Thursday, March 8, 2012

Destiny and Infinity


Josh and I have been talking about predestination a bit over the last few weeks.  It's stemmed from a couple of things, most notably that we've been talking about Calvinism. According to Wikipedia:  

John Calvin interpreted biblical predestination to mean that God willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others. 

More generally, predestination,is often defined as so:

The divine foreordaining of all that will happen, esp. with regard to the salvation of some and not others.


This conflicts with the idea of free will pretty clearly.  Do we have NO say in the matter?  Are we predestined to salvation?  Damnation?

As a Christian, my philosophy has always been that God has given us the power to choose.  He seeks us out, but we choose to follow Him.  In fact, I believe that God values that choice tremendously, as without that choice, there is no value to our worship.  Nothing that contributes to His Glory.  If He simply forces us to choose one way or the other, what's the point?  Existential Nihilism anyone?

On the other hand, I believe that God exists out of time (atemporal), and considering his omniscience, he knows the entire past and the entire future.  He knows what choice we'll make. Given that he knows all, including every choice we'll ever make, do we have any free will at all?

Even the Bible is a bit wishy washy on the subject.  Compare:

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."


"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,..." (Eph. 1:3-5, NASB)

Huh, neither is particularly clear.  Are we Predestined? Do we have Free Will?

And so we come to my philosophy on predestination and free will:

I don't know the answer and may never, so why worry?

Yeah, it's a bit of a cop out, but I honestly think it's question which we're not intended to answer, and that ultimately, it has to do with infinity.  My philosophy:

You see, God is Infinite.  We are not.  We are finite beings, and by definition, we cannot possibly fully comprehend the infinite. That would be like saying you could stuff infinity in a 2x2x2 foot box.

As an exercise, while lying in bed last night, I thought about a single line, with infinite length, and then tried to find the end. If it starts right here, in my house, and we follow just one end of it, it will pass out of the solar system, the galaxy, the universe, all universes and continue to.... what?

Imagine that line as a plane, or better yet a sphere, and has no bounds. It would enclose every thing we know. Our planet, solar system, galaxy, universe, and would be bigger than it all. In fact, it would be bigger than EVERYTHING, and then be bigger still.  Where does it end?  We can't possibly know.

Now imagine our God.  He is infinite.  He exists outside of time.  Or maybe He exists inside of time too.  For the infinite, that would be no big feat.  His mind knows no bounds. His power knows no bounds. His sight (past and future) knows no bounds. 

We can't possibly comprehend the extent of His powers, nor of His plans. 

Predestination?  Free will?  Why not both?  Surely allowing the contradiction would also be no big feat for the infinite God.  After all, he has NO BOUNDS.

Luckily, His love has no bounds as well, and He loves us with that love. 

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. - John 4:8

And so, rather than worry about it, I choose to believe in that infinite love.  And trust Him with all of my being, knowing that He has the best in mind for me, and for all of us.

Predestination?  Free Will?    I choose His Infinite and enduring love.  But then, maybe He already knew that. :)

"Our young people are diseased with the theological problems of original sin, origin of evil, predestination, and the like. These never presented a practical difficulty to any man,—never darkened across any man's road, who did not go out of his way to seek them. These are the soul's mumps, and measles, and whooping- coughs, and those who have not caught them cannot describe their health or prescribe a cure. A simple mind will not know these enemies."