nation. After all, keep in mind the context. Judgment is about to fall on Jerusalem and the entire Israelite nation in AD 70–what the first half of Matthew 24 is all about. This is God’s judgment on the entire nation, indicating that ethnic Israel is finished as the people of God, and that a new community (that would show forth the fruits of repentance—namely, the interethnic church) would fulfill this role, as the OT scriptures indicate.

    William, I think the assessment of John could be looked at from another angle—and one that is consistent with divine exasperation. In John 3, 6 or 8, people don’t stop following Christ (or turn away from Christ) because they hadn’t been elected. Rather, they are too entrenched in their self-chosen path that they refuse to come to the light. Consider the parallel of Cain in 1 John 3:11-12 “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.” But if we look at Genesis 4:7, we know that God *expected* Cain to do what was right: “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

    I still don’t think the core of my divine exasperation question is being addressed. Can God legitimately *command* repentance if he doesn’t give persons grace to do so? Shouldn’t God be just as delighted with one sinner that repents as he is with one sinner that is damned? Is God willing that MANY perish and NOT come to repentance/the knowledge of the truth—that opposite of what appears to be the plain meaning of 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:4?

  18. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (Matthew 11:21)

    This passage puzzles me. For one, it seems to say that the sight of mighty works can bring a heart to God, if this heart is more… willing? open? soft?

    On the other hand, It seems to imply that God could have saved those cities by just showing them a mighty sign, but He, sovereign as He is, didn’t.

    There, one verse, two seemingly conflicting concepts.

  19. Yes, this is an example of hyperbole–with an emphasis on greater accountability for those witnessing Jesus’ ministry. After all, Jesus in his parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16) said that even if a person doesn’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, they won’t believe even if someone comes back from the dead. Indeed, the Israelites in the OT had signs and wonders in abundance in Egypt and their wilderness wanderings (even with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night to constantly remind them of his presence), but most died in unbelief in the wilderness…..

  20. Let’s not get off track on one verse here!

    That’s an odd thing to say — I grant that if we’re off track we should be brought back on, but we should deal with each verse individually. If I can’t examine each verse, why should we cite any?

    RT France observes that Jesus is here broadening out from the religious leaders to the entire Jewish nation.

    Even supposing that’s the case, it doesn’t support your claim of mixed divine love and exasperation against a single group. Textually, this verse has two groups: “Jerusalem who kills My prophets”, and “your children who I longed to gather”. You would have to show that the two groups were not distinct, but conceptually, the groups “you” and “your children” are by default distinct, and when the context is talking to religious leaders, it seems clear that “your children” are the people placed under authority.

    Historically, God always had His remenant, but they often fell under the covenental judgement that befell the rest of the people who followed evil leaders (or who “did what was right in their own eyes”). This is part of the reason for the cursing that Christ just finished giving, and in the very next passage He gives concrete form to the curse, as the total destruction of the Temple.

    After all, keep in mind the context. Judgment is about to fall on Jerusalem and the entire Israelite nation in AD 70–what the first half of Matthew 24 is all about.

    I agree; and Matt 23 is about WHY that judgement is falling.

    The rest of your message is very good, and I need to reply to it separately.

    -Wm

  21. William, I think the assessment of John could be looked at from another angle—and one that is consistent with divine exasperation. In John 3, 6 or 8, people don’t stop following Christ (or turn away from Christ) because they hadn’t been elected. Rather, they are too entrenched in their self-chosen path that they refuse to come to the light.

    John 6 in particular specifies that the ones who do not come to Christ do so because they are NOT ALLOWED to come (John 6:65). This completely rules out your explanation, which is nowhere in the text. Christ repeats this several different ways in that chapter. Now, Christ doesn’t use the word election, but neither did I; I’m not talking about the question of election from eternity, but rather your question of whether people’s stubborness precede God’s giving them up. Clearly, in John 6, God gives people up and THEN they stubbornly refuse to come to Christ; furthermore, everyone whom God draws does come to Christ, and none of those ones perish. Nobody comes without being allowed, everyone who is drawn comes, all of those are raised up on the last day.

    -Wm

  22. I still don’t think the core of my divine exasperation question is being addressed. Can God legitimately *command* repentance if he doesn’t give persons grace to do so?

