Blow: A Poem
Give Us This Day (A Poem)

Predestined and Free

Hugh_ross_3 Another thing I did on vacation last week is to finish Hugh Ross's book exploring the extra-dimensionality of God, entitled Beyond the Cosmos.  After a promising start, and some good points along the way, ultimately he failed to satisfy me in his attempt to make sense of things that just seem well beyond our human minds.  One example may suffice.  In one chapter he explores this question:  "How does God do the predestining while guaranteeing us the freedom of our will, as the Scriptures and our understanding of love demand?"  He offers two possible resolutions (a word I cringed to hear because I think any such attempt is ill-fated).

First, he basically said that perhaps God sees all (foreknowledge) and anticipates the direction of our choices and then prescribes conditions which will lead to choices that fit in with his plan.  To me, however, this appears little more than saying that God will indirectly work to ensure that we do in fact choose what he in fact wants us to choose.  I don't see how this resolves anything.

Second, he offers a resolution that seems a mere variation of the above.  He says that God sees and anticipates our decisions, seeing how we more or less choose to move toward Him or away from him, and knowing this, he once again prescribes the conditions under which the effects of our choices will fit into His plan.

Neither of these so-called resolutions appears helpful, as they do not really resolve anything.  How can our small minds resolve the paradox of a sovereign God while preserving the responsibility of man?  We can't.  I prefer John Stott's summary of this in his now out of print booklet Balanced Christianity.  He writes of an imaginary conversation with the Apostle Paul that Vicar Charles Simeon wrote about in a letter to a friend in 1825:

"The truth is not in the middle, and not in one extreme, but in both extremes. . . . Here are two. . . extremes, Calvinism and Arminianism. . . . How do you move in reference to these, Paul?  In a golden mean?"


"To one extreme?"


"How then?"

To both extremes; today I am a strong Calvinist; tomorrow a strong Arminian."

Ross's mistake is in trying to reach a resolution.  The truth is in both extremes.  They do not resolve in our minds.  Ultimately, with Luther, we have to say that "at the end of every doctrine lies mystery."

But I suppose if he acknowledged the intractability of the paradox, it would have made for a much shorter book.