Some Misunderstand Predestination and God’s Responsibility for Everything

Calvin’s ‘Institutes’ is a remarkable work. I believe many people today misunderstand the reformation movement and what the reformers thought about theology and the Bible. Paul wrote to the Ephesians (5:11) “Ephesians 5:11, KJV: And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Plainly Paul was referring to humans in a practical way; pagan society of the day had quite a lot of wickedness. Yet he wasn’t especially making theological research into predestination, omniscience and omnipotence and what that means as far as everything that is created. Incidentally McGee was of the opinion that what the Bible calls ‘evil’ are natural events (i.e. earthquakes, floods (including the one that drowned the first human civilization except for Noah and his family); the Bible refers to human evil, not as evil, rather as wickedness. It is probable that many people misunderstand the cosmological mechanics of the Universe that God created, and how he created it. Calvin was a believer in determinism, election and so forth and there are many opposed to that. They also tend to believe in salvation through works rather than grace.

The subject of predestination is fascinating and implied in the Bible numerous places. (ref…/what-does-the-bible…

In my opinion God being omnipotent and omniscient creates everything that exists including circumstances such as freedom that allow people to choose to do wickedness. Plainly the fallen human condition of original sin has changed the relationship of humans to God whom is perfect. He is the maker of pots and can break them if he wills that.

The topic is interesting cosmologically too. It seems that the Universe’s thermodynamics tend toward pre-destination on the largest scale as it was from the beginning giving a certain allotment of energy and then mass to exist and actualize all forms. The topic is fascinating and deep theologically and physically. One theoretical physicist speculated that a universe or Multiverse may exist where everything that can exist, already does-every possible Multiverse universe bit-and human minds with freedom switch between them with each thought, yet the Multiverse itself never changes, it is people choosing their own fate along possible world-lines.

The Revelation 22:10-12 “10And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. 11He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

12And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

That kind of statement is consistent with free will in a deterministic environment where individuals select their own fate. Yet there are thousands of points to consider about the power of God. I suppose he could create a Multiverse just in His thoughts, yet they have perhaps existed in His foreknowledge forever. 

A quote from Calvin’s ‘Institutes’…

“God, “willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,” (Rom. 9:22, 23). Let my readers observe that Paul, to cut off all handle for murmuring and detraction, attributes supreme sovereignty to the wrath and power of God; for it were unjust that those profound judgments, which transcend all our powers of discernment, should be subjected to our calculation. It is frivolous in our opponents to reply, that God does not altogether reject those whom in levity he tolerates, but remains in suspense with regard to them, if per adventure they may repent; as if Paul were representing God as patiently waiting for the conversion of those whom he describes as fitted for destruction. For Augustine, rightly expounding this passage, says that where power is united to endurance, God does not permit, but rules (August. Cont. Julian., Lib. 5, c. 5). They add also, that it is not without cause the vessels of wrath are said to be fitted for destruction, and that God is said to have prepared the vessels of mercy, because in this way the praise of salvation is claimed for God, whereas the blame of perdition is thrown upon those who of their own accord bring it upon themselves. But were I to concede that by the different forms of expression Paul softens the harshness of the former clause, it by no means follows, that he transfers the preparation for destruction to any other cause than the secret counsel of God. This, indeed, is asserted in the preceding context, where God is said to have raised up Pharaoh, and to harden whom he will. Hence it follows, that the hidden counsel of God is the cause of hardening. I at least hold with Augustine that when God makes sheep out of wolves, he forms them again by the powerful influence of grace, that their hardness may thus be subdued, and that he does not convert the obstinate, because he does not exert that more powerful grace, a grace which he has at command, if he were disposed to use it (August. de Prædest. Sanct., Lib. 1, c. 2).

  1. These observations would be amply sufficient for the pious and modest, and such as remember that they are men. But because many are the species of blasphemy which these virulent dogs utter against God, we shall, as far as the case admits, give an answer to each. Foolish men raise many grounds of quarrel with God, as if they held him subject to their accusations. First, they ask why God is offended with his creatures who have not provoked him by any previous offense; for to devote to destruction whomsoever he pleases, more resembles the caprice of a tyrant than the legal sentence of a judge; and, therefore, there is reason to expostulate with God, if at his mere pleasure men are, without any desert of their own, predestinated to eternal death. If at any time thoughts of this kind come into the minds of the pious, they will be sufficiently armed to repress them, by considering how sinful it is to insist on knowing the causes of the divine will, since it is itself, and justly ought to be, the cause of all that exists. For if his will has any cause, there must be something antecedent to it, and to which it is annexed; this it were impious to imagine. The will of God is the supreme rule of righteousness,499 so that everything which he wills must be held to be righteous by the mere fact of his willing it. Therefore, when it is asked why the Lord did so, we must answer, Because he pleased. But if you proceed farther to ask why he pleased, you ask for something greater and more sublime than the will of God, and nothing such can be found. Let human temerity then be quiet, and cease to inquire after what exists not, lest perhaps it fails to find what does exist. This, I say, will be sufficient to restrain any one who would reverently contemplate the secret things of God. Against the audacity of the wicked, who hesitate not openly to blaspheme, God will sufficiently defend himself by his own righteousness, without our assistance, when depriving their consciences of all means of evasion, he shall hold them under conviction, and make them feel their guilt. We, however, give no countenance to the fiction of absolute power,500 which, as it is heathenish, so it ought justly to be held in detestation by us. We do not imagine God to be lawless. He is a law to himself; because, as Plato says, men laboring under the influence of concupiscence need law; but the will of God is not only free from all vice, but is the supreme standard of perfection, the law of all laws. “

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Garrison Clifford Gibson

Philosophy, theology, contemporary issues including politics, economics, ecosphere, science fiction and history-these are useful things to write about that I have an interest in. I have published a few book collections-some free ebooks as well at my bookpage. Usually I live in Alaska. I took an Associate degree from the University of Alaska and a Bachelors from Excelsior College in 1991.

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