Monday, May 4, 2015
An Invitational on the subject of Predestination in regards to God and the Christian faith (Nathan Wech Section 8 P2/2)
In my previous installment I explained what predestination meant in terms of God and Christianity and the two viewpoints around it. One being the belief referred to as Determinism which stems from the Calvinists and is the belief that God has his chosen elect that will receive salvation. The other one referred to as Free Will which stems from the Arminians and is the belief that God has given Man the choice to accept Gods salvation or not. In effort to save both your time and mine I briefly explained the two sides and their arguments. Predestination in itself is a very broad topic and even when you narrow it down like I did you still leave a lot out. So in this final post I hope to give you, the reader, a little bit of an insight on the argument that has been circling for years and at the end I will share my stance and explain why I have come to that conclusion.
When I talked about Determinism last week I quoted John 15:16 which states "You did choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you". I started with this verse to "set the stage" for this post. You see, though it may not seem like it in this context, everything mentioned in that verse is relevant to this argument. In that one verse Jesus makes two points. The first being that you did not choose him but he chose you. The second that you should go and bear fruit. This concludes the parable that he illustrated in the beginning of the chapter. Starting in John 15:1-3 Jesus explains that "I am the true vine, and my father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you" and then picking back up in verse 6, "[i]f anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned". There's a lot of points we can pull from that and discuss but again, let's keep it simple and concise. The beginning of John 15 brings us full circle on the earlier point made by verse 16. Everyone who "bears fruit" will be pruned (tested) so that they are bettered and in result "bear more fruit". However, Jesus points out that there will be those who do not bear fruit. Those people will be thrown out like branches and burned. This is a reference to Hell. But in verse 16 he then shares with us that he chose us to bear fruit. So this implies that we have no decision over whether we bear fruit or not.
However, the rebuttal to this is that of Free Will. Those who believe in Free Will argue back that John 15 eludes to free will. Allow me to explain John 15 in another light now. Verses 4-5 state "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." Why would Jesus be urging his disciples to abide in him if they were supposedly already doing that due to God's Will? This implies a sense of free will among the disciples to decide whether to abide or not. In verses 7 and 8 Jesus explains that "[i]f you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples". The key phrases here are "if you abide in me" and "that you bear much fruit and so prove". If Jesus says "if you abide in me" then doesn't that mean there is an alternative choice of not abiding in him? And if you "bear much fruit and so prove to be his disciples" does that imply that you could bear little to no fruit and therefore not be his disciples? As you may have noticed I am explaining the view of Free Will as one big rebuttal to Determinism. This is all due to the fact that I am showcasing the argument of Determinism's main example and then the response from Free Will. That being said, Free Will can respond with John 15:16, the overall main example of Determinism, and explain that when Jesus says that "you did not choose me, but I chose you" that what he was saying is that he chose his original disciples. In the beginning of Jesus's ministry he came to his twelve Apostles and called on them to follow him. Free Will argues that verse 16 is merely a reference back to the calling of the original disciples and that when Jesus tells them "that you should go and bear fruit" he is giving them the charge to live according to the Spirit. Which is Galatians 5:22-23 "...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control...".
So what do I believe? When I came into this topic I favored the argument of Free Will. But after discussing and debating both sides with my mentor I'm stuck in a crossroad. Earlier in my first post I explained how God is omniscient and that he knows all. Ironically, I did not realize that I had answered the question before I even asked it. I believe that God is the only one who truly knows the answer to the question, Determinism or Free Will? I think that was done intentionally. If it is Determinism then what is the point of even trying if you are not one of the elect? If I'm not bearing fruits of the Spirit then I guess I'm not of The Vine so what's the point? Or, if I do have Free Will then I'll just do whatever I please my whole life and then when I'm on my death bed I'll accept salvation because after all, it's all up to me where I go in the end. So my stance on this is that I will continue to live according to how Jesus has called us to live and continually strive to bear fruits of the Spirit. Take both sides in each hand and take it as a balanced approach. I will live in a way to whether it is Free Will or not, I'm good. If Determinism is correct and I'm bearing these fruits then maybe I am one of the chosen elect? I don't know for sure. But like the saying goes, "I would rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it".
I hope you enjoyed my post and feel free to comment your stance below. If you haven't seen my first post feel free to follow the link below where I explored the different viewpoints of each side and explained the background of the topic.
And for comic relief...