Right up front let me say that I’m fully aware of and take responsibility for the absurdity of that question. God is omniscient so, therefore, He knows everything and He has always known everything. Otherwise He would be, by default, less than God Almighty and more like a pompous president we couldn’t trust. He is the Creator of all that has ever existed and ever will exist. He is the inventor of the time/space continuum yet He is not restricted in any capacity by its limitations. The same God who made the innumerable galaxies the Hubble telescope has allowed us to get the tiniest glimpse of from our humble position in the cosmos also made this fragile and neurotic conglomerate of skin, bones and blood who is writing this blog. He is both the alpha and the omega and my comforting Father who sits quietly at the kitchen table with me every morning when I read my Bible. That amazes me no end.
At the same time God gave me (and most everyone else I know) a curious mind that would be delighted to be privy to everything that He knows. We all have questions, not the least of which is why God didn’t install a cap on that innate fountain of inquisitiveness in us that desires to learn and absorb things our little brains can’t possibly assimilate. Yet if one believes as I do that our Father in heaven is always good all the time, then that inherent curiosity we possess is part of our DNA structure for a reason that may or may not become apparent to us until we walk the spectacular streets of His kingdom in the great hereafter. All the same, the Lord also knew full well that our lack of patience would sometimes drive us nuts because we can’t stop ourselves from pursuing knowledge that we aren’t equipped to digest. We think, therefore we are thinkers.
The situation goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were not only the first couple; they were undoubtedly the first amateur philosophers, as well. Webster’s defines philosophy as “a study of the processes governing thought and conduct; investigation of the principles that regulate the universe and underlie all reality.” With no television, books, radio or amusing YouTube videos to provide them with entertaining distractions I suppose they did a lot of postulating and theorizing back and forth in their spare time.
I can visualize them strolling through one of the fragrant rose or gardenia gardens one particular evening and pausing to sit on a park bench in order to take a load off and leisurely take in the paradise that surrounded them on all sides. It’s a moonless night so there’s no overbearingly bright moon to obstruct the endless sky. Their eyes eventually shift from the flowers to the glowing canvas of stars sparkling overhead. Eve asks her spouse Adam (who is busy picking spinach out of his teeth with his fingernail) while gesturing upward, “I still wonder what all that’s about? Any new clues?” He responds with “Dunno. I brought it up with God not long ago and He told me not to worry about it. He said I have enough on my hands naming everything that crawls, walks or flies down here in addition to trying to start and raise a responsible, obedient family with you. He added that that information would be made available on a ‘need to know’ basis and therefore we must not ‘need to know.’ He’s got the answers in His shirt pocket but evidently we haven’t attained that level of security clearance just yet. Or something. Who knows?”
A pregnant pause follows and then Eve speaks up again. “So… why did He put the attractive tree of knowledge over there and not put an electric fence around it to make sure we stay away?” she queries. “Is He just messing with our heads?” Adam shrugs and says, “You tell me and we’ll both know. Maybe we just can’t handle the truth just yet but someday down the line we will. I think we’re supposed to trust Him and His ‘master plan’.” Eve responds with a sigh, “I reckon. But, you know, that friendly serpent that slithers through here every once in a while keeps telling me it’d be okay for us to nibble on it. He says we misunderstood what God meant by the word ‘eat.’ When you think about it, what could it hurt? He’s God. He can always hit the rewind button.”
Well, we all know how that turned out so there’s no use bringing up the past. Let me just say that in this case curiosity killed the cat.
However, we who believe in the unfailing accuracy of The Bible don’t have to wrestle with some of the most basic questions that mankind has come up with ever since Eden got closed down. Take for example one of the biggest: Where did I come from? Thanks to the first and second chapters of Genesis we’re taught in no uncertain terms that we were formed from the elemental dust of the earth and became functional, cognizant entities when God breathed the breath of life into our lungs. For those in the secular sector that’s not enough information. They want details out the wazoo but they probably don’t realize what they’re asking for.
If God were to put into writing just the intricacies of the biology involved alone there wouldn’t be enough paper in the world to hold even a fraction of what transpired. God’s infinitesimally complex process would surely include a trillion things that scientists have yet to discover, anyway, so the point is moot. It would fly right over our collective heads. Yet the cool thing is that the story of how we came to be sentient beings strolling around together on this blue green celestial orb is designed in such a way that both the illiterate primitive and members of Mensa can understand it without further clarification. God put it in language that everyone, whether young, middle aged or old can comprehend.
The real question is: How else would He have informed us of what He accomplished? One short, nontechnical, forthright tale to last for the ages gets the job done best. If we needed more data He would have supplied it. Truth is, we have a much better shot at determining how the pyramids were built than our big toes. There’s really no other practical way for God to explain how we came to be because it is what it is. The physics involved would rattle our noggins but we still want it all spelled out in a neat, tidy package.
Yet, if you’ve noticed, very few things we encounter are wrapped up in a neat, tidy package. I like what C.S. Lewis wrote: “Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have. So let us leave behind all these boys’ philosophies – these over-simple answers. The problem is not simple and the answer is not going to be simpler either.”
Another oversized elephant-in-the-room question that folks have posed to the open sky, themselves and each other throughout the ages is: Why do I exist? We who have had the scales removed from our eyes and have surrendered our eternal souls to the care of our Lord Jesus Christ don’t have to ponder that one either because He made it clear what our principal purpose is: To glorify God. But that’s not all we’re here to do. As His designated ambassadors we’re to “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Obeying everything He commanded for us is more than enough to keep His flock occupied for the rest of our lives, thank you very much. Those who’ve rejected Christ or have chosen not to believe that He was the promised Messiah will have to search for their life’s meaning elsewhere, I suppose. I certainly don’t envy them because I did that very thing for decades and I always ended up empty-handed, scratching my scalp and sitting back at square one. I was leaning on my own understanding and I was ill-equipped for the task of deciphering anything even resembling the truth.
