Predestination vs. Free Will
Predestination and Free Will have been at odds with each other in the church. First I will talk about whether determinism is completely true, mostly true, or false. Does God have a plan for our lives? If so how much do we have a say in the plan? Is Calvinism a problem in the church?
Lets start out with the definition of determinism: A quick google search gave me this answer at the top of the search:
Determinism: “the doctrine that all events, including human action, are ultimately determined by causes external to the will. Some philosophers have taken determinism to imply that individual human beings have no free will and cannot be held morally responsible for their actions.”
- Hard Determinism
- Libertarianism (Not the political term)
What I find very interesting is the last sentence with the google search definition gave me. If you are a Christian after this life we are judged based on the choices we have made. This basis is from the philosophy of Hard Determinism. This runs contrary to our accountability to our creator. If we are all a subject to our environment. Hard Determinism not only destroys our accountability to our creator but is logically flawed.
If determinism is true then lets look at Compatibilism, determinism with free will. If a small animal jumps in front of your car what do you do. A binary choice still can be argued as Hard Determinism. Because one’s own nature based on outside circumstances will create the choice for them. The binary choice is keep going or swerving in the left direction into traffic. A person who swerves has a high value of the animals life while a person who could potentially be hurt by oncoming traffic cares more about that then the animals life. You can in some sense say the way they are raised will cause them to make a specific decision. But that isn’t really the only choices. Realistically there is an infinite number of choices one can make in that circumstance.
Here is a list to humor you and me as well…lol: complete stop, swerve right, swerve far right, swerve far left, center the animal under your car between the tires, intentionally hit the animal, don’t pay attention to the road, slow down then swerve all the ways listed, speed up and swerve, slow down and hit the animal, slow down and speed up not paying attention, Car malfunction, oncoming traffic defensive driving, 0-55 differences in speeds…List can go on for this whole blog. This idea debunks hard determinism but not indeterminism which I will discuss when talking about Predestination in Christian thought at the end.
Lets move on to Free Will and if it is compatible with determinism. This idea for me is a hard topic. Does random things happen to you or are you a product of your circumstances. Me personally fall somewhere in-between Compatibalism and Libertarianism. That is from the idea of outside involvement in our lives that make things less deterministic. The best verse I will get into is Ephesians 6:12 (NASB). It states:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of the darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
When it comes to the physical world I see it in a determinist light. I see a cause creating an effect which in then turns into another cause. Our physical world relies on these ordered effects. Without an outside balance of cause and effects our physical world would not make sense. Our world goes into a perpetual state of entropy that if left unchanged by any outside force will die out as soon as the sun stops giving us the needed energy. When it comes to the spiritual world as described in the previous verse is that we are being tempted at a different rate as others. Satan attacks those who are living in the way of the Lord more then those who sit in complacency. So libertarian philosophy in the spiritual sense makes perfect sense.
Now we have the big battle within the church. Many pre-destination sympathizers may use the straw man of Hard Determinism to say that they believe in free will. While in reality Hard Indeterminist do not believe in Free Will all together. They chose to follow him but God has already chosen us to follow him. When you say but then everything before it is held up for scrutiny. I hear this verse as a defense but taken out of context when explaining pre-destination:
Jeremiah 29:11: (NASB) “’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” If you read this verse you are thinking, “wow we don’t have a requirement in place for that to happen” …Oh but wait. Jeremiah 29:12: (NASB)“’Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.’” Oh, so he is talking about what will happen and a response to that. So, no predestination. I see many times in many churches they cherry pick verses in order to prop us their own biases without consuming the rest of the scripture around it.
So long story short. The winner is…Libertarianism. Have thoughts that I am wrong or right? Please comment so we can discuss.