Arminianism Correct?


Does Matthew 23:37 teach that Arminianism is correct? The passage says that Israel's unwillingness kept Jesus from gathering Israel's children. Also, I just read Pratt's article on historical contingencies. Is it possible that those came in to play in this case (i.e. Jesus wanted to gather Israel's children, but it didn't happen because of Israel's reaction; nevertheless, it may happen in the future)?


Matthew 23:37 is completely compatible with Calvinsim. It specifically demonstrates three things that Calvinism affirms:

1) The outward call to receive the gospel can be resisted. There is no evidence that Jerusalem received the inward call of the Holy Spirit. To the contrary, the fact that they rejected the gospel indicates that they did not receive this call.

2) God is not pleased with the fact that his covenant people reject the gospel. He would much prefer that they turn to him in repentance. This desire, however, is not an expression of God's eternal counsel. Rather, it is an expression of his providential covenant relationship with Israel. Calvinism affirms that God providentially desires or wills the repentance of everyone, especially of his covenant people. (God's providence is his interaction with and governance of the world). This is not a denial of his eternal, sovereign decree that some people will be saved while others will not.

3) Historical contingencies really affect God's providential dealings with creation. In this case, Israel's destruction resulted from their rejection of the gospel.

As you have suggested, God would have saved Israel if they had been willing. However, just as every fallen human whom God does not regenerate, they were unable to be willing. The fact that they were not saved when Jesus said this did not prohibit them from being saved in the future if they received the gospel, but it also did not ensure that they would be saved in the future. Also, the fact that Jesus wanted to save Jerusalem (or even Israel) does not ensure that he will save Jerusalem/Israel in the future (e.g., in some other generation). Of course, it does not prohibit it either.

The New Testament explicitly teaches that God keeps his covenant to save Israel by saving the remnant in Christ. God may or may not choose to include Jerusalem or Israel in that remnant in the future, but the Bible does not reveal his plans in this regard. Historical contingencies indicate that God's providential actions towards man are sometimes contingent upon what man does. The Bible also emphasizes that God is free to act in accordance with what he said he would do, or to act differently unless he has made a promise/covenant/oath.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.