|"Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has forseen this.|
It is your destiny..." —Darth Vader
If you grew up like me—evangelical, Bible-believing—you never heard anybody cite the passage above when discussing Romans 9. And you can see why not: it portrays a flexible potter, dealing with wet clay that is either willing or unwilling. Potters and clay were very familiar to 1st Century Jews...surely this descriptive story from Jeremiah would've colored the way they thought about Paul's 9th chapter to the Romans.
The relationship between potter and clay is dynamic. Everything is moving. And God is telling us that when he plans for something in the human realm, the way we humans react affects whether he carries out his original scheme. On top of that, he's also making sure we know how to react to obtain the best result—for ourselves.
Romans 9 isn't at all about Predestination. Paul is talking about the new deal between God and mankind after Jesus split history in two. He's talking about the way salvation is now being made available, and to whom (ie: everybody). And even in chapter 8, where the word Predestination does appear, it's in the context of "those who"...another to-be-named-later group.
The vast preponderance of scripture leans toward individual humans having the freedom to choose their own ultimate fate. There are a few passages that seem to counter that theme...which, to my mind, would lead a reasonable person to seek alternative explanations for the minority passages. Calvin threw out the wrong stuff.
Every day I need to remember that a destiny has been prepared for me to fulfill, and there is a destination ("I go to prepare a place for you...") to which I should aspire. And he is right behind me: "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'” — Isaiah 30:21
I call that a risky, bracing, beautiful adventure. I ♥ Predestination.