Jerry Corbaley blogs at “Think the Thoughts.”
I am not a Calvinist. I am not an Arminian. I am not of Cephas, or Apollos or Spurgeon. I want to be of Christ. The rest of them are dead white European males. God is their judge, not me. They may all be greater than me at the judgment. I can learn from any of them. Frankly, all of them can also learn from all of you.
I am not going to write Bible Study notes. I’m going to “dumb-this-down” so I can proof-read it. Most of you will see where I am coming from and will know what passages I am referring to. My confidence is in the Bible. If you want to ask where such-and-such can be found, then do so. There are many, many folks here that can point it out.
Let me begin by analogy on a topic that I think you will be able to easily agree upon, and then apply the same objectivity to the topics of the title. Note that I have a desire to affect “what you think” and “how you think it”. It might occur to you that the Holy Spirit does the same thing to people all the time.
There is one God. The Father is God, the Son (Word) is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Their identical commonalities far outnumber their differences. The only reason we know there are any differences at all is because God Himself has pointed them out. God is One! It is a mistake to assume or conclude that any differences between Father, Son, and Spirit are significant enough to detract from their unity of being One.
Here is where I apply the analogy to the topics of the title. God has infinite foreknowledge. I think He predestines the route of every photon and the rotation of every electron around every nucleus. I think God knew who would be His before He created everything and decided to do the whole “creation-thing”. I think God has limited freewill. He limits Himself. He won’t lie, He won’t sin. Here is the crux of the matter: All of these attributes of God are primarily ONE. They work together, seamlessly. They are all continually in operation. I think it is a mistake to consider the consequences of one attribute “down-the-line” without considering the rest of the Divine attributes that God has revealed about Himself (like justice, mercy, forgiveness, love and judgment). The understanding of one attribute is enhanced by the way said-attribute is affected by other attributes.
So here is what went down, in my opinion. God decided to create people in His own (spiritual) image, give them limited free will, and then hold them accountable for what they choose. He considered every possible detail of what would happen forever, and then decided to act. The sequence of events have reached this hour; and here we are.
A person has limited freedom to choose. A person (we) can only think about one thing at a time and we are therefore not free to think of many things at the same time. There are virtually infinite numbers of things we could think about (and choose), but we are limited in our ability to do so. We are prevented from thinking of thoughts that never occur to us. Further, (squirrel) we are subject to distractions (scratch nose), and habitual reactions (knee jerks), and to the interference of our thought process by having others put thoughts into our heads. Which, I have been doing for some paragraphs.
Further, I can interfere with your thoughts and freedom to choose and vice-versa. Further, God can interfere with your thoughts and freedom to choose. Freedom of choice is real, but also micro-nebulous. Culpability for our choices is real, and requires an omniscient God to sort it all out.
Frankly, no one has any chance of seeing spiritual truth and repenting, unless God intervenes. How can we assume that we can put thoughts into anyone’s head and influence them (!) but the omnipresent Spirit of God can’t do so or won’t do so? We aren’t even capable of keeping track of all the influences that continually alter our thought direction. God can and does influence people all the time, both lost people and saved people.
Important point: I think that God makes the time to see to it that every person has the freedom to choose to humble himself before God in such a way that God can be just when He holds them accountable for what they choose come judgment day.
Summary: (Some will read this, skip the above, and miss the point)
Foreknowledge, predestination, election and freewill are best understood in the whole.
Foreknowledge is knowing the future in infinite detail, including what everyone will think and what they will choose, including how God, Himself, will influence such thoughts and choices.
Predestination is the certainty that it will unfold the way God has chosen, even while God protects and enables the right of all individuals to make a morally culpable choice (or series of choices) for which He can justly hold them accountable. These instances of “limited freewill” are free enough for God to be just when He judges.
Election is deciding to create a series of spirits who will be destined to freely choose their own final consequence, and that choice will be revealed come judgment day. These spirits are elected in the sense that God knew what they would freely choose when He began the whole creation-thing. God knew, and He decided to “do”.
Freewill is real, but is blown all out of proportion to its actual freedom. But we are righteously held responsible for our choices anyway. I think I need a Savior.