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Predestination and free will "at the same time"

Discussion in 'Salvation (Soteriology)' started by Ripheus27, Sep 11, 2018.

  1. Ripheus27

    Ripheus27 Holeless fox

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    Some ideas/concepts/notions, like "red," just are what they are. There is no way that red-in-itself might've been blue, or a sound, or so on. It's just red. But we have souls, which might be thought of like complete ideas about our living natures. Now, let's suppose that the individual concepts of each individual person, as such, could be different without being applied to anything in the living world. Like an abstract A-or-B.

    So let's suppose that there are an infinite number of possible concepts of possible people. Unless God decides to make every possible person real, He will only choose some people to exist. Also, He doesn't have to choose to make a person exist only if that person has, in their abstract concept of their soul, decided to accept or reject Christ. He creates whom He creates in order to tell His story, which is beyond our comprehension. If accepting or rejecting Christ is a choice encoded into our souls in an abstract realm of possibility, God will create some people who choose to accept Christ. This does not mean that their choice was real until God created them in this world. It was just an abstract possibility. God did not "finalize" whether A-or-B "inside of" the concept of the person, but He did decide whether this abstraction ever meant anything in the real world.

    Now, this picture of things explains the sense of the word "predestination." I think it's worth noting that the word used is not usually given as "destined" or "ordained" but "predestined" and "foreordained." It's similar to God making the decision for us, but not identical to it. God decides which choices are actual. Our free will is a power involving pure possibilities, so the form of the power would be different from the power of actualized creation as such. To "do" otherwise would be like making red itself into blue itself, a violation of the concept of the thing in question.

    People might often think that they make choices "day to day," so my picture of things conflicts with a commonplace thought about free will as such. On the other hand, there's a study involving some guy named Libet or something, where evidence was found that our experience of making choices takes place after the choice has already been made (although this interpretation of the evidence makes the act of free choice an event inside of normal physical time, which I would disagree with).

    TL;DR/alternative version: why is it not possible to believe that we choose to accept or reject grace, as well as that God elects us to grace? Isn't it possible that the power of free will is different enough from the power of creation unto election, that claims about what is caused by one are not the same kind of claims as those about what is caused by the other? Let us say that there is event-to-event cause-and-effect, which is what we think possibly threatens "free will." Then there is the "power to do otherwise," for things to be other than they end up being, which might affect the whole chain of cause-and-effect without being a (normal) part of it. Then there is an even more mysterious level of cause-and-effect where God predestines things. It is possible for things to be otherwise than God has predestined them to be, and it is not God alone Who makes this "otherwise" possible as such; but by now we are in a realm of abstractions and possibilities that somehow believing that God is able to be controlled or influenced by our free will, in this way, is to miss the point of these different levels of cause-and-effect.
     
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  2. Wedinn

    Wedinn New Member

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    A pastor took the time to give his two cents on this for me. He said that those who are preordrained or predestined are called by God through the preaching of the Gospel, which they accept out of a renewed, God-given will.
    Considering that humans are bound to the chains of a perverted world, since Adam and Eve's fall from grace, our nature can subdue the call of the Gospel.
    This can happen in one of two ways.
    Sinfulness overtakes those who were not called, and they reject God out of their free, corrupted will.
    Those who were called may attempt to reject the Gospel throughout their lives, exercising a kind of "dilluted" free will, but God does not let go of them, nor does he put an end to the seed which He planted.
    Therefore, I guess you can say that God elects people to grace, and rejecting (or attempting to reject) grace can either mean not being elected or being in the process of election.
    The point of irresistible grace still stands, because we may not choose not to accept it, but God won't let that wrong choice run its course.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018
  3. Skala

    Skala I'm a Saint. Not because of me, but because of Him

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    It is possible, and that is called "compatibilism". It means that God's decree and man's free choices are compatible with each other, (rather than incompatible.) and that it is logically consistent.

    (Disclaimer: Im a full-fledged Calvinist)

    How can both be true simultaneously?

