Tension: one of the reasons I love studying theology

I recently read a well thought out post by a Calvinistic friend who’s posts I read often about Calvinism relating to unconditional election. He explained how Arminians try to solve tension. Arminians’ quest to solve tension is one of their main problems/mistakes. There are a lot of tensions in Scripture and in theology. We do not have to solve these tensions. For example the Trinity, it does not make sense, but we do not find reason to resolve the tension created. The Trinity is not Irrational but it is difficult. Yet we understand that there is a certain amount of mystery involved in theology. Somethings that we humans cannot quite understand fully. One of the main points in Micheal’s post is that Calvinists and Arminians take a different perspective. Both see that God is Sovereign, but in different ways. They both believe in predestination but the difference is in the basis of predestining.

“The Calvinist says that God’s predestination has no founding in the predestined in any sense. God did not choose people based on any merit, intrinsic or foreseen. This is called unconditional predestination because there are no conditions in man that need to be met. It does not mean that God did not have any reason for choosing some and not others, but that the reason is not found in us.

The Arminian says that God’s predestination has a founding in the faith of the predestined. In other words, God looks ahead in time and discovers who will believe and who will not and chooses people based on their prior free-will choice of him.”

Michael brought a real interesting argument to the table. It is a good read and I suggest you take a look for yourself.

Scripture teaches both of God’s Sovereignty and Man’s responsibility. The Arminians found a solution to the conflict. Calvinists are left wanting more.
“To the Calvinists, man is fully responsible for his choice, yet God’s election is unconditional. Therefore, there is a tension that is created between human responsibility and God’s election.”

Man may not know how to understand how it works. The balance and tension of man’s responsibility and God’s unconditional election…it is amazing to think about. It is amazing how God lets it all happen but yet is in control either way. It is great stuff.

This post really was great for me because of my stance on unconditional election and predestination. The more I study it the more I feel like I have no idea what I am talking about. But I do not feel satisfied with the extreme arguments of the two sides, in the false dichotomy of Calvinism and Arminianism.

It was refreshing to see others alongside of Michael in the comments section of his post reflecting on it and realizing that there is a tension and mystery to some issues like this topic. And there is a balance to the arguments. And that the truth is ultimately in God’s hands.

Well anyways, thanks Michael for getting me exciting about theology again. This is one of the main reasons I love studying it…some of these things that I cannot get my brain around are fun to think about. The tension and mystery is like an adrenaline rush and a puzzle to piece all at the same time.

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Predestination

My friend asked me to do a post on the topic of Predestination.
This is a big and broad topic. So we will see how far I go into this post and decide on where I am going with it next.
With that said, I think my friend was referring to the Calvinistic idea of predestination in TULIP beyond mere overall Sovereignty.

I personally believe that God is no doubt Sovereign over all things. The questions really come into play when we get into the details of how it all works out. God, being all knowing and beyond ANY boundary (such as time and physical location) that all humans are trapped by, allows ALL things to happen. Some attribute free will and others attribute it all to God and his sovereign. The discussion can go all over the place from here. It gets messy!

Free Will versus Sovereignty

Where do I stand? Well honestly, I am still studying these things and have not settled in on ONE particular theory. I do not really agree with all the points of Calvinism and I am not completely against them either. There is a lot of gray area. I could go into the TULIP discussion and my analysis on that, but not today. (At least not in this post.)

I want to stick to the original topic of predestination and not delve into TULIP.

The more I have studied this and dwell on it, the more I find myself in that gray area. I think both sides (Calvinists, Arminists) both have great points and use the Bible (sometimes out of context) to support themselves.
I have gone through periods of wrestling over these things. Take the topic of election for instance:

One day I might say, “God ‘s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world was based upon His foreseeing that they would respond to His call.”
Then the next day I would wake up and be like, “no that does not make much sense, because it gives human way too much response and responsibility. It almost puts man and man’s choice ahead of God and His plan. I don’t like that.” It must be “God ‘s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will.”
Then the next day I say to myself, “but what about faith, obedience what about when Moses or Jeremiah ‘changed God’s mind’ by praying for their people?”

There is a balance. There is an area that is hard to understand. There is something more than just Calvinist all out Sovereign will of God and the complete Free Will of human choice.

Btw, if you think about it, there is still Sovereignty in The Arminius approach (whether they admit it or not)…notice how both arguments start with “God ‘s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world…”

You think about it long enough, (and throw the fact that God allowed us to discuss it), it is more and more amazing how God is ultimately in control. And He uses both man and things beyond man to control man. WOW.

In just the basic idea of predestination:

tells us, “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.” and 11 declare, “He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.…In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” Many people have a strong hostility to the doctrine of predestination. However, predestination is a biblical doctrine. The key is understanding what predestination means, biblically. The Greek word proorizo, which carries the meaning of “to determine beforehand,” “to ordain,” “to decide upon ahead of time.”

If God is choosing who is saved, does not that undermine our free will to chose and believe in Christ? The Bible says that we have the freewill choice – all we have to do is believe in Jesus Christ and we will be saved (; ). The Bible never describes God rejecting anyone who believes in Him or turning away anyone who was seeking Him (). Somehow, in the mystery of God, predestination works hand in hand with a person being drawn by God () and believing unto salvation (). God predestines who will be saved, and we must choose Christ in order to be saved. Both facts are equally true. proclaims, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!”

This post, I realize is just scratching the surface of the itch.