Here is a great response from Ravi Zacharias on the question of Soteriology. Pay close attention to how he interprets Romans 9. He sounds like a “Traditionalist” to me. You can listen to his article on the video, or scroll down to read it:
“The question you have raised has to do with an issue that theologians have been wrestling with for centuries. The Calvinistic and the Arminian position highlight their own views in attempting to answer this question. The passage you have referred to in Romans is taken out of Paul’s letter in which he is dealing with the privileged position that Israel has as being the mouthpiece to the nations of the world, and the passage in Peter, of course, is referring to the fact that God is not desiring that anyone should perish. If I may rephrase your question, you are wrestling with the dialectic of the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. Let me try and give you a couple of illustrations before dealing with it theologically and in a mild philosophical manner.
The sovereignty and responsibility issue should really be seen as two opposite poles of the same position. Light, for example, is viewed from some vantage points as particles. From other vantage points it is viewed as waves. Scientists are aware that light could not be both particles and waves, so they have coined a term for it, a kind of a construct, and they call it a “photon.” All they have done is create a word and a category that accommodates both perspectives which are real. I think you should view the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man as a kind of a precious stone with two facets to it. When it catches the light from one direction, you see one color; when it catches the light from the other direction you see the other color. Our propensity in the Western world to put God into a box and to systematize everything sometimes violates a fundamental precept in philosophy. It is not possible for a finite person to infinitely understand the infinite. If a finite person can fully understand the infinite, the very category of infinity is destroyed. So my proposal to you is to see both of these perspectives and hold them in balance.
For example, the biblical writers held these in tension. When you look at Acts 2:23, Peter is addressing the people. After the crucifixion of Jesus, he says, “That which God hath ordained from before the foundation of the world, you with wicked hands have taken and crucified.” What is he talking about? “That which God hath foreordained (the sovereignty of God) you with wicked hands have taken and crucified (the responsibility of man).” Peter holds it in tension. The apostle Paul in Philippians 2:12 does the same thing. He says, “Work out your own salvation (the responsibility of man), for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure (the sovereignty of God).” So Paul holds it in tension. Jesus also in Matthew 18:7 says, “Offenses must come, but woe unto him through whom they come”–the sovereignty of God and responsibility of man. So in an attempt to try to clearly highlight either of these two extremes, you will do violence to the other.
In your example of Romans 9, it is imperative that you understand the context. In Romans, chapters 9, 10 and 11, Paul is primarily writing to the Jewish church in order to get them to understand that the chosenness that God had given to them was a privilege with concomitant responsibilities. He goes on to show that their privileged position was given to them because someone had to be a mouthpiece to the world and God chose the least of all the nations. He did not choose the philosophers in Greece; He did not choose the imperial might of Rome; He did not choose the splendor of Babylon. He chose a tiny little nation with whom and through whom He was going to pronounce the oracles to the rest of the world. Now, with that great privilege came a proportionate responsibility. So that chosenness was one of instrumentality, and to whom much was given much was also required. In the same way, I believe this principle applies to preachers. Just because we are called upon to stand in front of people and proclaim, it does not necessarily mean we have a better deal going for us. The fact is that our lives must be proportionate to the privilege and responsibility.
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