a.k.a. “Molinism in the Workplace II”

This is my response to the previous post, “Molinism in the Workplace.” If you haven’t read it, check it out here.

Mat 11:20-24

Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.

So Jesus is arguing in Matthew 11 that

a.) since the people in Tyre and Sidon would have repented at seeing and hearing the same thing the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida have seen and heard

b.) repentance and saving faith in Christ are subject to the circumstance (evidence) at hand

c.) therefore irresistable grace (or effectual calling) in the Calvinist sense is false.

I hope to show briefly and biblically why I think the above statement of Jesus argument is not correct. In the process I hope it is evident that this is a matter of great importance as it is at the heart of the Gospel!

I think it is appropriate at this point to highlight a few things from Matthew 11, namely the immediate context of the above quotation.

Mat 11:16-19

But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.

Before we look at what Jesus says in 20-24, we must ask “What does he mean here?”, or at least “How do his words here give the background of his next statements?”

So briefly, what does it mean for the children to play a dirge and not mourn, for them to play a flute and not dance? Clearly, something is wrong. They are not responding as they aught. A flute is for dancing as a dirge is for mourning, right? So too John and his message is for repentance (fasting) as Jesus came for fullness of holy joy (eating and drinking.) Yet on both accounts the children in the parallelism (the people in Palestine) reacted wrongly.

NOW he denounces the cities:

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.

Continuing in this line of thought, Jesus says, [caution, Mark’s paraphrase:] “even the ‘Twin Cities’ (Tyre and Sidon, gentile cities to the northwest) would have repented (que gasp from holy-roller audience…wha, even them!) should they have seen such things.” Then he ups the ante and compares them to Sodom! Sodom is nigh the pit of hell. It was so rotten that God did not wait until the last day to judge it, but wiped it out by fire from on high! At this point we should be amazed, clearly the state of the hearts in this crowd are sinful beyond comprehension. These are humbling words as the people do not respond rightly from their hearts*.

But now Jesus says something that requires that we not interpret these statements as indicative of how grace works in salvation, but as condemnation via comparison. He states in verses 25-27:

Mat 11:25-27

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

So quite clearly here Jesus shares as he rejoices in the Father that he (the Father) has hidden some things from the ‘wise’ and revealed them to ‘little children.’ This is what pleases God, and he reveals to those whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

This brings me to three points:

1.) “I will reveal to whom I will reveal,” I’ve heard that talk before…(c.f. Romans 9:15 & John 1:13)

2.) Where is all the talk of people mustering their intellect to believe based on these miracles? Where is Jesus telling them they should get their act together to save themselves through him? I don’t see it. Instead this passage affirms God’s soveriegnty to the praise of his glorious grace.

3.) Who is ‘wise and understanding’, surely it would be he who repents. So Jesus is saying something here like “hidden from the wise in their own eyes” or “understanding in their own thought.” You see there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

So, after looking at the passage a little more, I think it is clear that the “hypothetical belief” of other peoples, should they have seen the same miracles, is really misunderstanding the comparison Jesus makes and smuggling in synergism to replace the meaning of the idiom.

Also, I don’t think I’ll get back to this for a while since I really have to do my taxes. 🙂

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