Thursday, November 17, 2011
6. Whose Choice?
I have been posting some thoughts on predestination. These have intentionally been limited to a few questions that I think arise when the subject is mentioned, and have not been an attempt to explain or even defend the idea.
Firstly, I have tried to make the point that there are huge problems with the concept of free-will that some think of as an alternative approach. I have suggested that, in the first place, we human beings simply do not have free-will in the way that many of its proponents seem to think. At best, we only have a limited ability in limited circumstances to make some choices and even then our choice is still largely the product of many forces over which we have no control. As Paul puts it: 'the good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do.' (Romans 7:19) This is why Paul uses the language of enslavement to sin to describe the human predicament. If I am not free to do good, it's hard to see how I am free to accept God.
I have also pointed out that even if we did have the absolutely free-will that some think, it would sill leave God open to the accusation of unfairness as this would make the offer of salvation a very arbitrary thing, if for no other reason, than the simple fact that some get the chance to hear and respond and some don't. Salvation really does become a lottery if God is not involved in some way in helping us to make a choice.
Secondly, however, other alternatives to the idea of predestination that try to combine human choice and God's involvement in it run, I have suggested, into exactly the same objections that are made against predestination, specifically its perceived unfairness. I have not been arguing that these alternatives are necessarily wrong just that they don't overcome the main objection to predestination.
Why, then, are we so resistant to the idea of predestination?
Firstly, it is not I would venture to suggest because we have objectively come to the conclusion that it is wrong, but because we simply do not like the idea that something is being decided for us over which we have no control, even though that's true of most of the important issues our lives. We don't get to choose our physical parents, why are so we so sure we get to choose our spiritual one?
Secondly, we do also recoil from the idea that God chooses some and not others. Unless, however, you believe that God will eventually save all regardless - and what becomes of free-will then? - by definition some will be saved and some will not. The Free-willers want it to be left to us to choose. However, isn't there at least a case for handing the decision over to God!?
In future posts, I will attempt to show on a more positive note why I think predestination should, at least, be given a hearing.
As we are now getting ready for the Feast of Christ the King my Church's birthday celebration, I probably won't have the time to start until next week. Mind you, celebrating Christ as King reigning over all in heaven and earth is perhaps a good time to be thinking about how much freedom we have to rebel against him or to accept his rule! Thank you for reading.