Sunday, February 13, 2011

Predestination


How far do you go with predestination? Do you believe God creates people for hell? Do you think you have a choice in the matter? This is a significant issue in the evangelical community right now and has been since the Reformation and beginning of the Protestant movement. John Calvin taught that God had already determined who would be saved and who would not. The death of Christ was to save only some from sin but not all. There was a concern among protestants to know if they were saved or not. People lived lives as disciplined as they could in hopes that they were the chosen few.

In a predestined world, Christ did not die for all and the preaching of the Gospel is only intended for those God predestined. There is no need to preach to the whole world, only those in the world that were called by God and predestined.

It seems to me that it would be easier to have some kind of birthmark or identifying feature to know who is and who is not going to be saved. It would make the whole process much more efficient. We could be better stewards of our money by kicking the pagans out of church to make room for those that are saved. We could create communities of elect people and build walls to keep the evil condemned at bay, a sort of Mad Max society. We could do a lot better with missionaries. They could have some kind of scanner that could tell them if this person is elect or not and if so, they would have 100% success rate.

I know, I know, none of this is practical. In reality, I guess we don’t have to do anything. If my destiny is set and there is nothing I can do about it, then why do anything. If I ever do get off my backside, I guess it too was predestined, but that still requires no effort because I can’t control if I am or am not going to do something. I also have no need to worry about others because they are in the same boat.

Unless there is a reward system…


18 comments:

Steve Peterson said...

Hey Doug, I found this conclusion at the end of an article at (http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/predestination.html). I think it sums up this topic quite well:
"It is obvious that the Bible teaches both concepts. Ultimately, I believe that God directs history. However, I do not believe that He micro-manages history. In other words, I think God places people in history so that His will is accomplished. This includes putting His followers, in addition to those who oppose Him, at strategic points in history. The Bible encourages us to use our free will to choose good over evil."

Pastor Doug said...

Great article Steve. I like the way they lay out the argument. When I read articles that are so strongly one sided they seem to hold less weight. I like to read articles that show they understand both positions. It shows me that they have taken the time to examine the evidence. Thanks for this!

Roger Priestley said...

I think it is interesting that John Calvin notes that God lets His elect "go for a time so that they seem to be astray and utterly lost". This is precisely so He can call them back. His elect can then experience His mercy and grace, and the world sees a profound change and is brought closer to God.

Pastor Doug said...

Roger,
It must be tough to know if you are the elect or if people you love are elect, or if they are just going through the time of "letting go". How do you know if this is the case or if they are truly lost? I wonder if there is a set age that the "letting go" ends and election is prominent? I mean, could a person realize they are elect at 90 years-old on their death bed?

Roger Priestley said...

Hey Doug! Calvin would answer that we know we are elected by believing in Jesus Christ. He says faith is the fruit of election. I think Calvin's point is like a "chicken and the egg" scenario. Which came first? Its a totally God-centered postion. Mankind is so depraved that it is only through the working of the Holy Spirit that one can even have faith in Jesus. We cannot find favor with God by our own choosing or effort. So the person who finds faith in Christ at 90 is one of the elect, just as is the 5 year old, because it is the power of the Holy Spirit that compels them. I am reminded of the parable of the vineyard, where the early workers reward is the same as the last hour workers.

Pastor Doug said...

Roger,
It just seems so strange that God would allow a person to live as though her were not elect and do so much harm and decide for that person to discover he is elect in the 11th hour. I do not see that parable that way. I see it through the lens of free will. The person in the 11th hour comes to faith in Christ as a choice and that is why they inherit the kingdom.

I'm convinced that is why this debate has been around so long and has never been resolved. Both positions fit in your Scriptural view depending on what lens you use when reading it.

How does it benifit God to have the elect live like they are not? Doesn't that go against the whole purpose of being elect? The Great Commission and Great Commandments? Seems like bad planning on God's part. Actually, the whole Adam and Eve, Noah, Exodus and our current denominationalism that has all but stopped the influence of the church seems like really bad planning if God chose it to be like this/that.

sherrymeneley.com said...

My bitty brain thought about this a couple times and hurt like crazy (or like hell).

I figure we are all predestine in the sense that we are born as God’s perfect little innocent children—meant for an adventure on Earth and an eternity in His Kingdom. Just like all angels are created for a good thing. But free-will let’s us screw it all up. (free will—God’s strangest invention)

If I wonder too long about God already knowing who is gonna go to hell in a handbasket, well it just wrecks all the fun doesn’t it? And again, it makes my head hurt.

These things always send me back down the road of the proverbial question; “Can God make a rock so heavy He can’t lift it?”

