Being deceived is like sticking your head in a bucket of your dreams and staying there, as if it were the real world. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how much you know — as long as you are deceived, your head’s in a bucket.
Reminiscent of the devil quoting Scripture when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13), one commenter to my Open Letter To A “Skeptic” cited Romans 9:10-23 (NIV), claiming verse 22 says, “God creates people for Hell”. He concluded God, “is a monster”.
Reading the whole passage in context, Paul’s point is clear: Because God is sovereign, he has mercy on persons because he chooses to, not that anyone can earn his mercy. This fundamental principle of the sovereignty of God is what the deceived commenter rejected. And by so doing, he presumes the ability and right to judge God “a monster”, like a clay pot presuming to hold its potter accountable.
Skipping the main point of Paul’s message, this commenter focused on verse 22 as a proof text that, “God creates people for Hell”. Here is the verse:
What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?
This is a question, not a statement. The phrase, “prepared for destruction” isn’t foundational to the thought, but conditional (“What if…”). Paul was not saying God creates people for hell. In order to understand Paul’s writing, we must remember that he was a Jewish rabbi, who although he became a key Christian leader and teacher, he never stopped being a Jewish rabbi. He was a master of rabbinical rhetoric, and his epistles are full of the classical forms of rabbinical reasoning in which he was trained.
One such form was the asking of questions in order to guide his listeners’ (or readers’) thoughts. Verse 22 is such a question. But it isn’t a single, isolated question. As you continue reading through Paul’s dissertation, he throws out more questions, like breadcrumbs, leading his readers along the path. If your mind follows that path, you will see that the big point Paul is making is that God, in his sovereignty, chooses to extend his mercy to gentiles (non-Jews), meaning his “good news” is for everyone — Jew or gentile — who is willing to receive Christ.
That’s pretty much the opposite of what the deceived commenter was saying. Ever since Jesus died on the cross and rose again to eternal life, the issue of going to hell is a matter of choice for every person. Everyone who goes to hell has made their choice and is responsible for that choice. God doesn’t send people to hell, they send themselves. That’s because EVERYONE already deserves to go to hell because of sin. Our choice is to die in sin or live in Christ. A “monster” does not give you that kind of choice.
If you are interested, or at least curious as to what more the Bible has to say on this subject, please read my post of January 15, 2013, Hearing The Good News Of God’s Kingdom