    But God MUST command all persons everywhere to repent, because repentance from sin is the right thing to do. Are you implying that God MUST give grace to repent to everyone? If so, what does the word “grace” mean? The Roman Catholics use the word to denote the power of God to save; but the actual Biblical meaning of the word is “a freely given favor”. This is why Paul says in Rom 11:6 “if by works, then not of grace; otherwise grace is no longer grace,” and also says in Rom 4:4 “…not of grace but due to obligation.” If one is obligated to give, then the thing one gives cannot be called grace (it could perhaps be justice, or perhaps wages).

    Thus, I conclude that God must indeed be able to command without giving grace.

    Shouldn’t God be just as delighted with one sinner that repents as he is with one sinner that is damned?

    More delighted! But don’t forget, God does damn sinners.

    Is God willing that MANY perish and NOT come to repentance/the knowledge of the truth

    If He were not willing, would it happen? Is there anyone who can thwart God’s will or plans?

    that opposite of what appears to be the plain meaning of 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:4?

    2 Pet 3:9 is fairly clear: the entire context is talking about “us”, so that God does not want any (of us) to perish, and so He delays until we are all gathered in.

    1 Tim 2:4 is (I admit) harder; but the usual response to your challenge is that it’s talking about all classes of men, both the oppressed and the rulers (who are currently oppressing the Christians). This isn’t clear from the text itself, but it’s clearly possible, since otherwise Paul’s exhortation to pray for kings and authorities (specifically) seems…

  23. There is a clear difference between “you” and “your children.” He could have easily said “How often I wanted to gather you together”, but he didn’t. Instead He used “your children”, and for good reason. Nolland (NIGTC) says

    “How comprehensively are we meant to take this assertion of Jerusalem’s refusal of the divine initiative in the person of Jesus, and in what context are we to set it? Clearly, as generally with its OT counterparts, the prophetic accusation and threat of judgment here operate at the collective level and are consistent with the existence of dissenting voices. But at this stage of Matthew’s story we hardly have a Jerusalem standing solidly against Jesus. The material from Mt. 21:12–22:46 has portrayed a Jerusalem leadership solidly united against Jesus, but not at all a people united against him. The picture is of people very impressed by Jesus and drawn to him. We have to reach further on in the story to find that ultimately the people will follow their leaders and turn against Jesus (27:20–25). 23:37–38 seem to anticipate this final state of affairs rather than to relate to the immediate Matthean setting (in line with this, ἀπʼ ἄρτι [‘from now on’] in v. 39 takes us, in anticipation, to the very end of Jesus’ life).”

    Nolland, J. (2005). The Gospel of Matthew : A commentary on the Greek text (951). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.

  24. …seems unsupported by the surrounding text. (Ouch, SO close.)

    -Wm

  25. “…seems unsupported by the surrounding text. (Ouch, SO close.)”

    This is in response to who?

  26. Michael, my post #22 got truncated right near the end, so I pasted the very end in and hit “post”. The result posted in #24.

    Sorry for the confusion, and for the slightly too long post. I’m getting better — I used to post three and four-part replies.

    -Wm

  27. Can God legitimately *command* repentance if he doesn’t give persons grace to do so?

    Of course He can. A person’s lack of repentance is due to their lack of love for God. God is not obligated to free a person from their slavery to self in order to legitimately command them to stop loving themselves. Why would you suppose that He is? A person has the capacity to love God instead of self. He or she does not have the ability to throw off the love of self that has been both chosen by the individual and Adam. There is a vast distinction there. In the first, the question answers what a human has the ability to do in a possible situation. The second answers what a person is able to do given their sinful situation. God commands based on the first for the purpose of desiring good instead of evil to be performed in the world, and on the second, for the purpose of their damnation.

    Shouldn’t God be just as delighted with one sinner that repents as he is with one sinner that is damned?

    Why? We might say that God is delighted in the overcoming of chaotic agents, but still saddened by their destruction, since they potentially could have been something else. We might then say that His delight in their damnation is to a lesser degree in terms of their fate, but to a greater degree in terms of overcoming chaos and using them as vehicles to save His people via their knowing Him through the damnation of those persons.

    Is God willing that MANY perish and NOT come to repentance/the knowledge of the truth—that opposite of what appears to be the plain meaning of 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:4?

    If God was willing the MANY come to repentance instead of being damned, would you not expect Him to do more, like show Himself through many miracles to all generations? Show himself to the masses like Christ did to Paul and Thomas? Why play this faith game when faith obviously isn’t believing without persuasion through sight? Paul had true faith, did he not?

