The Will of God in Romans 9

N.T. Wright gives, I think, an important hermeneutical tool for Romans 9.  He says,

if there is complete disjunction between God’s justice and everybody else’s, it would be better not to use the term at all. (Commentary on Romans, p. 639).    

Having previously held to the hermeneutic “God can do whatever he wants” I no longer think it is adequate for this passage.  In other words, it is not accurate to interpret Paul as saying that God hardens certain people at random – apart from anything in their nature – just because he’s God.  Wright’s comment reminded me of something Anselm said in Cur Deus Homo,

the argument that, ‘If it is God’s will to tell a lie, it is just to tell a lie’, is a non sequitur … Unless, that is, we adopt an interpretation of the kind used when we say with reference to two impossibles, ‘If this thing is so, then that thing is so’, when neither ‘this’ nor ‘that’ is the case; for instance, if one were to say, ‘If water is dry, then fire is wet’, given that neither is true.  It is therefore only true to make the statement, ‘If it is God’s will, then it is just’, about things which it is not unfitting for God to wish.  


Ratzinger on Modern Exegesis

It is here interesting to note that Lutheran exegetes have a more pronounced tendency to rely more heavily on their “fathers” (Luther, Calvin) and to include them as actual discussants in their endeavors to grasp the meaning of Scripture than their Catholic counterparts who appear largely to agree that Augustine, Chrysostom, Bonaventure and Thomas have nothing to contribute to modern exegesis. (Communio, 1986).

Marion on God’s Love

Love loves without condition, simply because it loves; he thus loves without limit or restriction.  No refusal rebuffs or limits that which, in order to give itself, does not await the least welcome or require the least consideration.  Which means, moreover, that as interlocutor of love, man does not first have to pretend to arrange a ‘divine abode’ for it – supposing that this very pretension may be sustained – but purely and simply to accept it; to accept it or, more modestly, not to steal away from it. (Jean-Luc Marion, God Without Being, 47).

The Necessity of Penal Substitution

Gerald O’Collins and many other modern scholars hate the idea of Christ’s death as Penal Substitution. O’Collins states,

“… the way Aquinas adjusted Anselm’s theory of satisfaction helped open the door to a sad version of redemption: Christ as a penal substitute who was personally burdened with the sins of humanity, judged, condemned, and deservedly punished in our place.” [1]

Most people see this atonement model as being too violent. If God would punish his own Son in such a violent way then he must be an inherently angry God. Continue reading “The Necessity of Penal Substitution”

Salvation and Metaphor


According to Gordon Fee Paul’s language of redemption, propitiation, reconciliation, etc. is metaphorical because, “for Paul salvation is an especially theological reality, in the sense that it is both a reflection of God’s character and the result of God’s initiative.” [1] In as far as salvation is a reflection of God’s character it is incomprehensible to finite man.  However, this does not mean that nothing can be known for certain concerning the realities of Christ’s work but that “God’s majesty in itself far outstrips the capacity of human understanding and cannot even be comprehended by it at all …” [2]  Neither is the appeal to metaphor a sly way of reducing the meaning of Paul’s language to mere signs.  N.T. Wright affirms this idea, “Recognition of god-language as fundamentally metaphorical does not mean that it does not have a referent, and that some at least of the metaphors may not actually possess a particular appropriateness to this referent.  In fact, metaphors are themselves mini-stories, suggesting ways of looking at a reality which cannot be reduced to terms of the metaphor itself.” [3]   Continue reading “Salvation and Metaphor”