Here are the Debate Questions that I asked of Bruce Reeves with my recall of what he said. Also, I give my present review of those questions and answers.
1. What is the "it" of Romans 9: 16?
2. Was Isaac a "child of promise" conditionally or unconditionally?
3. Did God "choose" and "love" Jacob conditionally or unconditionally?
4. Is one "chosen" by God because saved or in order to be saved?
5. Why does God choose one part of the "lump of clay," in Rom. 9, to make into vessels of mercy, and not the other part?The "it" of Romans 9: 16
The first question involved a mistake on my part, for I intended Romans 9: 16, not 9: 13. It is the verse that says "so then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy."
So, my opponent's (Bruce Reeves) first response was not germane. However, he later did give his view as to what the "it"
refers. The "it"
was God's will to save Gentiles by Israel's birth of the Messiah
. I, on the other hand, contended that the "it"
referred to God's word of promise
, mentioned in verses 6 and 9."Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel..."
(vs. 6)"For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son."
I showed that this "word of promise"
) was a simple proposition, stated by Paul in his conclusion
to the section of the epistle covering Romans chapters 9-11
, in Romans 11: 26
, and reveals to us the overall context
of these chapters."And so all Israel shall be saved..."
This word of promise
was uttered originally by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 45: 17
."But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation..."
The objection of Paul's imaginary objector is stated in verse 6, where the objector concludes that God's word has failed
, has not been kept or fulfilled, has not been effectual, because Israel has not been saved
as promised, or even as Paul had taught. The chapter begins by Paul lamenting the lost state of Israel
and earnestly desiring Israel's salvation
. Paul knew that some would object and accuse him of denying the certainty of God's promise of salvation to "Israel"
and to the "seed of Abraham."
The objector is saying to Paul - "how can you teach that Israel, or most of Israel, is lost, since God has promised to save all Israel? Don't you believe that God does not fail to keep his promises?"
The objector, as I showed, reasoned along these syllogistic lines.
1. God promised that he would save all Israel.
2. Israel is not all saved (either in fact or according to Paul).
3. God's promise has failed.
Paul deals with this by examining the minor premise. Paul focused on the definition of the term "Israel,"
and by extension, the term "seed of Abraham."
Paul says that the minor premise is true, if by "Israel"
is meant the physical descendents of Jacob. He also affirms that the minor premise is false, if by "Israel"
is meant the elect ones among the chosen nation. Paul affirms that not all fleshly Israel will be saved
, but, conversely, that all spiritual Israel will be saved
. He further affirms that the promise of salvation (as in Isa. 45: 17) did not pertain to "Israel after the flesh."
The spiritual seed of Abraham, or spiritual Israel, Paul believed, would certainly all be saved.
My opponent missed this context. He missed seeing the significance of Romans 11: 26 as it relates to Paul's thesis in chapters 9-11. This led him to equivocate in his interpretation of Romans 9. He would allow certain verses as dealing with individual salvation, but only in a corporate or indirect way.
My opponent affirmed that verse 16 was simply affirming that God's creation of a Messianic line was unconditional, not depending upon the will and running of the individuals who became part of that lineage. Romans 9, according to him, dealt with salvation only indirectly. It dealt with salvation because it dealt with God's creating a lineage that would give existence to Christ.
This was a little ironic because later, when we were discussing the supernatural birth of Isaac, which I showed was "not of Isaac who willed or runned,"
he began to assert that the birth of Isaac, and his becoming a "child of promise"
or "child of God,"
was conditioned upon the willing and running of Sarah and Abraham. He contradicted himself in this for he affirmed, on one hand, that the willing and running of creatures were not conditions for the creation of a lineage for Christ, but on the other hand, that the willing and running of Sarah and Abraham were conditions.
Thus, God's loving
Jacob, and choosing
him, was only for the purpose of making him an ancestor of Jesus, and was unconnected with Jacob's individual salvation. God's choice of Jacob to be an ancestor of Jesus was not based upon any good Jacob did. Likewise, God's hatred of Esau was for the purpose of excluding Esau from being a ancestor of Jesus.
In conclusion, I showed how the "it"
was God's naming, choosing, or determining that such and such a person be a child of promise or child of God, an Israelite, or seed of Abraham.Was Isaac a "child of promise" conditionally or unconditionally?