  28. Why doesn’t Christ just come down and do everything He can to convince the masses? Why does God not put people in Christian families and countries? Why leave some in places where they will never hear?

    Do these verses “plainly” say this, or do they say this if you drive quickly by without stopping to take a look closely at the context? The supposed “plain” meaning is usually the one that gives little to no reflection of what is being said in context. It may say one thing or the other, but I would not make the “plain meaning” argument, as it is simply an assertion that your interpretation is true and the other plainly false. What in these texts indicates that the all in 1 Peter is not talking about the group he is addressing, and the all in 1 Timothy is not talking about all classes of people?

    Finally, Paul, I really would like your honest take on the “plain reading” John 12:39-40. I seem to never get a response on this passage from those who see God as trying to do everything He can to save people. If that’s so, why harden them even after they have hardened themselves? Why not do everything He can to save them? Perhaps, they’ll use their free will and believe in Him if He would only give them more grace and more time and less opposition to their believing by hardening them?

  29. BTW, I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but we ought to also discuss why Arminian and RC theology makes grace into a substance that gives power to a person, rather than a positional gift given by God that results in salvation and therefore gives power from that relationship with God to serve Him.

  30. PART I:

    Thanks to you all for your engagement. I’m glad you more rigorously engaged—and you all did so ever so graciously!

    As for Mt. 23, there are plenty of other commentators besides France who make this point. For instance, Craig Blomberg states that Jesus “wishes he could gather all the recalcitrant ‘children’ of Israel”; while Jesus “wanted” repentance, “unbelieving Israel” chose its own fate: “you did not want” (Matthew NAC [1992], 350). D.A. Carson (a Calvinistic compatibilist himself) says that “Jerusalem” is a “metonymy including all Jews” (“Matthew” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary [ 1984], 487). This is just a sampling of the many commentators who take this view.

    Ironically, this view of Carson, Blomberg, France and others certainly supports the very point that compatibilist Calvinists make about Romans 9-11—namely, that most ethnic Jews are hardened by God and thereby prevented from repentance. (Of course, I would disagree with this read on Romans 9-11; instead, we see the theme of divine exasperation toward human hard-heartedness (stage one) that that gives way to divine hardening (stage two). For example, see Romans 10:21: “But about Israel he says, ‘All day long I held out my hands to this disobedient and stubborn people!’”

  31. PART II:

    As for John 12, Hodge, I think the context (which you rightly argue is very important) is very telling. Just prior to the quotation from Isaiah 6, Jesus said, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” The text indicates that Jesus’ hearers are not condemned to walk in darkness but that all without exception can come into the light. Jesus has just admonished them to head toward the light rather than remain in blindness. That is, the very persons God hardens are those Christ tells them to believe while they have the Light “so that you may become children of Light.”

    The text goes on to add that Jesus’ signs were being ignored and suppressed. Yet Christ earlier declared to the Jewish leaders that they should believe based on these signs he was performing: “but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” (John 10:38). Humans harden themselves and resist God’s gracious Spirit (Acts 7:51 [no irresistible grace there!]), and then God may harden them further (if he sovereignly chooses) by letting people have their own way and further removing the possibility of repentance. But the process begins with self-initiated hardening.

  32. PART III:

    This is the same theme Mark 3 and 4 underscores. In Mark 3:5, Jesus looks around at the religious leaders with anger, “grieved at their hardness of heart.” This is human self-hardening—Part one of the process. (We could ask: why grieve if God the Father has made repentance impossible anyway?) In chapter 4:10-11 (quoting Isaiah 6), we see Part Two of the hardening process—God’s adding his own hardening to already hardened hearts.

    As for the question, “Why doesn’t God/Christ do everything to convince the masses?” Well, as I mentioned earlier in the post, people can see lots of signs and wonders and still refuse to believe—like Israel in Egypt and the wilderness or like the religious leaders in John 11 who see a raised Lazarus and want to kill him along with Jesus! Note Jesus’ words in Luke 16:31: “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” Again, we get back to divine exasperation—like Isaiah 5: What more is God to do than he has already done to foster conditions for repentance and moral and spiritual fruitfulness?

