Q: Is Romans 8:29 consistent with Calvinism and predestination?
My question is about Calvinism. Romans 8:29 makes it pretty clear that God does predestine some people to be saved. What I think about this verse is that those predestined people are the ones who received the calling and it is their duty to bring other people to the faith regardless of who they are. Am I right in this thought? In Romans 8:24, Paul states “we WERE saved”. It sounds like they were already saved and hence seems to be consistent with Calvinist thought. What are your thoughts on this?
It is true that Romans 8:29 teaches predestination, but it is not true that it teaches a kind predestination that is consistent with Calvinism. Calvinistic predestination, like that of Zwingli and of Augustine is hard kind of predestination. Calvin, like Augustine, taught what is known as double predestination. Calvin and Zwingli both taught that God predestines to heaven those who are saved, but he equally taught that he predestines to eternal destruction those who are lost. Calvin denied a real free will before salvation. Augustine taught that before salvation, our only choice was how to sin, but not whether we would be respond to Christ. Calvin taught total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement and unconditional election. Zwingli taught that those who go to hell give glory to God equally as those who are saved. The Calvinist believes that we have no choice in whether we are saved or lost. This is not what is taught in Romans 8:29. God desires all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4). Titus 2:11 teaches that the grace of God that leads to salvation is available to all men. If God were to predestine the vast majority of mankind to eternal damnation, as Calvin believed, then this would prove that God does not love all mankind. It would mean that God does not treat all people equally and that he is not just. This is not biblical and it is not what Romans 8:29 teaches.
What Romans 8:29 does teach is about those whom God foreknew would accept his offer of salvation. It is those God foreknew would repent, make Jesus Lord and be baptized. In Romans 8:29, we are told that those God foreknew, he also predestined, called, justified and glorified. God predestined all to salvation. God prepared a room for all of us, yet many of us refuse this invitation. All are predestined, but not all are called. And of those who are called, not all are justified. And of those who are justified, not all are glorified. But for those God foreknew, all of these things are true. This is taught in the parable of the banquet. Some who God calls refuse that calling. Those who are predestined for salvation, yet who say no to God’s offer will not be saved. But those whom God foreknew would choose salvation and remain faithful to the end, he called, justified and glorified them. In this context we are told that those who choose to accept God’s offer cannot have that salvation taken by them. Neither death nor life nor height nor death… nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate those who are saved from salvation. Yet, we can choose to leave God and we can give up our salvation (Hebrews 6:4-6).
Predestination is biblical, but Calvinism is not. The entire ninth chapter of Romans discusses God’s predestination. What was predestined is that Jesus would die for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2, and not just part of it, by the way). God loved (ie chose) Jacob, but “hated” (ie did not choose Esau). This was as a prefigure of salvation by faith and a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. God even hardened Pharaoh’s heart so as to create an historical foreshadow of our salvation by the second Moses, into whom thy were baptized (1 Cor 10:1). I could go on, explaining Romans 9. God’s predestination is a predestination of the offer of salvation to all people. Anything relevant to that offer was predestined by God, but God DOES NOT predestine anyone to hell. This is blasphemy. Calvin may have been a great scholar and very sincere, but we should not accept his theology of predestination. Romans 8:29 is not a proof text for Calvinism.