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Controversial Calvinism on 2 Peter 3:9

October 6, 2008

Steve, over there at Controversial Calvinism, has reposted an excellent essay on 2 Peter 3:9.

What is interesting is that we often here that it is a hermeneutical rule that the “you” of 3:9 must be delimited by the addressees of the letter. I find this alleged rule to be less than plausible. But to add to Steve’s thought, let’s run with it. The question is, we all agree that this would not follow:

NAU 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you [elect believers], not wishing for any [elect believers] to perish but for all [elect believers] to come to repentance.

That is non-credible, as if that was Peter’s point. Thus, even if the “you” refers to the addressees, all sides end up broadening out the second and third indefinite pronouns. Now the question becomes, the assumption is that the subsequent indefinite pronouns refer to the elect as as a class. Is that plausible? Perhaps this is true, but you cannot infer this from the addressees of the letters.

The “you” cannot refer to the elect qua elect, that, the elect as they stand only and properly and simply in relation to being elect. Look at this:

1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen

Now, last I heard, all the elect are not scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, and so forth. The term “elect” here is being used to connote believers, not unbelieving elect, or even yet-to-exist elect.

We can see this idea present here too:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. This would make little sense if the “chosen race” referred to the elect as a class.

The letter is not directly written to the elect as a class, nor can only seriously propose that it was only written to the elect as a class alone. Nor can one insist that every indefinite pronoun in this letter, or any epistle or narrative, be delimited by the addressees of the letter or narrative.

Like this: NAU 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you [elect believers], not wishing for any [elect as a class] to perish but for all [elect as a class] to come to repentance.

With the fact that there is no hermeneutical rule, that reading would be can no longer be taken as a necessary reading, let alone a more probable one.

So a couple of things follow. 1) The so called “hermeneutical rule” is fallacious; 2) everyone broadens out the second and third indefinite pronouns anyway; and 3) the “addresses” themselves are not the elect as a class, hence no reason to claim that the subsequent pronouns must be delimited to the ‘class elect.’ The last is actually rather speculative.

With the so-called hermeneutical rule put aside, and as long as we view the “will” here as will revealed, then with folk like Calvin and Bavinck (among others) there should be no theological problem, no theological a priori against Calvin’s reading of this verse. Thus, it is not a do-or-die verse as some would have us imagine. No one needs to imagine that only one reading is true to “Calvinism.” No one needs to get bent out of shape if someone else takes the unlimited reading of this passage.

Flynn

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