The Berean Call put out their monthly newsletter a few days ago, and I could not help but noticing the following paragraph. If you are not intimately familiar with the argument of Romans 9, and especially its insistence that the choice of Jacob and the rejection of Esau was not in any way, shape, or form, based upon the actions of Jacob or Esau, foreseen or otherwise, but was instead based solely upon God’s “purpose in election,” you might wish to review the text before reading this tradition-laden means of getting around the text:
Regarding Romans 9:19, we know that it is not wise to single out one verse apart from full context. The issue of Jacob and Esau and their being loved or hated by God before their birth has occupied more than one discussion throughout history. If one confines the argument to portions of Romans 9, it does sound like God arbitrarily selects some for salvation and others for damnation, but Romans 9 does not occur in a vacuum, and the rest of Scripture furnishes the balance. God’s foreknowledge enters into the equation at this point. Some theologians have stated that it would be accurate to translate the passage, “Jacob have I chosen, but Esau have I rejected.” Specifically, in the case of Esau, the implication of “rejected” is a judgment based upon knowledge of his actions. God, who declares “the end from the beginning,” (Isaiah 46:10) knew, before they were born, the course each child would take.
1) How many times people have rebelled against this truth over the course of church history is, of course, irrelevant to the biblical teaching itself.
2) Whenever you find someone (and Dave Hunt has made a living off of this) going to the “rest of Scripture” argument before exegeting the text in context, you know you have found someone’s tradition.
3) Notice that in essence this paragraph admits that, contextually speaking, if you just let Romans 9 speak for Romans 9, it teaches God’s sovereignty (misidentified as “arbitrary” when, in fact, it is based upon the good pleasure of God’s will, His eternal purpose, which is anything but arbitrary).
4) Whenever you find anyone from the Berean Call citing un-named “scholars,” beware. Remember, these are the same folks who drew from a Yahwist cult to try to get around Acts 13:48, suggesting that the first fifteen chapters of Acts were written in Hebrew!
5) There is no doubt that “chosen/rejected” is part of the meaning of the text, but there are plain, easily chosen words that have those meanings, and Paul did not use them. Loved and hated are words with meanings. People may not like what they mean, but that does not change their meaning.
So compare, then, the words of Scripture with the words of the Berean Call and remember, once again, the grave error enunciated by Dave Hunt nearly a decade ago now, “James, I have no traditions.”
Scripture states: though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—(Romans 9:11)
But the Berean Call says,
Specifically, in the case of Esau, the implication of “rejected” is a judgment based upon knowledge of his actions. God, who declares “the end from the beginning,” (Isaiah 46:10) knew, before they were born, the course each child would take.
The result? Paul’s entire argument is turned on its head. How much more plainly can the Apostle state “and had not yet done anything good or bad”? But, when wedded to a tradition that you refuse to see, even the plain words on the page cannot dissuade you from pursuing your goals. Another great example provided by the folks up at the Berean Call.