I have been thinking over the predestination idea since last night and I think I definitely lean towards the side of free will. I remember reading about sin and it’s two fold point of view in that sin is both an individual choice made by someone and the overarching theme that humanity has been separated from God. Likewise, predestination might be two fold. God’s predestination for us might be the reconciliation of us and God. Ephesians 1:4-5 says we were predestined for adoption. God knows the infinite amount of choices that any of us could make at any given time but the choices are still ours to make.
I have found that when speaking in matters of theology, wording is very important. Every word can make a huge difference in how we approach and think about a topic. The word predestinate comes from the Greek verb proorizo meaning 1) to determine, 2) to elect or ordain, or 3) to foreknow. The modern translation is largely similar as Merriam-Webster says it is to decree, determine, appoint, or settle beforehand. We have for so long read into this definition apparently. The definition does NOT say anything about making choices. We have read into the definition that God had made choices for us but this is not accurate. For example,
Romans 8:28-30 NRSV
28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Verse 28 says God works things together for good. Does that mean when WE make bad decisions or not so great situations happen because of OTHER’S decisions that the DESTINATION will still be according to his purpose. (A purpose, not a choice.) Then we could argue about “whom” he foreknew and try to form that into an elitist argument that only some were chosen to be predestined but this goes against the very character and nature of God. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “5Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Even if this verse is only meant for Jeremiah, God said “I appointed you a prophet.” He didn’t say, “Here is a roadmap of choices and decisions you need to make in order for my will to happen.”
Many of us think of Jeremiah 29:11 when thinking of a roadmap because God said, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Again I feel like we want to read INTO this (eisegesis) that God has PRE-CHOSEN each and every step of our life.
I think my premise is this, if our choices are predestined then are we anything more than autonomous puppets who just live and die? Predestination takes away the importance of the choice. If we were predestined for salvation, then what does it matter if I love my neighbor? If I were predestined for salvation, what does it matter if I drink and drive? If I were predestined to damnation, is there any amount of holy that could I strive to in order to gain salvation?
I guess one could argue that if we are predestined for salvation or damnation, then perhaps we would act accordingly but would that mean that Adam was set up for failure?
There is much that could be debated and arguments can be made for both sides, but I think for now, I will stick to the idea that I can choose love. Because sometimes in my chest I’m heated with anger, but instead of being angry and thinking I was “pre-chosen” or destined to be angry, I know I can always choose Jesus over anything else.