From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity (my new book coming out in about two weeks):
In reading through this book, some people at times will think I am theologically a Calvinist…and at other times I am an Arminian.
I am not a 5-point Calvinist…nor am I a thorough-going Arminian.
Both viewpoints are derived from Bible verses that seem to be in conflict…but are not…in my opinion…in the same way that Ephesians 2:8-9 and James 2:17 seem to be in conflict…but are not.
The first point to make here is that the scriptures that support predestination, foreordination, and election…and the scriptures that conversely support free-will choice, the universal outreach of salvation, and the numerous (13) “whosoever’s” in the New Testament…argue compellingly for a divine origin merely on the grounds that their harmonious synthesis within the biblical narrative stories of faith…is too unconventionally complex to be the imaginative invention of human literary fiction.
The fact that these seemingly conflicting concepts come together coherently in a brilliantly crafted, uniquely ingenious tension in the biblical narrative stories of faith…argues for a divine origin in the same way that the coordinated integration of the complex elements work together in the initial Big Bang creation of the universe…in the same way that the extremely fine-tuned constants of the physics, chemistry, and mathematics are balanced on a razor’s edge to enable complex life to exist (the Anthropic Principle), and in the same way that the massive amount of highly specified information content in molecular DNA (the language of life) argues for an intelligent designer God…a transcendent, independent agent God pushing out into a previously empty void of non-existent outer space…all of the physical laws, information content, raw material particles, and energy of the natural world…creating our universe ex nihilo…out of previously nothing.
The worldly unconventional plotlines of the biblical narrative stories of faith…containing the humanistically inconceivable element of God displacing our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9)…illuminates the exactness of purpose and premeditation in God-composed journey of faith life-scripts…having little or no wiggle-room for deviation…to achieve function…other than God’s allowance of grace for our flawed performances.
But on the other side of the coin…does anyone seriously doubt that Abraham fully maintained his free-will capacity for the entire duration of his called-out mission to become the “father of faith?”
Anything less than total free-will choice would reduce Abraham to an automaton…the equivalent of a mechanical robot.
Abraham’s carefully chosen words…articulated with care and respect to “the Lord” in Genesis 18:22-33 regarding the outcome of Sodom and Gomorrah…demonstrates beautifully in action this tension between God’s timeless foresight and Abraham’s free-will…in Abraham freely advocating verbally from Abraham’s viewpoint a case made to God on behalf of the few “righteous” inhabitants of these two cities.
Does anyone think that within the tightly scripted storyline of Joseph in Egypt…that Joseph did not possess complete and total free-will choice…to go forward in faith or to give up and quit?
The verbal exchange between God and Moses at the burning bush…is another example of the demonstration of biblical faith actualized through a divine mixture of God’s timeless plans and the free-will choice of Moses…spread-out over an interval of time according to the faith-program of Hebrews 11:1…from that moment at the burning bush to the final delivery of the Israelites forty years later at the doorstep into the Promised Land of Canaan…”the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”…spread-out over time.
Gideon’s inspired test of the fleece…to validate God’s calling of him…demonstrates free-will choice in action…the logic and rightness of this exchange between Gideon and God…not questioned or challenged by God in the slightest.
In none of the biblical narrative stories of faith do we see a robotic response to the callings of God.
In every case…free-will choice to follow the leading of God is assumed within the events and circumstances of the called-out mission…even when it is not directly expressed within the verbal exchange (audible or in the Spirit) between people and God.
As Spirit-born Christians today…we have the freedom to press forward in faith…or to give up and quit at any time. Some Christians do give up and quit. But as I said in the section “What is in this Book?”…earlier in this chapter…I believe in the eternal security of salvation…that we cannot lose our salvation…a viewpoint which I believe is strongly supported in scripture and absolutely essential for entering into a walk of faith with God.
God exists in a timeless reality. Isaiah 46:9-10 reads:
9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My council shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.
In Acts 15:18…James is quoted as saying: “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”
All prophecy in the Bible implies the timeless foresight of God. The biblical narrative stories of faith require timeless foresight.
God invented time at the first instant of the creation of the universe at the Big Bang…precisely so as to initiate the biblical faith defined in Hebrews 11:1…”Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
In heaven, Jesus is the light that permeates everywhere. In heaven, the good character of God is apparent to all…and no longer requires a journey of faith to establish (Rev. 21:23-27).
There are no journeys of faith in heaven…because time does not exist there. The light of God exists everywhere…and is obvious to all. Biblical faith as defined here in our present world will not be the reality in heaven.
There cannot be an interval of time…a gap from where we are to where we need to go…in a timeless reality. This divinely created phenomenon of the dimension of time only exists in this current reality.
A journey of faith like that of Abraham or Paul…is not possible in heaven…because time does not exist there. The substance of things hoped for…the evidence of things not seen…as worked out within biblical narrative stories of faith to create a personal relationship with God…cannot happen in quite the same way in a timeless reality (1 Cor. 13:12).
This is one reason why the biblical narrative stories of faith are so important. God resolves the seeming conflicts between His timeless existence, entailing the timeless features of foresight and foreknowledge…within God-composed journey of faith life-scripts that also include human free-will choice spread-out within the Hebrews 11:1 dimension of time.
God knows all about time…He created it. God knows exactly what He wants to accomplish within journey of faith life-scripts. This explains the precision…the lack of wiggle-room deviation…we see in the biblical narrative stories of faith.
God also knows about timeless existence…because that is the reality in which He lives.
Only God is in the unique position to functionally mix together these seemingly disparate concepts of election and free-will choice.
But God is also the only person in a position to even be able to recognize the need to resolve these issues decisively within the biblical narrative stories of faith…being the only person in existence who is fully aware of these two realities.
God pulls together the timeless foresight He alone is aware of and familiar with…and the four dimensions of space and time He invented…for the express purpose of initiating journeys of faith.
That only God could or would do this…is a commonsense apologetic evidence for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible.
We have one-hundred percent accurate and truthful scriptures coming from the viewpoint of a God who lives in a timeless reality…thus possessing the feature of timeless foresight…that would be described to actualize predestination, foreordination, and election from God’s unique and true perspective…which can unfortunately deteriorate into the incorrect concept of deterministic fatalism when viewed from the human viewpoint…within the dimension of time.
And we have one-hundred percent accurate and truthful scriptures coming from the viewpoint of a totally different reality of living within the limitations of the dimensions of space and time…lacking the all-important feature of divinely timeless foresight.
This reality would describe free-will choice, the human capacity to believe and exercise faith in God, and the universal outreach of salvation…with an unknowable outcome from the human perspective of who will believe and be saved…and who will not believe and be lost…all the way to the end-times (Dan. 12:10).
These two classic dichotomies found in scripture…election versus free-will…are not an embarrassing conflict in the Bible or in Christian theology.
This turns out to be a strong evidence of the divine origin of the Bible…and of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts…because only God could and would successfully blend these disparate components into the brilliantly conceived and actualized journeys of faith recorded in the Bible…and experienced by Christians today…including this Christian writer.
The only other option open…the imaginative contemplation of human literary invention according to philosophical naturalism…seems entirely nonsensical.
Through the biblical narrative stories of faith…God provides evidence for His existence by resolving into one what only God could resolve into one…the timeless foresight of election and the time-bound reality of human free-will choice…one of the greatest intellectual achievements in all of independent, rational thinking.