The Bible and Culture

The Bible and Culture


Revival 2011— At My Home Church in Charlotte

posted by Ben Witherington


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Paul

posted January 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm


There is hope for you yet.
“God’s pursuit of me” sounds remarkably Calvinistic.



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ben witherington

posted January 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm


Why? Lovers pursue those they love, but they’d laugh at you if you suggested that they had actually predestined the one loved to reciprocate simply because they pursued them.
BW3



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Paul

posted January 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm


My remark was intended as a friendly tease more than anything. But since you ask why I will give a very brief answer.
I believe that when you start speaking of God pursuing the sinner you inevitably end-up at a Calvinistic position of God initiating the sinners conversion and the sinner responding to His love (Rom 5:8). Does God pursue everyone? Does God lover everyone in the same way? I don’t think it takes much analysis to arrive at the conclusion of “no” to both those questions. Given the privileges that God has bestowed upon me I cannot say that He has loved me in the same way as say a boy brought up in a home where he was made to stone his own mother on trumped up charges of adultery. Clearly God loved me more. By pursuing me and bringing me to a saving faith in the person of His Son he has loved me in a very specific way.
I appreciate your work Professor.



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ben witherington

posted January 11, 2011 at 9:52 pm


Paul you seem to have confused the circumstances of your life with whether God loves you or not. As Corrie ten Boom would tell you, and indeed many Christian martyrs, you can’t judge how much God loves you by how much you have been blessed in your life’s circumstances, which are caused by a host of factors. Yes indeed God loves everyone with the same intensity, but this does not mean God expresses his love in the same way to everyone, because we are all individuals with individual flaws, circumstances etc. John 3.16 is pretty clear. God loves the world. And yes indeed God woos us all, but not all of us want to be won over.
BW3



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Paul

posted January 12, 2011 at 1:04 am


You seem to have your hand full over in the other thread.
First I must provide some clarification. If I am confusing anything with evidence of God’s love for me it is not the circumstances of my life, but rather the opportunities to come to know the Lord and to experience His grace through the circumstances of this life. I suggest that Corrie ten Boom and all other Christian martyrs would affirm my position.
Secondly I have a question. You say that “God loves everyone with the same intensity”. How does “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated” (Romans 8:13) fit into that?



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Phil N.

posted January 12, 2011 at 10:03 pm


Paul,
I asked the same question of Roger Olsen at his blog…
“Arminians typically point out that in the original language “hate” here can mean “not preferred.” Arminians interpret this entire passage as referring to election to service, not to salvation.”
You can see it in context here:
http://www.rogereolson.com/2011/01/02/an-imaginary-conversation-between-a-calvinist-and-a-non-calvinist/



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Paul

posted January 12, 2011 at 11:30 pm


Hi Phil,
That is interesting. But I am not sure that solves the problem. Whether it is hated, loved less, or not preferred for service the point is that God is making the distinction. He is not loving everyone with the same intensity nor is He giving everyone the same opportunity to repent and believe the gospel.
I have certainly heard it suggested that the word hate (miseō) for Esau is used relatively to the love (agapaō) for Jacob and I would probably support that. But I have not heard the idea of election to service brought into it before. I think verses 7 and 8 cause problems to that view. Isn’t speaking of election to be “seed of Abraham”, “children of God”, and “children of the promise”?
Thanks for your comments and your link.



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ben witherington

posted January 13, 2011 at 7:47 am


Election in the OT does indeed have to do with historical service for God. It is not a salvation category. Indeed, the OT has nothing to say about salvation by faith in Jesus directly. Salvation in the OT refers to rescue from harm, disease, bondage, captivity. It does not refer to a personal relationship with Jesus. Secondly, if you know Hebrew you know there is no comparative mechanism in Hebrew so that a person could say ‘love more than’ or ‘love less than’. What the phrase in question means is in fact God has chosen Jacob rather than Esau as a more servicable vessel for his purposes, and indeed in Exodus the same sort of thing is said about Pharaoh. So ‘Jacob I loved….’ has nothing to do with God having a personal relationship that saved with one of the brothers and not the other. That’s not even the context of the discussion. Election for historical purposes is one thing, salvation is another.
BW3



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Paul

posted January 13, 2011 at 2:24 pm


Loving Jacob more and Esau less still contradicts your statement that “God loves everyone with the same intensity”.
Are the categories “seed of Abraham”, “children of God”, and “children of the promise” in verses 7 and 8 salvation relationship categories? Yet you say that “‘Jacob I loved….’ has nothing to do with God having a personal relationship that saved with one of the brothers and not the other”.



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Daniel James Levy

posted January 16, 2011 at 1:38 am


Paul,
though this discussion would be way too drawn out in this post to go far into detail, I think it’s theologically (with a high view of Scripture) un-debatable that God does personally pursue certain individuals more-so than others (without pursuing them through the means of other agents). We can say with fair confidence, I think, that somebody is chosen not just to be in the “cool club” with God and to dodge hell. Rather it’s because he chose somebody to be an incarnate representation and expression of his love in the world. When we don’t take this calling seriously as believers who have been drawn by God, we in turn are heaping judgment on ourselves.
God created us for relationship, he wants human agents involved in this glorious process. May we labor with the one who gives us the energy to, for if we don’t, the question of what will happen to those who have had explicit revelation of who God is, is where the judgment and justice of God also needs to be worried about.
Grace and peace,
Daniel.



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