  33. PART IV:

    Why can’t 1 Tim. 2:4 be talking about all without distinction (e.g., classes of people) rather than all without exception? Well, 1 Timothy 4:10 (harking back to God’s desire for all to be saved in 2:4) indicates that Christ is the Savior all people, especially of believers. (It’s like John 3:16, which is comprehensive and not restricted to “all kinds of human classes in the world.” “World” in John’s Gospel tells against such an artificially imposed reading [cp. the “whole world” in 1 John 2:2 with 1 John 5:9].)

    As with 1 Tim. 2:4, restricting 2 Peter 3:9 to believers is likewise overturned by 2 Peter 2:1, where false teachers deny “the Master who bought them.” 1 Peter 3:20 talks about God’s longsuffering attitude toward those who would die in the flood—that repentance was held out to them as well. It seems theologically strained to say “any” in 2 Peter 3:9 is restricted to (future) saints. As in 1 Tim. 2:4, 2 Peter implies that salvation (and thus repentance) is made available to all without exception.

  34. PART V:

    Is God obligated to give grace to people he commands to repent because repentance is the right thing to do? We all acknowledge God is obligated to save no one. It’s not that he “must” make repentance available to all by opening people’s eyes and convicting them. We are all unworthy of salvation. But that’s not truly germane to the discussion at hand. Rather, the very command *assumes* God that graciously provides opportunity; that’s why he can rightly expect to judge people for refusing to repent—because they *could have* repented. Note the passage of Jezebel in Revelation 2: Christ gives her the opportunity to repent, but she refuses. Even in Genesis 4, God reminds Cain grace is available to resist sin and not be mastered by it. No Calvinistic compatibilism here, it appears. A relational God repeatedly provides gracious opportunities for human persons to repent (this hardly turns grace into a substance!); God expects them to show the fruits of repentance: But when [John] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance…’” (Matthew 3:7-8).

    As for God’s delight over a sinner’s condemnation, I find it strange that God should even be “saddened” (Hodge). God has deliberately created them without any legitimate basis to warrant repentance. Why the sadness? As I quoted Ezekiel above, God doesn’t desire the death of the wicked *but rather* that the wicked turn from his ways and live. God asks: “Why will you die?” Surely the compatibilistic Calvinistic answer (of God saying “because I’m not allowing you to repent”) goes utterly contrary to the text.

    I’ll need to devote the next week and a half to meeting writing deadlines and teaching intensively. I’ll get back to your comments as I am able.

  35. D.A. Carson (a Calvinistic compatibilist himself) says that “Jerusalem” is a “metonymy including all Jews”

    The only reference I can find in Google Books for that phrase applies that metonymy to those whom Jesus longed to gather, not those to whom Jesus was speaking.

    Christ is reasonably clear about whom he’s speaking. One group He’s cursing for not being willing; He identifies them as those who killed the prophets. The other group He’s indicating a desire to gather together and protect. The second group did not want God’s action to gather the first group.

    Looking more closely at this passage, the terms Christ uses seem to be more related to the Mosaic covenant (social salvation) than to the Abrahamic covenant promise (personal salvation). Look at Deuteronomy 30, in which the promises involve scattering and gathering. Look at the sayings of the prophets (the ones Jerusalem killed), which primarily called the nation to obedience to the Mosaic covenant.

    It seems to me that by the terms of the Mosaic Covenant, God promised to gather and/or scatter the Jews based on their communal observation of the terms of the covenant. The problem here isn’t that none of the Jews wanted God to gather them; the problem is that some of the Jews did NOT obey the covenant, and killed the messengers God sent, thus invoking the curse of the Mosaic covenant, which meant scattering among the nations rather than gathering into the Land.

    And what happened in 70AD, in addition to destroying the Temple and the last opportunity to practice the Mosaic covenant, was the scattering of Israel.

    So by a covenantal reading (which is Calvinistic), this isn’t about whether or not God desires to save all or some; it’s about why God was about to scatter the nation of Israel.

    -Wm

  36. (Ha, I was referring to the author of Romans as “Paul”, when I noticed the first name of the person to whom I’m responding. I changed that to “St. Paul” to hopefully reduce confusion — not implying at all that our own Paul is no saint!!!)

    instead, we see the theme of divine exasperation toward human hard-heartedness (stage one) that that gives way to divine hardening (stage two).

    We don’t see that in Romans 9 at all (if you do, I challenge you to reveal it). Rather, we see it contradicted, for example by Esau, with whom God was “exasperated” (not God’s word, but yours) before he’d done anything right or wrong.

