Thank you, all, for responding so generously to my post calling for opinions about predestination. Toward the end of day 2, I had given up on getting much response, but everyone warmed up to the topic, and very helpfully. Thank you!
I'm not ready to talk about my beliefs, because they are back in a wonderful state of flux. But let me talk about yours. And I mean everyone's. With one voice, everyone who has been here more than once agreed that standard predestination is a stomach turning doctrine.
- I just have to say that I have a physical reaction to the notion that not all have the opportunity. My heart aches at the mention of the idea.
- It always breaks my heart to think that the Lord would turn away his children. Either He loves us or He doesn't.
- It is because at its very foundation is God who loves "all" ...but won't let "all" have the option to love Him back.
- The gift of salvation is open and freely given to all. This paraphrase of scripture flies boldy in the face of predestination, and punches it right in the chops.
- I can't imagine that He would pre-ordain people to Hell. Plain and simple.
- When speaking with a friend about Judas, I used the words how sad his story is to me because he was predestined to betray.
And for some it was even more personal:
- there is a certain arrogance to the predestined folks that "know" that they are elect
- That means we must be willing to work with Him, and that equates to our having a say in our salvation: "My Lord and my God!" or not.
- I'd say the problem I have with predestination is that a person who believes it might use it to argue for or against the salvation of another person. That type of prophecy is very suspect.
- It’s easy to think sure this wonderful life was predestined, harder when the walls are falling in on us. Faith is a big thing.
- It’s hard for someone to sit on a cold marble bench and look at the grave of their child and think that it was predestined.
I have heard predestinationists answer all the these objections, and that is much of the reason that I question predestination. Their answers often have a sterile arrogance that I never liked, even though I believe they are right and can repeat those arguments at will.
So, in my next post, I hope to start a look at Eph 1. The point will not be for me to tell my views, and for you to rebut them. I am not looking for scriptural evidence either for or against either of our points of view. Believe me, I have been around that mulberry bush too many times.
Rather, I hope to look into those verses and find something breathing. The word "predestined" appears in Eph 1, but as of right now, who knows what it means. God did something. He did something big, bold and beautiful, but He didn't do it alone. He didn't even stop at "involving" us. He "included" us in what He did. So, if we are included, what does predestined mean?
I don't know, but I hope that we find something we can hold on to together.
Let me tell a little story that made me think of all this.
One of my young friends has found the girl of his dreams. She is gorgeous. I've never seen her less than bubbling with natural enthusiasm. You know the type, all wonderful, and probably a Cat 4 hurricane to live with?
Does God give us His will, or does He predestine it? Or does He just reveal it generally in scripture, and require us to figure it out?
Does He rely on His own great grace, or on our weak obedience?
I see a lot of ways in which this is like the questions behind election. Was I fated by God to marry a girl who could not stay married to me? Of course not. That was my mistake and my sin. I praise and thank the grace of the Lord that I have not followed my marriage fall with the larger fall of turning from Him. It is by His mercy that I still rest in Him.
So, though I doubt that this young couple will ask advice of a man who has already failed at his own marriage, what would I say to them given the chance? There's never any telling with me. I don't even know what I'm going to post until my fingers show me. :-) But, I guess it would be something like this.
If you marry each other, you might be making a big mistake.
If you don't marry each other, you might also be making a big mistake.
But, don't try to second guess God. God is working for your maturity, not merely for your obedience. He wants to grow you into a man and a woman who can bear responsibility in His kingdom. To do that, He will make you exercise real wisdom, rather than just seek a "word of convenience" from on high.
So, seek wisdom and have the courage to do the best thing. Don't seek God to give you the best thing. If it is wisdom to get some issues under control before committing to marriage, then do it. That will take courage. It will take courage to tell him or her, "Not yet, and maybe never." Stand up and do it. If it is wisdom to begin the next adventure of your life, then propose.
Only don't let circumstances push you. Make your decision. Get on your knees before God and in front of wise men and women. Educate yourself until what you want and what you know is wise are the same thing. Then do that thing.
That's my stock advice on almost everything, actually.
I think there are some who would question whether that outlook is consistent with predestination.
Maybe I should be questioning predestination too.
Oh wait. I am!