Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Don't Understand Predestination

I'm putting this out there. I am quick to admit I don't understand predestination.

Predestination is a mystery to me.

How can God know the future, and be in control of everything - yet love all of His creation and allow us to have free will.

The way I see it, both Calvinists and non-Calvinists have points where they must admit they don't understand something.

I think Calvinist see other points further down their logic path that become their mysteries.

Calvinist don't have a problem with predestination.

They remove free will from the equation.

They conclude that God is in 100% control of everyone's desires, choices and actions.

They conclude that God has chosen them and they have nothing to do with it, it's all for God's glory.

They conclude that Jesus only died for the elect.

Some conclude that God hates sinners.

For them the mysteries come at some different points in their responses to questions like these:

  • What criteria would God have to predestine some people to a future in heaven, and some to a future in Hell?
  • Why does God predestine billions of people to Hell? Why bother creating them if he knows where he is sending them?
  • If God hates sinners should we?
  • Can't sinners choose to do good, and can't they choose to follow God.
  • Doesn't 2 Peter 3:9 and Acts 17:30 sound like God wants everyone to be saved, not just the elect?
  • Doesn't 1 John 2:2 sound like unlimited atonement?
  • Doesn't Matt 23:37 sound like some resisted God's irresistible grace?
  • Doesn't Matt 6:33 sound like people have the choice to seek God's kingdom?

From my experience, at some point in these conversation you will likely get the response that it is a mystery. We shouldn't expect to fully understand the ways of God.

If we all have points in our logic where we fall back and admit it's a mystery of God...

I think I'd rather pick a point earlier in the logic process before defending some of these other positions.

What's it called when you say something about someone that is false and makes them out to look like a monster?

I think Calvinists are running on dangerous ground, falsely accusing God of hating sinners.

I wouldn't want to go there.

If I'm wrong. I believe I'll be slightly disappointed when I get to heaven and discover I was actually a robot or puppet. I can live with this.

If they are wrong, I suspect they will regret spreading the message that God hates sinners.

So I am OK publicly stating I don't understand predestination.

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Steve Martin said...

adderaWell, when it comes to God, and being able to believe in Him...we don't have free-will.

Our wills are bound. Luther wrote a great book on the subjest.

We are born in active rejection of God and He is the One who makes the desicion for us.

Anonymous said...

Jon - I am with you. The way I try to picture it is by looking at a chess match between me and God.

There is a spot on the chess board God is going to have your queen on in his timing. You get to move your pieces all you want by using free will.. the thing is God already knows which pieces you are going to freely move and can move his pieces to get your queen right where he wants it.

You are free to move, but God has your queen pre-destined for that spot on the board.

This helps me a tad.. but still clear as mud.


Tobie said...

I don't think anybody does, which puts the doctrine in the "highly suspicious" category for me. I suspect the solution is outside of both Calvinism and Arminianism, and that it has to do with the progressive nature of revelation. Free will is a reality at the point of basic choice (think General Revelation, two trees in Eden, pagan on island etc.), but to the degree that it is acted upon it becomes enslaved to that which it has chosen. A bit like Jesus' statement to Peter at the end of John's gospel: "When you were young..." The will is captured by its own choice and eventually ceases to be free, in other words. And so God sovereignly reveals Jesus Christ to the Corneliuses and Lydias of this world (sovereign election), that is, to those who responded positively to basic revelation, the "god-fearers" in Acts (free choice).

Jonathan said...

Thanks guys for the comments. I appreciate your thoughts on this. But at this point in my journey the only part that resonates with me is Swanny's "Clear as Mud".

I suspect I'll see through this glass clearer at some point in the future. :)

Frank Prescott said...

I am new to reading this blog hence, the late response.
The idea of free will is first introduced in Genesis. God gave Adam and Eve a choice to make. They exercised their choice of their own free will. This did not catch God by surprise.

1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ:

To the temporary residents dispersed`in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ. (HCSB)

He chose us "according to", not "because of" His foreknowledge. I have not seen this passage used by Calvinists.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Frank for your comments. Yes I have always found on topics like this people tend to favor certain verses over others. I would rather admit I don't understand this complex topic than ignore certain verses.

Thanks for sharing those verses.