Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Blogging Through Romans: Romans 9: 6-17

Romans 9: 6-17

“I have loved Jacob. But I have hated Esau.”

I like to make fun of my Presbyterian friends because of what church reformer John Calvin made of this and similar passages. Calvin (who’s writings influenced the Presbyterian Church) talked about “Double Predestination” which means that God decided before the world began who was destined for eternal bliss in heaven, and who better load up on cosmic aloe vera. He, like Paul, called folks headed for heaven, the “elect.” The people destined for Hell, Calvin called “reprobate,” Nice, eh?

But I think Calvin made too much out of this passage. I think Paul was merely reiterating what he said earlier that we are not in control of our being righteous before God, that it’s because of faith that God declares us righteous.

“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,” God says, “I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

In other words, God decides who God will choose to be righteous.

But does this just send us back to God deciding who sleeps under the divine palm tree and who ends up roasting in the eternal bonfire?

Not necessarily. Canadian theologian Douglas John Hall says that God doesn’t choose people for salvation, but for vocation. Just as God chose the people of Israel to be a “Light to the Nations” God chooses us as Christians to be the “Light of the World.”

You have been baptized, named, claimed, and chosen by God to shine with God’s holy light. As Jesus says, “Light your light so shine before others, so they may see your good works and glorify your God, who is in heaven” (Matthew 5: 16).

And when God’s New Creation finally comes in it’s fullness, the dead shall rise, and everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

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