31 October, 2006

Predestination: Eph 1:b - The Revelation and the Inheritance

I have about a half hour to kill, and a blackberry. Our parking garage is jammed up all the way to the the fifth floor. But, things are moving, if ever so slowly, and there are little kids hoping the Great Pumpkin comes. So, I must not give up and go to a restaurant to wait it out. I must get home, and hand out the candy!

Hmmm, and my power brakes won't kick in until I build up some speed.

Charming.

I needed a leg workout anyway.

So, the question arises whether this was little predicament was predestined, or whether it is merely the outworking of a sinful world supported by the providence of God. Did God foreordain me to endure this parking jam before the world was created?

The largest objections to predestination in our little discussions have circled around the love of God, and the will of man. A predestinationist seems to assert that the love of God does not extend to those who are not elect. (Let's just agree to ignore those predestinationists who believe God created a group of reprobates for the pleasure of damning them. Nobody here thinks that.) If God knows that a person will eventually be damned, can He still love that person? What if the only reason a person is saved is because God gave special grace? Then God becomes the efficient cause of every damnation.

Could a loving God possibly withhold grace?

The predestinationist seems to say, "Yes, God has withheld grace." The rest seem to say that God has given His grace equally to all out of His equal love to all, but that some decline to receive it.

And then there is the argument from human nature. To recall Dostoesvsky's line of reasoning, man treasures above all other advantages, the right to capriciously choose even that which is to his own detriment. I could choose to drive all the way back up to the 5th floor right now if I wanted to (I am down to the second floor now) and I treasure that freedom. In exactly the same way, I could choose hell with a clear eye, and many do.

The argument continues that by honoring man with this ability, God gives man the highest degree of respect. And by rewarding man's choice of hell with eternal punishment, God affords his choice the ultimate dignity. God gives man a tremendous gift in free will, and exacts of him a tremendous price in honor of that gift.

And could a man who was nothing more than a piano key truly love God? If man falls in love with His God at the time and to the degree that God fingers his heart, is what man experiences love at all? Or merely the tinkling of a sounding piano? And could our love survive the revelation if we found out we were not its authors?

(I'm out of the garage, and onto real pavement now! Halloween may yet be saved.)

---

Time flies.

It is now almost 4 hours after the start of this post. 1.5 of those hours were spent getting from the office to home. There, I found that my son had decided to have mercy on the munchkins, and stayed home to hand out candy until I arrived to free him for an evening of rock climbing ... but he forgot to turn on the porch light. Chuckles. :-)

I handed out happiness to nothing but little kids tonight. It's wonderful to have gotten such a batch of pleasant little kids. Last year was a little rougher. I don't know why.

Dinner. A little discussion with the boy, and the dishes are done. My side work can wait until this is posted, and all is well with the world.

---

So, as I post Eph 1:b, you know the questions. How do you think this passage answers them? Was I fated to spend 45 minutes going from the 5th to the bottom floor of my parking garage tonight? Was I doomed to love the Lord and be thankful the experience? Or might I have resisted God's will, and been grumpy, bitter and damned?

Eph 1:6-13
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

7 comments:

Maeghan said...

Reading your posts as usual is a challenge - but a good challenge :) It gives my lazy brain a good workout - quite a bit of work for an Armenian brain trying to think Calvinist thoughts! haha

So, the question arises whether this was little predicament was predestined, or whether it is merely the outworking of a sinful world supported by the providence of God. Did God foreordain me to endure this parking jam before the world was created?

I suppose I need to say that I believe in predestination - it is indeed biblical - but not Calvinistically so to speak :) So in response to your para above, I feel that predestination is specifically for the purpose of
adoption (Eph 1:5), so I won't say that predicaments are predestined. They happen because of the outworking of a sinful world but because we are predestined, we are supported by the providence and grace of God. So I feel that the weight is not on merely the outworking of a sinful world but on the gracious providence of God.

If God knows that a person will eventually be damned, can He still love that person?

Wouldn't it then not be the prevenient grace of God that allows him to love all but have a special relationship-based love for the chosen?

What if the only reason a person is saved is because God gave special grace? Then God becomes the efficient cause of every damnation.

I suppose you will know my response to that one :) :)
"Free will" being the answer to the "problem".

Could a loving God possibly withhold grace?

