Determined to Believe: Chapter 6 - Foreknowledge, Predestination and Election

No.
I have used this before.

10 And David said, “O Yahweh, God of Israel, your servant has clearly heard that Saul is seeking to come to Keilah to destroy the city because of me. 11 Will the rulers of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O Yahweh, God of Israel, please tell your servant!” And Yahweh said, “He will come down.” 12 Then David said, “Will the rulers of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And Yahweh said, “They will deliver you.” 13 So David and his men got up, about six hundred men, and went out from Keilah and wandered wherever they could go. When it was told to Saul that David had escaped from Keilah, ⌊he stopped his pursuit⌋.
(Sa 23:10–13 LEB)

I think we see God’s foreknowledge but we also see that it did not come to past.

And here is quote from Michael Heiser:

This has significant implications for not only the fall, but the presence of evil in our world in general. God is not evil. There is no biblical reason to argue that God predestined the fall, though he foreknew it. There is no biblical reason to assert that God predestined all the evil events throughout human history simply because he foreknew them.
Heiser, M. S. (2015). The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (First Edition, p. 66). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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Good example @Jimmy_Sellers - I had never thought of addressing the question of sovereignty with that text.

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@O_wretched_man Great thoughts. I do not think it would be fair to classify Molinism as a subset of Arminianism - they are different ‘isms’ imagined by very different individuals :slight_smile: Luis de Molina was a Spanish Jesuit Priest and Jacob Arminius was a Dutch Reformer whose theological climate was heavy with Calvinism. However, I think both do tend to allow humans the freedom to choose or reject God, which is probably what James White is saying.

Thought this interview with Thomas McCall was helpful:

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Don’t worry, RC Sproul’s views troubles me too. I cannot agree on this extreme view of things.

In light of this it seems well-nigh incredible that the doctrine of predestination has been extrapolated to become an all-encompassing divine determinism that knows no bounds – as in the view of R. C. Sproul cited earlier:
The movement of every molecule, the actions of every plant, the falling of every star, the choices of every volitional creature, all of these are subject to his sovereign will. No maverick molecules run loose in the universe beyond the control of the Creator. If one such molecule existed, it could be the critical fly in the eternal ointment.

Lennox, John C. Determined to Believe: The Sovereignty of God, Freedom, Faith and Human (p. 112). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.

I would have a simple question in response to theological determinism.

Why would Jesus, who is God in the flesh, teach us to pray and include the line
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. If Sproul is correct in that every atom in the universe is already in it’s place, why would Jesus pray and teach us to pray a prayer that seems pointless.

This is the problem with things, God’s will is not being done on earth; sin has entered the picture, and the results of sin is death (death of relationships with others; as Andy Stanley says ‘sin kills’)… Death was not God’s original design in the Garden of Eden - God designed Adam and Eve to live forever with Him. This is why, just quietly to myself, I object to animal death before the Fall, and don’t believe that God used evolution to create; I believe that because of the result of the Fall it was subject to decay;

19The creation waits in eager expectation for the revelation of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will, but because ofthe One who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.…

I think that the problem of natural ‘suffering’ (as opposed to ‘evil’ being active)… is because the free moral choice of Adam and Even also brought natural suffering into the world.

That’s another big problem with theological determinism - in my opinion - is that it also assigns the source of evil and suffering back to God - thus bring the character of God into question. This is a big problem for me.

I’ve had a friend who went down the path of universal salvation; I believe in response to your first quote from RC Sproul. “I don’t doubt For a moment that God has the power to save all, but I know that he does not choose to save all. I don’t know why”

His view was that if God was all powerful, and everything was determined, then this gave weight to universal salvation. It’s fairly logical to assume that an all-powerful God who loves and is completely sovereign would cause all to be saved via unconditional election.

Of course, this position of universal salvation still doesn’t deal with personal responsibility or morality being actually real, or our love being a choice (our choice is in response to God reaching out to us). It still reduces humanity to (in my opinion) autonotoms which seems to remove all meaning from love.

just a few thoughts, perhaps not clearly laid out - I don’t claim to know answers of course (I can only rest on the revealed love of Jesus shown at the cross)… :slight_smile:

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I am not familiar with McCall but I like the way he is thinking. I am not on board with his conclusion.
I personally believe that all people by virtue of their very existents are chosen by God. In the life of everyone God will reveal himself. It is yours to reject. In short you start out in the book of life. If you reject this life you are blotted out.
Just my thoughts.

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@Jimmy_Sellers
Your thoughts on the book of life got me thinking. Since abortion is such a hot topic right now, what view do you think a Calvinist would hold on abortion: are all aborted children part of the elect by default or are there some who actually are not (predetermined to go to hell by the sin in a life they would have committed)? Is this a fair dilemma? Since I’m not a divine determinist, my view is that they all automatically go to heaven because their lives were taken before they had the opportunity to live outside the womb.

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On page 115 Of my copy (digital) you will find this quote

…unconditional election has been seen by many as a barrier to the free preaching of the gospel.

In the context that it was written I understand it is referring to the church’s fulfillment of the great commission.

This got me to thinking is possible that someday in the future a law would be passed against preaching the Gospel using this as justification. I know it is far fetched but if I were an antagonist I think I could make a case against preaching based on this.

