Bible Study Fellowship has been going through the book of Romans. They are currently in Romans 9-11, and they are taking a very Calvinistic position. I’m told they have taken the view that in these chapters, Paul is teaching about individual election to eternal life, where God chooses some individuals for eternal life, but not others.
If God chooses only to save some people, it puts His good character in doubt. When the objection is raised that the Calvinistic view makes God arbitrary and morally questionable, the BSF response is that this is a mystery you cannot understand.
If you would like a completely different take on Romans, let me recommend two books.
First, please see my book Chosen to Serve: Why Election Is to Service, Not to Eternal Life on amazon.com or through our bookstore. Contra BSF, I argue the Bible teaches that election is to service, not to eternal life. God doesn’t choose individuals to have eternal life. Rather, He chooses people, places, and things to work for Him, to accomplish a task or a job. And He often does that for evangelistic reasons, to bring salvation to the whole world (John 3:16). I wrote the book to be very simple, very clear, and it sticks with the Biblical texts. I was completely incredulous of that idea when I first started my study, but as I went through the Bible verse by verse, it became clear to me that the Calvinistic view I had assumed was wrong.
Second, please read Zane Hodges’ Romans: Deliverance from Wrath. My book only addresses the election issue. Zane covers the whole of Romans. It will help you read Romans in a completely different, non-Calvinistic way, including chapters 9-11. I know BSF does not allow you to read any commentaries but their own, but if you know they are taking a Calvinistic view, you should be curious about other interpretations—ones that do not paint God as a moral monster.
BSF does good work. But like any organization, they can get things wrong, too. And I believe they are certainly wrong on Romans and election.
It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a great opportunity to delve even deeper into the Bible.