Predestination and foreknowledge

Discussion in 'Calvinism/Arminianism Debate' started by Sapper Woody, Jun 19, 2016.

  1. Sapper Woody

    Sapper Woody
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    First, I hesitated to post this at all, knowing how quickly these threads degenerate. Secondly, I am posting this as an honest question, rather than an attempt to debate.

    We all agree that God knows who will be saved. It's a part of His omniscience. Where we disagree is whether this is an active choosing our a passive knowledge.

    Assuming that God knew from eternity past, is an active role versus a passive role simply semantic, or does it play an important part of who God is and His plan? Essentially, I am trying to figure out why there is so much contention on this point.

    Sent from my QTAQZ3 using Tapatalk
     
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  2. TCassidy

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    It must be an active role. If it is merely passive knowledge then God is saving people based on their own good works.

    On the other hand, if it is active, He actually saves them without works nor does He need their help or permission. He is, after all, God.

    We, as Christians, need to let God be God. When we try to do His work for Him we fail miserably.
     
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  3. Sapper Woody

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    Before I respond, I feel the need to say again that I am asking honestly, and not arguing. And I'll continue to probe with this thread until such a time as I think that the thread has degenerated into meaningless debate.

    I don't understand this viewpoint. More pointedly, I don't understand the correlation between God passively allowing man to choose and that equaling salvation by works. From my perspective, if my Dad works and buys me a doughnut and then offers me that doughnut, it is nothing of me if I take the doughnut. It is all of him, and nothing I've done.

    So, I guess this brings up one of the first things I don't understand in the argument of Cal/Arm. how does merely accepting a gift equate to good works? I guess this is a good point to discuss moving further.

    This last sentence I agree with wholeheartedly, but I fail to see what you're getting at in light of this discussion. I am assuming you mean that non-Cals are trying to do the work of God, but if that's what you are saying, it's not clear why you mean this.
     
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  4. Benjamin

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    Some would look at the divine attributes and define the type of foreknowledge God has as a form of exhaustive foreknowledge that will lead them to take the extreme view to place that in a box which concludes that if He knew all things then He must have pre-determined all things. This view serves their systematic theology...


    To me that is a small and limited view of God’s type of foreknowledge while being problematic in that if God pre-determined all things then that would unavoidably include evil. His attributes of Omnibenevolence, the genuineness of His offer of grace, the truth in His judgment, and many other things then come into question that would/or IMO should challenge the conclusion of this view of Exhaustive Determinism based on that view of Exhaustive Foreknowledge. If they are interested in avoiding Theological Fatalism they will then argue a form of compatibilism but in essence are merely trying to fallaciously claim that two logically mutually exclusive ideas can both true in order to maintain a Determinist Systematic Theology.



    Others might agree that if God has that type of Exhaustive Foreknowledge that He would have to also have Exhaustive Pre-Determinism therefore they challenge the divine attribute of Exhaustive Foreknowledge by limiting His Omniscience to avoid the problem with Exhaustive Pre-Determinism that attributes evil to Him. They essentially agree to the box which places a conclusion of EF must = ED.


    To me this view is concluding that God did not determine evil by insisting in limiting His knowledge to that He could not have foreknown all things. By doing so they maintain the other divine attributes such as Omnibenevolence but while taking the extreme view of sacrificing His Omniscient nature.


    On the other hand, one might/IMO should conclude that God’s foreknowledge cannot be put into that box of EF must = ED by arguing that the “type” of knowledge He has does not limit Him to having to pre-determine all things nor does it prove pre-determinism of all things. The focus should be on the more important and IMO essential values of maintaining ALL the attributes Omniscience, Omnipotence and Omnibenevolence as the truth of God.

    If you take this position you are then left with either the easy way out of calling it a mystery of how it works or accepting the challenge of defining the type of knowledge God has as exhaustive yet capable of not pre-determining all things which would logically include evil. IMO the focus turns to the attribute of God's Omnipotence in that God has a type of knowledge that is bigger than that box. Perhaps a middle type knowledge that allows Him to be God and to do all as a truth rather than to try to enforce one attribute in order to hold on to one's systematic theology, such as one centered on Strict Pre-Determinism, over another attribute. ;)

    To me letting God be God means arguing for a theology to uphold ALL His attributes and not sacrificing any, logically or otherwise maintaining ALL as truth.

    [​IMG] .
     
  5. JonC

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    There is so much contention because of the two more prominent positions (here, anyway) both strike at the heart of the issue on opposite fronts.

    One side objects to this being an active role on the part of God because it seems to them as to make their own role unimportant, or passive at best. If God predestines and foreknows (foreknowledge entailing more than pre-knowledge) unto salvation then what of man? What of those who God passed over?

    The other side objects to the role of God as being passive omniscience because then the determining action of salvation truly resides with man. God is reduced to making a way for man to be saved, but the Kingdom of God depends entirely on the willingness of man to permit Him to create for Himself a people. In other words, where Scripture presents Jesus as dying for the sheep, those who reject predestination reduce the Cross to mere chance as God stands by hoping for an outcome in His favor.

    Ultimately I think that the contention boils down to an argument over exactly who determines individual salvation, God or man. Did I save myself by getting on board, or did God save me by drawing me to Himself? Both sides see the other as offensive - either towards man or towards God.
     
  6. SovereignGrace

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    Brother, I truly appreciate your sincere attempt(s) at trying to understand our position w/o going ad hominem on us. Kudos.

