Originally posted by SuperFrog
Originally posted by NewAgeMan
God both likes to suprise us and be surprised by our response
I believe more then once religious people said that there is no free will, that everything (history) is already written?!
Religious people say a lot of things, some make more sense than others
But there are two Christian perspectives on "everything is already written". The first is held by most, if not all, and says that God, being
eternal and outside of space and time already knows everything that will happen until the end of time. This causes people who don't really grasp the
concept to think that means that there is no free will -- "If God already knows that I'll steal a pizza tomorrow, I am forced to steal the pizza."
However, if one thinks it through, God's knowledge is not the cause, but merely an observation of your conscious act. If, tomorrow, I choose not to
steal the pizza, God's knowledge would have been of me not stealing it.
The second perspective is Predestination -- the Calvinist notion (derived from St. Augustine,) that some people are "the Elect", who were chosen,
before the beginning of time, to be saved, and nothing that they do can change that. There are a variety of reasons for reasoning this out, but the
dominant one is a complete rejection of the Catholic (and, thus, Augustinian, ironically,) claim that, while faith in Christ is foremost, your works
(how you behave) factor into salvation as well. Calvin utterly rejected that, and so, if your behaviour doesn't matter, how does God know who to
save? He's always known, because he chose you, you didn't choose him.
There is something sensible to that, but unfortunately, Calvin goes deeper and looks at the other side of the coin -- what about the people that are
not the Elect? Well, they're not simply ignored, but rather they were predestined by God to be damned, just as the Elect were predestined to be
saved. In other words, if one was one of the Reprobate (Calvin's term for the non-Elect,) one was damned, and there's not one thing they can
do about it.
To most people who are first encountering that chunk of Reformed Theology, that just screams of injustice, but if you spend some time working through
the basis and thinking behind it (as I have, quite a bit in fact,) a pretty strong case can be made for it. From a practical standpoint, it does
serve to answer the question of why some people, despite an earnest effort, just can't find faith -- no matter how much they want to connect to God,
as they are not part of the Elect, there's nothing that they can do to manage it. (That's spoken as a believer, so the usual response of the
disbeliever, "they don't find God because there is no God," doesn't apply, and an alternative explanation is called for.)
Kindly note that I am not a Reformed theologian, and I think that there are plenty of other good explanations for the things that Calvinism attempts