Determined to Believe: What do you think is the strongest Biblical argument for predestination?

@SeanO hi man. Regarding God allowing evil for the sake of the elect: I thought about it. Ultimately, i come to think that it is coherent to accept that all evil in this world is allowed by God and used one way or another for the sake of the people God plans to save , while simultaneously holding to God is a loving God. Though we may wish that everyone accepts Jesus and be saved , I do not see how allowing suffering and evil to exists ultimately for the sake of the ones that are saved would negate God’s love for the world if the ones that reject God do so with their free will. As you know i prescribe now to a molinist point of view, but i think in calvinism , those that reject God also do so freely.

After all, there is a way out that is being offered and eternity in light of which current suffering cannot compare, thus it would still be consistent to a loving and just God.

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The way I see it that preserves the Holiness of God and free will of man is that…perhaps NOONE would be able to reject their sinful nature and reach out to accept Gods offer of eternal life. BUT that offer goes out to ALL of us. I believe that a God that decided that chose one group that could attain eternal life and another that were unable to lay ahold of it would contradict “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3–4). If God gives us free will then judges us for exercising that free will at least we can say WE choose and then benefit or suffer from our choices. But if God gave us free will to make certain decisions yet decides our fate based on His whim as opposed to our choices that would NOT be the God of the Bible that I see. Thats a quick statement “sound bite” to attempt to quickly explain something that really requires an extended conversation :slight_smile: Thanks Charlie

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Thanks for your sound bite Charlie. I do agree with your statements. My comment above came from the fact that I happen to live in frequent contact with “determinists” of the Sproul teachings, and with other friends and family who do not take such views, and others who just haven’t given this topic much thought at all. I am enjoying the book study.

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@Jazzphysicist Good points. I agree it is not hard to reconcile God allowing evil and still being good. I think it is much harder to reconcile God causing evil and still being good. Along the same lines, it is not hard to say that people freely reject God and defend God’s goodness. It is much harder to say that people are incapable of choosing God and defend God’s goodness.

For these more difficult to defend positions - God causing evil and people being incapable of choosing God - an appeal is often made to Scripture to say that even if we do not understand it, we must believe it. But I think what Lennox does a great job of in this book is showing that Scripture, when properly understood, provides room for both perspectives and cannot be used as a trump card in this discussion.

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might be off topic and wrong but reading just got me thinking, about free will and predestination
God desire that none should perish, so He would never create a heart that would chose to not love Him and perish, on the flip side He would not create a heart that could only chose to love Him - no free will.
Free will seems to be this god-like attribute that allow us means of control of our destiny but also an indicator of who we really are since I am free to chose who i become- a child of God or not.
God is not limited by time, He knows the end from the beginning, it makes sense to me that He would know before we choose what we will choose, to us bounded by time its predestination, but He chose us because we chose Him, yet we know that He chose us before in Him, wow all I can say is God is just amazing.

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I’ve been thinking about this a lot and frankly I don’t really like it because it hurts my head. So my question is can we hold both predestination and free will together as a paradox rather than a contradiction? Can God be fully sovereign and still allow us free will? I think so. I can’t explain it rationally, I think rightly so, because God is so far beyond us it only makes sense that it we would beat our heads against a wall trying to understand his nature. An illustration I think helps me is thinking about the sun and how it too is a paradox. It’s literally so bright that we can’t see it, and if we do, it will take away our sight permanently. Yet it is there. I like to think God is the same way (It makes sense why people would die from seeing God thinking about it this way). So we see free will practically but we also acknowledge God’s sovereignty and trying to fully understand this mystery is like trying to look at the sun, we turn away in pain. Idk what do you think? Paradox or contradiction?

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@rla9316 I think it is a false dichotomy to say that this issue must be either a paradox or a contradiction. For example, J. I. Packer talks about the idea of antimony - something that seems to be a contradiction only because we lack all of the necessary information to understand.

Also, we really have to define the words sovereignty and free will carefully before we can have a meaningful discussion about them. And I think that Lennox has done a good job of defining his understanding of them in his book.

Everything below is a direct quote from J. I. Packer’s article. How do these categories of antimony and paradox help you make sense of these apparent opposites? Do they? I think Packer does a good job of giving examples of paradox in Scripture - which is just word play in a sense.

Antimony

What is an “antinomy”? The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines it as “a contradiction between conclusions which seem equally logical, reasonable, or necessary.”

For our purposes, however, this definition is not quite accurate; the opening words should read “an appearance of contradiction.” For the whole point of an antinomy — in theology, at any rate — is that it is not a real contradiction, though it looks like one. It is an apparent incompatibility between two apparent truths. An antinomy exists when a pair of principles stand side by side, seemingly irreconcilable, yet both undeniable. There are cogent reasons for believing each of them; each rests on clear and solid evidence; but it is a mystery to you how they can be squared with each other. You see that each must be true on its own, but you do not see how they can both be true together.

