God is mysterious.
Through conversation after conversation and class after class, pursuing and seeking understanding about God and all that I have put my faith in, I have found that with every answer to all of my questions comes a whole new set of questions which always lead back to the original question. It seems that as questions and responses float all around me I continually find myself saying “yeah, but what does that mean?” It never ends.
I was discussing, with a friend, the concept of predestination and free will. Jesse, my friend, was struggling with an idea. He was saying that either:
A) God knows the future and is therefore not omnipotent because sin entered the world against His will.
B) God knows the future but allowed sin to enter and is therefore evil.
C) God doesn’t know the future and therefore isn’t all-knowing or eternal.
D) God chose to limit Himself from knowing the future and therefore must have limited His goodness and His ability to care for His creation.
E) Or a myriad of other possibilities.
I am yet to hear an explanation for God’s sovereignty or for Man’s freewill that does not defy logic or is not contradictory.
So How are we to believe in a good God who knows the future, Predestines everything including sin and is still good, knows about and allows for sin without being evil or weak, and sees a world destroy itself but still has good plans for it? Or a God, who doesn’t know the future without losing His omnipotence, gives man free will without losing His sovereignty, limits Himself without losing His ability, and cannot see what’s going to happen but still knows everything?
Our conversation bounced around for awhile. Jesse said, at one point, “I don’t like the idea that God doesn’t know the future.” So I responded “so maybe predestination is true." Jesus replied saying “but I don’t see how He can justify limiting Himself and still be a good God.” I answered, “That’s why I don’t believe in predestination.” Somehow i am caught in two contradictory ideas.
The Christian faith is filled with paradoxes. If we’re to find the most true and healthy answer to these questions we have to allow them to stay mysterious because God is mysterious. As we package our answers and begin to think we’ve nailed it we have to miss something. If God is beyond our comprehension than any answer we give that remains logical has to be inadequate. The more we take from the mystery the more we take from the truth.
So it is not our ambition to find all the answers, to explain away the truth, rather, our ambition is to live out the mystery; to live the healthiest kind of life. We don’t seek to limit God but we seek to embrace all of Him; the things we cannot know. We seek to fully appreciate our mysterious God. Theology, therefore, is faith seeking appreciation. This is why we try to understand God, not so that at some point we will give up or place Him in a box of logical explanations, but so that as we struggle we realize more and more what we cannot understand and we appreciate it because we have struggled. We have wrestled with God.
So we pray to the mysterious God to show us the mystery, to reveal the unknown and the unknowable. We pray to the mysterious God to allow us to know Him, to embrace Him, even though we cannot. We pray to the mysterious God because we want to relate to the unrelatable. And the beautiful mystery is that somehow we can.
It is pretty interesting and unsettling when God blows up our "God box" isn't it? Usually I think our box to put God in is WAY too small. Also, our perspective is WAY different seeing as how we can only see in terms of time. He is outside of time so what he views is a different perspective than ours. Also again, things we see as "bad" and traumatic are likely not a problem for God. Death is not a problem for someone who created life. It is not a problem for the one who ordained resurrection. The difficulties we experience as a result of a fallen world or our own choices to sin are also not a problem for God (they are also not a problem for us in truth because of Jesus). They may be uncomfortable and traumatic here on earth but ULTIMATELY every tear will be dried and every hurt will be healed.
I think comment A is incorrect because having power to do ones will is not equivalent to exercising that will. Sure God's will was not for sin to enter the world. He did have the power to not let it enter, but he decided to let it anyway.
Comment B is incorrect because allowing evil is not equivalent to doing evil. Those who choose to do evil are evil.
Comment C and D are incorrect because God is all-knowing and all-powerful.
God made the choice to let us share some power in the universe. He gives his Holy Spirit in order that we do the things Jesus did and even greater. He created us to know good but we chose to be let in on the knowing evil portion of life which means we chose the less abundant option. Kind of like choosing door number 2 rather than taking the free car sitting right over there.
good thoughts. It'll always be mysterious to me... any less would be less than true.
More and more I am seeing that it is our Sovereign's God's will that we keep seeking, wisdom - understanding, never being satisfied with the answer. And not until the "end" what ever that may be, will anyone ever truly get it.
Just read with my students the fable of the 6 blind men and the elephant. I think there are some facts about God, facts that He clearly revealed to man, which we can hold up as the standard...God is the Creator, all of creation declares His glory. God is Good, in Him is no shadow of darkness. God so loves us. His lovingkindness never fails, His love is steadfast, He is both just and merciful. Any image of a god that is evil, violent, unjust, is false. There are times when digging into His revealed word, that there seems to be contradictions. At those times we are being called to dig deeper.
Keep digging Wes. I enjoy sharing your journey.
ps. I've been listening to the teaching of several rabis lately. Realizing that Jesus and Peter and Paul etc were coming from, writing from a Jewish world view, learning what that view of the world, God, and freewill were back then helps a little. Actually, it's helped me alot...seeing that his whole question of predestination and free will has caused me a great deal of stress lately.
Maybe the whole idea of sin is simply a fruit of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Maybe it exists only in our minds. God is certainly not the author of it. It exists there in our minds under the curse of the fruit of that tree which looks very much like religion, knowing good from evil demanding a performance based response to try to please God. Did God wish for man to die or did He just know that it would be the result of his sin?
This paragraph is all conjecture but maybe the sacrificial thinking of all religions is based on our own thinking. Maybe God had to play the game with us because He knew how deeply our conscious was scarred. Maybe it was our own mental need to see a death take place that can redeem us all and of course because of our own twisted need for perfection maybe God had to do it Himself. In any event the God we see in Christ rips away the veil of nonacceptance to reveal a loving God far beyond what our legalistic minds can imagine.
God was not surprised by it all and knew that it would all go down as it did. He already knew Adam had become afraid of Him as a result of the guilt and shame produced by religions requirements. He already knew why Adam now had such negative self consciousness. But the bigger picture was that through it all God would reveal the depths of His character which is full of grace and truth. The truth is that God was never angry or surprised at man. In fact our redemption was already a done deal. Christ had been crucified even before creation took place. The irrelevance of time is beyond our finite mind.
Jesus is the exact representation of Father as "I AM". He longer holds any of our past against us or plans to judge us in the future. We are free from all fear to live NOW in the "I AM". If we fail, in our own expectations He is no more shocked or surprised as He was in that original garden. In another garden He made all the right choices to bring a complete healing of all of our broken relationships (reconciliation). Adam's curse, a condition of our lost souls (mind, will and emotion) was reversed by the Last Adams blessings. The blood of the Last Adam being so much more powerful than the blood of the first Adam.
God's redemption is designed to change our self consciousness from an attitude of naked guilt and shame to one of fully clothed Godliness because Christ became to us righteousness. Many may disagree with this but that is fine. I don't believe we have any say in our redemption. It is a truth established by God before the foundation of the world. The original sin was unbelief. Adam didn't believe that he was already in the image of God and He and Eve fell for the lie that they needed something outside of God for them to become like Him.
It is in Him that we live. It is in Him that we are who we are. We are sons of God thought the actions of the last Adam, the Firstborn from the dead. It is completely independent of us. Just like we had no say in our falling under the curse of Adam's unbelief, we also have no say in being included in the Last Adams redemption. Does that mean we are all saved? No. Salvation is apart from the redemption of out spirit, created in Christ in His image. Salvation is becoming aware of it.
So my take is that we are all predestined by God for redemption and we all have the free will to believe it. Whether or not we do is Dependant on how free we are willing to get from traditional thinking. Just my 2 cents. Sorry for the length of this.
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