    Now, Esau WAS hard-hearted, and disdained his birthright; but St. Paul says God rejected him prior to this or any other evil act.

    For example, see Romans 10:21: “But about Israel he says, ‘All day long I held out my hands to this disobedient and stubborn people!’”

    This passage in Romans is a reiteration of the very beginning in Romans 1. St. Paul is actually saying that people know about their creator, and that they should trust in Him. Rom 10:21 narrows that down to the Jews, who were supposed to be a light to the Gentiles, and who directly received the Law and Light God gave. St. Paul’s point isn’t that God got exasperated; rather, Paul is quoting that to show that God indeed gave the Word to all people, Jews and Gentiles.

    -Wm

  37. Regarding John 12:

    The text indicates that Jesus’ hearers are not condemned to walk in darkness but that all without exception can come into the light.

    This is eisegesis: the text omits mentioning anything about what you’re saying. Christ doesn’t say “all without exception” or “all”. What He does is urge His hearers to walk in the light as it’s with them. One might think that He was talking about His own earthly ministry — except that His next action was to “hide from them.” The people he’s talking to are Greeks; Jesus’ ministry was always first to the Jews. He promised — with a major sign, a voice from heaven — that His death would herald a major change, the drawing of all men unto Him (which I think means, all men rather than just the Jews). Either way, the whole passage can’t mean that light is offered to all: first because He gave promises that were clearly for after His death; and second because He hid from them.

    By the way, I see a translational and textual difference in different versions. In the Greek for “while you have the light”, the Greek word we see as “while” is usually translated “as”. (The KJV lists a completely different Greek word meaning “while” that isn’t listed as a variant anywhere I can find.) There’s a difference: “while” implies that the people have light now and might lose it; “as” implies that the people may or may not be given light.

    -Wm

  38. Humans harden themselves and resist God’s gracious Spirit (Acts 7:51 [no irresistible grace there!]), […] But the process begins with self-initiated hardening.

    First, not everything the Spirit does is saving grace, which is what Calvinists claim is irresistible. God also sends rain to water the crops, and that’s resistible by means of asphalt :-).

    Second, how does a verse that says “you always resist the Holy Spirit” prove that the hardening was self-initiated? It doesn’t say anything about the initiation of the resistance; it merely says that they always resist.

    -Wm

  39. This is the same theme Mark 3 and 4 underscores. In Mark 3:5, Jesus looks around at the religious leaders with anger, “grieved at their hardness of heart.” This is human self-hardening—Part one of the process.

    This passage doesn’t say that! There’s no hint that it’s human self-hardening or divine action or anything else.

    (We could ask: why grieve if God the Father has made repentance impossible anyway?)

    God hasn’t made repentance impossible — He’s commanded it, and provided the means. Yet we refuse to repent. Why? Because we hardened ourself? Then why did we do that? The final answer is because our hearts are evil; we are slaves to sin.

    And why grieve? How can one not grieve?

    In chapter 4:10-11 (quoting Isaiah 6), we see Part Two of the hardening process—God’s adding his own hardening to already hardened hearts.

    But here we see not God adding hardening, but rather God explicitly refusing to give information to people even when He was talking directly to them, in order that they not “hear and be saved”. This is a microscopic example of the broad problem of the uninformed pagan: why doesn’t God give the gospel in detail to everyone? Jesus is doing on a small scale what God does throughout history.

    Your arguments against Calvinism seem to argue MORE against Christ’s own words there; His words on whom He’s willing to save are MUCH stronger there than Calvin’s words on the nature of man’s will.

    Christ stands there, sees the people, says, “if I spoke clearly these people would hear and be saved,” and then He speaks unclearly.

    -Wm

  40. Paul,

    Thanks for your engagement of the passage I offered up. I appreciate your willingness to address it. Most Arminians I speak with don’t want to touch it with a ten-foot pole, so I’m glad you took it on.

    You said: “The text indicates that Jesus’ hearers are not condemned to walk in darkness but that all without exception can come into the light. Jesus has just admonished them to head toward the light rather than remain in blindness. That is, the very persons God hardens are those Christ tells them to believe while they have the Light “so that you may become children of Light.”

