Monday, March 16, 2009

POTTER AND THE CLAY – MOULDING THE SCRIPTURES

Recently the teaching ministry of a particular woman was recommended to the members of a Christian discussion forum, so I read a transcript of one of her sermons based on “The Potter’s House”.
I was interested to see what was said about this topic because the image of the potter and the clay (from Romans 8) is a favourite proof text used by Calvinists.
While she presents some interesting ideas on potters and the use of clay – and even though she makes reference to biblical statements; it seems to me that she merely used the imagery to create her own message. It’s was the common practice of using a “text” as a springboard to present a message that the PREACHER wants to convey rather than taking the biblical text and seeing what IT has to say.To me this was made most clear by her avoidance of the interpretation GOD gives regarding Jeremiah’s observations in the potter’s house. She does make reference to Jeremiah 18 in which God has told Jeremiah to visit the potter – but then she stops after the potter/clay illustration is given. The following verses are not mentioned, and yet these give the very important context to the WHY God sent Jeremiah to observe the potter: and God’s interpretation turns the usual understanding of the story upon its head.
Usually the imagery of the potter and the clay are used to convey the idea that God is in control and that we are merely clay in His hands – subject totally to His will and His purpose for our lives. Some of us He has decided to make into vessels of honour and others He has decided to make as vessels of dishonour. The story is used to show how we have no involvement in our destiny – the potter (God) moulds the clay (us) as He desires.But when we see what God told Jeremiah we get a DIFFERENT picture.
God’s explanation of the potter and the clay shows how the clay (humanity) can change what God had decided. Those who God had determined to punish can avoid that punishment if they repent. Those who God had determined to reward could lose that reward if they turned to disobedience.The illustration shows that the clay can affect the outcome of the potter’s intention and if necessary he will make it into another pot, one different from his first intention.This sermon was a classic example of how to avoid scriptural context to mould God’s word into a form that WE choose to support our favoured theology.

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Here is the PURPOSE of God’s message about the potter and the clay given in the part of the text that was not addressed in the sermon: Jeremiah 18 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

5 comments:

PaulFan said...

I find it interesting that some anti-Calvinists are so aggressively against the doctrine of predestination when it is clearly in the scripture. I could list dozens of passages that say things such as when Jesus said "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him ". So then, why do some anti-Calvinists choose to ignore scripture in order to deny the obvious truth which can be found in the scripture? This perplexes me.

Onesimus said...

I have absolutely NO problem with the scriptural doctrine of predestination (I have started an article on this which I hope to finish in the next week or two).

I DO have a problem with the Calvinist false doctrine of predestination.

Scripture clearly teaches predestination – but WHO is predestined, HOW are they predestined and for WHAT purpose are they predestined.
The Calvinist idea that a select few are unconditionally elected for salvation is a lie directly from Satan.

And to say some anti-Calvinists choose to ignore scripture is extreme irony.
1) According to some Calvinists we have no choice over what we believe because (to them) God has already sovereignly predetermined our lives and our choices.
2) Calvinists are the prime offenders when it comes to ignoring scripture. Oh yes, they are very adept at applying the out of context proof text to “prove” their doctrine but they ignore the majority of scripture which categorically refutes what they believe. A case in point is that you chose to comment on THIS thread that puts into context the metaphor of the potter and the clay and yet you clearly ignore what God reveals in Jeremiah 18.

Bible Study said...

Jesus showed many people go through the wide door and follow the way to take them to ruin (Mt 7:13), but the apostle Paul said God’s wish is no man be apart and lost but, yes, God wants they come to the knowledge of true. (1st Ti 2:4). If many people go to ruin way it proves that God does not force humankind to do what is right. Because He gave us free will.

http://www.estudobiblico.org/bibe-study/the-cay-in-the-hands-f-the-ptter-and-cavinist-dctrine

Russ said...

Onesimus, I am glad to see that you brought up Jeremiah 18 and the emphasis you put on it. Election/predestination language is almost exclusively plural. What does that mean? That means that God doesn't elect individuals one way or the other. He elects corporately Ephesians 1 notice all the "us" and "we" " in Christ" " "in Him", etc... What is the object of the election? the church of Jesus Christ. The one condition is that the individual is "in Him" or "in Christ" or in other words in union with Christ. Paul says this in Romans 9:6 "But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;"
Taking that into account with Ephesians 1, not all individuals are in union with Christ in the church. Not everyone that goes to bible believing churches are saved or in union to Christ( For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel). Back to Jeremiah 18
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.. Notice "House of Israel" and "Nation". Corporate Election, not all of Israel is Israel. God corporately elected Israel, but the individuals had to have faith in God in order to the part of the election.

Onesimus said...

Excellent Russ.
Thank you.