I know this may come as a shock to some of our readers but…God chooses some stuff. Or, at least, this is what one Presbyterian minister thinks should be a surprise to us.
Of course, this is not a surprise. Provisionism happily accepts that God chooses all kinds of things, of course He does, He’s a free moral agent, the Sovereign One with Divine Rule over the Universe, and can do what He pleases. The question is: Which choices has He made?
“Destined” Means God Chose Some Stuff
Re: the definitions of predestination and foreknowledge Ron Hetzel, a PCA Elder and MA in Biblical Studies says this:
According to Ron, Jesus was foreknown before the foundation of the world and “foreknown” means “foreordained” and “chosen”. And this is consistent with how the Hebrews understood being “known” by God. Any disagreement yet? Not on my end.
After being asked about how John Piper interprets “foreknown”, Ron continues:
Sharp distinctions between “decree”, “predestination”, and “election” are not warranted, according to Ron. I obviously have problems with the Reformed baggage behind these words, but for our purposes I can see how on Reformed theology Ron is correct here. I also, without reservation, agree that “God’s choice…refers to the eschatological/soteriological goal for those He’s chosen” and “He chose a multitude to be saved from sin & conformed to the image of Christ”.
My agreement may shock you because you may be reading Reformed theology onto what he said. But read it again: “God chose a multitude to be saved”. Of course He did, through faith in Christ.
Now, of course, Ron means to say “God chose a multitude to be saved through God’s eternal divine decree” but he hasn’t proven that case yet. He will now attempt to:
Notice how he provides biblical references for God’s benevolent love for all mankind but not for God’s saving love for His elect. I don’t mean that as a dunk, he’s doing a Twitter thread after all, but its evidence that there is no direct biblical quotation available for it…you have to build a case using multiple texts. Ron attempts to do just that:
The two new notable claims here are that Eph 1:4-5 is evidence of this divine decree unto individual election to salvation and that Amos 2:9-11 is evidence that God chose the nation of Israel.
The nation of Israel as His own nation, one that He would love and call into His service, is one of things God chose.
But does Eph 1: 4-5 really say that God chose individuals to be in Christ? Does it say God chose individuals to have faith in Christ?
…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,Eph 1:4-5
Remember what Ron claimed; “God chose a multitude to be saved”. God as the subject of the sentence, the one doing the verbal action. Multitude as the indirect object, the one receiving the verbal action. Chose as the verb and to be as the helping verb. And finally, saved as the adverbial modifier. It modifies the verbs in the sentence to show what the multitude was just chosen for. God chose a multitude to be saved.
But is that what Eph 1:4 says? On the contrary, it says that the multitude “us” is chosen “that we should be holy and blameless.” Be is the same helping verb found in Ron’s claim; to be. Ron says Eph 1:4 claims the multitude is chosen to be saved. But Paul, the author of Eph 1, wrote the phrase “holy and blameless” after the to be helping verb…Paul didn’t put “saved” there. He could have, if that was the idea that he wished to convey, but he didn’t. He says that we are chosen to be holy and blameless.
What’s amazing about Ron’s Twitter thread here is that he already gave away the game. God chose Israel as a nation. Christ is the Elect One, chosen by God. And the faithful in Christ are chosen to be holy and blameless one day. Welcome to Provisionism.
And yet, Ron asserts that God also chose which individuals would have faith in Christ. Again I ask, does Eph 1: 4-5 really say that? I guess Ron is claiming that “holy and blameless” = “saved” or = “to have faith in Christ” but what is his biblical evidence for that?
So, from the biblical evidence Ron has presented, the only case we can make is that God chose Israel to be His nation, God chose the Elect One, and that He chose a group of people to be holy and blameless before him. This group of people Paul identifies as “the faithful in Christ Jesus”, but there is no indication in the passage that Paul intends to say that those faithful in Christ Jesus, chosen to one day be holy and blameless, were also chosen to become the faithful in Christ Jesus in the first place.
I agree with many of the choices that Ron believes God has made. Provisionism happily accepts that God chooses stuff. But if we are going to be Semper Reformada, always reforming, then we must allow the Scriptures to test and alter what our traditions have taught us.