    The Bible gives us clues for both, and our job is to believe both even if it is hard for us to reconcile.
    Another important question that is raised around this topic is "How can God hold us accountable if we are just doing whatever His decree is?"

    This is the implication that people usually get upset about and causes conversations to be cut short. But it is important to work through it.

    As said above the Bible gives evidence that both things are true (God controls everything and man acts freely and is truly responsible for his choices).

    What are those evidences?

    There are many (many of which probably come to your mind right now) but let's look at two examples

    1) Joseph and his brothers.

    Joseph's brothers threw him into slavery. But later we discover that Joseph was raised to the highest position in the land and caused many people's lives to be saved. We also learn this was God's plan all along:

    First we have Joseph's own confession that was ultimately not the brother's actions who got him where he was, but it was God's plan:

    Gen 45: 8 So it was not you (Joseph's) brothers) who sent me here, but God.
    Gen 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.


    So it is clear that it was God's predestined plan that Joseph's brothers throw him into slavery and that God orchestrated the whole thing to bring about the ultimate conclusion which resulted in good.

    So how can we understand that Joseph's brothers are responsible for their actions/sin if it was just God's plan all along?

    The answer is because of the difference of intentions between God and Joseph's brothers.

    When God decrees something, even something evil (ie Joseph's brothers sinfully betraying and selling him into slavery), what were God's intentions? The answer is in Gen 50:20 "God meant it for good". So God had good intentions for the events he decreed/preordained.

    But the brothers, in carrying out God's decree, did not have good intentions. Their intentions were evil and selfish.

    So God decreed that the brothers would do something evil, and the brothers did what God decreed, but the brothers were showing what was in their hearts (evil) while God was showing what was in His heart (good).

    This is how it is logically possible and consistent that God can decree something and yet still hold man accountable for carrying out that decree.

    In carrying out what God has ordained, man acts sinfully and that is because man's heart is evil. But God, in ordering the decree, is not acting sinfully, but righteously.

    2) Christ's death

    We know that Christ was unjustly killed by wicked unbelievers who had no just cause to murder Him. Even Pilate could not find any wrongdoing in Jesus.

    So God decreed the death of Christ, but it was man's sinful/evil actions that brought it to reality.

    There, we see the duality again: God decrees something, even something evil, but it's man who is acting evil in bringing it to reality, not God. God's intentions are good, while man's intentions are evil.

    We see that the death of Christ was God's predestined plan:

    Acts 4:27-28 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

    There it is again: the duality of good and evil. God's decree was good: Christ's death to be a savior for men. Man's actions in carrying out the decree were evil (get rid of this guy we don't like), which is why God is just in judging men and holding them accountable for their actions and intentions of their hearts.

    What's important is to never sacrifice one for the other.

    Some people take God's sovereignty too far and say that man is not acting freely (Hyper-Calvinists)
    Some people take man's freedom too far and say that God does not decree everything (Arminians, Semi-pelagians, Open-Theists, etc)

    It is theologically and Biblically wrong to stress one to the exclusion of the other. The proper balance is that both are true. God decrees everything, every action, and controls every molecule in the universe, at all times. But somehow, man makes free choices based on the desires of his heart, and is held responsible for his actions.

    The Bible gives us no room to believe otherwise. To be Bible believers we have to believe this.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
  4. bling

    bling Regular Member Supporter

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    Lots of things are predestined by God from the beginning and have or will take place, but that does not mean individuals before time began were personally predestined to do anything but could of the own free will done lots of things.

    Salvation can be predestined from the beginning of time for all those that accept God’s charity, without impacting free will.

    Predestination something that has not even happened for God is placing God in our time frame.

    We can talk about our future being predestined by God, but as soon as we say it is also future for God we are limiting God by time. God does and will talk about things being in the future but that is our future.

