Posted By MSH on May 25, 2008
I’ve been thinking about the last couple of exchanges on the predestination / free will topic. It’s occurred to me that there’s an element of my position that I haven’t specifically included in posts that would be helpful. It’s something I allude to in Chapter 4 and in posts, but it’s not explicitly developed. I saw it as peripheral before, but it seems that it’s more important for making my thoughts clear than I had thought. So, I’m going to try to do that here without being too long. I should also say that this is precisely what I hoped to get out of this blog. My purpose is putting my thoughts/positions out there to have them tested. While I was in grad school I did this with a group of guys for almost ten years. We’d meet about every two months to discuss something one of us had written, or to discuss something stimulating we’d read. I got to cycle through a good bit of divine council stuff that way, but I haven’t done anything like it since 2004. I was hoping the blog would replace this, and thanks to Chris and Phil, it’s doing that. This blog is actually “Phase 1” of a larger project agenda, so it’s important for readers to go after the ideas so that I can either discard them or improve them.
When I say that I don’t believe God predestines every event, I mean that, but the way I explain it needs some work. For one, I need to be clear that I don’t think the terms “sovereignty” and “predestination” are synonymous. I have hinted at this in Chapter 4 and some posts, but looking back I don’t think it’s clear. What I really believe is that God predestines the ends to which all things work, but not necessarily the means. He predestinates the end point, but not necessarily the path to the end point (though he can). How things end up can’t be random in that God has to be satisfied with the way it all ends and isn’t surprised or anything like that. God’s sovereignty is shown in that he has the ability to influence and oversee the paths, paying close attention to what is happening in the course of human history. I reject deism for this reason (among others). God is intimately involved in using human and non-human free agents and his Spirit to move things along as he wishes. He of course can foresee both what humans actually will do and what they could do (Keilah). He knows what choices he’d like to see made and works to influence those choices. Humans sometimes make the desired choices, but when they don’t, God remains at work. This kind of program requires omniscience in my view. Lastly, God has told us in Scripture that he did predestinate certain events (e.g., election of a remnant; the sacrificial death of the messiah who was incarnate deity). I don’t believe that the paths to these events was necessarily predetermined, though (see the my previous reply to Phil’s comment about the crucifixion; all that prophecy required was consistency with the typology of sacrifice and Passover).
I think this position allows genuine freedom, does not impinge on God’s sovereignty (which is not predestination), and allows God to predestinate certain events. It also has God not causing sin or doing evil to accomplish things, even things that are predestinated. But I’ll keep working at it.
There is another thing I could add, but I’m waiting to see any comments forthcoming.