Predestination and Free Will

Dear hijas,

I was recently asked about predestination and free will. The question is usually posed in a contested framework. Free will versus predestiantion. One or the other. Which one is correct? Do we choose Jesus or does He choose us? Are we free moral beings with true choice or just programmed robots?

What we have to understand firstly is the nature of presuppositions. Remember that a presupposition is an elementary or foundational assumption in one’s reasoning, or in the process by which one’s opinions are formed. It’s not just any assumption, but a personal commitment at the level of one’s most basic network of beliefs. Presuppositions form the foundational perspective and starting point in terms of which everything else is interpreted and evaluated. As such, they have the greatest authority in one’s thinking, treated as one’s least negotiable beliefs and being granted the highest revision to immunity (Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ, 1998).

The question and topic touches on the three components of a worldview, or the three areas of philosophical thought that we’ve been discussing: one’s metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology. It hinges on the Creator – creature distinction that we’ve been talking about. Non-Christian thought and Christian thought have different starting points, use different presuppositions in argument, and come to vastly different conclusions about the world around them, their role in it, and what it all means.

With that as backdrop, our apologetic and evangelistic effort to the unsaved man or woman, is asking them to make a choice, isn’t it? We’re asking them to give up and change their presuppositions based on their own human autonomy to start with themselves and their minds (their reasoning abilities and powers) and surrender that ability to decide truth for themselves and those presuppositions (that they alone can decide truth), to the presupposition that God is, and that what God has said about truth, true truth, real truth, in His inscripturated Word is the right and only presupposition to start with.

We’re asking them to recognize that the evidence about God is already known to them (in the world around them and in their own constitutional makeup, Rom. 1: 19-20), and to choose not to suppress this knowledge of the truth, but to let it lead them to further knowledge of who Christ is, who they are as finite, fallible individuals, their offense against a holy God, and to the answer in Christ as Savior as found in God’s revelation to man in Scripture. But they have to make the choice, don’t they? They have to exercise their will to decide one way or the other, right? They’re not forced to make this choice, but can choose to refuse, or follow and obey.

So how does that jive with those verses in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures that affirm predestination; that God chooses those He wishes to choose, and has chosen them before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5)? Or that God will have mercy on whom He desires and hardens whom He desires (Rom. 9:18)? Or, how about this one, that God makes from the same lump (as a potter would) some vessels for honorable use and others for common use (Rom. 9:21)? Or finally, Jesus Himself, that to all that God has given Him (Jesus), He may give eternal life (implying that there are some that God didn’t give? John 17: 2)?

Is this a jye bu kai de wenti? One of those puzzles that can’t be solved?

With love, I remain,

Dear ol’ Dad

Vaya con Dios mis hijas!


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