    I think its the inference that you make from most of what you’ve cited, both here and in other texts, that because a command is given, and God desires His commands to be obeyed, that it must presuppose man’s free will to obey them. Am I right in making that observation?
    I think, however, that most Arminians will agree with Calvinists that God must have two wills, one that wills nothing but good to be performed in His universe and one that wills His plan be worked out through the choices of the humans He creates, including their sinful choices. If this is the case, we cannot assume that any command that God really desires to be obeyed based on His moral will implies that humans are freed from their slavery of sin to make a choice for good or evil.
    If humans have the ability to do good or evil given a certain situation, then His commands are directed toward that, whether to save or condemn the individual for that choice. However, it is clear that humans are bound by the situation they are in, i.e., love of self/ the sin nature. As such, His commands harden instead of save those who could be saved given the situation of effectual grace (the point of our disagreement).
    So back to the text:

  41. What we really need to decide is whether your interpretation or mine is more probable linguistically, grammatically, etc. I think in determining context by using the previous statements you did, we need to remember that those statements also have a context provided by our current passage. In other words, our passage itself is a part of their context. We cannot interpret them apart from it, and then attempt to re-interpret our passage based on taking those other “contexts” out of context. I hope that makes sense.
    So what does this passage actually say? Does it actually show that you have interpreted Jesus’ previous commands correctly in assuming that they show God looking to save all without exception?

    Here is my question, which wasn’t really addressed in your comments, since I agree that man first hardens himself in his sin. Why does God not just leave him alone, or try to save him anymore if He really wants him saved?
    Better yet, let’s listen to the passage. According to the text, why do they not believe? Because they choice to not believe? Because they loved darkness rather than light? We all agree that these are true and can be found elsewhere in John. The point, however, is regarding John’s/Jesus’ reasoning as to why they do not believe, why they do not love the light more than the darkness? The answer is clear in the text: They could not believe. Why could they not believe? Because God had hardened them so that they would not. Notice, this seems to imply that if God had not hardened them, but had gone the other way in trying to save them, they would repent and believe and God would deliver them. So it is God who has kept them from believing. They do not believe because God blinded them and made them deaf to His truth. Is that not what it says? In context, then, the previous (and subsequent) commands do not imply that humans are able to obey in the situation they are in (i.e., fallen and in a slobbering love affair with the rule of themselves).

  42. Part IV

    Again, context is important for 1 Tim and 1 Pet. In 1 Tim, Paul just gets done commanding the churches to pray for men in all stations of life, not just lowly and powerless, who many might think were the only ones saved. Paul’s point is that all classes of men are desired by God to be saved, not just some classes. That seems to have greater explanatory power in the context.
    Again, in 1 Pet, God is patient toward whom? The world? All people? The text says that God is patient toward “you.” Who is the “you” in the context? Maybe the diaspora Christians directly, all Christians generally; but it would seems a bit of a stretch to suggest that the “you” is the entire world. So He is patient toward the Church, wishing none of it to perish, but all of it to come to repentance (by “Church,” of course, I refer to the individuals who make it up).
    I appreciate the use of Scripture interpreting Scripture by using 2 Pet, but the truth is, Paul, that many people do this in a way that rips individual verses out of context when they don’t like the context they’re given. 2 Pet is simply a different context and does not provide us with one for 1 Pet. We can discuss that verse, as I do not believe in limited atonement, but the context here is referring to the believers he is addressing.

    ““Why doesn’t God/Christ do everything to convince the masses?” Well, as I mentioned earlier in the post, people can see lots of signs and wonders and still refuse to believe—like Israel in Egypt and the wilderness or like the religious leaders in John 11 ”

    Well, yes, some may not; but in an Arminian framework, would you not suppose that some might if He did more? Are we really going to say that Paul would have believed anyway had Christ not appeared to him so dramatically? Why not give Christopher Hitchens that opportunity?

    BTW: The Luke 16 passage is talking about believing the Scriptures so as to do good works and take care of the poor, not believing the…

  43. “As for God’s delight over a sinner’s condemnation, I find it strange that God should even be “saddened” (Hodge). God has deliberately created them without any legitimate basis to warrant repentance. Why the sadness?”

    I think if you grasp my distinction between what a human has the ability to do given the right situation and what a human can do in a fallen state, then you can see why God is saddened by the choosing of chaos and evil over order and good and the potential that person could have been if not in love with the self. He has not created them that way. That’s a misunderstanding of what we are saying. They have created themselves that way. God has created them upright. They chose what they did. God now chooses to direct it toward His purposes and leave them in their corruption and unbelief. That’s a big difference.

