AND/OR FREE WILL
Hello friend. Calvin's doctrine of predestination, and it's twin and necessary sister, the doctrine of election, have so many varieties to it, that to ask a pastor, a theologian, a religion professor, or a Sunday School teacher to describe them would be like asking these different people to describe the best flavor in the world, or the sound of rain, or to paint a picture of what they think Jesus looked like. A whole slew of answers would come. And the funny thing is that Calvin would probably argue with all of them. And he certainly didn't believe these doctrines were theories ... for him they were iron-clad doctrines that he was willing to stake his life on.
THE DOCTRINES OF PREDESTINATION AND ELECTION | God is sovereign and chooses some people ahead of time to be in relationship with Him, and chooses others to not be in relationship with Him (most Baptists, Presbyterians, Evangelical Free, and independent Bible Churches find their beliefs lingering on this side of the theological fence).
Letting both sides of this God-coin be true is just more evidence to me that there are things about God that human beings will never be able to understand in ways that solve all the doctrinal riddles that people as smart as Calvin and Wesley are able to dig out of God's Word.
- To believe this proposed doctrine before me, do I need to "unbelieve" anything I believe about the character or the nature of God, Jesus Christ, or God's Holy Spirit?
- To believe this proposed doctrine before me, do I need to be talked into it by somebody who is acting smarter and wiser than me for the purpose of getting me to come over to their side of the argument?
Calvin? Wesley? Augustine? Luther? Smart guys to be sure. Lovers of Jesus to be sure. But don't let their "convincement" feel like a noose around your faith-neck. Let Jesus and God's Word teach you, and lead you into all truth. Am I saying we don't need to let God use "teachers" in our lives, and that we don't need to adopt a Credo, or a Statement of Faith that makes sense to us, but that we can grow with? Of course not.
In fact, the book of PROVERBS says over an over again that the definition of a fool is "one who rejects instruction." But learn from people you know and trust, in whom you see the character and the nature of God alive and growing. And don't let people lure you into theological swamps just to prove something to you about themselves and their beliefs, or to get you to trust them and their cleverness.
In other words, God doesn't make us choose Him or reject Him. But because God is beyond the "chronos" time that you and I as human beings are so easily trapped in (the passing of time that's measured by the ticking of the hands on a clock), and because God is fully engaged in "kronos" time, or "God-time", He sees the beginning, the middle, and the end of all human history as happening at the exact same moment. And so while God sees the decisions you and I will make, He doesn't make us make the choices we have made, are making, and will make. In other words ...
- The invitation to come into the Kingdom of God is mailed to everyone who ever lived (JOHN 3:16).
- But not everybody who opens the invitation up and reads it will make the choice to come to the party.