A Response to Dr. Richard Land’s Presentation on Unconditional Election, Part 3b. Romans 9 in Dr. Land’s Framework

1. The Historical Question

2. C.S. Lewis’ Philosophy of God’s Relationship to Time

a. In Mere Christianity

b. In Miracles

3. Romans 9

a. In Ironside’s Lectures

b. In Dr. Land’s Framework

Building on Ironside’s assertion that Romans 9 has nothing to do with eternal, personal salvation, but is only concerned with national privilege and temporal blessings, Dr. Land argues for two different types of election in the Bible, namely: salvific election and Abrahamic election. Dr. Land outlines three ways to differentiate between these types of election:

i. Abrahamic election is corporate, salvific election is individual;

ii. Abrahamic election is unto “special people” status, salvific election is unto salvation;

iii. Abrahamic election is “not connected to anything,” salvific election is connected with foreknowledge (though not based upon foreknowledge).

In terms of the above framework, Dr. Land believes that Romans 9 is concerned with Abrahamic, and not salvific, election.ef

Before examining each of the three ‘differences’ listed above, it is important a prelimenary question must be answered, namely: Is Dr. Land exegetically justified in his assertion that the argument in Romans 9 switches to a consideration of an entirely different type of election than that found in Romans 8? Dr. Land himself cites Romans 8 in relation to salvific election (specifically, in order to demonstrate that salvific election is connected to foreknowledge). Dr. Land then follows Ironside in viewing Romans 9-11 as parenthetical, so that these chapters do not continue building the soteriological argument established in Romans 1-8. Remembering that the chapter divisions do not exist in the original text, we must insist that grammatical proof be given before accepting such a hard break in the Apostle’s flow of thought. Grammatical proof that the argument in Romans 9 concerns eternal, personal salvation (even while discussing God’s sovereign purpose for national Israel!) is offered by Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in his commentary on Romans:

Some scholars claim that Paul is concerned only about the historical destiny of Israel in 9:6-23, but Paul’s anguish over Israel in 9:3 is rooted in their failure to obtain salvation. In other words, the historical destiny of Israel that concerns Paul relates to the salvation of Israel. The wording used in 9:6b-29 confirms that the issue at the forefront of Paul’s mind in these verses relates to salvation, not merely to historical destiny. In Paul the phrases tekna tou theou (children of God) and tekna tes epangelias (children of promise; 9:8) refer invariably to those who are the saved children of God (Rom. 8:16, 21; Gal. 4:28; Phil. 2:15). That the issue remains salvation– even when he refers to Isaac and Jacob– is corroborated by Rom. 9:11-12, which uses soteriological terms: erga (works), kalein (to call), ekloge (election). The soteriological import of these terms in Paul can hardly be denied. Soteriology continues to be the issue in Rom. 9:22-23, which contrasts “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” with “vessels of mercy that were prepared beforehand for glory.” Paul often uses the word apoleia (destruction) for eschatological destruction, while he frequently uses doxa (glory) to describe the eschatological splendor awaiting believers (Rom. 2:10; 8:18; 1 Thess. 2:12; 2 Tim. 2:10; cf. Col. 3:4; cf. E. Johnson 1989: 127). Finally, the argument in Rom. 9:32-11:32 substantiates the idea that eschatological salvation is the matter at hand. What troubles Paul in 9:30-10:21 is that Israel has failed to believe in Christ and therefore is not saved. What gives him hope in chapter 11 is that God has promised to remove ungodliness from Jacob and that ultimately “all Israel shall be saved” (11:26-27). Any attempt, therefore, to sever the historical destiny of Israel from salvation in this context in unpersuasive. Paul’s heart is rent with sorrow because so many of his kindred had rejected the message of the gospel and are therefore destined for judgment.

To address the three points mentioned above:

i. Abrahamic election is corporate, salvific election is individual;

If this first point were true, and if Romans 9 were about Abrahamic election (and not salvific), then we would expect to find truths about the election mentioned in this chapter to be applied to whole groups. Yet the Apostle specifically argues against such corporate solidarity, writing: “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel” (Rom. 9:6b NASB). In the election discussed in this chapter, individuals are specifically discussed in contrast to the larger group.

ii. Abrahamic election is unto “special people” status, salvific election is unto salvation;

If this second point were true, and if Romans 9 were about Abrahamic election (and not salvific), then we would expect to find Romans 9 absent of Pauline soteriological language. Instead, as demonstrated in the quote from Dr. Schreiner above, we find that this passage is full of language that Paul normally uses to discuss eternal, personal salvation.

iii. Abrahamic election is “not connected to anything,” salvific election is connected with foreknowledge (though not based upon foreknowledge).

It is difficult to understand how election by God could possibly be disconnected from His foreknowledge. Perhaps this relates to C.S. Lewis’ statement that, “In a sense, He does not know your action till you have done it;” if this is the case, then I would again argue that this position contradicts the biblical witness as well as other aspects of the “eternal now perspective” advocated by Lewis and Dr. Land [see section 2.a.iii. of this response to Dr. Land]. In any case, the election mentioned in Romans 9 is explicitly related to foreknowledge in passages such as 9:11-12, “for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything either good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, ‘The older will serve the younger'” (NASB). The reason for the statement quoted at the end of 9:11-12, a statement made before the birth of the twins concerning whom it was made, is said to be “so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand.” How can God make a choice, and have a purpose according to that choice, in regards to unborn twins if He does not have foreknowledge of these twins?

About these ads
Explore posts in the same categories: Andrew, John 3:16 Conference

One Comment on “A Response to Dr. Richard Land’s Presentation on Unconditional Election, Part 3b. Romans 9 in Dr. Land’s Framework”


  1. “had not done anything either good or bad”

    As I said before, how is one seated as the head of ethics for the SBC only to deal woefully unethically with such a clear text. If it were true that God is passive in his knowledge as Land claims, this statement would not appear in Scripture. If election stands before, then it is not possible that He did not know until they had done.

    In explicting the justification of Abraham by works it is often noted that the language is the same as that which says Jesus was justified. This passage is similar. The decree is justified by the declaration of its reality in time. That is, in this way God makes manifest that which has been hidden from eternity in his purposes. So, Abraham was not saved because of his actions, nor was faith the product of them, but vice verse. His faith and salvation are declare by what is done. So then, we see Christ also being declared by the Father to be the Son by the revealing in time of the prophetic word that went before Him.

    In the end Land and those like him undermine not just the soteriological import of this passage but the entirety of what constitutes the inspired, infallible word of God as grounded in prophecy and replace it with meaning that is tenuous at best. Their folly does not end there;l they have removed the very foundations of a faith that is sure and certain. Is it any wonder then that many who would come to faith come to the alter only to find that it cannot support the promises made by it?


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: