Premillennialism, Calvinism, and Romans 9-11

I was alerted to this post yesterday via James White’s twitter feed,

James White, Amillennialism, Ecumenism, and Curious Habits

It’s a bizarro screed written by a “Dr.” Elisha Weismann.  After a web search, I couldn’t find a “Dr.” Elisha Weismann existing anywhere outside the website where this article was posted. More than likely “Dr.” Weismann (if that is a real name) is a fake “Dr.” or one of those phony titles granted by a backslapping, IFB degree mill like Peter Ruckman’s Bible institute in Florida, and the guy (or gal?) is no more a real “Dr.” as Joel Taylor is a real “pastor/teacher.”

My attention was drawn to his opening comment,

Although some Calvinists like John MacArthur maintain a premillennial view, any premillennial view destroys the Calvinist interpretation of Romans chapter 9. If premillennialism is true, then Romans 9 must be viewed as a description of God’s plan for a future restoration of Israel instead of an individual scheme for salvation as most Calvinists maintain.  Just because some Calvinists do not accept this but rather opine that Romans 9-11 DOES cover this subject EXCEPT FOR those proof texts in Romans 9 does not discount the above fact. Romans 9-11 is clear from the very beginning of chapter 9 that Paul is making the distinction between those claiming some type of rite or right as a result of physical birth in Abraham as opposed to those who actually were the target of the blessings-those born of Isaac instead of Hagar.  It is almost imperative that a Calvinist MUST reject dispensationalism in order to maintain their view of Romans 9 as addressing individual salvation instead of what it actually teaches-the corporate restoration of Israel. But, since most Calvinists reject dispensationalism and are either post millennial or amillennial, it is much easier for them to avoid a discussion of prophecy because they find it much harder to defend their views of prophecy than the attempts to defend Calvinism.

I’ll say off the top here that I agree with the thrust of the guy’s overall argument. Romans 9-11 isn’t so much a treatise on individual salvation as it is a theodicy explaining why God has temporarily set aside the nation of Israel and the certainty that God will fulfill ALL the promises He has made to Israel which includes a national restoration.

That stated, however, contrary to what the “Dr.” says, a premilliennialist does not have to abandon Calvinism in order to believe that is what Romans 9-11 teaches. Additionally, a Calvinist doesn’t have to abandon Dispensationalism in order to affirm both Calvinism and premillennialism as implied in those chapters.

While it is true that Calvinists of an amillennial/postmillennial stripe tend to over-emphasize the individual salvation aspect of Romans 9-11, particularly 9:6-24, any honest reading of the text still confirms the Calvinist view of God’s sovereign election in the affairs of His redeemed people. I even hesitate calling such a reading “Calvinism” seeing that the theology is just so clearly taught in the whole of Scripture in spite of this guy’s blanket denial of its existence.

And though it is true Paul has a corporate dimension in mind as he moves along in his argument, he is plainly saying in Romans 9:6-24 that God unconditionally elects to do what He purposes among His individual people. Corporate groups and nations are comprised of individuals, or does the “Dr.” just brush that off? God chose (you know, unconditionally elected) to bless Abraham (and individual) and his seed (more individuals) over all the other people’s in the world (9:6-7).  God also unconditionally elected Isaac over Ishmael (two individuals) and Jacob over Esau (two more individuals) (9:8-12).  Later, God unconditionally chose to harden Pharaoh (yet another individual) for the purpose of destroying him and bring glory to Himself by delivering His elect people (a whole bunch of individuals) from bondage.

There is no way an honest reader of the Bible cannot see God’s sovereign, unconditional election being taught in Romans 9-11.

I would certainly agree that Romans 9 particularly is an important passage affirming the doctrine of unconditional election, however it is not the only place in Scripture where that doctrine is taught. Hence, I don’t derive my “Calvinism” from just one isolated passage in the book of Romans. Again, any honest reader of the Bible will see unconditional election affirmed throughout all the pages of Scripture.

Moreover, does this “Dr.” even read outside the rarefied bubble of IFB tin-foil hat theology? Back in 2007, John MacArthur, who the “Dr.” names in his article, preached a blistering Shepherd Conference message defending Calvinism and premillennialism against an amillennial perspective. It so agitated non-premillennialists that entire Reformed blogs imploded upon themselves and books were written.

But John isn’t the only Calvinist who teaches premillennialism. S. Lewis Johnson, who was ejected from Dallas Theological Seminary for affirming particular redemption, has also taught on the subject of premillennialism and Romans 9-11. See HERE  andHERE. Moreover, Barry Horner, who is both a Calvinist and a premillennialist, has written extensively on the subject of premillennialism and Israel. His writings can be accessed HERE.

