The Elephant in Romans

A good message at church yesterday, except for the elephant in the room—God. Consider his behavior as taught in the book of Romans:

“There will be … glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism” Romans 2:10-11).

But a few chapters later, Paul writes, “For he (God) says to Moses, ‘For I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ It does not therefore depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:15-16).

To make sure we don’t miss the point, chapter 9 illustrates God’s favoritism (aka election) with several stories from the Old Testament underscoring the fact that his sovereign choice has nothing whatsoever to do with our conduct.

Which is it?

… God does not show favoritism.

… God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

According to verse 20, we’re not supposed to ask God about this. “But who are you O man to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, Why did you make me like this?” So we ask each other and come up with as many poor solutions as there are pious theologians. That’s because this is not a paradox but an antinomy, and a discouraging one at that.

Which may be why most people don’t think about it.


One thought on “The Elephant in Romans

  1. Mike, consider this mystery…..Esau represents the carnal mind and Jacob/Israel represents the spiritual mind. The parable of the chaff and wheat…all part of the same grain…but part of it is useless (like the carnal). Consider the parable of the wheat and tares…tares sown by the enemy (but enemy has never created humans). Whatever is salvageable (hungry hearts/wheat) from the lists of adulterers, thieves, murderers, liars will make it but the rest (chaff/sin) will not. When one faces the love of God without obstacles, lies, barriers one will repent and be transformed….the ugly stuff burns up. If there are a few that may be pure evil and still say no to the love of God … the truth is still the same – just what is chaff, useless, of no value is thrown away. People, created in the image of God are not his enemy. One of his last enemies, Death, will be forever thrown away.
    Rev 15:4; Isa 66:23
    This ‘unfairness’ is definitely something to look into and investigate!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s