  44. LOL. I just realized my head isn’t screwed on straight today. We are talking about 2 Pet not 1 Pet. I apologize for that unwarranted rebuke, Paul. I do think that we shouldn’t import one section of a book to another as its immediate context, but do apologize for suggesting you were not in the right book when in fact that was me. :) Maybe I should actually pay attention to what I’m doing? :) Sorry about that.

  45. WM and Hodge,

    If God commanded that in order to be avoid eternal damnation one must throw themselves off the Sear’s Tower and survive would this be just?? I do not see how God can command something with his desirative will and then determine that it be impossible for humans to actually do what he has commanded with his determinitive will. You’ve created a God who is at best schizophrenic. He desires that we all repent but then works both passively and actively to ensure that this will not happen. This is absurd.

  46. Hodge,

    The NET Bible would seem to agree and disagree with you on 2 Peter 3:9.

    “This verse has been a battleground between Arminians and Calvinists. The former argue that God wants all people to be saved, but either through inability or restriction of his own sovereignty does not interfere with peoples’ wills. Some of the latter argue that the “any” here means “any of you” and that all the elect will repent before the return of Christ, because this is God’s will. Both of these positions have problems. The “any” in this context means “any of you.” (This can be seen by the dependent participle which gives the reason why the Lord is patient “toward you.”) There are hints throughout this letter that the readership may be mixed, including both true believers and others who are “sitting on the fence” as it were. But to make the equation of this readership with the elect is unlikely. This would seem to require, in its historical context, that all of these readers would be saved…….When an apostle or pastor addresses a group as “Christian” he does not necessarily think that every individual in the congregation is truly a Christian. Thus, the literary context seems to be against the Arminian view, while the historical context seems to be against (one representation of) the Calvinist view.”

  47. Hodge,

    I just don’t find your interpretation of 1 Timothy 2 here at all plausible. Paul tells them to pray for “all people”. He then goes on to list some people that believers might (given the circumstances) be tempted to leave out before saying repeating his earlier exhortation and giving as the reason that God wants “all people” to be saved.

    Now clearly the first time he uses “all people” in vs.1 it means “all people” not merely all types of people. It is not telling me to make sure I pray for the governor of my State (because I like him) and not pray for the President of the U.S. (because I don’t like him), rather it is saying to pray for all people period. I see no logical reason to see why we should read the second use of “all people” (same Greek word) any different. The part about Kings and those who are in authority in vs.2 is simply a warning to believers to not leave out of their prayers those who they might given the circumstances be tempted to leave out. In vs.3 Paul then refers back to the “all people” in vs.1 stating “such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior”. He then goes on to state the reason for this, “since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”.

    Your interpretation here seems to have Paul using the same word to mean two completely different things in the same passage and even more or less in the same sentence, “prayer for all….since he wants all people”. It seems ridiculous to think that Paul in the same sentences means all by the first use of “all” when referring back to verse 1 and “all types of people” by the second use.

    Now maybe the English here is just messed up, but reading the NET translation of this verse and reading the notes I can’t see how anyone could come the the conclusion that “all people” in verse 4 means “all types of people”.

  48. Michael,

    “He desires that we all repent but then works both passively and actively to ensure that this will not happen. This is absurd.”

    So you don’t believe this? Here’s why your system is no different.

    Calvinist:

    1. God desires nothing but good to be done and for all to repent (moral will).
    2. God desires that the world be filled with evil in order to accomplish His purposes.
    Therefore, God has two wills.

    Arminian:

    1. God desires nothing but good to be done and for all to repent (moral will).
    2. God desires that humans have free will to choose, and therefore, chooses to have a world filled with evil for that purpose
    Therefore, God has two wills.

    The only difference is found within the reason why God chooses to have the universe the way that He does. I probably could add to each a premise that states that God is all powerful and can make everyone do good. Hence, He desires that nothing but good be done, is all powerful to make His will come about, but does not make nothing but good come about. How is your system different?

  49. I think it’s a given that when the apostles address the churches to which they are writing they are speaking to the elect, not those they see as false brethren. However, they do not know who these are, so they speak to the church as a pastor would, assuming that their audience makes up the elect (hence, Paul says to the Ephesians that they were elect; he is not saying the unbelievers there area also elect; same with Peter, etc.).