    Christians talk about: “God being outside of time”, which is not beyond the thinking of the atheist or agnostic since:

    For the last 100 years people have been trying to disprove “The Theory of Relativity” and yet nothing has disagreed with the theory and all experiments have supported relativity. If time is relative how relative would time be for God, who possible even created “time”?

    If God is not outside of time and there is an infinite amount of time before man is created, then man has not been created, since an infinite amount of time has not finished? (This suggests God would be outside of time.)

    There has also been hypothesizes with nothing being shown yet that if time is “warped”, there could be possible “wormholes” or something like a wormhole going between two different times.

    God could have his own sequencing of events, but God would not be limited by human time.

    It is difficult to think about God being “outside of our time” with no before or after for God, but this subject requires us to think.

    It should not be hard for you to imagine time being relative and warped since that is what science has been showing, so one way God could “know” everything is by God at the end of man’s time sending back the whole history of man (which includes all the free will choices man made [it is historic at that point]) to Himself at the beginning of time, so the God at the beginning of man’s time knows all man’s free will choices throughout time as purely historical events and not even God can change history.

    If God is outside of time He can know all there is to know, but that does not mean God knows that which cannot be known. As this would relate to man: At the same instant, God decides to make a human, for God; that being was born, lived, made some very limited sovereign free will choices, died and went to in heaven or hell (it is all history for God). If God does not decide to make a being (there is an infinite number of these) then God does not know what this non-ever to exist being did, since it did not do anything.

    So how does God know for certainty what man will do in the future and still allow man to make free will choices; seems to be a dilemma, since the “future” is set by God knowing the future? The “future” is only “future” as far as man is concerned, since the future is set by being pure “history” as far as God is concerned. God is not forcing or setting man’s “future” free will choices, but it is man himself setting the man’s future, by the free will choices man “did make” in the future (which is history for God).

    Try playing God for a minute: If you got information sent back to you in a wormhole from the future that told you perfectly the free will choice a person will make in China one hour from now and you had no way of contacting that person in the next hour, would that mean they did not make a free will choice because you perfectly knew their choice ahead of time?

    God operates in a similar fashion, but He could contact the person, but since He always does the best thing there is to do; there is no changing what He does/did.
     
  5. Ripheus27

    Ripheus27 Holeless fox

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    OK but does God decree that contradictions are never true, or that A = A, or that 1 + 1 = 2, or that possible actuality is actual possibility, and so on and on?
     
  6. Skala

    Skala I'm a Saint. Not because of me, but because of Him

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    [​IMG]
     
  7. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Not to knock your disclaimer, but the doctrine of Free Will is, uh ....less Biblically based, than the Doctrine of the Sovereignty of God. The question is, of course, what one means by Free Will. That we do indeed choose, and our choices are real, and that, with even eternal consequences, is of course a fact, but it isn't talked about in Scripture as if it is to be balanced in some tension between it and Sovereignty or Predestination. Sovereignty necessarily (because it is the God the Creator we are talking about) begins the whole matter. Free will must be along for the ride.

    I have to note that we are nothing without God. Any way you chase this subject, from any Biblical starting point, we have to lose our presumption of self-worth apart from God, if we hope to find truth. By "self-worth apart from God", I am referring to the fact that all we are as "free agents" still depends entirely on who God endows us to be. We need to give up the idea that our abilities bear any real worth apart from the enabling of God.
     
  8. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes, all fact is "invented" by God. The way of things, the "governing principles" by which the universe operates, all made by God. There is nothing he is subject to except himself, and whatever he subjects himself to.
     
  9. fhansen

    fhansen Oldbie

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    My church doesn't teach a strict predeterminism; the will of man is always involved to one degree or another. Predestination is taught thusly:

    600 To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of "predestination", he includes in it each person's free response to his grace: "In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.

    1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance"
     
  10. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Welcome to Catholicism. :liturgy:

    (And no, it's not Calvinism. Calvinism rejects libertarian free will which you explicitly affirmed in your OP. Compatibilism is, as you rightly pointed out, contradictory.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
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