"Thanks and thanks again to Him who offers to the man whom the sorrows of life have assaulted and left naked–offers to him the fig leaf of the Word with which he can cover his wretchedness." -Søren Kierkegaard

Determinism, Party Chats, and Musings About God’s Offer

Posted in Theological by matt on Monday, February 2, 2009

I have a question that isn’t even close to rhetorical: If God offers people salvation yet knows the outcome of their decision, does that undermine the integrity of His offer?

Let me clarify the question a bit. I was recently at a party and had a conversation about omniscience, sovereignty, and free will with a friend from my church. Great party conversation, right? We were both feeling pretty introverted, so we decided to sip our drinks, cloister ourselves in a corner,  and discuss abstract things that had absolutely nothing to do with all the jubilant superficializing around us. And, at some point, he asked me the aforementioned question. So here I am without an answer and choosing to cop-out by asking you guys.

It’s also worth mentioning that I’m specifically referring to salvation offered by God to the individual. A human’s redemption to God in Christ. I’m not even sure if I’m totally comfortable discussing salvation in wholly individualistic terms (and by that I mean I’m not), but for the sake of clarity we’ll just leave it there. The real difficulty lies in ones definition of God’s foreknowledge, or whatever you believe He has. If God “offers” but knows the outcome, did He really “offer”? That’s like sending a wedding invitation with the RSVP box already checked “No Attending”. Sorry, I’m full of wedding analogies these days. But if he offers and doesn’t know then is He really an all-powerful God?

I have and will continue reading the Scriptures on this, but I’m genuinely perplexed. Your thoughts?

Perspectives on the Will

Posted in Philosophical, Theological by matt on Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In Orthodoxy G.K. Chesterton writes, Every act of will is an act of self-limitation. To desire action is to desire limitation. In that sense every act is an act of sacrifice. When you choose anything, you reject everything else.

If this is a correct understanding of the human will then a choice is actually more binding than freeing. The reason I’m taking up precious inter-web space (and your time, haha) to write this is that it goes directly against what I’ve always assumed to be true, i.e., that the humans ability to choose is the greatest expression of freedom.

But when a man chooses to marry one woman he automatically rejects all the others. Or for me, choosing to ride the van to work means not choosing to ride in a cab, to walk, or to meet a certain, flaming death on a motorcycle taxi. Choices are limiting.

So what?

This change in perspective matters. It proves that each individual decision is consequential. God has given people the freedom to make decisions about all kinds of things and those decisions – big or small – matter! What you decide to do will also dictate what you don’t do.

But is the inverse also true?

Consider 8 out of the 10 commandments that are phrased negatively (You shall not…). Here God allows only one choice. Obviously God doesn’t limit the option to a single choice and no other (we are able to choose to disobey), but He does allow for only one correct choice. So, rather than us limiting ourself, God is limiting us.

But what if God isn’t limiting us? What if this is another form of His grace and freedom?

Maybe God’s 8 “Though shalt not” statements are 8 of the most freeing statements in the whole Bible. God nixed the hazy process of decision-making and brought the right choice into focus, cut-and-dry.

God made the rules, and what if the one making the rules did it because He knew that limitation meant freedom and that reckless decision-making meant bondage?

For the Christ-follower I believe this is even more evidence of God’s grace, but I’d love to hear any of your thoughts.