Additionally, is the “Dr.” even aware of such Calvinists as Horatius Bonar, J.C. Ryle, Robert Haldane, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge, Cotton and Increase Mather, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, John Gill, Thomas Goodwin, Matthew Henry, and even John Calvin?  Though a number were not premillennialists, they were “Calvinists” and yet affirmed the restoration of the Jews as a nation as Romans 9-11 teaches.

But of course, I am assuming that someone who genuinely has the title “Dr.” before his name would be aware of such things, but maybe my expectations are too much. I mean, even Gail Riplinger is called “Dr.”

9 thoughts on “Premillennialism, Calvinism, and Romans 9-11

  1. And, certainly Charles Haddon Spurgeon should not be left off of any list of Calvinists who as premillennialists affirmed the future restoration of the nation of Israel to the place of blessing!

  2. Well done Fred while I don’t subscribe to dispensationalism or premillennialism I do believe you’ve shown the absurdity of that particular claim.

  3. Maybe “Dr.” stand for “Do Right…” the name of the Blog?
    Or maybe it does stand for “Drive,” as in “Drive by” blog posts

  4. A few comments:

    1. Wow, so N.T. Wright is now a Calvinist? He teaches a corporate view of Romans 9 to 11 and yet he is amillennial and does not believe God will restore Israel as a nation. It is news to me and I guess the Conservative Evangelicals (who are all Calvinists inside the Anglican church) must rejoice! ;-)

    2. And also happening across the pond in the UK, the messianic Jewish group Rosh Pina Project – they are non-Calvinist, they believe in Israel’s restoration but tellingly not dispensational – has done a good fisking of UK evangelicals (who are mostly Calvinistic and supercessionists) who derided about the modern State of Israel’s role in Bible history by stating it is all God’s Great Mistake. In particular the commentaries by the contributors are pure gold:

    In particular, “…“Have you seen somewhere recently that someone has blamed G-d for mistakenly establishing Israel?” Well that’s an interesting theology.. “God does whatever He wants and who can resist His will, but He makes mistakes because He couldn’t be sure of the results 60 years on.” Sounds like a form of Emergent Calvinism.”

    “…There is the irony as most who hold this view tend to a Calvinist view of the sovereignty of God in history yet something as big as this slipped past Him!”

    Now a cavet: I’m not saying American Calvinistic evangelicals are all secretly planning to join in the Flotilla, joining in Israel boycott, or starting up co-operatives helping Palestinian terrorists, oops, “freedom fighters”, nor am I say that James White and Sam Waldron all agree with Stephen Sizer and Hank Hanegraaff only they don’t advocate actions. This fisking is done on UK Calvinistic evangelicals mind you. But you have to ask yourself: why are you Reformed covenantal Calvinists getting such a bad press when it comes to Israel and Jews? I take part in Jewish mission, and I can say the so-called “grace oriented” theology (Lutheran and Calvinist) are almost absent from Jewish missions round the world. While the likes of James White and the late John Stott and a number of Australian non-charismatic evangelicals are busy doing Muslim evangelism and Christian-Muslim dialogues, I don’t see they are interested to evangelise and dialogues to the non-believing Jewish people. Why?

  5. I appreciate this post greatly. I recently read Romans 11 and gave my ‘interpretation’ of it to a bunch of IFBs who shot me down with suggestions I was teaching heresy. I was doing so in light of the passage and I have no idea what they were on about. I just read 9-11 and said, “Here’s what I think it’s saying”.

    Considering I don’t call myself a Calvinist, nor hold to any particular system of theology… (I just believe Jesus IS who He claimed to be) and I fellowship with anyone who says they believe the same and loves the Lord, I am confused as to why my thoughts peeved them off.

    I’m not a bible college graduate so I don’t really hold to any serious theological views (nor do I seek to engage in arguing about doctrine)… but I’d be keen to find a Calvinist’s view of Romans 9-11 (verse by verse), if possible. Can you recommend anything to me?

    I’ve only been taught the IFB side of things so am open to hear the opposition’s views (if you could call it that).

    Appreciate it greatly.

    Just wanting to understand Romans a bit better.

  6. Well, if you are looking for commentaries, James M. Boice was a Calvinist and believed in a restoration of Israel. There is also S. Lewis Johnson. Search his name and you’ll find the website that has archived his messages. I think they have PDFs on Romans. Of course my pastor, John MacArthur preached through Romans. All material is available on line at Hope that helps. Feel free to email me if you want more. See my About page. Email is at the bottom.

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