Wesleyan-Arminianism Approach to Romans 9:14-25

John Wesley

According to Wesleyan-Arminianism approach, God did chose the elect collectively, and not individually. James Arminius rightly argued that, “Esau and Jacob are to be considered, not in themselves, but as types, and be that which is attributed to them, is to be accommodated to the antitypes, or rather to the things signified” (Arminius 1853: 535-6).

Concurring with Arminius, Thomas R. Schreiner assembled scholars to validation the notion that Romans 9, if indeed refers to salvation[1], “describes the salvation of groups, not the salvation of individuals”(Schreiner 1993: 33). He concluded,

Thus William Klein says that “Paul’s concern is the elect people of God, a corporate entity.”27Leon Morris says, “It seems clear that Paul intends a reference to nations rather than individuals.”28 This interpretation is supported by showing that Paul is thinking of the nation of the Edomites in contrast to Israel (cf. Gen 25:13). Thus Cranfield says, “There is no doubt that the concern of Mal. 1.2-5 is with the nations of Israel and Edom, and it is natural to suppose that by ‘Jacob’ and ‘Esau’ Paul also understands not only the twin sons of Isaac but also the peoples descended from them. 29 (ibid)

The reason, admitted Schreiner, that scholars who press for the distinction corporate election rather than individual” is for “one to see that God does not elect some individuals to salvation and reject others.(ibid 33-34)

Roger Olson also quoted William Klein’s The New Chosen People conclusion that “the New Testament writers address salvific election in primarily, if not exclusively, corporate terms […] God has chosen the church as a body rather than the specific individuals who populate that body.”(129-130)

Brian J. Abasciano finds Schreiner’s[2] “attempt to counter the primacy of corporate election in Romans 9 unpersuasive”(Abasciano 2006: 351-2). According to Abasciano, Schreiner fails to address how the corporate and individual aspects of election do relate to each other. He contended,

If corporate election is primary, then it is the group that is the focus of election, and individuals are elect only in connection with the group. If individual election is primary, then individuals are separately the focus of election, and the group is elect only as a collection of elect individuals. Thus, either the corporate focus of election determines the identity and benefits of the individual based on participation in the group, or the individual focus of election determines the identity and benefits of the group based on the individuals who have been grouped together according to their similar individual characteristics/status.(ibid 353)

Abasciano went on to show that “[f]or if election is primarily individual, then corporate election must equally imply individual election since the identity of the group is entirely determined by the identity of the individuals who make it up”.(ibid)

I am open for comments, critics and edification from my brothers and sisters holding Wesleyan-Arminianism tradition for my reformed bias might have clouded my judgement.

[1]  Wright’s New Perspective Approach

[2] Thus going against Arminius’ exposition.


Abasciano, Brian J. (2006) “Corporate Election in Romans 9: A Reply to Thomas Schreiner”. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 4.2 : 351-71

Arminius, J. (1853). The Works of Arminius, Volume 3 (J. Nichols & W. R. Bagnall, Trans.) Auburn; Buffalo: Derby, and Miller; Derby, Orton and Mulligan.

Olson, R. E. (2011). Against Calvinism. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan

Schreiner, Thomas R. (1993) “Does Romans 9 Teach Individual Election Unto Salvation? Some Exegetical And Theological Reflections.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 36.1: 25-40

9 thoughts on “Wesleyan-Arminianism Approach to Romans 9:14-25

  1. Pingback: Wright’s New Perspective Approach to Romans 9:14-25 « With All I Am

  2. Pingback: Reformed Approach to Romans 9:14-25 « With All I Am

  3. Pingback: Reformed Approach to Roman 9:14-25 « With All I Am

  4. @ MM, I can’t access your link because it requires my personal info and I won’t do that. Wish I could have read your treatise 😦

  5. Do I understand you correctly MM, you are attributing your human nature as the means of appropriating the gift. If so, How did you? 🙂

  6. I am wondering about this whole language of personhood (hypostasis) being reduced to “individuals” (i.e. countable units in a group). I think the Church, classically, has a much fuller definition of persons and how each of us has a will grounded in our human nature and not in persons. I think the Romans passage in question speaks of humanity nature’s salvation as a group, leaving up to each individual person their mode of appropriation of that once for all gift.

    Since Christ assumed all of human nature, how can we say he only saved part of it?

    More about what I think about Calvinist soteriology at a paper I wrote:


  7. I’m with you Larry. A nation cannot be one without an aggregation of persons. Without the individuals it would become borderless land barren from ideology or cause to propogate anything other than a nation.

    To be fair and with further musing, could a nation, in the mind of God, be a nation without people. God exists outside of time. While we, as individuals, flicker into and out of existence, would a nation remain so from eternity past and future? In other words, when God decreed from eternty past that the nation of israel would be a nation, would His decree have constituted the nation in eternity past?

    Hope I’m making sense of this question.

    • Well it started out as Pangea, continents drifted over time, and humans invented the ideas of nations to divide up the Earth as it naturally came to form. So God didn’t have anything to do with it.

  8. I’m confused by the logic they present. A group cannot be anything other than a number of individuals…so if you’re saving a group, you’re saving individuals. If a group is making decisions, individuals are making decisions…this is obvious. So what are they trying to say?

    Btw Prayson, a big congratulations for being the 2nd highest commenter on Grome Soapbox in 2012 this year! 🙂 Your target for 2013 is to be number 1.

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