    Now, God does save ppl based upon His foreknowledge. Where the lines get blurry in these debates/discussions is what each side believes the word 'foreknowledge' biblically conveys. If it merely means to just know beforehand, then we have God looking down through the corridors of time looking to find those who would receive Him, and He elected them accordingly. First off, this impugns His omniscience. If He had to look down through time to find them who would have faith, He learned something...if He learned something, then He is not omniscient. Now, if He saw they would have faith prior to Him choosing Him, then they possessed a fruit of the Spirit even whilst a sinner. There is not the same faiths. This 'faith is faith' is not correct. One can have faith in their spouse, but that is not the same faith it takes in saving of the soul. One is an innate faith(fallen man possesses this faith), and then there is saving faith, that which is a fruit of the Spirit, bestowed unto the sinner at the point of salvation.

    Look at Noah. He found grace in the sight of God. Those who view foreknowledge as just merely God knowing beforehand, see God choosing Noah because he was a preacher of righteousness. They see God choosing Noah based upon the fact he was a righteous man and damning the rest because they weren't. When, in fact, Noah was not a righteous man until God had made him righteous before we even read one word about Noah. If God chose Noah and damned the rest of humanity based solely on the fact he was a preacher of righteousness, it would not be of grace but merit...which is not even remotely close to grace. The only reason why Noah was righteous and the rest were not was not because of anything that Noah did, but what God did unto Noah.
     
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  7. SovereignGrace

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    Good.

    First off, none will ever, of their own will, choose God. Romans 3 plainly lays that out. If God does not take an active role in saving sinners, none would be saved. It all stems from the heart(heart here means the soul, the spirit of man). Man, as a fallen creation, has a heart that hates all things God. They would rather die than bow the knee to Him. I have been a lab tech for almost 16 years now, and I have seen ppl in their last days that never gave God the first thought. Unless God had taken an active role in both of our lives Brother SW, we'd still be lost. God doesn't start saving someone by going so far and then allowing them to choose Him. He goes all the way in saving sinners.

    In the free will schema, God does so much and then the lost, fallen creation, does the rest. It this schema, salvation is not all of God, but God doing His part and them doing theirs. It is no more than a 'handshake deal'. In our view, we see man as dead, unable to reach for anything the gospel conveys unto them. It is when God quickens the dead in sins sinner unto life that they can reach out and take hold of the gospel, that which is able to save the soul.

    I will let Brother TC answer this for himself.
     
    #7 SovereignGrace, Jun 19, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2016
  8. JonC

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    I believe that this is where things can get complicated in the wording. I understand what you are saying, SG, that no one chooses God of their own will. And I agree with what you are saying. But there is sometimes a difficulty because when we are saved we have run to God of our own will (God draws us, recreates us, but we do not go unwillingly). I believe that we agree here, but the wording is awkward (like Spurgeon speaking of going willingly against his will - that is against his old will).

    We willingly choose God because He first chose us.
     
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  9. SovereignGrace

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    I agree this is a touchy subject and words tend to blur. What I meant was that man, left to himself, would never seek God. It is only after God first draws them that they truly seek Him.
     
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  10. SovereignGrace

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    I can see this 'to me' belief as a Romans 9:19-21 type o'guy. Sheesh!!
     
  11. JonC

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    I believe there is a failure here to define “evil”. Even Scripture speaks of God as doing “evil” towards man, at least to man’s perspective (e.g., Isaiah 47:11). True evil, however, is always in relation to God.

    Simon Wiesenthal wrote a book called “The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness”. It is a wonderful little book, and quite thought provoking. It is largely autobiographical focusing on an encounter with a dying Nazi in a concentration camp. The Nazi asks Wiesenthal for forgiveness. The question is whether or not he has any right to offer such a thing. Wiesenthal concludes that only the most offended could truly forgive this man, and they were dead – therefore forgiveness was not to be had.

    The most offended, however, was God. And this is true of our sin. It is what defines sin in terms of our condemnation. It is against God. That is what evil is – an offense against God.

    That, I believe, is the weakness of an argument through the “problem of evil”.

    The point that compatibilism merely tries to combine two mutually exclusive ideas is also one that I find flawed. The reason is that it assumes a stance whereby an anthropomorphic view of God is taken literally. God is pictured as a man, willing things to pass as a man would will things to pass, up against human free agency. The “mystery” is not (to a compatibilist) the manner in which these wills work but rather a confession to not understanding the mind of God.
     
  12. TCassidy

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    That is because the word translated "evil" does not always mean "moral evil." It can also simply mean "calamity." And God certainly does NOT do moral evil toward men, but He does send calamity into our lives to turn our way toward Him.
     
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  13. JonC

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    I agree. But then again, there can be no moral evil except it be ultimately against God.
     
  14. JamesL

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    I know the thread is a few months old, but I know the answer(s) to SapperWoody's dilemma. There's so much contention because:

    1) both "sides" have developed a philosophical viewpoint which trumps scripture. No Sola Scriptura in this debate. That's why there are so many comments like "you want to be in control"..."your god created sin"..."that makes men puppets"..."you hate a sovereign God"

    In essence, the whole debate is done in the flesh. By both "sides"

    2) both "sides" in the debate are wrong in their paradigm. Election is not in the context of who believes the gospel, who gets saved from hell, or who ends up in heaven. Election and Predestination are related to being the recipients if an inheritance - a possession.

    3) both "sides" wrongly think that there's a choice to make. That's why so much of this awful debate also centers around whether or not faith precedes regeneration. One says we have "free will" to believe...? ? ? huh ? ? ?
    The other says God superimposes a new heart in us, so that now we can choose Him...? ? ? huh...? ? ?

    It's not humanly possible to decide to believe something. Ever..
    And faith isn't anywhere related to choosing "Him".

    Faith is being fully assured that what God has promised, He is able also to perform. Fully convinced. And no amount of deciding can convince a man of truth. Our eyes are opened and we see.

    4) what little scripture is used in this senseless debate, each "side" only uses half of those which are wrongly perceived as pertaining to the issue.
     
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