…so does God create souls that are damned? I guess the simple answer is yes. Does He ultimately know who is gonna get it right and wrong? {Sigh} I have no answer, although I’ve already got a couple people pegged as hell-bound, and if they end up in Heaven, I might throw a fit.

Anyhoo, I’d like to think there is a last-moment, second-chance, when maybe—just maybe, God gives a last stitch effort of grace when we start down that tunnel of light as a soul without a body. And He says, “are you comin’ My way?” These are the theological happy-endings I ponder.

Ron Benson said...

I'm pretty sure that's why God came up with the whole "fish insignia" thingy. People who put that on their cars are predistined, right?

Steve Peterson said...

If everything is predestined, then why would there be need for a Judgement Day? Is Judgement not related to the Choices one makes? But if I can't make choices, how can I be judged?

If everything is predestined, why did God create Sodom and Gomorrah only to destroy them later because of the peoples' extreme wickedness? If he knew this was going to happen, then it all seems like worthless drama under the predestination scenario.

I see predestination as a general term to describe God's general plan for us. Also, it describes God's prerogative to change things along the way to keep his plan on track, to guide our destiny.

Ultimately, we have all been saved. But God knows all the rules, He knows the odds, and He knows that many will choose to reject salvation. And since He has made everything, then it stands to reason that He made some for heaven and some for hell, not specifically identified, but in general terms, knowing that is how it will turn out. Each had/has the opportunity to make their own choice to believe or not. And this is how we are educated or groomed or filtered out for eternity.

Nothing we do EARNS us salvation. We are given a free ticket. But if we reject the ticket, how can we expect to get in!

Pastor Doug said...

Sherry,
I like your thought sis. this issue has hurt a lot of brains over the centuries and some have not recovered!

Pastor Doug said...

Ron,
I don't have a fish thingy...am I in trouble? i wonder if there is some sort of test I have to take to buy one at the Christian Book Store.
Ha Ha!

Pastor Doug said...

Steve,
Maybe judgment is like the Grammy Award Show. It's a big event that God already knows who will win but it's so the envelopes can be read and various Christians can perform and be held up as examples. Of course some will be shocked like Justin Bieber was this last week. Seriously, I thought he was predestined to win it big. My daughter is crushed!

Kelley said...

If God is omniscient and exists outside the limited human understanding of time, then to a certain extent we can be both predestined and have free will. If God is omniscient, He knows the choices we will make even if we don't. He had to know the choices Adam and Eve would make, which is why there are some who interpret Genesis 3:15 (And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel) as being a prophecy of Christ's coming and his purpose for bringing those of us who choose Christ as our Savior a way to come back into perfect relationship with God. I don't think predestination and free will are mutually exclusive. Just my feeble thoughts on a complicated subject, but I'm more of an Arminian than a Calvinist. http://www.the-highway.com/compare.html

Pastor Doug said...

Kelley,
I see your point and I do agree that it is very difficult and even unreasonable that the created could ever understand the Creator. God can and does do what he wants and our free will or sense of free will is not dependent on our understanding of it.

The Scriptures are clear that God loves us and that Jesus died for sin. How that works out...that's a great question for God!

Hey Kelley, how did you find my blog?

Roger Priestley said...

Hey Doug, I like and agree with your comment about which lens we view the Scriptures shapes our position. I have traditionally been a free will artist because freedom is a personal value. Maybe because the other is unAmerican.:)Its been interesting to read Calvin for class and I don't think he is as extreme as many of his followers! I think the language of "elect" can cause people to become arrogant and proud, when Calvin asserts the opposite, election should humble us because there is nothing we can do to earn His mercy and grace.

Pastor Doug said...

Roger,
I think we will find this to be true with the majority of "founding fathers". The idea that they started morphed by the successors into a radicalized idea that the founding father never intended. I think a guy like Darwin fits into this category as well or possibly most people with "ism" added to their name. I'm not sure all the founding fathers of ideas would be proud of the division and venom that has been released by the caretakers of these ideas centuries down the line.

Steve Peterson said...

Hey Doug, sorry to deviate from the topic, but I have a question that has been on my mind for years and I have yet to address it. So here it is...

I read that Christ's death on the cross, washed away all sin, leaving us white as snow, removing our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. How does this reconcile with Judgement Day, when we will have to review everything we've done in our life, including our sins, of which we will all have in our records?

Pastor Doug said...

Steve,
As I understand it, the record of our sins may be able to be brought to our attention, but for those that have trusted in Christ, they are not charged against us. They don't stick because we have already been forgiven. We will realize through this experience that we do not deserve the salvation and pardon we have received.

Of course it could play out very differently. When the "computer" tries to call up the sin file, it could read, "no file found". That would be cool!