Tag Archives: predestination

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(HT:  blog post from the Reformation21 blog and the upcoming start of the school year that makes it desirable for me to have a schedule and structure...Sunday is "Reformed Theology Day"...although looking at the "what I believe" page, there are some aspects that I haven't posted on...)

There are a lot of terms that I'm not sure are being used correctly - I'm not sure if I'm using them correctly.  But the way they're used does make a difference in how you see things.

(all definitions are from Wiki)

Determinism is the view that every event, including human cognition, behavior, decision, and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences.

Indeterminism is a philosophical position that maintains that some form of determinism is incorrect: that there are events which do not correspond with determinism (and therefore are either uncaused, or caused in a manner that the corresponding form of determinism does not allow).

so...if you believe in determinism, as strictly defined, given any circumstances, you cannot NOT make the decision that you must make, given all the factors that led up to that circumstance.

If you believe in indeterminism, it's all up for grabs.  You might make that decision or you might not.  You are a product of your past, but you are not bound by it.

Will - simply the ability to make a choice.

Free will - the ability to make a choice without force

Libertarian free will - the ability to make a choice with no outside constraints whatsoever.

These are varying degrees, but the differences are important.  Whether or not you "must" make a particular choice (based on determinism), it is still you making the choice.  Free will is further down the road, there may be history or constraints that you may or may not even recognize, but you are still not "forced" to make a particular choice.  With libertarian free will, there is no outside influence that would constrain any choice you might make.  Influence, yes...constrain, no.

Compatibilism (...) holds that the sovereignty of God and the free will of man are both biblical concepts and, rightly understood, are not mutually exclusive. The all-knowing God (who sees past, present, and future simultaneously from the perspective of eternity) created human beings (who have the subjective reality of making choices in the present that have consequences for themselves and others in the future) in such a way that both are true: God is ultimately sovereign and therefore must have at least permitted any choice that a human could make, but at the same time God is right to hold humans accountable because from their perspective within the confines of serial time, humans make moral choices between good and evil. (from Theopedia, through Wiki)

Incompatibilism takes two different forms...at either end of the compatibilist spectrum.

compatibilism must be false because both the sovereignty of God AND the free agency of man cannot be true.

thus (choice 1) in order for man to have libertarian free will, God must choose to not take control over man's choices...


(choice 2), God is sovereign over all, thus man must not have the ability to make choices of the will.

This is an important question of theology for one who studies Reformed theology.  Where on the spectrum do I fall?

My belief is:  since Scripture teaches that God IS sovereign over all AND man makes choices, both good and evil, then some sort of compatibilism must be true.

Unconditional election...AKA predestination.  It is my second least TULIP doctrine to try to explain.

Based on the premise that "God is sovereign and He gets to pick - not only how, but who."

This builds on the "T" - total depravity.  Not that each peson is as totally depraved as they could be, but rather every part of each person's will is touched by Adam's nature (original sin).

How many people seek God?

The answer (as well as in other places, is answered in Romans 3:

"None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one."

If we don't seek God, how do we find Him?

Ephesians 1:3-6. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.”

Christ told His disciples,

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide...(John 15:16)

But what about my will?

So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy (Romans 9:16)

But that isn't fair

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"  Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:20-24)