The apostle Paul, as he was so adept at doing, said it better than I ever will. In 1 Corinthians 13:11-13 he wrote, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways. For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” I think what he was trying to convey is that, since God is love, when we give love to others and react to all situations good or bad with a loving heart we come closest to answering every question we can conjure up about why we’re here. I’m not trying to be flippant or superficial in stating that but I know that some will consider it so. I assure you, I couldn’t be more serious.
Pseudo deep thinkers will ever desire and seek for a more complicated, mentally challenging concept than love to explain why we’re inhaling and exhaling earth’s atmosphere. Plus, they’ll never accept the fact that their lofty musings are really as nothing in the long run. God inspired Paul to kindly convey to them, “For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will thwart the cleverness of the intelligent” (1 Corinthians 1:19) simply because they are foolishly chasing the wind. Christ’s instructions are explicit. We are here to do the will of our Heavenly Father and give Him all the credit. Those who don’t will end up like Solomon, an extremely wise king, who concluded: “’Futile! Futile!’ Laments the teacher, ‘Absolutely futile! Everything is futile!’” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
Those are but two of the hundreds of profound and fundamental questions that a person can find answered in the pages of God’s Holy Word. You may be wondering by now, “So where’s the connection to this essay’s moniker? I don’t get what you’re driving at.” Well, I’m finally getting there. You see, even the most dedicated Biblical scholar who knows all the 66 books backward and forward will still encounter conundrums that have no definitive explanation or resolution. One huge source of confusion is the doctrine of predestination and/or election where opinions are as abundant as snowflakes in a blizzard. We can’t act like it’s not there. It was alluded to by Jesus Christ himself as well as various writers of the Old and New Testament but in no case did God make it absolutely crystal clear what all the far-reaching ramifications of His foreknowledge are.
Thus it was inevitable that differing and sometimes contentious schools of thought have arisen over the centuries concerning the various aspects of God’s unassailable sovereignty and His opting to give human beings the ability to make up their own minds. Officially it’s referred to as the “paradox of free will” and the mental chess match it can instigate in your skull cavity has the potential to keep you up all night if you let it, so beware. When I started looking into the heated debate a few years ago I quickly found that there aren’t just two opposing sides to this issue, there are at least five distinct views on the subject and every single one of their practitioners are able to verify and bolster their position with a gaggle of scriptures. Not only that, but there are extremists and moderates in each camp!
Keep in mind that I’m not basing my salvation on my ability to savvy the deep implications of predestination. That’s not necessary. While it’s indeed important, the doctrine of divine election (like everything else in this world) takes a back seat to my heartfelt, sincere and genuine belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. The most basic tenet of Christianity is incredibly simple: Either one puts his/her faith in the Son of God or they put their faith in a false God. (The false God some have decided to trust is often none other than themselves. You’d think they’d set the bar a little higher!) Yet anyone who reads the Bible cover to cover is going to be confronted with the concept of predestination so it qualifies as being worthy of pondering. Else God wouldn’t have brought it up.
Now just because there are verses about this characteristic of God Almighty that seem to be contradictory, they’re not an indication that parts of the Bible contain blatant or misleading mistakes. A believer must have unwavering faith in the inerrancy of the scriptures. Otherwise folks will be permitted to pick and choose what they deem truth and what they decide to discard as manmade filler. One glance at the severe divisions that exist in the body of Christ will show you where that preoccupation leads every time and it ain’t a pretty sight. It’s my opinion that the doctrine of foreknowledge is in God’s Word for a reason whether we’re able to grasp the whole enchilada or not but we should tread carefully as we venture through the jungle, nonetheless.
I postulate that it’s kinda like advanced math. In high school I was required to take and pass successive courses in algebra, trigonometry and calculus regardless of whether I’d ever have cause to use them in my adult life and career path. Whether I knew it or not, the problem-solving challenges they presented to my addled, still-forming brain helped to set up neurological patterns of logic that would make me (theoretically) more intelligent and a better citizen. In much the same way mulling over spiritual propositions such as predestination will come in handy when I leave this mortal coil behind and serve in God’s realm that is exclusively spiritual in nature. In other words, election may be confusing to us but it’s definitely not to our loving Father in heaven. Ephesians 3:20 reads, “Now glory be to God who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more that we would ever dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.”
Over the next few weeks or months in this blog of mine I’m going to take on a variety of thousand pound Gorillas that even a lot of ministers, priests and pastors are wary of bringing up in their sanctuaries, starting with predestination. I’ll be the first to admit that it can tie your brain in a granny knot. I’m far from being a genius or even an expert in this field so I won’t be offering any ground-breaking revelations, that’s for sure. My aim is not to solve the puzzle but to educate my readers about the assorted pieces that are scattered across the table.
When I began to look into the subject I didn’t know the difference between a Calvinist and an Arminian, much less what they espoused as God’s bedrock truth on the matter so I had some catching up to do. I also discovered that those who like to write about it are often long-winded and very much in love with big words. My goal is to not only cut their arguments down to a reasonable size but to present their views in plain, 21st century Americanized English without intentional bias or subconscious favoritism sneaking into the narrative. Whether I’m successful or not will be up to you but I’m hoping it will make you want to delve into the mystery on your own and determine for yourself (through prayer and assistance of the Holy Spirit that resides in you) what it all means in conjunction to your relationship with your Heavenly Father.
Oh, and wish me luck, too.