Yes and no.
His grace is for all who is willing to follow him and those who follow him will receive more of that grace that could not been had if they do not follow Him.

The rest seem to say that God has given His grace equally to all out of His equal love to all, but that some decline to receive it.

Yes, that would be resistable grace as opposed to Calvin's thoughts on irresistable grace.

And could a man who was nothing more than a piano key truly love God? If man falls in love with His God at the time and to the degree that God fingers his heart, is what man experiences love at all? Or merely the tinkling of a sounding piano? And could our love survive the revelation if we found out we were not its authors?

I really like the way you put that. It seems to me there's where the difference lies between you and I, maybe.

If I am a piano key or a piano for that matter, I am not able to move anyway unless moved. And when I am moved, am I then moved?

In other words, when I am being played, do I then feel for the person who played me? Interesting, if I am a piano who has a pianist who make beautiful music, whether in joy or in solemnity, I would respond in love for him, if and only if I am capable of love. And that is the key, - the capability to love. The free will to love.

Thanks for posting your thoughts - good workout that one :)

Milly said...

Good post. I guess you were meant to be in the parking garage tonight.

codepoke said...

Here's what I see in the passage that seems to pertain to the questions I asked:

... made us ... we have ... toward us ... known unto us ... we have obtained ... we should be

This passage is about "us." At no point is the passage about "everyone."

his grace ... he hath made us ... his grace ... he hath abounded ... the mystery of his will ... his good pleasure ... he hath purposed in himself ... he might gather together ... the purpose of him ... his own will ... to the praise of his glory

It is the Father Who has initiated all this stuff for and about "us."

made us accepted ... redemption through his blood ... the forgiveness of sins ... in all wisdom and prudence ... made known unto us the mystery of his will ... gather together in one all things ... in heaven ... on earth ... obtained an inheritance ... being predestinated ... be to the praise of his glory

These are the things the "Father" has initiated giving to "us."

... in the beloved ... In whom we have ... Wherein he hath abounded ... all things in Christ ... even in him ... In whom also we have obtained ... In whom ye also trusted ... in whom also ... ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

The way the "Father" gives "gifts" to "us" is in "Christ."

... the mystery of his will, ... his good pleasure ... he hath purposed in himself ... he might gather together in one all things in Christ ... In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will

It is "we" who obtained an inheritance, being "predestinated."

... we should be ... who first trusted ... ye also trusted, ... ye heard the word of truth, ... in whom also after that ye believed ... ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise

We trust, believe and are sealed as a necessary step in the process. Nowhere are the gifts given by the Father in Christ to us conditioned upon our believing, but our believing follows upon our being given gifts. That said, believing is a necessity. It is a required thing before we are sealed.

So, as I look at this passage, I don't see any way to interpret it outside of the obvious. Those who believed are always exactly those who were predestinated.

I understand the objections from the love of God and from the nature of man. In fact, I agree with them. I believe that the answer will be found in reconciling predestination with love and caprice, and not in lessening the import of the word, "predestinated." I cannot see any way to interpret this passage such that God did not "predestine" "us" in the classic sense.

Patchouli said...

First, I had to process "God created a group of reprobates for the pleasure of damning them"
without running away from the computer like my hair was on fire. Remember the next part: as the elect, we are privileged to cheer as God throws those reprobates that He damned into the lake of fire. But I digress/regress...we are all predestined to receive the gift ofglorious grace and mercy. Whether or not we take it is up to each one of us.

codepoke said...

:-D

I don't mean to be lighting anyone's hair on fire. That's great!

I feel like I could take your meaning in a couple of ways. Do you intend to say that the reprobate choose to damn themselves, but then that God does take pleasure in damning them?

Either way, I only said that there were none of those people on this site - not that those people were dead wrong. They have a couple strong scriptures to lean on, so I respect the position. I just didn't want to waste too many electrons on talking to it, because nobody around here defends it.

Curious what you'll think of the next post.

Patchouli said...

I was just remembering the extreme pleasure some people seemed to get when they talked about cheering as God threw the damned into the lake of fire. It made me shudder then, and it makes me shudder now.

God taking pleasure in throwing reprobates into eternal damnation-- not the Saviour I know and love.

Anyway, as usual, my mouth got ahead of my brain and confused things...looking forward to the next post...

codepoke said...

Ah. I was not sure whether you were being ironic or sincere.

Normalcy is restored. :-)