Let me give an example. Modern physics faces an antinomy, in this sense, in its study of light. There is cogent evidence to show that light consists of waves, and equally cogent evidence to show that it consists of particles. It is not apparent how light can be both waves and particles; but the evidence is there, and so neither view can be ruled out in favor of the other. Neither, however, can be reduced to the other or explained in terms of the other; the two seemingly incompatible positions must be held together, and both must be treated as true. Such a necessity scandalizes our tidy minds, no doubt, but there is no help for it if we are to be loyal to the facts.

Paradox

It appears, therefore, that an antinomy is not the same thing as a paradox. A paradox is a figure of speech, a play on words. It is a form of statement that seems to unite two opposite ideas, or to deny something by the very terms in which it is asserted. Many truths about the Christian life can be expressed as paradoxes. A Prayer Book collect, for instance, declares that God’s “service is perfect freedom” — man goes free through becoming a slave. Paul states various paradoxes of his own Christian experience: “sorrowful — yet always rejoicing… having nothing — and yet possessing all things” 2 Corinthians 6:10. “When I am weak — then am I strong” 2 Corinthians 12:10.

The point of a paradox, however, is that what creates the appearance of contradiction is not the facts, but the words. The contradiction is verbal , but not real . A little thought shows how it can be eliminated and the same idea expressed in non-paradoxical form. In other words a paradox is always dispensable. Look at the examples quoted. The Prayer Book might have said that those who serve God are free from sin’s dominion. In 2 Corinthians 6:10, Paul might have said that sorrow at circumstances, and joy in God, are constantly combined in his experience; and that, though he owns no property and has no bank balance, there is a sense in which everything belongs to him, because he is Christ’s, and Christ is Lord of all. Again, in 2 Corinthians 12:10, he might have said that the Lord strengthens him most when he is most conscious of his natural infirmity.

Such non-paradoxical forms of speech are clumsy and dull, beside the paradoxes which they would replace, but they express precisely the same meaning. For a paradox is merely a matter of how you use words; the employment of paradox is an arresting trick of speech, but it does not imply even an appearance of contradiction in the facts that you are describing.

Also it should be noted that a paradox is always comprehensible . A speaker or writer casts his ideas into paradoxes in order to make them memorable and provoke thought about them. But the person at the receiving end must be able, on reflection, to see how to unravel the paradox — otherwise it will seem to him to be really self-contradictory, and therefore really meaningless. An incomprehensible paradox could not be distinguished from a mere contradiction in terms. The paradox would thus have to be written off as sheer nonsense.

By contrast, however , an antinomy is neither dispensable nor comprehensible . It is not a figure of speech, but an observed relation between two statements of fact. It is not deliberately manufactured; it is forced upon us by the facts themselves. It is unavoidable , and it is insoluble . We do not invent it, and we cannot explain it. Nor is there any way to get rid of it — save by falsifying the very facts that led us to it.

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The condition of our hearts toward God Himself and His laws. While I don’t really take a side on this issue. I see evidence for both views in scripture knowing God’s thoughts are not ours and neither our His ways. Isaiah 55… It really comes down for me to what I see in myself that makes me believe in a sense I didn’t choose God. Yet I still struggle to see myself as saved! I see evidence in those around me They have no interest in the things of the Lord but I still prayer for them to come to Christ. I see ask,seek, knock. Abraham intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah. Continue to pray for lost family members and associates around. Seek to be salt and light to those around You! Praying God will soften their hearts!

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@Chad.Berry Thank you for sharing :slight_smile: I definitely think that our own faith journey often impacts our perspective on this particular issue. Some people, like C. S. Lewis, sensed that God gave them a choice to either open the door or shut it, and they opened it. Other people, like yourself, sense that God must have drawn them because they were not seeking. While an argument from experience is not definitive, I think that it is important to reflect on our faith journeys. I agree with you in prayer!

Agreed! God Bless!

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So I thought this is going to be a long thread! Haha!

For me personally, I can remember clearly when during my conversion I was confronted with the choice of whether I was going to do this “church thing” or I would walk away. Although I would admit that at that point, my heart was already open to God. The choice to walk away was very real but it didn’t make sense to make that choice anymore. To go to church and leave my past life behind was the reasonable choice and I could see that clearly at that time.

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@Armando Are you saying that you feel that God had already been at work within your heart at the time you made this decision, so that it was not really a decision at all? Or are you saying that the decision was easy because you had experienced something of the love of Christ? In other words, do you see your experience as an argument for Calvinism or simply as a decision made easy because you had experienced the kindness of God?

I see it as a real decision i had to make at that time. I remember clearly that fear was also present along with other sorts of emotions. So my experience falls on the second category but i wouldn’t call it an easy decision. I had to muster an amount of courage to commit to it. Albeit, I had reached to that point after I a had attended church services and Bible studies several times.

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