Gold Coast Bereans

Out of Ghana, West Africa; Christian hearts and critical minds seeking, speaking and writing the truth with love. This is a conversation of a group of friends, now living in the USA and the UK, who have known each other for more than 20 years.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Predestination and Foreknowledge. Calorius takes a personal stand

Following on from Monday's post and the comments, I have also been impressed by how much discussion in the blog kingdom is devoted to the questions of Calvinism versus Arminianism. And it's not even between Presbyterians and Methodists, but across all the denominations and including people who feel no denominational attachment. In my opinion, it is all a complete waste of time, except when a subset of Calvinists go the extra step of saying those who will be saved will be saved, and those who won't, won't and use that to argue the futility and non-necessity of evangelism.

The way I understand predestination is from the Roman 8:29 verse that says "For those whom He foreknew, He did also predestinate to conform to the image of His dear Son..."

Imagine, for example, a Saturday morning at the Calorius residence. My little daughter, Amma, loves strawberries. If I leave ripe juicy strawberries on the counter, I can be certain (foreknowledge) that she will eat them when she sees them. But that in no way means that I made the choice for her. It was still her choice. Now, suppose i had placed a multivitamin tablet inside one of the strawberries, then I could make the statement that because I foreknew that Amma would eat the strawberry, I predestined her to ingest a multivitamin.

Now this is not perfect, because my knowledge of Amma's choice is not perfect. She could have gone and eaten something else and put me to shame.

With God, however, His knowledge of the future is 100% accurate. So He knows, ahead of time, those who will accept His Son. But that in no way means that He determined that choice, any more than I made Amma chose to eat the strawberry. I wasn't even there when she did it. God's perfect knowledge of the future allows Him to predict without predetermining for anyone. But He then decides that those who will make that choice will become like Jesus. It was still their choice, just as it was Adam's choice to sin, our choice to sin and our choice to accept Him. God knew ahead of time, but did not make that choice for us.

It is unfortunate that the KJV used the term "predestine" in that verse, because it is then easy to align that to ideas we may have heard from Eastern religions and assume that's what it means. The other unfortunate translation is the word "chosen" which Paul uses frequently of himself and others. It implies selected by God, as if He alone made the choice. My understanding is, instead, that it is a joint choice in which we make a decision where God has already decided that those who make that decision will become something.

If you hop on a bus that's going to Katmandu, and you eventually end up in Katmandu, whose choice was it? Yours, or the bus driver's? Of course the bus driver's, because he took you there by a route that you had nothing to do with, but yours too, because it was you who hopped on that bus.

That's why in John 1 those verses are next to each other: .."But to those who received Him, who believed on His Name, He gave power to become children of God". That is, it was they who did the receiving and believing. But He hastens to explain these were born "not of the will of man, but of God". So the actual birth, the regeneration, the conforming to the image of His Son, the "heaven boundness" is the choice or the will of God, not man.

As far as evangelism, we who would share the gospel stand on the "ignorance" side of the equation, not knowing who will accept Christ. The ignorance side is also the side with the choice, whereas God has all the knowledge but not the choice. Therefore, we can honestly (and should) do everything we can to influence the right choice.

So, without knowing whether Calvin or Arminius was right, there is a call to evangelize which we must all obey. If someone accepts Christ, wonderful! They were pre-known by God and have been predestined to grow in Christ. If they don't, then they were not pre-known by God and will spend eternity separated from God. - CALORIUS


Anonymous Alien Warrior said...

Thanks for your practical insight, Calorius. I suspect it will fuel some more debate. I am going to ponder it some more and then share my thoughts. Really, you guys are over my head on some of this predestination stuff.

Sometimes, I think that anything that is too complex to understand probably should not be taught outside of seminaries and academic christian circles.- AW

June 14, 2007 at 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Robbo said...

Excuse me, AW; this same kind of thinking is what led to the Roman Catholic Church determining that the Bible should remain in the Latin language and should be interpreted only by those trained for the priesthood. It was thought that if it became available to the masses, they would all get confused and there would be chaos.

I think there is very little merit to that line of thinking, and thank God that He used Luther to put a stop to that. Just yesterday, I came across this quote by one Stanley Hauerwas, a Theologian at Duke Divinity School.

"No task is more important than for the Church to take the Bible out of the hands of individual Christians in North America".

I think he does have a point in a funny way. I guess we are coming full circle.

June 14, 2007 at 2:27 PM  
Anonymous Alien Warrior said...

I think the medieval Catholic Church went overboard with their restrictions on who could read the Bible.

What I am sayin is that, it probably does not serve much purpose to discuss as doctrine things we will never fully understand on this side of the grave. That does not mean that they should not be discussed, but to argue incessantly without resolution? We can all agree on the fundamentals and allow God to convict each man as He God chooses, but for that to happen folks need to be discipled to the point where we can come to conclusions that are from God's Spirit and not someone's fancy theology.

June 14, 2007 at 5:45 PM  

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