God’s Acts of Providence (49)

fast-mountain-streamMeditation on God’s Providence (6)

Our finite minds rebel at the idea that our ultimate fate is predestined, that is utterly independent of influence by our own decisions and actions here on earth.  It must also be admitted that the doctrine of predestination is highly controversial within Christianity, even within Presbyterianism.

Controversy exists because Holy Scripture appears to speak with two minds on this issue.  On the one hand, the doctrine of predestination is clearly taught.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”  (John 15:16)

We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.  And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God– not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

On the other hand, the concepts of human responsibility and God’s will to seek and save all are also clearly taught.

“For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.”  (Matthew 16:27)

The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Attempts to reconcile these seemingly contradictory teachings often feel either evasive or unsatisfying.  Is it possible that we go wrong by assuming that God’s eternal decrees must be arbitrary and unjust because they don’t take our worldly lives into account?

But we affirm that God is perfectly just.  Perhaps there are dimensions of reality of which we are completely ignorant that account for God’s eternal decrees and by which they become perfectly understandable and just.

I believe that this must be so.  Thus, when these additional dimensions of reality are visible it will become perfectly true and just that God simultaneously holds us accountable, desires that we all be saved and has determined our destiny in the depths of eternity past.[1]


[1] Has this discussion been any less evasive or more satisfying than any others that have attempted to reconcile these seemingly contradictory passages?

If any progress has been made it is because modern science has opened up stunning new possibilities for understanding the nature of our universe that may provide clues into how our LORD God’s infinite nature could intersect with our finite world.

For example, consider the results of “string theory,” a branch of theoretical physics that is seeking to develop a unified theory that links together all known physical phenomena.  String theory strongly suggests the existence of ten or eleven space-time dimensions, as opposed to the usual four (three spatial and one temporal) apparent to us at the macro level.  The point is that the very existence of this (unproven) theory opens our minds to the possibilities of dimensions of existence far beyond what are apparent to us.

Isn’t it possible, even likely that the LORD God exists in an infinite-dimensional space in which time, space, cause, effect exist on completely different planes of reality than we experience them here?  And, finally, isn’t it possible that when seen from that perspective God’s eternal decrees are transformed from apparently arbitrary and unjust to logical and perfectly just?

Once again, we must not fall to the temptation to belittle our LORD God, applying worldly limitations to His actions and reasons just because He humbles Himself to meet with us as the Son of Man and to communicate within the limitations of language.

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