The Pope, the Salvation of the Jews, and Calvinism, Part 8 (“Harden” in Exodus)

abraham god calling him

The meaning of “harden” in Rom 11:7-8 should be clear by now. And I know it’s hard to imagine me — of all people — over-arguing a case. But the point is not just to define Paul’s word. It’s to demonstrate a better way of reading the text — not just this text but all texts. So humor me as we dig more deeply into “harden.”

“Harden” in Exodus

The concept first appears when Moses demands that Pharaoh let God’s people go. Continue reading

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Wild Wild Horses: “Ordinary Life”

A pop song that begins with a tuba (or is it trombone?) — blown so loud it distorts — is so off the beaten path, it has to be good. (Reminds me of Imagine Dragons.)

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The Pope, the Salvation of the Jews, and Calvinism, Part 7 (“the rest were hardened”; Romans 11:7-8)

abraham god calling himRom 11:7-8

(Rom. 11:7-8 ESV)  7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,  8 as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”

Up to this point, Paul is not that hard to follow. But in a surprising twist, he declares the Jews without faith in Jesus to have been “hardened.” (The KJV mistranslates as “blinded.”)

Paul’s reference in v. 8 is a blending of two passages — Continue reading

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The Pope, the Salvation of the Jews, and Calvinism, Part 6 (Has God rejected his people? Romans 11:1-6)

abraham god calling himREMINDER: We’re considering the Vatican’s argument that the Jews are saved without faith in Jesus as Messiah because “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable,” a declaration of Paul found in Rom 11:29.

Romans 11:28-29

(Rom. 11:28-29 ESV) 28 As regards the gospel, they [the Jews] are enemies [of God] for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

This is hardly an easy passage, but a few things are very clear.

  • The subject of v. 29 is ethnic Israel.
  • The “calling” of ethnic Israel is a reference to God’s covenant with them at Mt. Sinai. After all, this is also when they became the “elect” people of God (eklego in the LXX; often translated “chosen” in the OT) (Deu 4:37; 7:6-7; 10:15; 14:12; etc.).
  • As previously pointed out, while their election was in many respects unconditional, it did not assure perseverance of individual Israelites. Nearly all the adults who escaped through the Red Sea died in the desert and received no inheritance.

Continue reading

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Joel Levi: “Rangeline”

Set My Body Free

Find love. If only for a moment.
Your eyes are finally open, if only for a time.
Take me into that sanctuary,
where no one dares to tarry. Barely even God.

Set my body free.

Dive in. The table’s set with linens.
The food was made by women with wings grown out their backs.
Take me into that sanctuary,
where no one dares to tarry. Barely even God.

Set my body free.

Wake me from this earthly body
’til nothing clings to memory, barely even God.

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Free Books from Logos

logoshomepageThere’s a Facebook group dedicated to letting you know about free books from Logos and its affiliated FaithLife companies.

Some of the books are old, out-of-copyright books by long-forgotten authors. But plenty are books on my wishlist. So pay attention and get free stuff — if you are a Logos user. And if you pick up a few books that are part of a set, if you later buy the set, you get credit for already owning part of the set (even though you paid nothing for it).

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The Pope, the Salvation of the Jews, and Calvinism, Part 5 (further on “calling”)

abraham god calling him

“Call” in Romans 1

Paul begins Romans speaking of God’s calling.

(Rom. 1:1-7 ESV)  Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,  2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,  3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh  4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,  5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,  6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,  7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The first reference is obviously a reference to God’s specific calling of Paul as apostle on the Damascus road. The next two speak of God’s church being called “to belong to Jesus Christ” and “to be saints.”

Calvinist commentators speak of God’s calling as a synonym for election as taught by Calvin. Hence, those who are called are necessarily those who are saved. Arminians speaks of God’s “effectual call,” that is, the calling of people who choose respond — which seems a bit forced, but it’s routinely taught. Continue reading

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Submarine Lights

Tight harmonies. Hooks like British Invasion rockers of the ’60’s. Irresistible. Like grace to a Calvinist. You have no free will. You must download.

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The Pope, the Salvation of the Jews, and Calvinism, Part 4 (OT background)

abraham god calling himIf around 20 AD you were to ask a typical First Century Jew whether the Exile is over, he would have said “No.”

You might reply, “But you’re no longer in Babylonian Captivity. How can that be?”

He would explain, “It’s true that we’re no longer required to live in Babylon, but we are now forced to live under the oppressive rule of Roman, swine-eating dictators who care nothing for God, his Torah, or his Temple.

“The Exile only ends when the prophecies about the end of Exile come true. We are still under Exile because — Continue reading

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The Pope, the Salvation of the Jews, and Calvinism, Part 3 (Historical background)

abraham god calling himRomans in historical context

Let’s start with a little history. Paul had never been to Rome, nor does he speak of any other apostle as having been there or founding that congregation. It appears likely to have been founded by Christian travelers, trades people most likely.

The Roman church would likely have had a Jewish core (as was generally true of churches in Gentile lands) along with converted Gentile God fearers (uncircumcised Gentiles who’d come to believe in the God of the Jews before Christianity arrived), as well as other Gentiles.

Around 49 AD, the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome, which would have converted the church there to an all-Gentile church and deprived the church of most of its ablest scholars of the scriptures — as the NT was largely not yet written and the few extant letters of Paul were likely not yet copied and available to distant churches. Likely the leadership of the church had been primarily Jewish, as the Jews would have known the OT scriptures so well. Continue reading

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