    “I just don’t find your interpretation of 1 Timothy 2 here at all plausible. Paul tells them to pray for “all people”. He then goes on to list some people that believers might (given the circumstances) be tempted to leave out before saying repeating his earlier exhortation and giving as the reason that God wants “all people” to be saved.”

    Well, sure, if you beg the question and assume that “all means all and that’s all that it means.” The problem is that pas doesn’t just mean all in the collective sense that we often use our English word. Most ancient languages don’t use their words for “all” this way. Take kol in Hebrew for example. God sends one plague and wipes out “all” of the livestock. Then He sends another after that that affects all of the livestock. How is it that they were all killled, but now suffer from a new plague? Greek is the same. The word has a variety of nuances. It can mean, “all,” “all sorts of,” “all classes or kinds of,” “all of you,” “any,” “any of you,” “a representative majority of a group,” etc. It depends upon the context. That’s why when people groups are mentioned, “all” should more often be understood as “all classes of,” or “all sorts of people,” not all people without exception. You also create a conflict between Paul and John, since John tells the people that they are not to pray for the salvation of all people (specifically, the person who is guilty of an unforgivable sin).

  50. If you look at what I said, I already addressed the use of all in the first verse and in the fourth. They both should be translated “all classes/kinds of people.” That’s the context. That’s also why we understand that pas “all” in 1 Tim 4:10 is not a support of universalism, since it says that Christ is actually the Savior of “all kinds of men, specifically (malista) speaking of believers.” Immediately afterward, Paul tells Timothy, therefore, to not allow anyone to look down on his youthful state (i.e., a different class of people in distinction to others).

    Something I’ve never understood about the Arminian interpretation of 2 Pet though. Are you saying that the text is indicating that time is the factor in the repentance of unbelievers? In other words, Peter’s argument is that Christ has not yet come back because God is being patient toward you, desiring that none should perish, but all come to repentance. So if it is a matter of time that could bring all to repentance, and that is why Christ is waiting, then why not give them more time, since He desires all to be saved, and time itself somehow will allow more of them to be saved? What an odd interpretation that flips the text on its head. By that logic, Peter should tell us that Christ really loves the world and will never come back, since, perhaps, more will come to him if given more time. He ought to also extend their lifespans, and not allow any children or young unbelieving men or women to die at a young age. Did God not care if they perished? I think this is an awful interpretation of something that is very clearly talking about believers, and very clearly can only make sense in a Calvinistic system, since God, not time, will be the One who decides when they will be born and when they will repent, and therefore, has no need to send Christ back immediately until His plan of their lives and salvation is fulfilled.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Paul Copan, “Divine Exasperation” | Society of Evangelical Arminians - November 18, 2010

    […] Paul Copan, “Divine Exasperation”, surveys biblical passages that express God’s exasperation with sinful, human resistance to God’s grace, revealing “God’s legitimate expectation of spiritual fruitfulness, repentance, or obedience. That is, what hinders their repentance is not God’s withholding grace so that they cannot repent. Indeed, abundant grace has been given that justifies the expectation of repentance—even if God in his foreknowledge knows it is not forthcoming. Despite God’s initiating grace, humans continue to “resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51)—to grieve him (Ephesians 4:30) and quench him (1 Thessalonians 5:19). God commands all people without exception to repent (Acts 17:30); so presumably God’s initiating grace is available for all to do so.” This entry was posted in Determinism, Free Will, General, Grace, Monergism & Synergism, Providence, Reprobation, Sovereignty of God. Bookmark the permalink. ← Gordon C. I. Wong, “Make Their Ears Dull: Irony in Isaiah 6:9-10″ […]

  2. Society of Evangelical Arminians | Paul Copan, “Divine Exasperation” - April 4, 2013

    […] Paul Copan, “Divine Exasperation”, surveys biblical passages that express God’s exasperation with sinful, human resistance to his grace, revealing “God’s legitimate expectation of spiritual fruitfulness, repentance, or obedience. That is, what hinders their repentance is not God’s withholding grace so that they cannot repent. Indeed, abundant grace has been given that justifies the expectation of repentance—even if God in his foreknowledge knows it is not forthcoming. Despite God’s initiating grace, humans continue to “resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51)—to grieve him (Ephesians 4:30) and quench him (1 Thessalonians 5:19). God commands all people without exception to repent (Acts 17:30); so presumably God’s initiating grace is available for all to do so.” […]

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