Last week I argued that two truths–the goodness of God and the reality of Hell–taken together are an internal conceptual problem for the Calvinist, but not for the Arminian. Two objections can be raised against my argument. I think these two objections fail. If so, this is further reason to embrace the Arminian view of our salvation: God’s election of us is conditional, based on His foreknowledge of our future (Libertarian) free choice to accept Christ as our Savior.
To answer this question we must determine the nature of our freedom—is it of the Libertarian or Soft Determinist variety? We must also answer a second question: are we predestined unconditionally (by God’s unconditional election) or conditionally (based on God’s knowledge of our choice to trust Christ)?
“What biblical texts speak directly to this issue?” This is the first question to ask when working through a theological question. However, sometimes we find that different passages seem to indicate different, and even contradictory answers. Such is the case with predestination and free will. So how can we decide between the two?
The year was 1994. I was in my final semester at Talbot School of Theology, and wrestling with the question of predestination or free will. I was stuck.
That semester I was taking a class on the metaphysics of freedom. We spent much time debating the pros and cons of the Libertarian and Soft Determinist views of freedom (discussed here).
We have seen there is biblical support for both predestination and free will. So which is it? And how can we know? At this point in the conversation, I’ve seen four different responses offered as the best way forward. I don’t think any of them are right. After outlining these four paths, I’ll offer a fifth way that I think is more helpful in resolving this conflict.
In trying to answer the question “Is our salvation the result of predestination or free will?” we have discovered that this is actually the wrong question to ask. It is not nuanced enough. This superficial question leads to confusion, disagreements, and conundrums. In Post #4, I clarified the question we should be asking. This week I’ll begin offering a helpful way to approach answering it.
The question of predestination or free will is one we all struggle with (sometimes without even realizing it!). Some passages of Scripture seem to indicate God predestines us to be His. Other passages give the impression that our salvation ultimately comes down to our free choice to accept Jesus’ offer of new life. Which is it? Or is it somehow both?
Every believer I know struggles with understanding how God acts in our lives. Are we predestined to make choices, including even our decision to follow Christ? Or is this a decision we freely make? Or is the answer somehow both? If both, how can this be without entailing a contradiction? Or is a contradiction acceptable in this case?