This was a tough question for my opponent. He affirmed that Isaac became a child of promise
, was chosen
, was supernaturally or spiritually born
, conditionally, because he had faith. Yet, he also affirmed that Isaac's becoming a means for the future incarnation of Christ, was unconditional. Isaac, like Jacob, was chosen to be a link in the lineage of Christ, "before he had done any good,"
or unconditional, but his becoming a child of promise, or child of God, was conditional. He also, in the heat of debate, stated that Isaac's being a "child of promise"
did not refer to Isaac's individual salvation, to his being a "child of God," but to his being an ancestor of Jesus. I showed, however, from Romans 9 and Galatians 4: 28, that "child of promise"
was equated with being a "child of God."
I also showed, from Romans 9: 8, how Paul equated the terms "child of promise"
with "child of God."
"Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now."
(Gal. 4: 28, 29)"They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed."
(Rom. 9: 8)
I showed how Paul connected being a "child of promise"
with being "born after the Spirit"
and with being a "child of God,"
and thus did allude to personal salvation."Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called."
(Romans 9: 6, 7)
I showed contextually that Paul is dealing with how one becomes a true Israelite
, a spiritual seed of Abraham
, a child of promise
or child of God
."For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel."
Obviously, Paul introduces his subject in these words. He wants to address how one becomes an Israelite, a seed of Abraham, a child of promise and child of God. Thus, he is dealing with individual salvation. I showed how Paul had already introduced this theme in Romans 2: 28, 29, when he wrote."For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
Paul is addressing, in Romans 9, the question of who is the true Israelite, a true seed of Abraham, a spiritual Jew, one spiritually circumcised. My opponent, however, ignoring these contextual considerations, kept affirming that God was not determining that Isaac would be saved personally, but only that he would be a means of bringing Christ into the world, by being chosen to be a link in the lineage or ancestry of Christ.Did God "choose" and "love" Jacob conditionally or unconditionally?
My opponent never really answered this question. At times he would affirm that this choosing and loving of Jacob did not refer to Jacob's individual salvation, but only to God making him an ancestor of Jesus, an indirect means of providing salvation. At other times, he would indicate that Jacob was loved and chosen because he had faith, thus further becoming guilty of equivocation and doublespeak.
He affirmed that God's loving Jacob "before he had done any good"
did not refer to Jacob's salvation but to his being an ancestor of Jesus. Likewise, the statement "it is not of him who wills or runs"
did not refer to Jacob's salvation, or being a child of promise/God, being a spiritual Israelite, but to his becoming a chosen ancestor of Jesus.Is one "chosen" by God because saved or in order to be saved?
Again, I never got a clear straightforward answer to this question. My opponent argued that one became "elect"
after he was saved, after he joined himself to the saved community (church), or corporate group, or not until he entered into Christ by water baptism. I showed that this amounted to saying that one did not become elect until after he was saved, and yet both the bible and his own proposition stated otherwise. The bible says sinners are "chosen to salvation"
(II Thess. 2: 13), not because of salvation, salvation coming after the choice, the choice being the cause of salvation, and not vice versa. My opponent's proposition stated that God "chose to salvation"
a class of saved people. I showed how this was nonsensical, saying that God chose to salvation those who were already saved.Why does God choose one part of the "lump of clay," in Rom. 9, to make into vessels of mercy, and not the other part?
This was another difficult question for my opponent. I had introduced I Cor. 4: 7 in my first negative speech and tied it to the words of Rom. 9: 21."For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?"
(I Cor. 4: 7)
I showed how my opponent's position, the Arminian position, argued that God chose part of the clay to become "vessels of mercy"
because it was already different from the other part of the clay that became "vessels of wrath."
I cited Grevinchovius (17th century Dutch theologian), who said,"I make myself to differ; since I could resist God, and divine predetermination, but have not resisted, why may not I glory in it as of my own?'"
I showed how Paul argued that saving differences were attributed to God. By his giving to one what he denies to another, he made men to differ. I showed how the lump of clay was all the "same,"
when God the Potter chose part of it to make into vessels of mercy, and thus the choice could not be based upon a pre-existing difference originating from the clay itself.
The best my opponent could do in regard to this was to ignore my argument on the significance of the "same lump,"
and to assert that I Cor. 4: 7 dealt with miraculous gifts, and not with anything else. I showed, however, that Paul speaks broadly, and includes all differences, especially saving differences. I showed that all good things are God's gifts and that the giving of a gift to one and not to another, was what constituted difference.