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Three simple things that really made a huge impact on me were:

  1. the term predestination in the Bible is usually not being used in reference to salvation (3 of 14 times)

  2. When it says chosen, you need to ask yourself, chosen for what? This is important because paradigm pressure may lead me to read something into the text. Which leads to the third point,

  3. the Bible is not saying we are chosen to believe, but it is telling us what believers have been chosen for

Three simple, yet powerful takeaways from this chapter for me.

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@c3vanzyl Good stuff! Yes, i think one of the most important takeaways from this chapter is that we should let the Biblical text help us define the words rather than bringing our definitions of the words to the text.

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One thought concerning God’s foreknowledge and God living outside of time as we know it. I remember reading something that C.S. Lewis said that really got me thinking. He asked, “Does God know what you’re going to do tomorrow?” His answer was, “No, he doesn’t know what you’re going to do, he SEES YOU DOING IT.” I’m still processing that. It would make sense in what you all were talking about above concerning I Sam 23, where God seemed to foreknow something that would happen that didn’t. Maybe God can “see” all the scenarios happening. I don’t know - it’s definitely an interesting way to think about it.

I also agree with @Jimmy_Sellers concerning the Book of Life - that everyone who lives (including the preborn) have our names in the book and some later have their names blotted out. John 1:9 says that the light “lighteth EVERY man that comes into the world”. I remember that John MacArthur, a Calvinist, had to write a book about children and election because there were so many in his congregation that had miscarried or had lost children and were distraught not knowing if they had been “elect” or not. So he had to come up with a para-doctrine to assuage them - that all children and adults with mental disabilities must be part of the elect.

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I very much enjoy following the discussions here :). Thank you everybody for contributing. @Jimmy_Sellers , i am not sure everyone’s name is written in the book of life since the beginning. If so How would one explain this verse :
Revelation 13:8 English Standard Version (ESV)

8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

I suppose in this verse in revelation it conveys the meaning there are some people that have never been written in the book of life to begin with. I am not sure if other translations would not convey that meaning though

In any case wishing everybody a blessed week ahead.

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The takeaway from this chapter for me was simple really, though not so easy. To pay very close attention to what the scripture is actually saying and that can mean slowing down my preconceived ideas and looking closer. It is helpful to hear from the differing learned men and what they teach, but still the studious thinking better be from what scripture actually says as I look deeper and closer. WITH PRAYER!

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@mitwit I agree one of the big takeaways was being willing to reconsider our assumptions and taking the time to do so. I think one way we can do that is to study Scripture in a diverse community so that we are exposed to a multiplicity of perspectives. Have you found any useful methods for revealing blind spots in your own studies?

@Jazzphysicist @Jimmy_Sellers Do you guys think the Book of Life is a literal object or that it is just a metaphor for those who God has foreknown?

Thank you for yours thoughts. Here is a link to a previous post on this topic that might further flesh out my thoughts. Part of what has pushed me in the direction of ‘equal opportunity’ before a just and righteous God is the existences of evil. In one of the RZIM modules (Suffering) Vince Vitale introduced me to what he calls Non-ID theodicy, from the course note:

Summary of Non-Identity Theodicy
God can be understood as loving and good in the face of evil and suffering so long as:

  1. Those who come to exist could not have come to exist in a world without evil and suffering.
  2. God offers everyone a great life overall (this can include the afterlife).
  3. God is motivated in creating and sustaining the universe by a desire to love those who come to exist.

I hope this adds a little clarity to what I think.
Regarding Rev 13:8 what do we do with Rev 3:5?

The one who conquers in this way will be dressed in white clothing, and I will never erase his name from the book of life, and I will declare his name before my Father and before his angels.

Again thank for your thoughts.

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@SeanO,
Here is an interesting article on “Heavenly Tablets and the Book of Life”. The author does not make any conclusions but he uses many different sources starting with ANE tablets through the Jewish writings including the Talmud and Mishna.

This always brings me back to the question “If they believed it should I also believe it?”:grinning:
Here is another interesting link.

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/book-of-life

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I think it is just a metaphor for those God has foreknown, at least in most passages i am familiar with. At least as used in revelation passages, it seems it would be best interpreted such.

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@Jazzphysicist That is the explanation that currently makes the most sense to me as well, but I have not studied it in depth.

Well Sean, how to answer you…keep in mind that I MIGHT be the most simple minded in comparison with most on this forum.

Useful methods to reveal my blind spots is first recognize my tendency/desire/temptation for THE BIBLE TO AGREE WITH ME and what I want it to say. Then put that away.

Start again. Put myself in the position of prayer and submission to the Lord and for me to agree with what the bible really does say. Look at other perspectives without fear and without knee jerk responses to defend MY cause.

Listen to those who are teachers and love the Lord Jesus and look closely to what the bible is actually saying. Giving much thought and asking for the Lord’s enlightenment to my understanding. How we build matters, and how we guard our hearts is hugely important.

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@mitwit Those are really helpful thoughts :slight_smile: Thanks so much for sharing. Your point about knee jerk reactions really is true. When I start to feel my heart react impulsively against an idea, I know I need to take some time to both pray and think through the issue. Why am I reacting so strongly? What does an honest evaluation of the alternatives reveal? Good stuff!

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